A Name to Know: Church’s Shoes

Church’s shoes are the “OG” high-end English footwear

We talk a lot about heritage in luxury fashion. It’s something that many brands rely heavily on to market their products, even if their current offering is far removed from their historical roots. Church’s is not one of those brands. Having been founded nearly 150 years ago, with myriad innovations and awards since, the British brand still makes some of the best leather shoes you can buy today.

men's church's shoes classic dress formal italist
Church’s men’s formal shoes
men's church's boots brogues suede italist
Church’s men’s boots

Church’s Shoes History

Church’s started in men’s footwear, and still focuses primarily on men’s formal and business shoes, though the company was the first in England to introduce a women’s formal shoe model—the “Archmoulded”—in 1921. It was named for its higher arch, which better fit the female foot.

shop heron preston on italistThroughout the label’s history, innovative “firsts” were common. In addition to a women’s brogue, Church’s became known for being the first to offer differentiated right and left-side shoes (rather than interchangeable pairs), half-sizes in addition to whole sizes, and shoes of varied widths for customers with narrow or wide feet.

women's church's shoes boots italist
Church’s women’s boots
women's church's shoes boots italist

Thanks to this spirit of boundary-pushing, Church’s saw greater international business by the turn of the 20th century, and began licensing its lasts (the mould used to shape the shoe) to American department store Lord & Taylor in 1910. A few years later, Church’s would open its first American dedicated shop on New York’s Madison Avenue.

Church’s Today

Since then, little has changed in the label’s lineup. Ownership was transferred to the Prada Group in 1999, which has allowed Church’s to expand into key markets and continue to craft its iconic shoes to the highest quality standards.

For men, the staple Church’s shoe is the “Consul” model, first introduced in 1945 and worn over the years by hundreds of global politicians, government officials, and businesspeople.

church's shoes consul
church's shoes consul

The Consul is an Oxford-style shoe, characterized by a cap-toe, rendered in Masai polished calfskin, and built around the company’s “173” last. It is, to be modest, one of the world’s most classical shoes, ideal for weddings, funerals, and any formal occasion in between.

As with any classically-made leather shoe, the Consul and other Church’s shoe models are constructed using the Goodyear welt, which means they can be resoled and repaired many times throughout their lifespan. Church’s offers this service directly through its owned boutiques for a fee.

We love Church’s, because their innovations set the standard for decades, and paved the path for many other brands to come after.

Discover the entire Church’s shoes collection for men and women.

shop heron preston on italistEnjoy more footwear-related coverage: Shoe Size Conversion, John Lobb, Malone Souliers, and Sergio Rossi.

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About the Author

Alex English is the Head of Content Marketing at italist.com, building on a lifelong passion for fashion and luxury. After publishing a lifestyle blog for nearly ten years and obtaining an MBA in Milan at SDA Bocconi, one of Europe’s top business schools, he joined the italist team in 2019. His work since then has focused on upper-funnel messaging, brand storytelling, establishing italist as a thought leader in the space, and enriching the customer experience on the platform. Find him on LinkedIn.