- Photography by Mr John Lindquist | Styling by Mr Tony Cook
- Words by Mr Chris Elvidge, Senior Copywriter, MR PORTER
This unique collaboration brings together two names from opposite sides of the world. On the one hand, Grenson, a British company with more than 130 years' experience in traditional British shoemaking; on the other, Foot the Coacher, the flagship brand of Tokyo-based shoe designer Mr Toshinosuke Takegahara. They may be separated by 6,000 miles, but both companies find their origins in the same place.
Nestled in the heart of England, the county of Northamptonshire boasts a centuries-old reputation for quality shoemaking. It's home to a number of highly respected brands, including Grenson, which was founded there in 1866 by Mr William Green. His was the first factory in the world to employ the "Goodyear welt" method of construction, a technique that, while time-consuming, produces a hard-wearing product, and as such it has become a hallmark of all well-made British shoes. It was also here in Northampton that a young Mr Takegahara first studied his craft, and the experience has clearly stayed with him: his footwear brand uses the Goodyear welt process as the foundation for all of its shoes, and takes classic English shoe design as one of its major inspirations.
"What Foot the Coacher do is very much about old, antique styling," explains Mr Tim Little, the owner and creative director of Grenson. "Their speciality is the vintage English look with their own take - Victorian footwear, in particular. Shoes today have become more simple than they were back then. A lot of the tiny detailing has been abandoned, and they bring a lot of that back. We were able to take their designs, and look back into our archives for old construction methods. In particular it was important to find a last that really worked, and brought out the old Victorian looks."
The result of combining Mr Takegahara's distinctive, forward-thinking take on vintage shoemaking with Grenson's manufacturing experience is a collection of five boots, in two styles - one inspired by a vintage football boot, another by an Edwardian "Balmoral" boot. According to Mr Takegahara, it's "an opportunity to show what Britishness means to us - but from our own design perspective".