Although Church's shoes are made to last, after a while they may require a little more than a good polish. Church's traditional manufacturing process allows them to offer a full refurbishment service, that goes way beyond a simple resole or new heel. After an initial assessment shoes are put over their original lasts (to retain their shape and appearance), and soles, heels, welts and sometimes insoles are removed.
The craftsmen then rebuild using original components, following the same production line as they did when they were made (repairs take place in the same Northampton factory where shoes are made, not in a separate repair centre) before being passed to the finishing room for cleaning and polishing.
Check out our editor-in-chief’s 20-year-old shoes (above) before and after the Church’s treatment. The full repair service process undergone by his shoes is outlined below.
The Church's repair service process
1 The shoes were very carefully taken off the soles and insoles to leave only the uppers.
2 The badly worn vamp and linings were replaced.
3 Each stitch was cut one-by-one around the upper so as not to damage it in any way, then the made-up vamp and linings were restitched to the uppers stitch-by-stitch in the same holes.
4 As the uppers around the toe area were so badly worn, a strip of leather was stitched around the feather edge to give the upper more strength for relasting.
5 The insoles were replaced as they were also very badly worn.
6 The upper then had a new toe puff and stiffener inserted.
7 The back area was remolded.
8 The new insoles were tacked on to the original shape and size last.
9 The shoe was lightly warmed to reactivate the new toe puff.
10 It was then very carefully relasted by hand.
11 A protective plastic cover was then added to protect the upper from the following operations:
12 A new welt was sewn in around the shoes feather edge.
13 The new welt was then beaten flat.
14 A new shank and seat lift was fitted.
15 Cork bottom filler was added to the insole cavity to give comfort, flexibility, and shape.
16 The shoes were then cemented for a new sole to be attached.
17 The shoes were then rough rounded into the final shape.
18 The soles were then stitched.
19 The soles were levelled and the seats nailed.
20 Heels were then fitted.
Then on to the finishing process
21 Heels were then scoured.
22 Sole edges were trimmed.
23 Heels were superfined.
24 The edges were inked.
25 The shoe was then waxed and set.
26 The sole bottoms were scoured, coloured and polished.
27 The protective plastic covers were removed.
28 The last is carefully removed.
29 The soles were then stamped.
30 The uppers were creamed and polished.
31 Finally, the shoes were boxed and sent to another satisfied customer.