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Prior to production the design department produce the patterns for the last (the wooden form on which the shoes are made). From the pattern a prototype sample is made and test fitted. After any necessary adjustments to the patterns, a final sample pair is produced. It is crucial to ensure that the patterns fit correctly before starting on bulk production.
In the Clicking Department at the 1st stage of production, the shoe uppers and linings are cut. The ‘Clicker’ is a highly skilled operative; named after the ‘click’ sound which the hand cutting knife makes as it is removed from the leather. The Clicker is responsible for examining the leather for any defects, scars or growth marks before each pair is cut by hand. A good clicker needs to be knowledgeable about the nature of leather, in order to maximise the usage whilst retaining the upmost quality.
At the next stage of production the uppers are ‘closed’. Closing involves many different operations such as, punching holes for brogue styles, edge staining, hand sewing, machine stitching prepared sections together to form the shoe upper and fitting eyelets. The Closing Room machinists are highly skilled requiring excellent hand and eye coordination.
This is the preparation of the ‘bottom’ part of the shoes. The insoles and soles are cut from leather bends or rubber sheets using large heavy presses. The leather insoles are prepared for ‘Lasting’ by attaching the material rib, to which the welt will eventually be stitched. The heels are built in-house with leather or rubber lifts and top pieces. At this stage the appropriate lasts are selected to be matched with the closed uppers.
The lasting process is where the shoe begins to take shape. The upper of the shoe is tacked to the back of the last to ensure the back height is correct. It is then pulled over at the toe by the lasting machine, before being side lasted by hand. It is vital for the toe laster to ensure that the shoe upper is fitted accurately to the last.
An important process in this department is ‘Welt Sewing’ where the operative stitches the welt (a strip of leather) to the rib on the insoles. The welt is a key element in the Goodyear Welted process. The bottoms of the shoes are filled with cork and wooden shanks are inserted to provide support beneath the insoles. The soles are then stitched to the welt. This method allows for the soles to be removed for repair without affecting the uppers.
After the soles have been attached the shoes undergo a process of ‘Bottom Levelling’ which rounds the soles to the shape of the last.
In the Finishing Department the heels are attached, trimmed and then scoured with emery paper for a smooth finish.
Edge trimming is a highly skilled and physical process, whereby the sole edges are trimmed to the specific shape of the last. This is done ‘free hand’ like many other operations in Goodyear Welted shoe making. The soles and heels are then stained and hot wax is applied to the edges to provide a waterproof seal and a good shine. Various decorative finishes are applied to the soles such as, wheeling and crowing before a final polish.
In the Shoe Room the uppers of the shoes are hand polished to create the rich depth of colour in the leather. We call this ‘antiquing’ and ‘burnishing’. For some leathers this has to be repeated multiple times with the shoes being ‘mopped’ in between each coat of antique. The lasts are then removed from the shoes, the leather soles are stamped with the Crockett & Jones brand and in-socks are fitted.
Finally the shoes undergo a scrutinised check for quality before they can be passed for lacing and boxing.
In The Making Video
The video opposite presents an insight into the manufacturing process of Crockett & Jones shoes. Alternatively click on the thumbnails below to view pictures and descriptions.
Crockett & Jones shoes are made using the traditional Goodyear Welted construction. Through 8 stages of production, each pair of shoes undergoes over 200 individual operations. This process takes about 8 weeks.