A Leather Team Up
London shoemakers Carréducker are collaborating with Derbyshire bootmaker William Lennon to create a highly desirable classic boot – with their distinct twist
Article by Rupert Watkins Photograph by Andy Barnham
Despite being known for their elegant bespoke shoes, Deborrah Carré and James Ducker have for some time worked with small under the radar English bootmakers to design limited run, ready to wear footwear. Their latest collaboration, the Tor Boot, with the cult Derbyshire bootmakers William Lennon is a result of a chance glance. “We were chatting with Bill Amberg, the leather designer” recalls Deborah, “who happened to be wearing a pair of William Lennon boots. He told us the story; James and I were so taken we visited the workshop and bought a pair…”
Founded in 1899, William Lennon has specialised in work boots – they still make their World War 1 issue B5 boot to the original pattern – not to mention tug-of-war boots. Deborah and James headed to their workshop in the Peak District finding a, “marvellously bucolic” and fascinating hub of traditional English craft.
Given the robust nature of the boots, the pair found the soles to be very rigid and tricky to efficiently break in, “we felt any design work we put in had to soften that initial wearing” remarks Deborah. James enthuses, “given the marvellous craftsmanship we were working with we knew we didn’t want to alter the core nature of the boot and to play to William Lennon’s strengths; just refine a few features to add our own twist.” As such the resulting felt lining and footbed is unique to this Carréducker collaboration.
There are six variations of the Tor Boot in a range of leathers including Horween horse leather, grain or waxed calf leather and there are also three sole options. Should you opt for the waxed leather option, Carréducker recommend camel dubbin to protect and nourish the leather, “Australian camel hump fat is actually the best there is” remarks James, “not only does it protect from the wet but also prevents the leather cracking in the heat (of the Australian outback).” Picking up the Tor “Higger” boot in tan this is clearly a boot meant for life. The robustness and quality of the leather shines through; these are boots that will survive the rigours of a week’s stalking in deepest Perthshire (probably a decade or twos worth of weeks if you look after them) with the same aplomb as the streets of Hoxton or Tokyo.
Deborah and James completed one collaboration in 2016 with Suffolk Shoes – a small factory specialising in the “stitchdown” or veldtschoen technique – resulting in the Carréducker Barkan desert boot. The Tor Boot will be the pair’s collaboration for 2017. They remain keen to carefully expand a curated ready to wear offering, “we want to build a portfolio of the essential basics” James says, “but we always want to ask ourselves what’s an interesting way to create this selection – how can we offer something a little different and work with the very best English workshops.”
With their bespoke business quietly continuing to thrive – Carréducker have taken a stand in James Purdey the gunsmiths in South Audley street – those not quite able to graduate to the full cost of a bespoke pair of shoes can still own the result of this latest collaboration between two marvellous artisan firms for a damn reasonable £450.