Church’s historical involvement in the manufacture of handmade shoes can be traced back to 1675 and Northamptonshire, a county that’s been at the centre of Britain’s flourishing leather and footwear industry since the Middle Ages.
But it was two centuries later, in 1873, that Thomas Church and his three sons – Alfred, William and Thomas Jr – founded the ‘modern’ Church’s company, consolidating the production, which had traditionally been carried out in the workers’ homes, into a modern factory in Northampton, where the firm’s worldwide headquarters remain today.
In just a few years, Church’s was transformed from a craft workshop into a benchmark firm for industry-leading top-quality footwear. It is interesting to note that Church’s was the first footwear manufacturer in the country to introduce the concept of ‘left’ and ‘right’ shoes, since most others companies at that time still sold ‘straights’ – shoes that could be worn on either foot.
With the dawn of the 20th century, Church’s began exporting to new markets like the United States, Canada, China, and South America, appointing distributors in many European countries. The company opened its first UK retail store in 1921 and in New York in 1929, opening in Europe and Asia over the next 30 years.
Church’s now operates from three Northamptonshire factories and has continued to receive numerous plaudits, culminating in the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2009, reinforcing its status as a leading international brand.
In 1999, the Prada Group procured Church’s, with the mission to optimise its business opportunities while fully respecting its English values and identity.
The last ten years have seen Church’s expand its retail footprint to 62 stores throughout the world’s major cities, including four stores dedicated exclusively to the women’s collection.
For Autumn/Winter ’21, they launched the new Royal Collection with a luxurious, modern aesthetic designed to convey the elegance and majesty of their craftsmanship. Only the finest leather is used, from the world’s best tanneries and Church’s most highly skilled craftspeople are entrusted to cut each piece of leather by hand. Each style in the Royal Collection boasts intricate details, for which the brand is renowned. It is this high standard of design and craftsmanship that makes Church’s the world’s foremost English shoemaker.
The manufacture of Church’s shoes is still inspired by its history, heritage and handcrafting techniques: the welted shoes are hand-made by dedicated specialised craftsmen, using a process that can take up to eight weeks and involve over 250 detailed manual operations.
The brand also offers exemplary aftercare to its clients, with full refurbishment facilities available in the Northampton factory, utilising the same top quality materials and craftsmanship as in the original manufacturing process. With proper care and attention, Church’s shoes can – and do – last a lifetime.
These shoes are beyond fashion. The brand’s beloved men’s styles such as the Oxfords and brogues never date, although colours and details may vary from season to season, according to contemporary trends. However, next to the traditional collection, Church’s offers a gentle evolution of design and style to appeal to new and discerning customers throughout the world. This enables the brand to develop, innovate and grow its position as the world’s leader of top quality Goodyear Welted Footwear.