to learn more about shoemaker Alfred Sargent’s craftsmanship, Paul Sargent led us on a tour of its Rushden factory, where we got to witness a few of the 200 steps required to make every shoe—including the J.Crew double monk strap. here, we got an inside look on the process.
Welcome To Rushden
Rushden, Northamptonshire, has long been the home of traditional English shoemaking and, not coincidentally, Alfred Sargent. Alfred Sargent, founded in 1899 by its namesake and currently overseen by his great-great-grandson Paul, still handcrafts every pair, from selecting the finest Italian calf leather to carving the lasts to attaching the Goodyear welt—a process that requires more than 200 separate steps and has changed little in over 100 years.
The J.Crew double monk strap shoe begins as a handmade drawing. This is design-6, meaning it’s the sixth variation of this style that Alfred Sargent has made.
Leather controller Terry Bradbury sorts the leather that will be used for the J.Crew double monk strap in the leather room. (Hundreds of leathers are considered.) He’s looking for inconsistencies, defects and other undesirable marks.
Once selected, the leather is cut into shape using double-edge press knives. (Notice the monk straps sticking out at the bottom.)
Using a 99E last, the leather is then side stapled with brass staples to hold the upper to the rib, where the welt will later be sewed on.
Granulated cork is applied by hand. It will form the layer between the sole and the insole, which will mold to the foot with wear.
After the shoe is soled and the Goodyear welt is applied, it’s edge-trimmed, a process that smooths the area where the welt meets the sole.
The next-to-last step in the process happens in the shoe room, where antique cream is applied to the leather. The cream protects and gives a burnished look to the leather.
In the final step, each pair of shoes is polished by hand.
A shoe is born: the monks are placed in a custom shoe box designed for J.Crew.
Photography by Bryan Derballa.
To shop our entire assortment of Alfred Sargent for J.Crew, click here