International Footwear Foundation to be based in Northampton

Published:  16 March, 2012

A recent collaboration between Northampton Museums and Art Gallery, The University of Northampton, Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership and Northamptonshire County Council has secured funding to work towards the establishment of an International Footwear Foundation to be based in Northamptonshire.

The vision is to create an organization led by and designed to support the public and private sector, which will develop imaginative, sensitive, high quality access to the unique cultural, design and historical footwear resource held in the county.  The rationale for the concept is outlined below.


“We believe the foundation will not only help county residents, ancestral tourists and international visitors to understand the industry in the county, but will provide high quality educational and research facilities for contemporary designers, researchers and students. “ IFF


The IFF will contribute to the global reputation and promotion of the modern footwear industry, a significant commercial and cultural offer in the county. It will contribute towards the establishment of Northamptonshireas a national and international centre of excellence for footwear design, research, education and manufacturing.

So what does Northampton have to offer?

  • ·       The Northamptonshire Footwear industry is globally unique. It’s design, cultural and social depth is unrivalled with over 900 years of recorded history.


  • ·       The Shoe Collection at Northampton Museums and Art Gallery is the largest collection of footwear heritage and design in the world. It is designated as being of national and international importance. The collection consists of a rich resource of significant strength across footwear design and fashion, manufacture, testing, and social and political history.


  • ·       The University of Northampton is home to one of UKs/Europe’s most respected footwear design courses and teaches the world’s next generation of leather producers, chemists and technicians. 


  • ·       The University of Northampton is home to the only University owned tannery in the  UK


  • ·       The first designated Boot and Shoe Architectural Quarter in the World.


  • ·       A large concentration of the world’s most respected high end, handmade gentlemen’s footwear manufacturers. Northamptonshire men’s footwear brands have a global prime retail presence and a reputation for unassailable quality.


  • ·       The county produces specialist footwear; Padders, Daisy Roots  Schneider Boots


  • ·       World leading footwear research, testing, technical certification bodies in BLC Leather Technology and SATRA, (both established over 90 years) 


  • ·       Footwear production is in the DNA of county residents and remains a source of pride. There is a living connection with the days of mass production. There are new businesses set up by young men and women, often with a family connection to the industry. E.g. Gaziano and Girling are the first brand to open a factory in the county for over 60 years and there are new entrepreneurs such as See Nicholas Cooper


  • ·       In addition to the Footwear collections held in Northampton Museum, Northamptonshire is also home to a large number of other museums, galleries and organisations, such as the County Record Office, that hold a wealth of material relating to shoe production and design. The heritage of footwear and footwear related production in Northamptonshire is also reflected in the concentration of historic buildings, sites and factories in the county.

The IFF are currently going through a consultation process to explore and test the ambitions of the International Footwear Foundation as part of the business planning process. A workshop will be run to explore how the IFF might develop as a hub and examine the networks and initiatives required to support designers, footwear manufacturers, researchers and other audiences.


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