Your browser is no longer supported. For the best experience of this website, please upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Old institutions reflect trade values of today

Richard Kottler

It’s extraordinary that in the 21st century, two institutions that date back to medieval times are still an integral part of today’s footwear industry.

It’s extraordinary that in the 21st century, two institutions that date back to medieval times are still an integral part of today’s footwear industry.

The Worshipful Companies of the Cordwainers and the Pattenmakers are City livery companies. They are not only part of our heritage, but actively participate in the commercial and charitable aspects of the trade. Livery companies were effectively trade associations, guardians of apprenticeships and providers of support to artisans – an early British Footwear Association.

The Cordwainers gets its name from leather workers from the Cordoba area in Spain (hence cordwain leather) and a ‘patten’ was a form of under-shoe. Secured under the shoe by a leather strap, the wearer could “walk through the mud of the City and arrive clean shod”.

The Cordwainers supports design students in a number of colleges – notably, of course, the Cordwainers at London College of Fashion. It also donates to training projects, as well as the industry charity, Footwear Friends.

The Pattenmakers also supports the charity and the orthopaedic sector, and has recently become involved with providing specialist footwear for those servicemen recuperating at Headley Court in Surrey. It also runs a development programme for young managers, as well as hosting the annual Footwear Dinner.

We may no longer use Cordoba leather, nor wear pattens – the invention of pavements saw to that – but we do still want to create the highest standards for craftsmen, and to help those who are either starting out in business or who have devoted themselves to it for many years. Honourable and enduring aims – just like the Cordwainers and the Pattenmakers.

  • Richard Kottler is chief executive of the British Footwear Association

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.