This September, Globe-Trotter is hosting an exclusive in-store event with luxury shoemaker and fellow Mayfair resident Edward Green. We caught up with operations manager Anthony Bunn to talk shop, Mayfair secrets and the enduring appeal of heritage brands.
In a nutshell, what is the story of Edward Green?
Edward Green was established in 1890 and we have been making some of the world’s finest shoes ever since, using the highest quality materials and traditional techniques. Edward Green was making shoes in a period when mass production was growing in Northampton, but he had a very different mindset to the modernisation of production; he simply wanted to offer the highest quality shoes possible. The trade-off was manufacturing smaller quantities but at a much higher level of quality. We still stick to these values today. The Edward Green family sold the business in the 1970s. However, it wasn’t really until the mid-1980s that the business turned a corner, when it was sold to John Hlustik, a Czech shoe designer trained in Spain and Italy. Mr Hlustik sadly passed away in 2000 and the company went to his partner Hilary Freeman – who to this day is still very much involved in the business.
What makes Edward Green shoes special?
I always say that you don’t buy a pair of Edward Green shoes on a whim; it’s an investment. It’s a generational product. We see sons coming in with their fathers to buy their first pair of Edward Green shoes. The main thing that sells the brand is the quality of the product. Our reputation has been built up for so long and it’s reflected in the longevity of the shoe. We make about 300 pairs a week, so we’re not mass production; we sacrifice quantity to make a really good quality shoe.
What is Edward Green’s signature style?
We have four iconic models: Chelsea, Dover, Galway and Piccadilly; each with its own unique character displaying the true heritage of Edward Green. For example, our Chelsea shoe is a traditional cap-toe Oxford, internationally renowned for being the perfect gentleman’s formal shoe. It has a very distinctive ‘swan’s neck’ stitch detail which runs down the side away from the facings. We currently offer the Chelsea on three different lasts – or forms – and two different sole types: leather and rubber. However, we allow the customer to create their own commissions via our made-to-order service.
How important is it to uphold the kind of traditional techniques you use in production?
The foundations of Edward Green were built on offering ‘quality without compromise’. These are our company values and it’s crucial we always remind ourselves of this. We have an incredibly stringent quality control department, rejecting anything that is not deemed perfect. John Hlustik originally set out to fill the factory with the most talented craftsmen in Northampton, pulling together a team of artists to create the perfect shoe – I truly believe that his ambition and motivation is what put us on the map today. In addition to this, I think it’s important to adapt to the modern world of production, but it’s those traditional techniques and machinery which make the shoe what it is; it’s the story, and the character behind the product.
How did the upcoming event with Globe-Trotter come about?
I went to Japan in November last year to visit our Tokyo store in Ginza, which had arranged a collaboration with Globe-Trotter in their bespoke suite and the reception was amazing. When I got home I thought it was something that could really work in London with a similar set-up. At the event we’re looking to promote the hand-stitched aspect of our shoes. We have a very iconic shoe called the Dover, which has a hand-sewn apron toe; it’s very intense, precision work. For the event we’re going to take the hand sewers from our factory in Northampton – a father and son team – to do a demonstration. With Globe-Trotter, nothing is too much or unrealistic. I’ve had great fun arranging this.
What do you like about Globe-Trotter as a brand?
I’ve always admired Globe-Trotter and their ability to innovate and diversify themselves in a competitive market without losing sight of their heritage. I feel like they’ve truly monopolised the market; they offer a product that’s incredibly well made, very distinctive and like nothing else.
Edward Green is based in Jermyn St in the heart of Mayfair. What do you like about the area?
I love Mayfair. I love its exclusive nature, character, shops, restaurants, hotels and bars. You have everything within arm’s reach in Mayfair. There’s Jermyn Street for bespoke shirts and the world’s finest shoes, and Savile Row for bespoke suiting. Bond Street is just around the corner and is home to some of the finest watchmakers and jewellers in the world. Then there’s Berkeley Square for beautiful bars and restaurants. One of my personal favourite shops is Dege & Skinner on Savile Row, a family-owned military tailor, perfect for suiting and bespoke shirts. In terms of places to eat, 45 Jermyn Street is a big winner for me.
What are some of your favourite cities or countries to visit?
I’m lucky enough to have travelled with Edward Green visiting wholesalers around the world. As mentioned, I recently visited Tokyo where we have a well-established market and I loved every second. The Japanese are so polite and hospitable, I felt incredibly welcome and comfortable. Also, the food is incredible; it’s reason alone to go back. What I admire about our Japanese clientele is their passion for the product; they love to hear how the shoes are made and really appreciate the time and work that goes into the production. As well as Tokyo, I love New York, and, for similar reasons, I love London. It’s the rush, the nightlife, the food, the diversity, and the fact that everything is so accessible.
What is on your travel bucket list?
Florence, Italy – specifically during Pitti Uomo, a bi-annual trade fair where different companies, merchants and tradesmen gather to display their new projects and collections. It is still based around traditional craftsmanship and you’ll find clusters of tailors, shoemakers and cloth merchants. I plan to visit with Edward Green as we set up a stand there twice a year, but I’d also like to visit when it isn’t overrun by ‘Pitti Peacocks’ – I won’t go into the meaning, I’ll leave the readers to do their own research!
What do you never leave the house without when travelling?
My Cartier travel breast wallet. It’s practical and suitable for my passport, credit cards, business cards and to keep various currencies in different slots. In addition to the above, it also has room for a small diary which is crucial when planning to meet with wholesale clients. It’s a vintage 1970s Cartier wallet which has developed a beautiful natural patina over time, complemented by the 18K gold corners. It’s like an old friend.
What is your packing style?
I like to be prepared and organised when travelling. I will try to get my clothes and luggage ready as much as a week in advance. It always puts your mind at ease when you know you’ve got everything ready to simply pick up on the morning and head to the airport. There’s nothing worse than getting to the airport having forgotten the relevant adaptor, or even your sunglasses. This always results in unnecessary duty-free shopping. Fortunately, having worked in a shirt maker, a gentlemen's hatter and a tailor prior to shoemaking, I’m fairly clued up on how to pack efficiently.
Any tips on packing shoes?
I love to use wooden shoe trees but they’re not practical when travelling. I use lightweight, plastic resin moulds for shoes and they’re ideal. Also our loafers, which are made from baby calf suede, and are very soft and supple and fold down easily, so are perfect travelling shoes.