4 Under-the-Radar British Shoemakers Every Footwear Fanatic Should Know

  • Grenson’s offerings range from bespoke dress shoes to casual boots
  • Each of the Goodyear-welted shoes begins from fine-grade calfskin leather and is transformed through 200 in-house stages of construction

When it comes to sophisticated footwear, the perfect formula is simple: design that has the modern man in mind, and construction that is steeped in tradition. It is no wonder then that some of the world’s top shoemakers can be found today in England—a country whose cordwainery history dates to the Middle Ages. To give credit where it’s due, we have rounded up four of the top high-end shoemakers based in Britain that every stylish fellow should follow.

In the county of Northamptonshire—where British cordwainery is believed to have originated—Grenson has been handcrafting elegant men’s shoes since 1866. Today, with designer creative director and owner Tim Little at the helm, Grenson’s offerings range from bespoke dress shoes to casual boots. Little has not watered down the brand’s shoemaking process, with each Goodyear-welted shoe taking up to eight weeks to handcraft. To pay homage to its 151 years of sophisticated footwear, the brand has re-created eight of its most significant styles in the exclusive limited-edition Archive Collection (from $715 to $895), with subtle contemporary updates that make them wearable today.

Nearby in Desborough, the owners of 131-year-old Joseph Cheaney & Sons pride themselves in their five generations of traditional footwear manufacturing. Each of the Goodyear-welted shoes begins from fine-grade calfskin leather and is transformed through 200 in-house stages of construction, from the initial stitch to the signature hand-burnished finish. Cheaney’s latest offering is the “1 of 1” customization program (about $870 per order). Clients choose from five base designs and add personal details using a broad menu of options that yields a total of 1.2 million permutations.

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