At Crockett & Jones HQ in Northampton, England, it was high time we delved into the encyclopedic mind of Mr Jonathan Jones. The aim of course, was to unearth the finer details of this best-selling last and how it came to be a mainstay in Crockett & Jones’ retail and stock collections. Thierry Duhesme was a great friend and business partner of Mr Jones and was brother to our current Parisian business partner, Laurent Duhesme. Thierry sadly past away a number of years ago, and left behind him a legacy that affected all who was fortunate enough to work with him. Thierry was a great man , a great shoe man, known throughout Paris for his knowledge and flare for all things ‘SHOES’… this is where the story of the infamous Last No.348 begins…
At the turn of the millennial century, Crockett & Jones retail was gathering momentum with the development of new lasts inevitable. An opportunity was stirring. At the time, the Hand Grade collection was mainly produced on the 330 last, a classically English looking last, short in appearance, round toe shape with plenty of room in the forepart. With retail in Paris, and a growing wholesale business throughout Europe notions were aired for a more continental European last to grace the collections. Albeit not as continental as the first prototypes… Jonathan, Thierry and Dimitri Gomez (our Bespoke maker in Paris) discussed in detail, this continental look with the tradition of the French bespoke hand makers paving the way for longer, elegant and square toed lasts. Realising the benefit of working as a team, Jonathan had his French counterparts send an example of a rather extreme looking bespoke last to our factory in Northampton.
Jonathan, applied the fitting qualities of our own back part and joint measurements, went about the gradual softening of this continental European last to form our 337 last (still in the collection today). Although it may not seem it, last 337 was an extreme last for its time. Especially for the house of a traditional English shoe maker.
Pattern cutters and toe lasters were up in arms about this development… “How are we supposed to get the leather down on the wood with a toe as long as that” expelled the pattern cutters principle. Needless to say, a classic take on the continental last was introduced to the Hand Grade collection and was an instant success.
As customers began to warm to the development and taste swayed from round to square it quickly became clear that the once exaggerated 337, was simply not bold enough. Last shapes continued to increase in length on the continent to the point that the English makers began to lag behind. Time was upon us to sharpen the lines of the 337 and add an eighth or two to the toe – The 348 was born and introduced to the Main Line collection. The first of its type for Crockett & Jones and deemed a leading development for the English shoe trade.
This collaborative effort by friends and associates, all over the world, led to what is arguably the most important last in our range today. Do we claim to have invented something new, absolutely not, but did Crockett & Jones bring English makers to the forefront of last development in the modern era, you could argue the point amongst quality shoes.
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