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How our premium calf leather shoes are made

I would go as far as to say a man’s shoes are the most important part of his wardrobe. Invest in a good pair of shoes today and they’ll reward you with years of wear. The finest shoes are Northampton-crafted calf leather shoes, which are made carefully and, to a large extent, by hand from the best leather. In fact, some of the craftsmen who make Charles Tyrwhitt’s calf leather shoes spend years perfecting their skills so that they are able to stitch a welt, burnish a shoe or cut leather flawlessly to ensure each shoe will stand the test of time.

Why Northampton?

Northampton has been synonymous with creating the finest gentleman’s shoes since the fifteenth century. At the time, Northampton’s access to the raw materials necessary for crafting good quality shoes was guaranteed by the town’s large cattle market. Before long, shoe making became the town’s major industry and by 1642 rich gentlemen would only buy shoes that were made there. The first automated shoe factory opened in Northampton in 1838 by Moses Philip Mansfield, who was only 19 at the time. By 1841 there were 1,821 recorded shoemakers in the town. Today, the world’s finest shoes continue to be crafted there.

How calf leather shoes are made

There are six steps involved in making a pair of Charles Tyrwhitt calf leather shoes, many of which have not changed for generations:

1. Design

Each shoe design is exclusive to Charles Tyrwhitt. Once the sketches are finalised a ‘last’ is made, that is a wooden or synthetic mould of the shoe itself. This forms the exact size and shape required of the final shoe.

 

2. Click and cutting

The sections that form the ‘upper’ of the shoe (the leather that forms the top of the shoe) is cut from the finest premium calf skins sourced from the Alpine region of Europe. This is done by an experienced ‘clicker’, a term that derives from the sound made by the cutter’s knife as he works. These cut sections are stitched together in the factory’s Closing Room.
 

3. Lasting

The leather is softened with heat so it becomes supple enough to be pulled gently over the last. It is then fastened to the last at the toes and the sides and forms the exact shape of the last.

 

4. Welt sewing

A tough strip of leather is stitched to the upper and the insole for extra strength. This piece of leather is called the Goodyear welt and was named after the inventor Charles Goodyear who patented the process in 1871.

 

5. Sole stitching

The heel and the sole are stitched to the welt using two threads which lock inside the sole for maximum strength. The heel is then attached using tough screw-threaded nails.

 

6. Burnishing and finishing

The shoe is burnished, hand polished and thoroughly inspected before the Charles Tyrwhitt logo is carefully embossed on the sole. Each shoe is placed in an individual shoe bag and the pair is placed in the shoe box, ready to be sent to our discerning customers.