The Barker brand began in 1880, when Arthur Barker – a hand-sewn man – founded the company in a workshop room at the back of his garden in North Road, Earls Barton.
As the company began to develop, Arthur’s three sons were brought into the business; Charles, who became a leather importer and Ernest and Arthur Jnr, who worked to fulfil World War I army boot contracts.
They began to develop fine quality footwear and an export trade was established. Unfortunately, only a year later, the 'Grand Old Man’ Arthur Barker passed away in 1921, but third and fourth generation family members took the company from strength to strength.
A second branch was opened in South Africa by Arthur Jnr and his son, and, after World War II, a second factory was opened on Station Road in Earls Barton for the development of ladies shoes. The company celebrated 75 years in 1955 and opened a more modern, purpose-built factory in 1986, where the family tradition continued of crafting traditional English shoes.
The four styles of shoe that are still handcrafted today in Northamptonshire are the Cemented glued, the Blake stitch, the Moccasin and the Goodyear welted. All designs are hand-drawn onto masking tape that has been measured on a last. These designs then head to the factory where the materials are chosen and then crafted by the workers. Did you know there are over 200 processes that go into making a traditional English shoe?
So, whether you’re a traditional kind of gent or you just appreciate a well-made pair of shoes, Barker are the brand to look at.
View some of our favourite styles below.
The Barker Liam are crafted from high quality leather uppers with a secure lace fastening. Being an Oxford, the shoes are classic and contemporary, making them perfect for formal occasions or work wear. This sophisticated style of shoe is developed within the Barker Factory in Northamptonshire and is known as the most formal of all dress shoes – unlike their heritage which states they were designed for sport and casual wear.
A modern take on the classic oxford, the monk strap is named for it's leather strap fastening rather than a lace up. The Barker Fleet have a double monk strap with buckle fastening. Crafted from premium calf leather, with a natural finish, the hand stitched detailing adds an extra layer of style and personality to this pair.
Made famous by The Beatles in 1960, the Chelsea boot is a simpler more practical version of a standard boot – though this does not mean that they’re any less stylish. Crafted from premium leather, the Barker Mansfield are perfect for smart casual occasions rather than the office. With front and back pull tabs and elasticated side panels, the Goodyear welted boots are a convenient alternative if you haven’t got time for laces.
Hand painted by the finest craftsman in Northamptonshire, the Barker Victor are a beautiful pair of wing tip brogues. First originating as a Gaelic outdoor shoe, the punched holes were made for practical use – not decorative – to let water out when walking on boggy grounds. Now known as a more formal shoe, these Derby inspired brogues are the more casual style due to their open lace system which allows for more comfort and flexibility when walking in the Goodyear welted shoes.
So, whether you’re looking for a new winter formal shoe or you want to replicate the style of the legendary John Lennon, there’s a design fit for any gentleman with Barker and their expertly hand-crafted shoes.