What Is A Stitchdown Shoe?

What Is A Stitchdown Shoe?

Stitchdowns are a very traditional style of shoe 

A firm summer favourite, these classic girl's shoes are always in fashion even though they are possibly the oldest recognised design of shoes. You could say they "do what it says on the tin" - they're called stitchdowns because you can see the flat stitches around the shoe that hold it together.

But there's more to it than just a look. Stitching the leather upper to the midsole, and sometimes again through the sole, is considered one of the better ways to make shoes because it is a good water-tight construction and makes the shoes easy to re-sole and repair.

One Of The Oldest Ways Of Making Shoes

Of course children's shoes rarely need to be re-soled, they're usually outgrown long before that, but the principle of a sturdy well made shoe that will stand plenty of wear and tear is a good one for kids shoes and the stitchdown delivers.

Infact it is one of the oldest ways of making shoes and was first documented in the seventeenth century by Dutch settlers in South Africa. There, a version of the stitchdown based on the native Khoisan tribe's footwear was known as a "field shoe", or in Afrikaans a "Veldtschoen", and was a hard wearing work shoe that is still known and loved today as the Chukka boot.

The Desert Boot Makes Stitchdowns Hip

Stitchdowns became fashionable around the world in the 1950s with the popularity of the suede Desert Boot, marketed to the new Beat Generation as "the off-beat casual for the up-beat intellectual". It was usually styled with a black roll-neck jumper and a goatee, accompanied by a jazz soundtrack. It helped that it was the shoe of choice for actor and icon of cool Steve McQueen at the time. Today, the likes of Daniel Craig, David Beckham, and Prince Harry. 

Our Favourite Stitchdowns

Our pretty stitchdowns for girls are hand made in Portugal by Petasil, one of the traditional makers in the historic shoe quarter of St Joao de Madeira. Before one summer is over we select the leathers and finishes of next year's spring/summer styles and the shoes are made to order for us. It means there's no wasted over-production, but it also means that when one season's stock is sold there isn't any more until next year.

This year's colour include the lemon yellow and pale lilac that are very on trend, which we're seeing coming through in other brands and in summer fashions. And there's a fabulous soft infant shoe with stitchdown detail for younger girls with a delightful pastel rainbow. 

A Classic Start-Rite Girl's Shoe

The stitchdown has been part of Start-Rite's children's fashion range probably as long as Start-Rite has been making shoes and are as popular to day as they have ever been. This British specialist children's shoe maker has been in business more than 230 years and its Lottie T-bar is a classic.  

Unlike the hard, stiff shoes of the past, today's Lottie is made with soft leather inside and out, a cushioned leather insole and plenty of ankle padding for comfort. They have nickel free buckles to avoid irritating young skin and the rubber sole is flexible and the whole shoe is designed to allow for natural movement.  




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