Monday, 13 August 2012
WALSH, A GUIDED TOUR.
Walsh footwear are a long standing British brand, making footwear locally in their own Bolton based factory. You don't need me to tell you all about how manufacturing in the UK is certainly not what it once was, it's a conversation we have every other week whilst looking to get something produced on these shores.
Walsh are different, yet are doing it as they always have done, all made by hand, in house. It's a genuine pleasure to get out during the week and visit these type of places. Looking into our very own Connoisseur trainer being made is an exciting time for us and Walsh fit that bill nicely, running shoes have always been a fave silhouette of ours and these are a very Northern brand which fits nicely with what we are about.
With my Grandad working as a cobbler for many years (responsible for his battalions boots in WW2) and having spent a large chunk of my younger years working in shoe shops previously, an appreciation of nice footwear goes way beyond the geekery.
The Lostock model (above) really jumped out at us as a winner, notably the middle pair in vivid colours, the mix of suede, nylon and leather, just right. Whilst many are set in their ways when it comes to trainers, some will probably always have a (blind) loyalty to their favourite brands and we're sure these won't please everyone, the fact Walsh is more off the radar only adds to the appeal for us.
Norman Walsh began making athletics footwear upon leaving school in 1945 at the age of fourteen. His name became known by many top professional athletes around the world and in 1961 he founded Norman Walsh Footwear, occupying part of his father’s shoe repair shop. It is estimated that Norman’s family have been involved in footwear since the late 1800’s. His father made and repaired clogs for the local mill workers.
The brand is now recognised within the exclusive designer footwear market and is receiving excellent success in Europe and the Far East, with products being placed in exclusive retailers.
Popular in Italy and making models for the Japanese market including specialist football boots, tug-of-war models and fell running shoes. In addition they are recognised as the leading brand in the UK for off road performance and hill running footwear with specialist models sold in specialist shops such as the Elite model sold in sports stores in the capital and outdoor shops up in the Lake District.
Wednesday gone we made the short jaunt across sunny Lancashire, Bolton bound, we met up with John from Walsh who gave us the full guided tour of the workshop...
As always, it's great to see these long standing industries thriving in today's economy, seeing the staff creating a trainer right in front of our eyes and each stage it takes until it's ready to be boxed. Classic old school engineering mixed with real hands on involvement from start to finish. Having recently made shoes for the Margaret Howell brand and previously worked with Paul Smith on the Red Ear label, Walsh have decent form for collaborations.
Watch this space for a Walsh x Connoisseur collaboration in the future.
In the meantime check out Walsh online and find them on Facebook too. CD