Further Cobbler Research

As stated in previous posts, I went to work with my local cobbler to learn more about the manufacturing of shoes. Following on from this, he gave me a collection of shoe components he uses to repair shoes, labelled up so I could include them in my buyers pack.


He also gave me a selection of industry magazines all about footwear, to help with my leather care advice and PESTEL.



Long Size Footwear – Market Share Research


Market Share for Big Size Women’s Footwear

First of all, the average woman owns 17 pairs of shoes (BBC article) so generally there is a big market for footwear retailers to tap into this need for footwear amongst women.

 I have looked at a lot of data for the market share for plus size footwear, however there has is currently no data available for long sizing shoes, but there is a lot of data available on wide fit footwear. I have selected key statistics from various Verdict reports on wide fit footwear that are more general and can be applied to long fitting shoes and the need for high quality, comfortable footwear.

“10,000 British consumers found that 60.5% of wide fit footwear shoppers said they find it difficult to find wide fit footwear, 74.4% want more choice.” (Verdict, Wide Fit Footwear, Sector Trends Report)

 “British feet are continuing to get bigger and wider, up two shoe sizes since 1970, due to increasing weight and height” (College of Podiatry)

 “Between 75-80% of UK adults have a foot problem” (College of Podiatry)

 “21.5% of wide fit footwear shoppers are 16-34, younger consumers are becoming more aware of foot problems associated with wearing uncomfortable shoes or underlying medical conditions such as back or knee problems, so they are actively seeking more comfortable, well-fitting footwear” (Verdict, Wide Fit Footwear, Sector Trends Report)

 “51.4% of wide fit footwear shoppers are prepared to spend more on wide fit shoes than regular shoes” (Verdict, Wide Fit Footwear, Sector Trends Report)

 “67.5% of wide fit footwear shoppers would like more fashion in wide fit ranges” (Verdict, Wide Fit Footwear, Sector Trends Report)

“Retailers should take advantage of consumer willingness to spend more on comfort footwear than regular footwear, and extend price architecture for specific comfort collections.” (Verdict, Retailer strategies footwear report)

Young woman trying on high heel shoes


Key Market Data Statistics & Graphics

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Competitor shop – Chiltern Street, Marlybone

On Wednesday the 20th of April, I visited Chiltern street in Marlybone to do some competitor shopping. I went to the street to look at Long Tall Sally’s footwear offering, but I also ended up stumbling across an independent footwear boutique for sizes UK 7.5 – 12.

Long Tall Sally

The store had quite a few customers in it to say its location is far from the popular London shopping locations and it was 11pm on a Wednesday morning. Naturally, all the women in there were incredibly tall, reaffirming my belief that women are actively seeking out clothing and footwear to fit their tall frames, that they can’t get from normal hughstreet stores.

I spent time in the footwear lounge pretending to browse, listening in on the conversations between the customers and the staff, to see what they were asking for in terms of size, fit and styles.

Long Tall Sally had their own brand footwear offering, but they also stocked a lot of external brands.

  • Deluxe by ITS
  • Barefoot Tess
  • Hush Puppies
  • Nine West

They had an overall size range from UK 7-13. Most of the Long Tall Sally own brand shoes were manufactured in China, but there were some made in India & Spain from the external brands. But generally quite cheap sourcing locations, with a £15 entry price and a £110 exit price – cheap/affordable shoe offering.

Crispins Shoes

After my visit to Long Tall Sally, I spotted an independent shoe store specifically for large size footwear (UK 7.5-12). I had a look inside and they had a wide range of shoes and stocked a lot of brands as well as their own brand range. Similarly to Long Tall Sally, there were lots of women in there trying on shoes, desperately trying to find shoes and getting fed up when they couldn’t find the perfect pair – again reaffirming that footwear shopping for long sizes is a task for a lot of women and there is a market for it.

Apart from Crispins shoes own label there was a lot of external brands filling out the 2 room store.

  • Pas De Rouge
  • JB Martin
  • Pretty Loafer
  • Stuart Weizmann
  • Brunate
  • Peter Kaiser
  • John Grey
  • Pretty Ballerina
  • Victoria Mengoni
  • Kennel & Schmenger
  • Think
  • Ganter
  • Toni Pons
  • Victoria Mengoni
  • Ara

Entry price £64.95 for a pair of Toni Pons espadrilles, exit price £495 for a pair of Stuart Weizmann heels. They had a commercial collection of shoes, wearable for all ages and personal styles. The store was poorly merchandised, but the staff were very friendly and wanting to help without being pushy sellers. One of the companies USP’s is that the store staff know everything about the shoe range and try to be as helpful as possible in finding you a well fitting pair of shoes.

Their most popular size in that store was UK size 9, so all the display shoes were size 9’s.

Sourcing locations were better than Long Tall Sally, the majority of the product was made in Italy & Spain.

Visit to my local Cobbler

In preparation for my INP, and future career aspirations I have been trying to acquire as much knowledge as possible on footwear and how it is manufactured.

During my Easter break, I thought it would be beneficial to spend some time with the cobbler in my home town, as a way to get closer to the manufacturing process of shoes, and see if there was any general knowledge he was willing to share with me on the topic of shoes.

He had a high level of experience working with shoes, being a cobbler for 36 years. We began our discussion with him suggesting some footwear factories that I can go visit in Northampton, the heart of footwear manufacturing in the UK. As I explained I was interested in high quality footwear, he suggested the following UK based factories: Trickers, Loake, Cheaney & Churchs would be good to see how high quality hand finishing on footwear is done- this is something I am now currently looking into.

The reheeling & resoling process

Top pieces = The new heel or sole to be put on the shoe to replace the damaged parts.

  1. Hold the sole against the grinding belt on the finishing machine to flatten all the roughness on the sole.
  2. Prime the sole (PVC shoe only) apply primer with a brush and leave to cool for a few mins before applying the glue, it helps the soles bond to the shoe.
  3. Apply glue to the sole: Neoprene (leather & rubber shoes – Contact adhesive, can be stuck to the shoe from 15 mins to 1 hour and it will still stick onto the sole, if it does dry up heat activate it), or Polyurethane (synthetic shoes – heat activated, put new soles under a heat lamp and stick onto the glued shoe)
  4. Press (usually 70psi) pushes shoe and new sole together, the press is essential for man made shoes to keep the sole attached (In the olden days when they only used leather soles they hammered the sole onto the shoe to ensure it stayed on)
  5. Hold the new sole/heel against the finishing wheel to smooth the edges so they’re inline with the shoes original sole.
  6. Hold the shoe against the finishing brushes (horse hair) to polish and tidy up the shoe (A process that would be used at a high quality shoe manufacturer)

Video link to view the finishing process

Heel & Sole types for high quality shoes

  • Leather full sole
  • Leather half sole
  • Rubber heel (more cost effective)
  • Quarter rubber heel (Rubber absorbs wear and tear)
  • Leather heel (Old fashioned)

Additional information

  • Eyelets are called grommets in the US
  • The welt is stitched to the upper from the inside (A lot of companies put on mock welt to make the shoe look high end, mainly shoes made in China and India that do this)
  • Goodyear welt
  • High quality shoe manufacturers have wooden lasts in all different sizes
  • Bespoke shoes made to order, hand made in Northampton – John Lobb
  • Sourcing locations: India/Cambodia/Indonesia – new sourcing locations that keep coming up in cheap shoes that he is repairing.
  • Loake shoes were traditionally made in England, but they are now sourcing elsewhere.
  • 6 different pins for stiletto heels coming in all variations of stem sizes with PU tops