Crockett & Jones, one of the country’s premium shoemakers, has been a feature of The Royal Exchange since 2000. When it comes to high-quality footwear, Mansel Fletcher discovered, it’s worth putting a little effort into taking care of your investment.
The town of Northampton is synonymous with England’s proud shoe-making tradition, and Crockett & Jones is among the handful of Northamptonshire brands that are revered by shoe aficionados all over the world. Founded in 1879, five generations later the company remains under the aegis of the Jones family.
Crockett & Jones makes shoes in the quintessentially English manner, meaning that they’re substantial, elegant, masculine, hardwearing and timeless. It says much about their contemporary relevance that a pair of the brand’s shoes recently appeared on Daniel Craig’s feet in the latest Bond movie, Spectre.
Of course, fine shoes deserve to be well maintained, so for an authoritative guide we turned to Ben Playle, manager of the Crockett & Jones shop in The Royal Exchange.
The Crockett & Jones shoe care guide
1 First, our shoes are ready to wear as soon as you get them out of the box.
2 It’s important to keep your shoes on shoe trees, as these will prolong the life of your shoes. Un-lacquered wooden trees absorb the moisture from the leather, which reduces creasing and maintains the shape of the soles.
3 Always rotate your shoes, especially if they get wet – make sure you put on a dry pair.
4 Clean suede shoes by using a rubber suede brush with gentle circular movements. You can also steam them over a hot kettle (be careful not to burn yourself!). This will bring the dirt to the surface and darken the colour of the suede. Use a suede shampoo to remove oil stains.
5 When you eventually go through the soles we can replace them, even re-line them and re-shape them using a shoemaker’s last (mould or form). If you do this every few years, your shoes should last at least a decade.
How to polish leather shoes
First, put on a nourishing cream. Leather is a skin and it gets dry, so it has to be nourished. Once a week I dust my shoes, put the cream on and let it settle in for fifteen minutes, then I use a soft horsehair brush to bring back the polish. I also cream the soles to strengthen them.
Next, I apply polish with a cloth, and then bring up a lovely shine with a soft horse-hair brush. At the very end, I use a chamois leather to give them an extra polish.
If you want to give the toes and heels a high shine, start with a lump of polish on your cloth and make small circular movements until it goes matte and sticky. Then add a little water to the cloth until it moves easily again, and keep polishing until you see the shine.