A more contemporary approach is winning this classic men’s footwear label an army of new fans.
There’s no secret to why Northampton is the epicentre of British shoe making – the local cows, soil and oak were perfect for producing top-quality leather while the town’s central location made distribution a breeze. It’s been home to the nation’s top cordwainers for at least 350 years, the watershed for the local industry coming when Oliver Cromwell ordered 2,000 pairs of shoes for his Roundhead army to wear into battle in the Civil War.
But enough of the history lesson – it’s what the area’s traditional brands are doing in the modern market that is interesting. Men’s footwear trends seem to move at a strolling pace in comparison to women’s full-on sprint, something that plays into the hands of the old-school craftsmen in Northants. The latest name – the term ‘latest’ used in the loosest possible sense for a company nearly 140 years old – to cleverly blend tradition and trend is Sanders & Sanders, or, unsurprisingly, Sanders for short.
Based in Rushden since 1873, the brand has really captured the mood in men’s footwear at the moment, bringing a lightness of touch to its traditional styles to make the shoes and boots in its casual range more modern and more affordable. The crepe, EVA and contrast sole trends are all ticked while suede still rules supreme, whether constructed as a derby, brogue or chukka.
The brand has always done its thing, predominantly making impeccably crafted classic styles from beautiful leather using traditional techniques. The full range, complete with grand titles such as Diplomat and Ambassador, comprises loafers, Chelsea boots and country brogues, all with equally grand names, but it was the more contemporary approach that has won Sanders the attention of a wider, younger audience and the likes of etailer My-Wardrobe.
Lee Douros, My-Wardrobe’s buying manager and self-confessed shoe addict (we have it on good authority he owns around 150 pairs), picked the brand up when he saw the spring 12 collection at London trade show Jacket Required. He was instantly smitten: “I was drawn to Sanders for its use of crepe and rubber soles with hand-worked suede uppers. The colours in the spring collection really stood out, with lots of dirty buck, snuff brown and rich bottle green.”
Wholesale prices range from £54 to £140, putting the brand in the premium market, but it is great value considering the craft that goes into each pair. With spring 12 looking strong and while they wouldn’t be appropriate for charging into battle in, we’re sure Cromwell and his army would approve.
Year the brand was founded in Rushden, Northamptonshire
Starting wholesale price, rising to £140 Four Number of family generations that have owned the business
Sanders 01933 353066