Member of the Week | Church’s
Elegantly designed and handcrafted shoes and accessories with modern detailing.
Church’s strong connection to the craftsmanship of handmade shoes can be traced back to 1675 and the industry’s heartland of Northamptonshire. This county has been at the centre of a flourishing leather and footwear industry since the Middle Ages, a legacy which still continues to this day.
In 1873, Thomas Church and his three sons – Alfred, William and Thomas Jr. – founded the Church’s company and united the production processes, under one modern factory, in Northampton. Prior to this, each individual process was carried out in the workers own homes. Northampton plays a vital role in the brand’s DNA and is still the home of the company’s worldwide headquarters.
In the space of a few years, Church’s was transformed from a cottage industry into a benchmark firm for high-quality footwear. It is interesting to note that Church’s was the first footwear manufacturer to introduce the concept of left and right shoes since most of others companies’ at that time still sold ‘straights’.
With the dawn of the 20th century, Church’s began exporting to new markets such as the United States, Canada, China, and South America, and appointed distributors in many mainland European Countries.
The company opened its first UK retail store in 1921, New York in 1929 and mainland Europe and Asia over the next 30 years. Each store dedicated to showcasing the very best of English shoe-making and unparalleled levels of customer service
The company now operates from three factories in the county and has over the intervening years continued to receive numerous plaudits for its commitment to craftsmanship and manufacturing in England. This continued dedication was recognised when the company was presented with the prestigious “Queen’s Award for Exports” cementing Church’s status as a leading International brand.
In 1999 Church’s joined the PRADA Group, world leaders in the luxury retail industry. The group’s objectives were to expand the brand internationally and grow Church’s appeal; speaking to a wider consumer range, while fully respecting its English heritage. As a result, over the last 10 years, Church’s has expanded its retail footprint to 55 stores globally situated in key cities around the world. These include three stand-alone stores that exclusively sell Church’s women’s collection.
The manufacturing of Church’s shoes today is still inspired by its rich heritage and dedication handcrafted techniques: the welted shoes are hand-made by dedicated artisans, using a process that can take up to eight weeks and involve over 250 detailed manual operations.
This method also means that Church’s can offer exemplary aftercare to its clients, with full refurbishment facilities being available in the Northampton factory. This enables the company to use the same high-quality materials and craftsmanship as seen in the original manufacturing process. With proper care and attention, a pair of Church’s shoes can and do, last a lifetime.
Church’s shoes transcend fashion. The iconic men’s styles such as Oxfords and Brogues never date, although colours and details may be developed from season-to-season. However, next to the brands traditional offering, Church’s has gently evolved key designs and styles to appeal to new and more discerning customer in different global markets. This continued innovation allows the brand to develop and grow its position as the world’s leader of top quality Goodyear Welted Footwear.