My trip to Northampton; factory shops, bespoke last measurement and a factory tour

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Borrelli, Jun 9, 2010.

  1. SimonC

    SimonC Senior member

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    I hope the OP doesn't mind me stealing his thread.

    I'm sat in the White Elephant pub just around the corner from the John Lobb factory, having visited the following factory shops:

    Church's - turn left out of the station across tge railway bridge, and the large factory is a couple of hundred yards down on your left.

    The factory shop is a small room accessed directly from the street. The stock levels seemed good, with a mix of what must be very slight seconds and special orders. Pricing is around half retail so 175ish, with some true sample and lightly damaged stock starting at 75 pounds.

    I'll be frank and state that the shop was a disappointment for me - I'm used to visiting Bicester Village where they have even more stock, and the prices are slightly keener - with the VIP discount card I generally pay 135 pounds.

    Moving on and through town, I visited Trickers. This was a wood-panelled room in the heart of the factory. I have a soft spot for Trickers shoes, and they had some lovely shoes, but it really is sample / seconds stock, so there was nothing I liked in my size. Prices were 150-185, which is very fair but notably no lower than from their eBay shop which came as a small surprise.

    Third on the list was John Lobb. I knew to expect high prices here, and that was the case. Shoes range from 470-775, which just isn't the sort of pricing I'd expect if you're willing to venture to the outskirts of an industrial town 70 miles from London. Nice to have a look at what they had, but I wasn't tempted by the prices.

    So far, I'd probably not return - Bicester does well to combine reasonably-priced shoes with other clothing of interest. The prospect of a wider selection of makers seems offset by the time to travel here, and I'd suggest no-one should underestimate the deals to be obtained in B&S and eBay.

    You'll have to wait for the final installment because Crockett and Jones don't open until 2pm....



    directly from the street
     


  2. upnorth

    upnorth Senior member

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    +1. We do know one thing from all these writings. As yet, they won't make good editors of any porn magazine.
     


  3. MalfordOfLondon

    MalfordOfLondon Senior member

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    @SimonC - your trip sounds identical to mine thus far. You've definitely got a far better chance at picking up something decent @ C&J.
     


  4. ThinkDerm

    ThinkDerm Senior member

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    frankly, other than to go to springline - northampton sounds like a pure waste of time
     


  5. MalfordOfLondon

    MalfordOfLondon Senior member

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    frankly, other than to go to springline - northampton sounds like a pure waste of time

    It's not the nicest place to walk around either (apologies to any Northampton'ers) so there's not much else to do should you fail at scoring any decent shoes... [​IMG]
     


  6. zalb916

    zalb916 Senior member

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    frankly, other than to go to springline - northampton sounds like a pure waste of time
    I have made several trips to Northampton, which have been documented on the forum, with success. I have only visited Lobb and C&J. Lobb appears to have significantly increased its prices (double and triple what I paid), which removes a bit of the appeal. C&J always has plenty of offerings, though. By train and stopping at two shops, I made the trip from London in the morning and was back in the city for lunch. It's not the most exhilarating place, but if you have three of fours hours to spare, it's a fine trip.
     


  7. SimonC

    SimonC Senior member

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    Well as has been heralded, C&J came though - there was a queue waiting for them to open at 2pm which was a good sign. Once inside a larger room than the others, they had a good and quite consistent level of stock. I came away with the Bermuda in tan nubuck on a rubber sole for 80, Derby in tan country grain on a Wayferer sole for 120 and a Brooks Brothers Alonquin split-toe blucher in black grain on a Dainite sole. They had a good selection of boots at 150 and dress shoes for 120, and a slightly haphazard selection of dogeared Handgrade at 250.
     


  8. upnorth

    upnorth Senior member

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    I hope the OP doesn't mind me stealing his thread.

    I don't think he would mind if you do it just once, but 3 times? [​IMG]
     


  9. ThinkDerm

    ThinkDerm Senior member

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    I don't think he would mind if you do it just once, but 3 times? [​IMG]
    it is fine. carry on. post photos of the spoils

    yeah, lobb upped their prices significantly. c'est la vie - flippers upset them
     


  10. Borrelli

    Borrelli Senior member

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    I'll continue with the town factory shops I visited and try to add pictures tonight.

    Trickers: Nice shop in the back of the factory, though small. The main concern is that prices have gone up to GBP 175 for shoes and even more for boots recently. The man who ran the shop told me it used to be much better and that he could more or less decide how much to sell the shoes for, he used to sell very many on Ebay as you may know. At the beginning of the year he has suffered a heart-attack and when he came back after recovering from that management had decided to change the prices. Although I really like the workmanship and quality of the uppers and soles on Trickers shoes, these prices make it harder to go ahead and buy, at least for me it does. It's just not that much of a bargain anymore. If you are in Northampton I do encourage you to visit, this man is very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. I could really talk shoes with him and he knew a lot about the other factories as well. We also talked about factory shop prices, and some of the loved and not so loved Ebay sellers.

    Lobb: I decided not to go, having read about the enormous price increases. This was also confirmed to me by the man at Trickers as he knows the lady who runs the Lobb shop personally. Prices are now supposedly GBP 500+.

    C&J: only open on Fridays and Saturdays, so I could not visit them.

    Church: smallish shop with two female staff. The shop interior is not very appealing. They did have a reasonable selection of shoes, with some choice in wider widths as well. The prices did not strike me as particularly good, sometimes going over GBP 200 a pair. I have seen Church's on sale elsewhere for less. And, although I knew the quality had gone down under Prada, I was still disappointed with the uppers. The leather is just not what one would expect in this price range. Maybe it was the subs that looked that way, but the price they ask even there is not justified by the quality. I do not feel this shop is worth visiting.

    Jeffery West: This was a shop I thought I'd visit because a friend of mine has a pair of their shoes and is very happy with them. The styles are really not my thing, too pointy and fashion forward, but I wanted to share my impressions anyway. The shop sells sample shoes in size 8UK, some end of lines and some seconds. They also sell their normal lines at regular prices. The sales and sample shoes are all half price. The few seconds they had were a bit less. Quality is sufficiently good. If you like their styles, it could be worthwile to check them out, especially if you are a size 8UK.

    So, my idea on the factory shops that I visited is that there are not many left and because of the flipping on Ebay the prices of some have gone up very much. I do like to visit the shops that have a nice interior reeking of shoe history, preferrably with a knowledgeable gentleman helping,with whom you can talk about shoes, Northampton makers etc. Having read SimonC's account here, it seems C&J are also worth a visit. All in all, I can only recommend going if you are in the vicinity just as I was. Don't bother travelling from very far for just the factory shops, you might easily be dissapointed.

    Here's pictures of the Jeffery West shop:"
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    Most of the stuff there was regular stock at regular prices, with one wall dedicated to samples, some end of line and a few subs (in pictures 4 and 5 from the top). They were a bit hesitant about me taking pictures, so I promised only to take overview shots, no close ups of shoes. Anyway, you can check their website to look at the different styles.
     


  11. TRINI

    TRINI Senior member

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    C&J: only open on Fridays and Saturdays, so I could not visit them.

    This is an excellent piece of information to note. It'd suck to travel all the way up there only to find out the one store you wanted to visit is closed.
     


  12. MalfordOfLondon

    MalfordOfLondon Senior member

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    This is an excellent piece of information to note. It'd suck to travel all the way up there only to find out the one store you wanted to visit is closed.

    I managed to go all the way up there on the week that they all take their holidays. For some reason though - C&J was still open which was a God send.

    I can't understand how Lobb can charge nearly £500 for a pair of factory subs (I'm assuming they're all subs?). If someone has £500 to burn on a pair of shoes I doubt they'd bother to travel all the way to Northampton to save what? £100 - £150? I wonder how much business they turn over...
     


  13. Borrelli

    Borrelli Senior member

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  14. SimonC

    SimonC Senior member

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    If you are in Northampton I do encourage you to visit, this man is very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. I could really talk shoes with him and he knew a lot about the other factories as well. We also talked about factory shop prices, and some of the loved and not so loved Ebay sellers.

    You're right, he's an absolute gent - gave me directions to Lobb, told me to wind up the lady who ran the factory shop, and recommended a drink in the White Elephant.

    So, my idea on the factory shops that I visited is that there are not many left and because of the flipping on Ebay the prices of some have gone up very much. I do like to visit the shops that have a nice interior reeking of shoe history, preferrably with a knowledgeable gentleman helping,with whom you can talk about shoes, Northampton makers etc. Having read SimonC's account here, it seems C&J are also worth a visit. All in all, I can only recommend going if you are in the vicinity just as I was. Don't bother travelling from very far for just the factory shops, you might easily be dissapointed.

    I'd absolutely agree. I think Lobb may have to re-think their pricing (I didn't have the heart to tell them it was my reason for not purchasing anything - I'd have probably spent a lot if prices were half their current level). If the stock was subs / seconds it didn't show, but as they are moving their range to more avant-garde leathers and styles I can't see who is going to buy their stock of unlined white leather loafers at £505 a pair...

    I'm not going to point the finger at the flippers, they've performed a sterling service allowing international buyers access to the interesting items from Northampton at very reasonable prices. However, the party seems to be over - I wonder how long C&J will maintain their prices at the current level if it's a third lower than Trickers and Church's?
     


  15. MalfordOfLondon

    MalfordOfLondon Senior member

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    I wonder how long C&J will maintain their prices at the current level if it's a third lower than Trickers and Church's?

    +1. I'd still think twice about buying a pair of trickers at the price of their factory outlet (I've bought a couple of pairs from the eBay shop and wasn't too impressed). C&J at the outlet price however is a steal considering I don't really batter an eyelid at paying full price for their shoes.
     


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