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Blog

Day Seven

Chris Roberts

Bacon, beans and fried egg cooked on the camping stove over looking a lake was the perfect way to start the week. We quickly polished off breakfast, packed the tent and headed to meet Paul Sargent from Alfred Sargent shoes, a fourth generation shoemaker based in Northampton. Paul showed us around the factory which was full of activity and varying noises from the different machines laid out around the large space. We met the highly skilled workers cutting, assembling, shaping and hand printing the famous Alfred Sargent shoe. Paul talked us through each process with a detail that only a lifetime of shoe making could allow, but it wasn’t just his knowledge that kept us hooked he was a great story teller and he shared with us Northampton's past, the factories shoe making history and a process that hasn’t changed that much over the years. We could have spent all day with him fully exploring the factory and the process' as well as trying on lots of shoes but we had to wish him goodbye as we headed off to Bury St Edmunds for our afternoon visit.

Stood at the end of a row of residential houses we found the studio we were looking for, lower than two stories and half painted black the building had some wooden steps to the entrance. Iggy swung open the door and greeted us with a beaming smile and introduced us to his wife Yoko, they co own Workhouse Clothing and have been in this this space since 2011. We entered the room which was a treasure chest of interior delights. In front of us was a re-used horse carriage seat sat under a hand carved wooden ladder, a large table took up the centre space where Iggy worked designing the different ranges. Inspiration was pinned to the wall in the forms of press clippings, fabric tears and sketches, the whole studio felt like a den of creativity but a very stylish den of creativity. Even the toilet was a cool an old cistern set up with a stainless steel orange lantern hanging. The clothes where on rails with certain pieces hung individually around the studio and the classic Workhouse bowler hat sat proud on the window sill. There is a lovely tactility about all of the Workhouse range, Iggy is passionate about the fabrics he uses, where he sources them from and how he and his close knit team put them together to create these unique pieces that are stylish and made to last.