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Quality first – the secret behind British mens shoes brand, Grenson

February 14, 2012

Quintessentially British Grenson shoes are arguably one of the finest shoe brands in the world incorporating 140 years of heritage and one that have always bared the wholemarks of founder William Green ‘Quality first’. Even in more recent times following the revitalisation by Christian Purslow, formally Chief Executive of Liverpool FC and Tim Little dubbed by the press as the ‘god father of sole’ for his cool approach to revitalising the traditional English shoe industry. The reborn collection combines the traditions and craftsmanship of Grensons founding philosophy with a modern twist ideal for the modern generation – the Rushden Collection. The end product is the chunky soled brogue and Chelsea boots in mahogany; chestnut and tan while slimmer cast desert boot styles in beige suede have a more elegant appeal.

Founded in 1886 by William Green, the modern day Grenson often referred to as ‘England’s Master Shoemakers’ derives from a family based cottage industry craft where William helped his mother produce men’s boots following the death of his father in 1839 and the family relocation to Rushden, Northamptonshire. Green assisted his mother in their family craft until 1860 when he moved out of home and continued this in his own home until 1866.

In 1866, William stopped producing shoes and boots in his house and instead became a ‘factor’. Meaning Green went out and gained orders, sourced materials and recruited craftsmen to make the much loved and soon to be sort after men’s shoe and boots. This progression resulted in the formulation of the company that became known as William Green & Son and one that enjoyed a growing order book from London based wholesalers who warmed to the boots and shoes and which soon became famous for their quality, craftsmanship and durability. Flourishing and attracting the finest boot makers Green set up the first factory to be opened in 1874. The ‘Greens Yard’ factory was the first factory in the world to use the Goodyear welt construction method for manufacturing gentlemen’s shoes. ‘Green & Son’ soon became Grenson, a powerful brand which still dominates the shoe industry today.

Twenty years on, in 1895, Grenson moved to larger premises to accommodate for the surge in demand which they experienced throughout the nineteenth century. The factory is still there now on Queen Street and is the heart of this thriving shoe business.

William died in 1901 but he had left behind him such a solid foundation that the company continued to go from strength to strength during the twentieth century. The Queen Street factory was further enlarged and the ‘Grenson’ brand was registered in 1913 (in fact, it is true that Grenson was the first brand name ever to be registered in the UK so it is clear how advanced the thinking behind this shoe company was and continues to be). Thereafter, Grenson shoes were sold directly to retailers across the globe which further spread the message that Grenson shoes were a force to be reckoned with in the global shoe industry.

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One Comment
  1. This article too was published on Designasuit back in 2010. The website is no longer up and running which is a real shame in mu opinion but why not have a look at their blog –

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