Dedicated to quality
The NPS Shoes factory has its roots in the village of Wollaston, Northamptonshire and has been our lifelong home since 1881. By combining over 130 years of traditional craftsmanship and tooling, our extraordinarily skilled workers, and the latest technology and materials we are able to produce footwear of the finest quality.
The NPS factory standard
The famous production standards of NPS Shoes has secured our footwear an excellent reputation with retailers and discerning customers as a premium product. The main reason for this is that rather than a continuous production line where an operative has a set time in which to undertake their job, the production process of NPS offers the operative time to notice and correct any errors. Each pair of boots and shoes are only passed from one area to the next on a wooden rack when the respective operative is satisfied that they are ready. In this context, there is a far slimmer chance that an unsatisfactory shoe or boot will result at the end of the production process. In effect it is a continuous quality control process not employed by many other factories.
Whilst incorporating modern technology, the NPS process has fundamentally remained the same for over a century. This short video demonstrates how we make our footwear and maintain our high standards.
You can learn more about our shoe making by following each stage of our process below.
There can be in excess of 200 highly skilled processes in the making of a Goodyear welted pair of footwear. These processes take place in six discrete departments which can be found in almost every high quality Goodyear welted shoe manufacturer and NPS Shoes Ltd is no exception. You can read about each step of the process in more detail below.
- 01. CLICKING /
‘Clicking’ or cutting is the first process of making any pair of shoes. Leather is carefully selected from our store of premium leather and a ‘clicker’ cuts the individual parts that will be assembled in order to make an ‘upper’.
Cutting can be undertaken by hand using a knife, or with a hydraulic press, using cutting knives in pre-formed shapes forged from steel. The art of clicking is to minimise waste leather whilst ensuring any natural flaws in the leather are excluded from the footwear.Michael'Clicking' Room Foreman
Michael, the ‘Clicking’ room foreman, has worked at NPS Shoes for 42 years during which time he has been involved in both cutting and the supervision of over 2 million pairs of upper components. He is a highly skilled operative with an invaluable amount of shoemaking knowledge.
- 02. CLOSING /
After the leather has been cut it is sent to the ‘closing room’. The initial process in this department is to (stitch) mark the individual parts of the upper to show where they are to be joined together. The lining of the footwear is stamped with the unique product reference, production ticket number and the footwear size.
Subsequently, the different pieces of leather are ‘skived’. This is an operation that reduces the thickness of the leather at the edges to enable more than one piece to be sewn together and thus prevents excess seam thickness.
Finally, the closing room team assembles the different parts of the upper, inserting eyelets, staining raw edges and trimming any remaining excess material.
- 03. LASTING /
The assembled uppers are then moved to the lasting room. At this point in the production process the ‘lasts’ (wooden or plastic forms which denote the finished shape and size of the shoe) are gathered together. The insole or mid-sole of the footwear is then affixed to the bottom of the last and the upper is pulled over the last to form the shape and size of the final footwear.
The upper is then glued and stapled to the insole, and after any excess leather has been trimmed the ‘lasted upper’ is ready to have the welt sewn on. This is achieved using a ‘Goodyear Welting machine’, invented by Charles Goodyear in 1872, which chain stitches a long strip of material called a ‘welt’ to the upper and insole of the footwear. The welt is the key to providing a foundation for affixing the sole to the upper. The (outer) sole is then attached separately to the welt by means of either a process called heat sealing (for Solovair Classic styles), or adhesive for tradition soling materials.
There is a wide range of different coloured welts available which can be made from either leather or PVC, these include flat or storm, notched or un-notched, plain or with a mock stitching etc. However, they all serve the same the purpose as a link to connect the upper of the shoe to the sole.
- 04. LEVELLING / MAKING ROOM /
04LEVELLING / MAKING
When manufacturing footwear with traditional sole materials (Leather, EVA, Rubber and Natural Crepe Rubber) the sole is temporarily attached to the welt using adhesive, once the excess material around the edge of the shoe has been removed the sole is then stitched to the welt. Heels are finally attached to footwear using a combinations of adhesive and nails.
Steve is an experienced heat sealer. With over twenty years of experience he endeavours to make sure every pair of Solovair is perfectly ‘levelled’.
- 05. FINISHING /
The edges of the welt, sole and heel can then be trimmed either perfectly smooth, bevelled or engraved with thin lines. The rack of completed footwear is subsequently then taken to the last slipping station where they are removed from the upper and placed back in storage racks ready for the next order.
Finally, various finishes will be applied to the complete footwear, such as bottom stating the soles and heel, bunking (imprinting the sole with a decorative pattern), line marking the heel and inking/staining the rim of the sole and heel depending on the required look and finish.
- 06. SHOE ROOM /
In the shoe room the final product is cleaned, polished and branded.A heel sock is then inserted along with any swing tags containing information regarding the footwear or the retailer.
A final quality inspection is then made by our foreman before the shoes are laced, wrapped in tissue paper and placed into a box ready for dispatch to our customers.RonShoe Room Foreman
Ron has been our Shoe Room foreman for over 25 years and it is his responsibility that our footwear meets or exceeds our high quality levels.