English brand of shoes that is a recognized leader in the men’s handmade luxury footwear industry. Known for high-quality shoes with modern style and elegance. Representing the English artisan-made shoe all over the world.

The Origins: Stone Church

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Church's Artisan
Church’s Artisan

Church’s dates back to 1675, when the company founder’s great-grandfather, Stone Church, was born in Northampton. A town known for a successful leather and footwear industry since Cromwellian times. The shoemaking skills were passed down generation to generation to Stone’s great grandsons, Thomas Church. In 1873 the brand Church’s was created by the brothers Thomas, Alfred, and William Church.

Church’s began exporting outside of Europe to the United States, Canada and South America, and received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Exports from Queen Elizabeth II in 1965.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Church's Heritage Shoe Craftsmanship
Church’s Heritage Shoe Craftsmanship

There are 250 production steps for each pair and the process takes 8 weeks. The firm’s headquarters is in Northampton, the town which provided the boots for Cromwell’s army in the Irish War. It also provided 70% of the shoes worn by the British soldiers fighting in the trenches along the Marne in the massacre of World War I.

The Goodyear Model

The shoe factory, besides producing the classic leather shoe, first invented the technique to combine the preciousness of the most valuable and futuristic rubber comfort used for soles. That is how the Goodyear model was born, a lace-up leather shoe with para rubber. The first exports were made in 1887. The début in America came in 1907.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Church's Goodyear Flexible Rubber Collection 2012
Goodyear Flexible Rubber Collection 2012

In 1998 the turnover was 240 billion liras. At this point, the griffe is still guided by the family’s descendants, even if they no longer control the majority of shares. In Summer 1999 Diego Della Valle, “Mr. Tod’s,” bought up 8.6% of the shares. Patrizio Bertelli of Prada bought 9% and, at the end of August, launched a friendly takeover bid to acquire control, offering a 20% premium over the share price, of the Stock Exchange’s price, worth about 310 billion liras.

Prada Acquires Church’s

Later in 1999, Church’s is taken over by Prada Holding, a Dutch company at the head of Gruppo Internazionale, which is among the world leaders in luxury design. The acquisition occurs with the explicit intent of “optimizing” the business opportunities of the brand, with full respect for its English identity. The main strategic plan foresees the rationalization of production criteria and the introduction of marketing logic in the planning of collections and new products. This is to allow a further expansion of production capacity and the development of a collection that includes classic categories as well as more contemporary offerings connected to the seasons.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Church's Shanghai Ebony White Classic Shoe
Church’s Shanghai Ebony White Classic Shoe

Church’s New Chapter

In January 2002, a second single-brand boutique in Milan, after the one on via Sant’Andrea, is opened in September 2000. The 600 square foot shop in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is on two floors (shop and warehouse), with walls in teak and wengé floors. It was designed by Roberto Baciocchi.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Church's Store Milan at La Rinascente
Church’s Store Milan at La Rinascente

During this year, the Church’s Group turnover amounts to €61.2 million, with a return to operating profitability and expected further growth in 2003. At this point, there are 48 single-brand points-of-sale, of which 47 are privately owned and 1 is a franchise. The brand is available in 895 multi-brand shops. The group employees a total of 700 people all over the world, with a production centered 95% in England and 5% in Italy for the women’s Collection. The expansion policies of the brand have involved the retail channel and the opening of new single-brand shops in the most important international capitals. The new boutiques are in Milan, in 2001; Paris, on Rue Saint-Honoré; Rome, on via Condotti; St. Moritz, on Palace Arcade, in 2002; and New York, on Madison Avenue, in 2003.

International Expansion

A year later in 2003, an agreement is signed between Prada Group and Equinox. An important private equity investment company to support an ambitious worldwide expansion plan. This plan is based on the development of new and complementary categories of merchandise. An important part of the agreement is the complete autonomy of the Prada Group in design decisions and in the strategy concerning the identity of the brand. According to the agreement, Equinox acquired 45% of the capital of the Church’s GroupThen, later in December 2006, Prada acquired 100% capital of Church’s.

In 2008 the brand started a new development plan to begin opening more international stores. Including Venice, Bologna, Leeds, Edinburgh, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Current Situation

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Church's New Bond Street Boutique
Church’s New Bond Street Boutique

In 26 July 2011 church’s opened the first store dedicated to the women’s collection in the heart of London’s shopping district, New Bond Street.

Currently, there are 200 single-brand boutiques all over the world. The number of employees is about 2,000.


Hugh. English photographer. He had a photographic studio in London from the end of the 1910s until the early 1930s. His soft style derives from that of the Baron de Mayer. He worked especially for the English edition of Vogue.


Italian brand of prêt-à-porter. It was established in 1990, but the manufacturing company, Vestebene, had already been operating for 35 years as an internal division of the Miroglio Group of Alba, whose origins go back to 1884. The brand, which designs neat and linear women’s clothes, is distributed throughout Europe, with single-brand boutiques in the most fashionable towns.
The web-site of Caractère receives an award in Cannes on the occasion of the 48th International Festival of Advertising. The result of a collaboration with Q-Turn, the creative workshop of Quam-Narum, the site offers a narrative-sensory path made of images, sound, and noises about the new Autumn-Winter 2001 Collection.
Opening of the first boutique in Moscow.
A new look is given to the Milan boutique for its reopening: sycamore wood and, on the polished floor, the ancient sediment of shells. The brand is distributed in 5 countries through corner shops in Selfridges, Harrod’s, and Galeries Lafayette, and through multi-brand stores. For the Miroglio Group, whose 2001 turnover was €824 million (divided between Vestebene and the Division of Fabric and Yarn), Caractère continues to represent the best.
The opening in Verona, on the very central via Mazzini, of the 13th boutique. In July, another new store opens in Palermo. The 2002 turnover is more than €50 million.

Collier de Chien

Necklace worn very tight on the neck, especially if composed of strings of pearls rigidly set and all of the same size. Suitable only for swan-like necks, like those of the femmes fatales of the 1910s. (Literally, “dog collar”).


Emma (1975). English designer. Born in Manchester, she studied textiles at the University of Brighton and at Central Saint Martin’s. The Collection she designed for her graduation drew attention especially for her taste in details. She was an apprentice with Martine Sitbon. She designs for Ghost. She won the Vidal Sassoon award for emerging talent. She made her début at London Fashion Week with the Spring-Summer Collection 2001.


Oleg Loiewski (1913). American designer of Russian origin born in Paris. He worked as a costume designer in Hollywood, and also in musicals and TV. He was the tailor for famous women such as Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy Onassis, for whom he became the official designer in 1961. He designed the First Lady’s entire wardrobe for her visit to India in 1962, which caused her to be known as “Ameriki Rani,” or the Queen of America. He was very successful due to the simplicity of his cocktail dresses and knitted suits. His provocative sheath dresses were also famous. When very young, he studied in Florence, graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in 1934. After helping his mother in her boutique there, in 1936 he decided to go to New York. Once here, he worked for the big manufacturing firms of Seventh Avenue (now known as Fashion Avenue), until, in 1940, he accepted a position as costume designer at 20th Century Fox. In 1941 he married the very beautiful actress Gene Tierney, for whom he designed the costumes for the film The Razor’s Edge, based on the book by Somerset Maugham. The marriage lasted until 1952. Later, Cassini went to the Eagle Lions Studios as head costume designer, although without neglecting the world of Seventh Avenue, with which he maintained a close relationship. He retired a few years ago and lives in Connecticut.


Shirt shop established in 1884 by Gaetano Corbella at via San Prospero 1 in Milan. It is number 4 in the city’s official chronological register of business establishments. The shop was entirely renovated in 1927 with delightful Art Nouveau furniture in mahogany and bois de rose created by the cabinet maker Egisto Quarti. Personnel assigned to the dressing rooms at La Scala would bring Arturo Toscanini’s shirts and tails here to be ironed. The fame of the shop was such that the actor Gilberto Govi would say: “To be born wearing a shirt is a lucky event, wearing a Corbella shirt is worthy of praise.”

Clerici Tessuto

Silk factory in the Como area created in 1922 by the married couple Rachele Clerici and Alessandro Tessuto to “trade silk fabrics and the like.” From 1925 the sales were supported by in-house production which, starting in 1937, took place in the plant at Grandate (Co). In 1944, their son Eugenio became head of the factory. During the 1950s, a strategy of expansion in the Italian and French prêt-à-porter and high fashion markets led to considerable growth in capital. At the death of Eugenio Tessuto in 1987, the leadership of the company passed to the third generation. In the early 1990s, Clerici Tessuto acquired part of the Sara printing plant in order to diversify production, enlarging it by entering the fields of furnishings and men’s accessories.


Angela (1944). American goldsmith. Born in Austria, she moved to the U.S. at a very young age. She studied in Perugia and graduated in gemology in Germany. Her first collaboration was in 1968 with Tiffany and then, again with Tiffany, she designed her first Collection in 1972. In 1983, she started her own business and created a line under her name that includes porcelains and silverware. She has a boutique at Bergdorf Goodman in New York. Her designs are available at Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus in the U.S., and at Takashimaya in both New York and Tokyo. She has a partnership in Japan with Shiseido.