"My family has been making traditional English shoes for longer than anyone can remember. My great-great Grandfather William opened the first Loake factory with his brothers John & Thomas, back in 1880. Today, five generations and more than 140 years later, the Loake association with fine, handmade footwear lives on.
As the current custodians of Loake, we are immensely proud of the commitment of our forefathers and the tradition they worked so hard to establish. For this reason, we are honoured to continue making Goodyear Welted shoes in the same factory built in 1894."
A Tradition is Born
Loake is set up in Kettering, Northamptonshire, by three brothers, John, William and Thomas. The business is started in an outbuilding at Thomas Loake's house at 62 King Street.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Factory Shop Opens
Our first ever factory shop opened up in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, stocking ‘factory seconds’ and end-of-line stock from across all Loake ranges. Later in the year, this was joined by an online factory outlet shop, and an outlet store in Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth’s cultural harbour.
New Shop Opening
Loake opens up its Staple Inn store, near Chancery Lane. With its distinctive timber-framed façade, Staple Inn was built in 1585 and is just one of four timber-framed buildings in London. Having stood strong against many of the misfortunes which has affected London - from the Great Plague to the Great Fire of London, Staple Inn was designated a grade I listed building in 1974.