I trialed Crown Northampton's most popular shoes including their hand-made sneaker and popular Desert Boot to get a better feel for the craftsmanship that's applied to their collection. Combining the world famous shoe-making expertise of Northampton and applying that to sneakers has fascinated me, so trying them out in person gave me the opportunity to understand better Crown Northampton's approach to luxury handmade sneaker making.

Chris Chasseaud wearing Crown Northampton

One of Crown Northampton main collection is aptly titled the Hand Stitch Collection and is what they deem to be the pinnacle of luxury, handmade sneakers. I wouldn't disagree, when you have skilled Northampton shoemakers making sneakers. It is a top-tier collection thats draws inspiration from bespoke, hand-welted dress shoes with a few nods to time-honoured traditional processes. The sneakers themselves have a low profile silhouette, featuring hand-finished construction with world-class materials.

Following the standards set with bespoke, hand-welted shoes, all of Crown Northampton's sneakers are cork filled by hand. This age-old process requires skill and patience and is held dear to Crown Northampton's traditional roots. The cork forms a solid filler down the full spine of the sneaker that provides just enough movement to mould to the wearers' feet – with the additional benefits of comfort, stability, and breathable properties. Traditional oak bark leather is used for the counter and stiffener with a natural veg-tan crust shoulder used to form the foundations of the insole. French bound stitching around the outer edges holds together natural veg tan leather lining and upper.

These combined classic techniques result in a solid, reliable structure that offers superior strength and longevity. The hand stitch finishing is functional as opposed to decorative and the thick, natural waxed cotton double-stitch adds to the construction security and design character.

All of Crown Northampton sneakers and desert books can be ordered in Suede, Leather, Chromexcel, Horween, Buffalo and Cordovan.

All photos by Alex Natt

Overstone Hand Stitch Wholecut Mid Sneaker

The Overstone is a mid-boot sneaker with a minimal design that can be worn casually with jeans and chinos or in smarter settings as a dress sneaker. Signed off with trademark hand stitch detail to firmly hold the tongue in place, with double stitched rear dog tail tabs to the heel. Balanced, lightweight, and perfect for all seasons.

Crown Northampton Everdon Hand Stitch Wholecut Mid Sneaker
Overstone Hand Stitch Mid - Horween Forest Green Chromexcel
Crown Northampton Everdon Hand Stitch Wholecut Mid Sneaker
Everdon Hand Stitch Wholecut Mid - Horween Forest Green Chromexcel

Overstone Hand Stitch Mid Sneaker

Harlestone Hand Stitched Derby Sneaker

The Harlestone sneaker is Crown Northampton's original Hand Stitch style. Made with derby construction and open-faced lacing, the upper mirrors the look, feel and finish of high-quality dress shoes. It's minimal and understated and sets the benchmark for handmade ‘Dress Sneakers’. With a classic silhouette and design that sits effortlessly between smart and casual, it is equally at home paired with everyday trousers or a tailored suit. Finished with signature double stitch detail to the front and rear that provide added strength at pressure points.

Harlestone Hand Stitched Derby Sneaker

Woodford Desert Boot

The Woodford Desert Boot is a classic ankle height, two-eyelet design based on a classic 1950's pattern. It features a natural crepe sole that is extremely hardwearing, lightweight, and comfortable. Part of their Stitchdown Collection the Woodford Desert Boot epitomises Crown Northampton championing their shoes being masterfully crafted in England by hand from start to finish.

The upper is made from English tanned Janus calf suede from the world-famous Charles F Stead tannery in Leeds, UK (which I've been lucky to visit several years ago). Janus calf suede has an unrivalled soft, premium nap, with the ultimate durability that is perfect for use in a desert boot. The boot is unlined as the suede upper is moss backed which increases wearer comfort. The footbed is half-lined with natural leather and a soft, cushioned heel pad. The Woodford Desert Boot goes through a number of complex processes before completion, none more important than the stitch down welting stage. This process uses a Number 10 sole stitcher - an integral machine used in making traditional Northampton shoes and boots. This provides the bold stitching used to secure the natural crepe sole while the technique also ensures the boots remain strong and flexible.

Woodford Desert Boot