12 August 2016 12:30:00
Grenson: a century and a half of the best traditions
History of British footwear brand that keeps leadership on the market since the very first day
The William Green’s family has been in the business of producing the finest quality footwear since 1866. He was born in 1835 in Rushden, Northamptonshire. His father died whilst he was still a young child and it was his mother who taught him this trade, by helping her to produce boots and shoes from their family home up until 1860. William eventually left and continued to craft footwear from his own home up until 1866. The next step for him was to venture further afield to source fabrics and materials, employing craftsmen to help with the high demand for his footwear. William started off the company in the name of William Green & Son and it wasn’t long before the name was known and loved throughout the country for its gentlemanly shoes and boots, renowned for their craftsmanship, quality and durability.
The Green Yard Factory
Due to the growth of the business William opened his first factory at Green Yard to accommodate the increasing demand for the footwear in the year 1874. This was one of the first factories in the World to use the Goodyear Welted method of shoemaking. Green and Son soon became Grenson – the power house that still dominates the footwear market today. Some years later in 1895 the business had grown enough to require bigger premises and their success was such that they could afford to build a state of the art new factory on Queen Street. This is the factory that they left only in 2013 to move to the current factory. William Green sadly died in 1901 leaving behind his legacy for future generations of the Green family to concede and in 1913 the Grenson brand was registered and became one of the first brands ever registered there in the UK.
In the wartime
During The Great War Grenson served its country by producing thousands of boots and shoes for the soldiers. Later, from 1939 to 1945 the company was called into action and makes many shoes and boots for the soldiers, not only of British forces but of the Allied Forces too. Among many styles it developed there was a flying boot with a leg that zips off to make running easier in case of being shot down in enemy territory. At this point the factory employs nearly 500 people making shoes.
New times – new footwear
During the post-war time, Hayden Green, the last surviving member of the Green family, visited America and saw the majority of men wearing soft, comfortable moccasins which appeared to be very inspiring for him. Moreover, he visited India where the best hand-stitching skills were found and started making a collection that gave the company a new lease of life during those years. Shortly after that Grenson creates many innovative products such as exotic skin shoes in the 60’s and 70’s, but eventually begins to decline due to the growing number of imports from the Far East. There is a noticeable tendency to sharing mutual know-how in a great number of collaborations with other brands such as Barbour, rag & bone, New Balance, Garbstore and many others. In 2012 Grenson Shoe School was launched where participants can learn exactly how the company makes the shoes. It involves a single day tour and lecture on Grenson and their shoes. In 2016 the 150th anniversary was marked by a series of events and an "Archive Collection" of shoes that was painstakingly reproduced from the originals. It covered many decades of Grenson shoemaking.
Apart from the new moccasin collection, all of Grenson’s shoes are “Goodyear Welted”. This is a shoemaking technique that was invented in the mid 1800’s and involves many individual processes, but the key benefit is that the shoes are strong and last a long time. The main feature of Goodyear Welted shoes is that the upper is stitched to a leather band called a Welt and this is then stitched to the sole. It takes up to 8 weeks to make the shoes and involves well over 200 individual operations. Manufacturing stages include: materials cutting, assembling, tailoring and finishing process. By the way, the beauty of the Goodyear Welted shoes is that they are repairable. So, when you send your shoes back to the factory for repair, it isn't really a repair at all; it’s more of a total rebuild. The company strips the shoes down and put them back onto their original last, thereby reshaping the upper back to how it was on the day they were first made.
You can find all Grenson products at our store.
GrensonMen's shoes Angus Brogue Black
GrensonMen's shoes Archie Brogue Tan
GrensonMen's shoes Liam Country Grain Derby Black
GrensonWomen's shoes Emily Brogue Black
GrensonWomen's shoes Clara Loafer Tassell Tan
GrensonWomen's shoes Emily Brogue White
Show all news