In Northampton in 1890, Edward Green established his shoe-making workshop with a commitment to ‘making the finest shoes, without compromise.’
Today the brand stays true to their craft tradition, making shoes, which exemplify quality and quintessential English style. Their artisans make just 350 pairs a week, focusing on producing shoes of unmatched refinement, characterised by handsome lasts, bevelled waists and hand antiqued calfskins.
The story begins with Edward Green, a shoe clicker, who was concerned by the rush to industrialisation in the shoe-making workshops of late Victorian England. He believed that this push for volume, created space for a shoe-maker to focus on making shoes of real distinction. Mr Green drew together a team of the most illustrious craftsmen – experts in their respective fields - and sourced the best materials for them to work with. By the 1930s the company was being run by his sons and had become the country’s pre-eminent maker of high-grade military boots. Edward Green shoes were chosen by Ernest Hemingway, the Duke of Windsor and Cole Porter.
In the post-war period Edward Green shifted its focus from boots to shoes, reflecting changes in wider taste. In 1977 the Green family sold the business to American leather entrepreneur Marley Hodgson but financial problems continued and Hodgson sold to shoe designer John Hlustik in 1982.
Hlustik recognised that Edward Green needed to return to the founder’s emphasis on uncompromising quality and then seek to develop sales under its own name. He opened a shop on London’s Burlington Arcade and set about exporting Edward Greens from Tokyo to New York.
Hlustik introduced antiquing of leathers to Northampton and encouraged the adoption of brown shoes, all the better to show off the depth and character of a fine calf skin. John Hlustik summarised the design ethos of Edward Green: “We do a very elegant shoe. Neither heavy and clunky nor slick. I’d say it’s an understated gentleman’s shoe.” Unexpectedly John Hlustik passed away in 2000 and the company fell to his partner Hilary Freeman.
In 2004 Edward Green moved from a cramped factory spread across two adjacent sites on Cowper Road into an airy new site on Cliftonville Road, reinforcing Edward Green’s links to Northampton but ensuring better working conditions and room for future expansion. In 2009 they opened a second shop in Paris on the chic boulevard Saint-Germain.
Today the workshop continues to make shoes according to the same simple philosophy Edward Green laid out in 1890 – never compromise the integrity of the craftsman. Where necessary, shoes are still hand-sewn with a pig’s bristle; they are still hand cut by a ‘shoe clicker’ who makes his own knife; they are still Goodyear welted, allowing them to be remade again and again, gaining character as the years go by.
The Galway — A classic derby boot
The Dover — the iconic split-toed derby
The Chelsea —the definitive cap-toe oxford
The Piccadilly — classic penny loafer