The Restory x Nicholas Kirkwood

The 15 Best British Shoe Brands to Know Now

Fashion /


Footwear fit for Brits

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As we all know, you can’t quite beat home-grown talent. Looking to dress up your feet? These are the best British shoe brands to know now, from Church’s and Dr Martens to Barker and Crockett & Jones.

The Best British Shoe Brands To Know Now

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Silver block heels

Nicholas Kirkwood

Chances are, you’ve already heard of Nicholas Kirkwood. The designer is one of the world’s leading shoe designers, having won accolades from the likes of the British Fashion Awards (winning Best Accessory Designer title THREE times) and the BFC Vogue Fund Award. A Central Saint Martins Alumni, Kirkwood launched his brand in 2005 and is known for using unconventional – as well as natural and compostable – materials to create his footwear.

EXPLORE: nicholaskirkwood.com

Image: @nicholaskirkwood

Two pairs of legs in silver boots and heels

Tamara Mellon

Fashion entrepreneur Tamara Mellon was one of the co-founders of luxury fashion house Jimmy Choo, and has been a big name in the industry for decades. In 2011, Mellon decided to branch out on a solo venture and launched her own footwear label, creating shoes ‘designed by women, for women. They’re for leaning in, climbing ladders, and shattering ceilings.’ This is a brand that oozes refined luxury while still being fun and feminine. Fans of the brand include Gigi Hadid, Lily Aldridge, Irina Shayk and Kerry Washington.

EXPLORE: tamaramellon.com

Image: Tamara Mellon

Blue heels on green background

Rupert Sanderson

One of the big names in Britain’s designer footwear scene is Rupert Sanderson, who has been building his fanbase of high-flying clients since he launched his first collection. The designer left a 12-year career in advertising in 1999 to pursue shoe-making and design, enrolling on a course at the famed Cordwainers College in East London. By 2001, Sanderson launched his first collection – and we’ve been hooked ever since. Fans of the designer include the Princess of Wales (we’ve heard she’s particularly fond of the navy Malory court shoe), and actresses Emma Stone and Jessica Chastain.

Explore: rupertsanderson.com

Image: @rupertsanderson

Brown leather loafers on woodern surface

Alfred Sargent

Hailing from Northamptonshire, the world renowned English shoemaking region, Alfred Sargent has been handcrafting for more than 120 years now. The brand has a fantastic reputation for high standards, crafting its shoes using the finest materials around. Working through a made to order service, clients considering splurging on a pair of Alfred Sargent shoes can rest assured that the staff on hand will help them find the perfect pair to complement their wardrobe.

Explore: alfredsargent.co.uk

Image: Alfred Sargent

Edward Green shoes

Edward Green

Northampton shoemaker Edward Green has been in business since 1890, cutting fine leathers by hand and using traditional methods to render its robust footwear. The epitome of classic English style, each pair of Edward Green shoes is handmade by skilled artisans with an emphasis on quality and craftsmanship. Some famous clients known to have slipped their feet into a pair of Edward Green shoes include Ernest Hemingway, the Duke of Windsor, David Gandy and Michael Fassbender.

Explore: edwardgreen.com

Image: Edward Green

Close up of people stood on prange steps wearing neutral coloured shoes and trousers

Church’s

With a remarkable history dating all the way back to the 17th century, Church’s is one of the oldest shoe brands on this list. Members of the Church family have long held the title of Master Cordwainer (that’s ‘shoemaker’, to you and us), passing it down from generation to generation – including Thomas Church, the brand’s founder. Officially set up in 1880, Church’s has been crafting exceptional footwear for men and women ever since, and has even earned itself high praise from the British royal family on multiple occassions.

Explore: church-footwear.com

Image: Church’s

Close up of woman's feet in heels stood on a tiled floor

Freya Rose

If you’re after the perfect ‘Going Out’ shoe, look no further. British designer Freya Rose deals in timelessly styled footwear decorated in Mother of Pearl, which she sources from the same family of jewellers she’s worked with for more than 10 years now. The brand is also committed to slow fashion practices, only producing its products in small stock runs and making each pair of shoes by hand. And due to its many pearlescent designs, Freya Rose is, quite rightly, a firm favourite of brides across the world.

Explore: freyarose.com

Image: Freya Rose

Close up of woman's feet in black sandals, wearing a green satin dress

Camilla Elphick

When Camilla Elphick created her brand in 2014, she didn’t quite know just how much we’d love her shoes. Starting things off in Shoreditch, the brand has quickly grown in the years since into an all-female team responsible for creating gorgeous heels, sandals and boots in classic styles. Not even the royals are immune to the charms of this brand, as the Princess of Wales has been spotted on more than one occassion slipping her feet into a pair of Camilla Elphick slingbacks.

Explore: camillaelphick.com

Image: Camilla Elphick

Crockett & Jones shoes

Crockett & Jones

Fondly dubbed the ‘Makers of Fine Shoes’, Crockett & Jones has been doing just that since its founding in Northampton (the shoemaking capital of England) in 1879. The brand is both a friend and family affair, having been founded by friends James Crockett & Charles Jones and then seeing future generations take up roles in the business. The brand has racked up an impressive name for itself in the years since: manufacturing boots for the British army in WW1, earning Royal Patronage from King George VI and Prince Charles (who later awarded the brand a Royal Warrant) and even kitting out our favourite British spy, James Bond, for multiple films.

Explore: crockettandjones.com

Image: Crockett & Jones

Dr Martens boots

Dr. Martens

Home to the cool kids’ shoe, Dr. Martens has long been associated with rebellious crowds and fashion front-runners – but did you know they were originally responsible for making workers’ boots? Founded in 1901 by the Griggs family, the brand was well-known for creating sturdy boots in English Midlands. By 1945, the image of Dr. Martens had changed, having created an air-cushioned sole that pushed the boot into the realm of commercial fashion. The official Dr. Martens boot was born in the 1960s, and immediately loved by the skinhead scene – and Brits’ love of the brand has only grown since then.

Explore: drmartens.com

Image: Dr. Martens

Woman lounging in the back of an uncovered jeep

Fairfax & Favor

A modern leader in British luxury fashion, Fairfax & Favor is renowned for its countryside-ready shoes and accessories. The brand, which started out in 2012, was founded by childhood friends Marcus and Felix, who have injected the brand with British charm (as well as multiple stories detailing the shenanigans of their early years, which you can read here). Fairfax & Favor is now a regular at fairs and shows – in particular, the Game Fair – and has a solid fanbase flocking to its gorgeous selection of boots, loafers and sandals.

Explore: fairfaxandfavor.com

Image: Fairfax & Favor

Model sat on a fence

Joseph Cheaney & Sons

Joseph Cheaney & Sons has been making its shoes here in England since 1886, and continues to use the same factory to this day. Another gem from Northamptonshire, the Cheaney family were well-known locals who were also part of the area’s shoemaking elite. The brand has since received multiple awards, including the Queen’s Award to Industry for export achievement in 1966 and the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade in 2016, but today continues to thrive from its base in Northamptonshire where it make beautifully crafted men’s and women’s shoes.

Explore: cheaney.co.uk

Image: Joseph Cheaney & Sons

Brown tasseled loafers on a wooden rack

Barker

Another brand with bags of history, Barker has been cobbling shoes since 1880 and continues to preserve (and utilise) traditional shoemaking methods to this day. Like most great British shoemakers, Barker was founded in Northamptonshire. The brand’s founder, Arthur Barker, quickly became high in demand when he created waterproof peg-sole boots – leading him to set up his own factory. Later generations of the family have since joined the business, and helped to preserve the name of this much-loved British brand.

Explore: barkershoes.com

Image: Barker

Model leaning back on blue deck chair while wearing pink socks and black slides

Grenson

The year is 1866, and where do we find ourselves? You guessed it, Northamptonshire. Another shoe master from the Midands, Grenson is known for infusing classic footwear with trendy styles – but the brand has humble beginnings in a loft nestled above the Corn Merchant in Rushden. Shoes were made by hand until 1874, when founder William Green moved into his first factory (one of the first in the world to use the Goodyear Welted shoemaking method) and grew the business to a household name. Grenson has since produced boots and shoes for the soldiers of WW1 and WW2, opened multiple stores across London and has launched in Harrods, Selfridges and Liberty London.

Explore: grenson.com

Image: Grenson

Shoes and measuring tools set out on notebook on workbench

George Cleverley

London-based shoemaker George Cleverley was set up by its eponymous founder in 1958, and has had a home in Mayfair ever since. George Cleverley takes great pride in its shoes, with all shoemakers under the Cleverley name work under a three to five year apprenticeship before they begin crafting shoes for clients to ensure the highest quality. And it’s paid off. Perhaps best known for its elegant men’s shoes (which featured the ‘Cleverley shape’), the brand has kitted out some pretty big names – including Lawrence Olivier, Clark Gable and former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill – and continues to be synonymous with beautiful craftsmanship.

Explore: georgecleverley.com

Image: George Cleverley

Featured image: Nicholas Kirkwood