Written by Daniel James Parry
“We wanted to tap into the the rich vein of real shoe making skills in England”
“Sneaker.” It’s a very American term, isn’t it?
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]y first introduction to the word was through the medium of television; I remember as a little boy sat in front of the TV watching Scooby Doo on Cartoon Network, both of which are outdated in the post-millennia generation, as protagonist Shaggy and star of the show, Scooby Doo, crept nervously along the corridors of “haunted” mansions and castles while followed by suits of armour and the eyes of paintings. And the term was regularly used – I came to understand that it referred to shoes. Today, a plethora of hashtags adorn every fashionista’s Instagram feed featuring the term in various forms, bursting with images of the latest pair of Nikes or Adidas, complete with a filter for that artistic, vintage feel. It’s all so postmodern. Ironically, the photo sharing favourite social media site is where one customer from UK was first introduced to the brand, commenting “I saw them on Instagram and thought ‘I’m having those’ – I didn’t hesitate.”
Interestingly, hopping across the pond as it were, the Oxford English Dictionary cites the term as “a soft shoe worn for sports or casual occasions.” Bringing the term home, enveloping it with an authentic British, traditional feel is the Northampton Sneaker Co., a company who, since their establishment in 2015, have already adorned the feet of Aston Martin’s chief designer and the fashion editor of GQ to name just two high profile fans of the brand.
The two footwear designer friends, who vouch to remain anonymous in favour of shining the limelight on the Northampton Sneaker Co, have 30 years combined experience in the footwear industry, having worked for many major brand names in the past; this array of acclaimed clientele have given the pair a well-rounded knowledge of the industry and endless technical ability, with a passion for what they do as avid ‘sneaker’ collectors themselves. As a sneaker enthusiast myself, I understand just how much dedication and commitment is involved in footwear; it’s certainly not cheap, nor casual. It’s more than a hobby – it’s a lifestyle. Speaking to EUKicks.com in August 2015, one of the brains behind the brand cited that their love of sneakers came from witnessing ‘a kid in a shell suit and Infra Red Air Max 90’s’, a pair which I myself own and thoroughly enjoy.
But what does a shoe mean to The Northampton Sneaker Co?
The answer? Everything. Growing up in a time when the Pump, the Max 90, the Torsion and the Huarache ruled the roost, The Northampon Sneaker Co’s founders saw sneakers as status – that they make the wearer the coolest kid on the block, and there’s certainly some truth in this. Speaking from experience, there’s certainly something to be said for wearing your best sneakers in public. It’s not smugness, but there is a slight want for passers-by to notice. Upon purchasing a pair of Adidas Ultra Boost, I certainly felt an instant desire to wear them anywhere and everywhere, amidst the vulnerability of a triple white colour scheme.
Combining the traditional manufacturing and craftsmanship of Northamptonshire made shoes, from whence the brand believe the very best quality shoes were made, with the modern look, shape and feel of a sneaker, Northampton Sneaker Co footwear is designed to look and feel like a classic tennis sneaker, but a premium equivalent. The brand describe their sneakers as being similar to a grown up equivalent of Stan Smith and Nike Court, aspiring to blend the everyday look and comfort offered by these shoes with prestigious leathers and immaculate quality production for which Northamptonshire shoe factories are recognised globally. Funnily enough, I recall buying a pair of Nike Courts back in my University days – I’d originally been hunting for a pair of Cortez, a shoe popular at the time, but after being deterred by their nylon outer layer, I vouched for the sturdier Court shoe. Northampton Sneaker Co’s anonymous craftsmen believe that the finest Italian made sneakers are built no better than a Nike – they simply utilize a gold logo and nice logo. If one were to stick a tick on the side of the shoe, it’s doubtful anyone would be the wiser.
So what sets Northampton Sneaker Co aside?
All modern trends aside, it’s important to consider the heritage that goes into each pair of Northampton Sneaker Co shoes. Created in a factory in a small village in Northamptonshire, the shoes produced here have been created in the same way for 130 years, a skill passed down from generation to generation, with the knowledge and care radiating in every pair of shoes sold. Far from mass produced, each pair are made solely by hand, first created in a time before consumerism when a sneaker was meant to last forever, and be repairable, two qualities which Northampton Sneaker Co feel their products embody.
Northampton Sneaker Co shoes often get compared to brands including Church’s, Trickers, Grenson and Redwing – but what sets the brand apart is the fact they’re lightweight and instantly comfortable, as sneakers should be. Speaking about this comparison, the Northampton Sneaker Co cited that “you could say comparisons are hard to make, but we are simply happy to be mentioned in the same breath as these other beautifully made shoes.”
No other sneaker is a Goodyear Welted in England, and no other shoe can be repaired indefinitely, meaning that effectively, Northampton Sneaker Co sneakers last forever, as all good sneakers should.
They’re something new. Something different. Something unique. Something handcrafted lovingly in the UK.
So, as a sneaker enthusiast, what do I think about Northampton Sneaker Co?
They’re certainly striking. I can’t think of any other brand that bear the lightweight, traditional simplicity which Northampton Sneaker Co embody. The brown leather interior really stands out against the simple one colour exterior, making for a stylish opposition. With a rise in the popularity of Doc Martens in both boot and shoe form, it’s almost a given that the Northampton Sneaker Co could certainly give them a run for their money. The NSC1 series in both black and white stand out, and it’s the subtle touches which really give these sneakers their prestige – the black with black laces with its calf leather interior would fit perfectly on the wishlist of fashion bloggers everywhere.
This is sure to change in the near future with collaborations in the pipeline, and an ever growing base of loyal fans and customers alike.
Find out more about Northampton Sneaker Co at:
BOLD AND BRITISH
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