28 October 2010

Branded: Barker shoes.

On one of my many stops in Absolute Vintage I found the most perfect-to-me pair of shoes: chocolaty brown leather, manageable heel height and arch, equestrian detailing, rounded toes, and on top of all that - my feet even looked almost petite in them! Needless to say it was straight to the till for me, and I wore them everywhere - I of course wore them out, and after a few repairs deemed them unrepairable, placing them in my r.i.p. pile at the bottom of my wardrobe. I never knew the maker or date of production.
(June and August 2009, the original pair)
Fast forward several months to one of my late-nite 'vintage 7' searches on ebay. I came across another pair of shoes which I found irresistible. I couldn't quite put my finger on just why. After several days of 'watching' and waiting - and after a very generous seller agreed to lowering her reserve price - they were mine. I giddily opened the parcel to discover just why I'd fallen for the shoes: they were exactly the same as the r.i.p. pair only in much better condition and in a narrower fit - which only made them that bit more perfect! It was the most blissful deja vu, and on these insoles I could actually read the label: Barker of England. I was excited to do a bit of research about the brand, whose shoes I'd seen in many City shop windows.

The foundation stone of the Barker brand was laid in a humble cottage in the heart of England's shoe manufacturing industry in 1880, by enterprising Northamptonshire boot maker Arthur Barker. During the interwar years, Arthur's three sons joined the family business, taking the brand into new markets and territories. In 1947, a new factory was built in Earls Barton to expand production, including the production of women's shoe collections. Barker are one of twelve shoemakers in the region, alongside Church's, Grenson and Loake.

A newer factory and offices were built in 1986 in the centre of Earls Barton village. The new site is just a few hundred yards away from the original factory of 1880. And although modern methods of production have been introduced over the years, the same skills, traditions and craftsmanship are very much evident today. Albert Barker demonstrated that an insistence on traditional standard need not to be old-fashioned. His policies of top quality materials, craftsmanship and distinctive classic design are still carefully maintained today, with Barker craftspeople producing some 200,000 pairs of hand lasted sewn shoes each year. Recent collaborations include Jeffrey Campbell and Herring.

I am happy to report that I received a lovely reply from the Barker archives: The shoes are called 'Ripon' and were last produced in 1988. At that time there was also a matching handbag to go with the style - let the hunt begin! *Barker history adapted from the company website.


softspoken said...

they're beautiful!

Little Monarch said...

beautiful they are! you have a lovely blog by the way :)

Morgan Jordan said...

Saw you on CaliVintage! Lovely blog. Following you on BlogLovin! :)


Jessica said...

Thanks so much ladies and welcome to my new followers. I look forward to visiting your blogs soon. x

Anonymous said...

score! this afternoon I found a pair of these beauties at my local thrift shop. they are the lace up version of yours. beautiful condition and only $1 !! very happy :)

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