Behind the scenes at the George Cox factory
Monday, 24th Sep 2012
Fred Perry are pleased to announce the release of two new exclusive George Cox footwear styles, as part of our on-going Friends of Fred project. Established in 1906 in Northamptonshire, the home of British shoemaking, George Cox has built a reputation for their uncompromising craftsmanship and traditional values on quality. Keen to see the process involved in making each shoe; we took a visit to the factory to see British manufacturing at its best.
The company, famed for its creeper styles, utilises a production process known as Goodyear Welting. The hands-on nature of this construction means that the shoes take much longer to produce than those made using wholly mechanised techniques. Whilst many modern manufactured shoes have their soles simply glued on, the Goodyear welting process involves several stages of sealing with each shoe individually finished by a skilled craftsman. Whilst at the George Cox factory, we witnessed the production of the new women's Friends of Fred Gibson shoe from beginning to end.
Firstly, the suede or leather hide is selected and the upper shoe pattern cut out by hand. In footwear production this initial stage is known as 'clicking' and calls for great skill and precision. Once the suede has been cut to shape, the pieces - including the lining - are stitched together and then stretched and shaped over the last. Each shoe style has a different last, created with individual characteristics, and it's this shaping tool that replicates the anatomical information of the foot and gives the shoe its sturdy, recognisable finish.
A welt (a strip of material) is then stitched to the upper and inner sole holding all the pieces firmly together. Next, the bottom of the shoe is compacted with a special filler to create a flat surface, whilst also adding insulation. Now the whole upper part of the shoe is complete, the soles are carefully trimmed and stitched to the welt. The final stages of making the shoe involves the stitching, fixing and attachment of the heel; overall polishing and one last examination, ensuring everything is as it should be before carefully boxing.