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Men's & Women's Trainers. Designed in London and handmade in England, yet priced like a high street brand. Giving 50% to UK craftsmen.
Men's & Women's Trainers. Designed in London and handmade in England, yet priced like a high street brand. Giving 50% to UK craftsmen.
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70 backers pledged £10,861 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

MODERN ENGLISH // Modern, Unisex Shoes, Handmade in England project video thumbnail
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Modern English shoes are a unique blend of contemporary design and traditional craftsmanship. They're handmade in Northampton, using quality materials, Goodyear welted for durability and come in UK sizes 3-13 - for Men & Women.

They are edgy and minimal yet comfortable enough to wear all day, every day. Yet, because we sell direct, we can get them to you at high street prices and still give 50% of that retail price back to the craftsmen who made them.

We thought long and hard about how to create 'better shoes'; not just shoes that look good but also wear well and can be manufactured efficiently, and cost-effectively, by hand. 

Our uppers are a single piece of leather, wrapped at the heel and stitched. Soles are Goodyear ‘Storm’ Welted and made from natural crepe

These shoes are minimal and functionally elegant but we believe great design lifts the spirits and, though our shoes are minimal and exacting, we like to think of them as 'joyfully naked' as opposed to acetic.

Designed For Men and Women

We have carefully graded our styles in order to retain the same character and proportion, no matter how large or small. They are available in UK sizes 3 to 13. Please refer to our size guide (below). 

Available in 2 Styles

There are 2 styles - both designed on our special 'comfort' last...
  • Classic Trainer - with innovative 'kilted' tongue and colour-matched flat laces.
  • Sandal - with an open-face and satchel-strap fastenings. 
Our Trainers are available in 6 colours (see below)
Our Trainers are available in 6 colours (see below)
Our Sandals are available in the same 6 colours as the trainers (see below)
Our Sandals are available in the same 6 colours as the trainers (see below)

Each Style Comes in 6 Colours

The Sandals and the Trainers are available in 6 colours; Chalk White, Navy Blue, Green, Orange (limited numbers), Ox Blood and Red.
This image shows our Trainer in all 6 colours. The Sandal is also available in these colours. NOTE - Orange is available in limited numbers.
This image shows our Trainer in all 6 colours. The Sandal is also available in these colours. NOTE - Orange is available in limited numbers.

'Stretch Goal' Style Added!    

This style was added due to social media demand. it is a split-tongue slipper with a comfortably broad fit. This is just one piece of leather!. It comes in the standard 6 colours (as usual, Orange is limited and will be first come, first served).

This style costs £100 and is listed as: "1 PAIR OF SLIPPERS - STRETCH GOAL - NEW STYLE".

Slippers added as a stretch incentive - due to social media demand - sorry about the poor photography!!
Slippers added as a stretch incentive - due to social media demand - sorry about the poor photography!!

Screen Printed T-shirts

Our logotype was hand drawn by Jamie Harris referencing the 'humanist forms' of 3 very English typographers of the past (William Caslon, Edward Johnston, and Johnston’s pupil, Eric Gill). Each premium cotton T-shirt will be screen-printed by hand, in England.

Choose a White, Heather Grey or Black T-shirt - in Men's or Women's sizes.
'MDN ENG' screen printed T-shirts in White, Heather Grey and Black
'MDN ENG' screen printed T-shirts in White, Heather Grey and Black

Behind Modern English

Until the '70s, there were hundreds of shoe factories in England – capable of turning out almost 180 million shoes per year and the majority of shoes bought in the UK were made locally. Today, only a handful of shoemakers remain and imports account for 98% of UK shoe sales.

Founder and Creative Director, Jamie Harris, believed England's craft footwear industry could only survive if its products were relevant to today's consumers and, in 2013, Modern English was set-up with the intention of EVOLVING, rather than PRESERVING this 600 year old Northampton-based industry. The name, Modern English, is our manifesto; everything we make will be made in England, and will be modern in its thinking. If there was any doubt, Modern English is NOT another 'Heritage Brand'.

Today, we employ traditionally skilled craftsmen and women to create contemporary, well-priced products, appealing to a more youthful consumer.

In the Making

It's generally accepted in fashion (and many other business arenas) that it's not possible to manufacture in the UK and deliver great products at a competitive price point. Brands have given up on the notion of real craftsmanship in preference for the quick development cycles and cheap labour of the Far East.

While we have to agree that it's not easy to develop products in the UK, it is possible if approached intelligently - to leverage the specific skillsets on offer and avoid the weaknesses. 

We met dozens of craftsmen and women; undertook countless working trials; and committed a lot of time and effort, not just to designing products but also to designing manufacturing processes - in order to keep costs down, without compromising our vision or product quality. This puzzle took almost 3 years to solve. 
We collaborated face-to-face; pushing ideas around, using actual materials, across the workbench - rather than the standard process of emailing design drawings to a factory and reviewing the samples received back. We prefer to look into the eyes of our collaborators and talked about 'objectives' rather than dictate specific outputs. Once we had jointly conceived a model that worked for both parties, we continued to refine it; stripping away all the unnecessary details and perfecting the engineering processes. In-so-doing, we believe we have arrived at something special: balancing quality, form, function, and price
 
Images show various development phases of our shoes - in the Northampton factory
Images show various development phases of our shoes - in the Northampton factory
 

Why These Shoes Are Special 

Northampton is known for its sturdy, traditional and somewhat 'elitist' output - aimed at a mature, mostly male, audience. Modern English shoes, though still handmade, are exactly the opposite of traditional... 
  • Designed with a more youthful outlook  
  • Available for Men and Women (UK sizes 3-13).
  • Handmade with quality materials 
  • Same price as mass-produced shoes from the far-East
  • Whole cut’ leather uppers, Goodyear ‘storm’ welted, with natural crepe soles
  • We give back 50% of our retail price to local craftsmen and women
  • We guarantee a comfortable fit or your money back

When Can You Have Your Shoes?

Unlike some Kickstarter campaigns, we've already started manufacturing on a small scale so have ironed out all the production issues. Added to this, our factory has years of experience and plenty of capacity, so we can say with confidence that your shoes will be dispatched 12-14 weeks after the campaign closes.

If you can't wait for our Kickstarter rewards to be produced (and you live in the London area), you may be interested to learn that, from mid-July, 2016 the Natural Shoe Store will be selling a special edition collaboration: "Natural Shoe Store x Modern English"

This will be strictly limited to 65 pairs (in 4 colours) and will be available in the Covent Garden and Kings Road, Chelsea stores - at their retail price of £195! 

We have always admired The Natural Shoe Store, which is why they are our first (and ONLY) UK stockist.

Choosing The Right Size

Our shoes fit 'true to size' according to UK grading. They're designed to be a 'comfort fit' - meaning they are wide enough to let your foot spread. This means, if you have exceptionally narrow feet, or low arches, they may fit more loosely. 

NOTE - If you have narrow feet AND low arches (as, for example, some of our Asian customers do) you may find it necessary to wear an insole in your shoes. Please bear this in mind when ordering your shoes.

We hope to add further ½ sizes to our range if we reach our stretch goal so please specify your preference as a whole and ½ size.

Our Size Conversion Chart

UK, US, European, and Asian (Mondopoint) sizing systems all use different grading increments. There is no internationally accepted size conversion chart. As a result, we have compiled our own chart and, in order to avoid too great a jump between certain non-UK sizes, we include two UK half sizes (4½ and 8½) in our range.

Why Kickstarter? 

We have been working for over 3 years to create something meaningful - utilising English craftsmanship. These shoes aren't our first products but (with these) we feel we have achieved what we set out to do; leverage tradition to make something entirely new.

The wonderful thing about Kickstarter is that it not only helps small companies to fund their ambitions but to understand whether what they have been trying to do has meaning for others. We want to know if Modern English has a place in your world. 

Of course, by selling direct (without a middle man), Kickstarter also allows us to reduce our prices to you, whilst increasing our own margins and giving more back to our makers

We will use the funds raised to produce stock and to properly launch our brand and website.

 More images & video as requested!

Risks and challenges

Delivery -
Our manufacturer has been consistently producing as a workers cooperative since 1800s. They are very capable and have been deeply involved in the development of these shoes. As a result, we are very confident that any orders received can be fulfilled in time and to our exacting standards.

Quality -
We have a manufacturing agreement which covers us against production faults. We will not be accepted faulty products as part of our factory's deliverable. Hence, sub-standard products will not be passed onto our customers...

Size and Fit -
The size and fit of shoes varies widely across manufacturers. Added to this, there is no single size conversion chart that can be agreed across territories. As a result, there is some risk of shoes not fitting as well as they might.
To mitigate against this, we will make additional shoes - beyond those ordered - to account for necessary exchanges.
We would rather our supporters collect their shoes at our launch event, where fit can be confirmed and ill-fitting shoes can be exchanged for another size on the spot. However, we understand this may not be convenient for all of our supporters - we will be happy to exchange shoes by post - or refund the cost of purchase.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £5 or more About $7

    BE OUR FRIEND

    Our friends hear about Modern English events, sales, offers and launches ahead of anyone else.

    They also enjoy 'MATES RATES' at future Modern English events and online.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £15 or more About $22

    JOIN THE PARTY

    Come to the London Launch Event in September, 2016 (Venue and Date TBC).

    Meet the gang, enjoy a drink and browse our full range of products. You'll also enjoy MATES RATES at the event.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £20 or more About $29

    PARTY 'PLUS ONE'

    2 x INVITES to the London Launch Event in September, 2016 (Venue and Date TBC).

    Meet the gang, enjoy a drink and browse our full range of products. You'll BOTH enjoy MATES RATES at the event.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £30 or more About $43

    WEAR THE T-SHIRT

    - This item has been withdrawn -

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    Pledge £85 or more About $123

    * SUPER-EARLY BIRD SPECIAL *
    1 PAIR OF SHOES

    Choose 'SANDALS' or 'TRAINERS' - in any of our 6 colours *

    BONUS : We'll also throw in a LAUNCH INVITE and make you a FRIEND.

    * UK SHOE SIZES 3-13 (see our 'Sizing Chart')

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    Reward no longer available 5 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £100 or more About $145

    * EARLY BIRD SPECIAL *
    1 PAIR OF SHOES

    Choose 'SANDALS' or 'TRAINERS' - in any of our 6 colours *

    BONUS : we'll also throw in a LAUNCH INVITE and make you a FRIEND.

    * UK SHOE SIZES 3-13 (see our 'Sizing Chart')

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    Limited 9 backers
    £
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £100 or more About $145

    1 PAIR OF SLIPPERS
    * STRETCH GOAL - NEW STYLE*

    Choose these cool split-tongue 'SLIPPERS' - in any of our 6 colours *

    BONUS : We'll also throw in a LAUNCH INVITE and make you a FRIEND.

    * UK SHOE SIZES 3-13 (see our 'Sizing Chart')

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    14 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £125 or more About $181

    1 PAIR OF SHOES

    So you missed the 'Early Bird Special', well these shoes are still GREAT VALUE.

    Choose 'SANDALS' or 'TRAINERS' - in any of our 6 colours *

    BONUS : we'll also throw in a LAUNCH INVITE and make you a FRIEND.

    * UK SHOE SIZES 3-13 (see our 'Sizing Chart')

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    15 backers
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge £200 or more About $289

    * EARLY BIRD SPECIAL *
    2 PAIRS OF SHOES

    Choose 'SANDALS' and/or 'TRAINERS' - in any of our 6 colours *

    BONUS : we'll also throw in a LAUNCH INVITE and make you a FRIEND.

    * UK SHOE SIZES 3-13 (see our 'Sizing Chart')

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    19 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge £240 or more About $347

    2 PAIRS OF SHOES

    If you missed the 'Early Bird Special', these shoes are still GREAT VALUE.

    Choose 'SANDALS' and/or 'TRAINERS' - in any of our 6 colours *

    BONUS : we'll also throw in a LAUNCH INVITE and make you a FRIEND.

    * UK SHOE SIZES 3-13 (see our 'Sizing Chart')

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    0 backers
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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge £355 or more About $513

    3 PAIRS OF SHOES

    Choose 'SANDALS' and/or 'TRAINERS' - in any of our 6 colours *

    BONUS : we'll also throw in 2 x LAUNCH INVITES and make you both FRIENDS

    * UK SHOE SIZES 3-13 (see our 'Sizing Chart')

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    0 backers
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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge £695 or more About $1,005

    THE 'FULL ENGLISH'

    5 PAIRS OF SHOES
    Choose 'SANDALS' and/or 'TRAINERS' - in any of our 6 colours *

    2 x T-SHIRTS
    Any style(s) or size(s)

    2 x LAUNCH INVITES and we'll make you all FRIENDS

    * UK SHOE SIZES 3-13 (see our 'Sizing Chart')

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  13. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £995 or more About $1,439

    THE 'CUSTOM ENGLISH'
    You choose what goes in it.

    5 PAIRS OF SHOES
    Choose 'SANDALS' and/or 'TRAINERS' - in any of our 6 colours *

    4 x T-SHIRTS *
    Any style(s) or size(s)
    * You can SWAP this for 1 PAIR OF SHOES

    LUNCH FOR 2 (You and a Guest)
    With the team, at a POSH RESTAURANT on the Kings Road, Chelsea, London *
    * You can SWAP this for 2 PAIRS OF SHOES

    4 x LAUNCH INVITES and we'll make you all FRIENDS

    * UK SHOE SIZES 3-13 (see our 'Sizing Chart')

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    Reward no longer available 1 backer
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Funding period

- (35 days)