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NPS and Solovair Shoes – The Brand with 134 Years of Heritage

Updated on August 5, 2016

British boots and shoe making has had a long profound history, especially within the county of Northamptonshire where up to late 19th century, shoemakers were still being paid for products they had ready whenever customers came to collect and pay. This provided individuals no promise of income or security of employment.

In the village of Wollaston just outside of Wellingborough, five men attempted to generate a more secured and regular income by joining together to form a co-operative in 1881 and called it the Northamptonshire Productive Society (NPS). They based themselves in a dove house in Thrift Street and were referred to by locals as 'the Duffers' . Their first real order was, luckily, army boots from the government which helped sustain them for the first year.

The increase in demand for high quality boots in England caused by the spread of industrial revolution resulted in a rapid growth for NPS. This ultimately lead to expansion of 80 employees and moving to a larger purpose-built factory on South Street for NPS, which they still occupy and manufacture in to this day.

Over the years, NPS produced footwear made from various construction methods such as riveted and stitched; vulcanised; stuck-on and the more recently Goodyear welted which is implemented into the whole production process. The globally renowned Dr Marten (originally known as Dr. Maerten) along with his associate Mr Funck developed the famous air cushion sole in the 1950s which is now the trademark of Dr Marten boots. NPS seemed the best fit to manufacture boots using the air cushion sole technology when R.Griggs Group Ltd sought out a manufacturer to produce these boots which they owned the rights to. In 1959, the first pair of English made air-cushioned soles was welted, and for the next 35 years, NPS continued to produce 'Solovair' (sole-of-air) boots and shoes under licese. These boots were sold under the name 'Dr Martens by Solovair'.

Although NPS no longer produces boots and shoes under the license, they continue to thrive and seek perfection in their quality standards. They patented the name 'Solovair' in 1995 and improved their shoe technology by enhancing them with a new 'Soft Suspension' which improves the comfort and durability. As well as adding a new technology into their shoes, they also enhanced their production lines to ensure the best of quality and durability from their shoes.

This standard of quality made possible by their famous production process has secured Solovair of NPS a reputable name within the industry from retailers to customers. Instead of a normal continuous production line which limits the time given to notice and correct errors with the shoes by the operator, NPS implement a workstation stage based strategy. Every pair of shoes are finished at each station and examined closely by the operator until satisfactory, then passed onto the next station. This way, NPS ensures that each shoe is manufactured to the top standard and minimises faulty or unsatisfactory results at the end of the process. This strategy is not adopted by many other factories as it emphasizes quality over quantity.

Through the 130 plus years of heritage, tradition and expertise, NPS continue to remain true to their standards and ethics. Adapting to the technological and social changes, producing the most in-style and quality oriented shoes made from top natural materials and resources, NPS continue to thrive and excel as a 100% handmade luxury British leather boots and shoemaker.

Shop NPS Shoes here and shop Solovair shoes here.

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