The history of Church’s brand started in 1675, when Stone Church, a master of shoemaker and leather goods, bequeathed his valuable knowledge of craft to his great-grandson. Thomas, along with his wife and children, in 1873 he opened a laboratory in a small town not too far from London: Northampton. From a simple workshop, Church’s turned it into a leading company of European level.
Church’s, was on of the firts in those years to produce an “adaptable” shoe model, that made difference between left and right foot: the shoe that won the Gold Medal at the Great Exhibition of the Crystal Palace, in 1881. Ten years later, Church’s began to explore overseas markets, such as South Africa, Belgium, France, Italy, Germany and later Canada and United States of America. 1921 was a crucial year: the first store have been opened in London and presented “Archmoulded”, the woman’s shoe shaped on the arch of the foot. Not much later, he also opened the first store in New York’s Madison Avenue’s. Church’s played a vital role in the footwear industry development, as a founding member of the British shoe and Allied Trades Research Association.
After the war, Church’s underwent a difficult time, but in the 50s he decided to enter the retail trade through national concessions in certain stores. He opened a new factory in Northampton, which is still the headquartered of the company that has expanded with branches in America, Canada, Italy and Japan. Church’s won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Export, becoming a prestigious international brand. In 1999, Prada Holding N.V. bought Church’s, bringing the British brand to rationalize the criteria of industrial production and improve marketing planning of the shoes collections. The retail channel was expanded with the opening of stores in most important capitals: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, Rue St. Honoré in Paris , Via Condotti in Rome , Arcade Palace in St. Moritz and Madison Avenue in New York. In 2008 there was a new development strategy with new openings including Venice, Bologna, Turin, London, Edinburgh, Leeds, Geneva, Madrid, Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore.
How to make a Church’s shoe?
To produce a pair of Church’s, you need more than 250 manual operations and takes up to eight weeks. The men’s collection is entirely manufactured in the factory situated in Northampton, where the sole and the upper are sewn on a ” welt ” – a strip of leather cut to the hand – which is then sewn on the bottom of the shoe. Thanks to this important detail that, in the event of repair, you can easily remove the sole from the bottom and fix the problem. The process starts from the cutting of the leather, which is made using an appropriate paper model, to obtain the necessary form; depending on the specific model, the skin is punctured or not for the typical English style, are assembled the components of the upper. This process, in which the upper and the pieces are sewn together, has the name of splicing and is followed by the assembly of the upper on the appropriate form. Subsequently, at the base of the insole is glued a metal shank to reinforce the shoe. Then, one filler layer of cork is applied to the base of the shoe which gives comfort to the shoe. The leather sole is cemented to the bottom; is deleted then the excess skin along the edge of the sole, the shoe is sewn together through the sole and the welt . The last step is called finishing and polishing: the shoe must be clean, polished, verified by an inspector and finally packaged for sale.