What Is A Stitchdown Shoe?

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Stitchdowns are a very traditional style of shoe 

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 is there more to it than just the 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 are still wearing them on screen and off, although without the goatee.

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. British company Start-Rite is celebrating 230 years as a specialist children's shoe maker this year and its Lottie T-bar is a classic shoe from a classic company.  

The leather upper is stitched to the leather midsole mounted on a crepe rubber sole for a timeless look, completed with a nickel-free buckle fastening. 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. The rubber sole is flexible and the whole shoe is designed to allow for natural movement. 




We stock Lottie in traditional navy and a very pretty pale pink. Other colours are available to order.

Traditional Portuguese shoe maker Petasil is also well known for its hand made stitchdown girl's shoes. We love their patent leather colours and have T-bar and Mary Jane styles in stock.

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