I was recently introduced to Grenson the English shoe company that doesn’t have any fancy slogan, instead they have just one simple idea that they seem determined to guide them - “The good shoe”. Now this interview has been a long time coming, not only did I have the chance to Speak the Tim Little, I had a chance to see next seasons collection at Pitti Uomo in Florence Italy recently.
Although the company has been around since 1866, it wasn’t until recently that it made its way on my radar (true confirmation that the more I learn, the more I realize I have a lot more to know). I quickly did my research on the brand and and was impressed by not only the look of the product, but also the craftsmanship. The shoes from Grenson are not simply shoes you throw on… they are (at the risk of sounding like an P.R. rep.) Poetry in motion and artwork when still.
The 3 things that drew me to the brand were:
1. The history.
2. The relevancy
3. The vision/ lifestyle behind the brand.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Tim Little, the owner of the company and was granted insight on the company’s past, present and future. Like many companies, Grenson went through their share of ups and downs. In 2005, the 140 year old company looked to revive it’s brand and thus entered Tim Little into the story. The gentleman who was already creating classic shoes and naming the shoes of his own
line (www.timlittle.com) after blues song titles became the creative director at Grenson. Tim had as mission to stay true to both the brand history and heritage while keeping Grenson relevant and current.
In 2010 Tim Little bought the company and while keeping the past close to his heart, it’s obvious that he has an eye on the future and is making sure to solidify that the following 140 years would be as relevant as the first.
How important is the company’s history in terms of the direction of the company?
The history directs. The core of the brand is the heritage, we (the designer) have as task to keep the brand updated.
What is the process in making a pair of Grenson shoes?
The process itself is broken into 250 parts. It takes 6 to 8 weeks to make a pair of shoes. We use the Goodyear welting system which is an old traditional way of shoe making. Our shoes are made by hand - while some shoes start off soft and lose their shape, Grenson starts hard and becomes comfortably soft with time. Only a handful of
companies hand-make shoes, Grenson has always been one of those companies and has always been considered among the top 10 of English shoemakers.
At one point prior to Grenson you named shoes you designed after blues songs. What is the story behind that?
My own collection is Tom Little, it reflects not only my designs but
also what influenced me and my love for the blues.
As for Grenson, I stick to the history of the brand. I design, but
allow the brand to be more reflective of it’s history than be a
reflection of me.
There are 2 names connected to you and Grenson - Joe Hutchings & Allison Hargreaves what role do they play?
Joe has been on board since 2005 and deals with sales. Alison Hargreaves has been with me prior to me being with Grenson since 1996. The two of them play major roles and help in making sure that things run smoothly.
For those who think there are too many shoe makers, too many brands, what makes Grenson relevant?
If you look at all the shoe brands, possibly 80% aren’t shoe companies - they are brands that make shoes. Grenson is a shoe maker, the product is contemporary and relevant. 140 years of experience goes into every shoe. I don’t think the customer in the know wants shoes from a perfumer - shoes from a shoe maker.
How do you compete with the newer brands and stay fresh in the public mind?
We look to connect with the public by producing a great product. We come up with some creative ideas and collaborations without use of much advertising dollars.
I had a chance to see the new collection and some of the items could be considered unexpected.
Different but the same. We have a core look, but keep it interesting for people who want something fresh. Take the sky blue brogues, it’s the same style from the past, yet it has a new feel. We’ll do a shoe in a classic leather with a new twist, we love surprising people. True consumers never forget heritage brands and part of Grenson’s brand is
about designing new product - ‘Keep moving’.
Man of Style or Fashion?
Style because it never goes out of fashion, but fashion goes out of style … personal style last forever.
What is Style?
Style is your interpretation of how you want to look and be seen. Having confidence, wearing something that is your personality.
Why should anyone look into Grenson as opposed to another brand?
Grenson is the real thing… a real product. A proper shoe made the old fashion way. The good shoe.
The vision / Lifestyle behind the brand.
Who is a Grenson man?
It’s not about a certain type of person, it’s about a certain attitude. People who tend to purchase Greson shoes are people who like to purchase real things from real makers. Grenson is for the person who enjoys authentic product.
Is there a lifestyle behind the brand?
No. We are more simplistic, we like to make nice shoes - we don’t
impose a lifestyle.
Style is not simply about buying the latest, it’s about having items that are a reflection of who you are.
Not only do I like and respect the brand …. I rock it as well! Guerre
Click here to find out more about Grenson shoes.