History in the making
Since 1880, Loake Shoemakers has produced some of the world’s finest footwear from our Wood Street factory in Kettering, Northamptonshire. Family-owned since the very beginning, we are proud of our history and heritage as traditional shoemakers. Scroll down to discover how it all started, learn about notable moments in our journey, as well as some the events we have celebrated or overcome along the way…
1880 - A Tradition is Born
1894 - Finding Its Home
Loake moves to Wood Street, Kettering, where it can still be found today. In the early days, the factory was called the Unique Boot Factory. It has a floor area of approximately 20,000 sq. ft, accommodates over 300 workers and is considered one of the finest and most advanced shoe factories in the country.
1914-18 - The War Effort
Loake’s contribution to the war effort included the manufacture of Terrain boots, Convalescent boots and Despatch boots for the British army. Vast quantities of Cossack boots were also made for the Russian army.
1929 - Fire at Wood Street
On the 5th November, the Wood Street factory caught fire. The results were devastating. All of the clicking (cutting) room, most of the closing (stitching) room and the leather room were destroyed. The morning after the fire, the local community immediately came together with many of the clickers (leather cutters) working from bedrooms in neighbouring houses and other shoe manufacturers in the town offering their help.
1930 - Jubilee: 50 Years of Progress
To celebrate 50 years in business and opening of 3 new factories, a celebration was held for all employers at the Wood Street factory. A special souvenir pamphlet was also produced to mark the occasion.
1945 - The Loake Brand
Soon after the Second World War had ended, the company increased production and started to carry stock lines. At this time, the Loake brand was also officially registered, although it had been in use for some time before.
1980 - 100 Year Anniversary
Loake marked its centenary and celebrated 100 years of making fine Goodyear Welted shoes with a presentation to family members and Company Directors Peter and Nicholas Loake. Further celebrations were also held with workers at the Wood Street factory.
2007 - A Royal Stamp of Approval
Loake is granted a Royal Warrant by Appointment of HM The Queen for the manufacture of Men’s Footwear. A Royal Warrant of Appointment is granted as a mark of recognition to people, companies and craftsmen across the sectors who have regularly supplied goods or services to either HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales or their Households, and Loake is exceptionally proud to hold this accolade.
2007 - Service Second to None
In 2007, Loake acquired a new warehouse in Kettering to accommodate increasing demand on its in-stock service. This new fulfilment space has meant that Loake is able to top-up and replenish its online shop, retail stores, as well as those of our UK and international wholesale partners, quickly and efficiently so our customers will always have access to their favourite Loake shoes.
2011 Opening of Our First Shop
Situated in the heart of London, Loake’s first shop on Jermyn Street opened to the public in November. This would later be joined by the Lime Street, Bow Lane and Spitalfields stores in London, as well as Loake’s Birmingham, Cheltenham, Guildford, Bath, Oxford, Chester, Canterbury, Exeter, Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dublin stores around the UK and Ireland.
2012 - A Step Forward in Men's Footwear
2012 was a tremendously defining year for the Loake Brand and one that would set the tone for a new, ‘modern’ Loake. It started with a fresh advertising campaign which saw the (now iconic) Loake Chester Derby Brogue paired with a pair of salvage denim jeans. The image perfectly captured the changing mood in Men’s footwear, which saw English made welted shoes gain popularity outside of the workplace. No longer considered just a “suit shoe” maker, Loake was now the everyday shoe of choice, for weekdays and weekends! Later this year, Loake was awarded the prestigious title of ‘Men’s Brand of the Year’ from both Drapers and the British Footwear Association.
2019 - Making History
In 2019, Loake once honoured to once again win the title of ‘Men’s Footwear Brand of the Year’ at the Drapers Footwear awards. In the year of his retirement, Andrew Loake was also bestowed with a Lifetime Achievement award in recognition for his services to the shoe industry, before passing the baton (from the fourth to the fifth generation) to Andrew Cory, Loake’s Managing Director. To top it off a fantastic year, Loake was then awarded ‘Men’s Footwear of the Year at the Footwear Industry Awards in Birmingham.