Solovair is a brand of British-made boots and footwear, produced by NPS Shoes Ltd., which was established in 1881. NPS is based in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, an area known for its shoe industry. NPS shoes are known for their goodyear welt technology and use it in all their shoe production, this particular technique is needed to fix the Solovair sole onto "Soft Sole Suspension" boots and shoes. Shoe manufacturer R. Griggs Group Ltd. had the patent to produce Dr.Marten boots but not the technology so in 1960 Griggs and NPS collaborated to create a boot using a Solovair sole and a Griggs boot, the result was the now iconic Dr. Marten boot. The first pair leaving the NPS factory in 1960. NPS Shoes continued to make Dr. Marten boots and shoes under licence until the mid 90's. They patented the name Solovair in 1995 and now make their own air cushioned boot using the same lasts and leather cutters and machines used to create the first original Dr. Marten suspension soles in the UK.
Solovair and Tredair are some of the few remaining manufacturers of leather boots in the United Kingdom, although the products are hard to find, largely due to distribution issues. They have become popular among punks and skinheads seeking British-made boots, after Dr. Martens moved their main production to China in 2003.
Solovair do not retail their products or manage shops. Internet sites that sell a range of classic Solovair products from their vintage range include the Air Cushion Boot Company, a small family run business, exclusively selling Solovair since 1973, and Veganline.com who sell some canvas-top styles.
In 2005 British Boot Company became the main retail agent for Solovair in the United Kingdom. In their shop in Camden they carry many different Solovair styles, most of them exclusively made for The British Boot Company. They are however, significantly more expensive than if ordered directly from the manufacturer.
In the U.S. Solovair historically had little exposure. However, 2012 NPS launched a partner site exclusively for the US, www.SolovairDirect.com.
Solovair products come in a variety of styles, colours, and number of eyelets. Recognisable features include orange or yellow stitching around the top of the sole, and a green and black tag at the top of the heel with the Solovair logo and "Soft Sole Suspension" on the back. The bottom of the sole has the Solovair logo. Otherwise, they look like standard AirWair-style boots.
- Solovair website
- British Boot Company website
- NPS Shoes
- SolovairDirect US Partner
- Air Cushion Boot Company