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|Founders||Matthew and Rebecca Wildsmith|
Wildsmith Shoes is a high-end English handmade footwear manufacturer, founded in London in 1847 by husband and wife team, Matthew and Rebecca Wildsmith. They based their business on making and repairing boots for the Household Cavalry. Wildsmith is owned by Savile Row tailoring company, Cad & The Dandy in association with Chay Cooper, previously of English shoe maker Alfred Sargent., producing luxury ready-to-wear men’s footwear.
After opening their first shop, off London’s Piccadilly, Matthew and Rebecca Wildsmith quickly gained a loyal following and began crafting bespoke shoes for many Royals and luminaries. Subsequently a ready-to-wear collection was introduced, which became equally popular.
The company moved to London’s Duke Street in 1948 and then on to Princes Arcade in the late 1960s. It was around this time that the company began to gain a wider international reputation as Matthew and Rebecca’s great-grandson, John Wildsmith, took the brand around the world. He gathered together a team of tailors and shirt makers and they traveled across various countries delivering a service that became known as The Three S’s – suits, shirts and shoes.
Manufacture of the Wildsmith ready to wear collections went to Northampton in the 1960s, an area that has long been famous for its shoe making abilities. Machinery at the Northampton factory was created by Charles Goodyear, producing shoes at a faster rate and creating lighter work than was previously possible. This machinery is said to have inspired the name of the high quality Goodyear Welt.
The Wildsmith Loafer
In 1926 Matthew and Rebecca Wildsmith’s grandson, Raymond Lewis Wildsmith, made a bespoke country house shoe for King George VI, to be worn inside with his shooting hose. From there, the design was evolved to be a casual style for outdoor wear which was then included in their ready to wear collection. The shoe was first called the 582, then the Model 98 until finally becoming known as The Wildsmith Loafer. This was London’s first introduction to the English loafer, a version of the generic slip-on shoe. The style continues to be sold to this day.
Although the actual shoe manufacturing has changed since the company was first founded they still produce their footwear with the highest quality. They do this with highly skilled employees who perform various operations in the manufacture process. It is a labour intensive method but ensures all shoes are of the highest quality. A Goodyear Welt is used by Wildsmith in their shoe assembly, which warrants an exceptional degree of strength and reliability integrated into the shoe.
Wildsmith was bought in 2013 by Savile Row tailors Cad & The Dandy, in association with Chay Cooper, formerly of Alfred Sargent. The company continues to work with the skilled Northamptonshire Cordwainers, who have over 100 years of experience in the making of Goodyear Welted footwear. Wildsmith shoes are sold worldwide, with a price range generally between £380 and £450.