Handcrafted, hand-burnished, Goodyear welted and 100% calf leather – everything you might look for in 100% made-in-Northampton shoes, right? Right. This is exactly what new footwear brand Artisan Revolution is delivering on. But outside of these hallmarks of craftsmanship, Artisan Revolution is also introducing us to a unique, modern aesthetic. A subtle twist on tradition, if you will.

Here at Ape, we are enjoying the brand’s latest creations – so much so we put them to the test.

An Oxford shoe in the “new black”

Ape were gifted two pairs to trial and experience the quality for ourselves. And nothing defines the Artisan Revolution brand more so than the Lowry in Azurite. A traditional cap-toe Oxford shoe – a silhouette widely consider a business-wear essential and noted for its simple elegance – the brand takes this timeless style and gives it a contemporary makeover in its striking “Azurite” colourway. A blue so dark that it’s almost black, it looks superb teamed with grey, black and white ensembles.

As before, the Lowry (£198) is handcrafted, hand-burnished and made in Northampton from 100% European calf leather.

You may ask, do I need “a blue so dark that it’s almost black” in my shoe cupboard? The answer, in our minds, is yes. Much like a midnight blue dinner jacket give a subtle edge to eveningwear, the Lowry in Azurite does much the same. In daylight it’s less stark than a traditional black shoe, allowing you to integrate it into smart casual looks, while at night and under artificial light it offers a depth of colour that’s even richer than black. Consider it a chameleon that’s able to adapt effortlessly to the occasion.

The Classic Double Buckle Monk

For something more traditional in both colour and style, the William in Hickory is a double buckle monk-strap shoe which ticks all the boxes. Two leather straps secure your feet into this en vogue style and offers a sophisticated alternative to the classic Oxford or Derby work shoe, while also working hard at the weekend when combined with smart casual pieces.

The William (£218) is again handcrafted, hand-burnished and made in Northampton from 100% European calf leather.

Each pair is available in Azurite, Hickory and Maroon colourways. A third style, the Henry, an Oxford shoe with semi-brogue detailing, offers another versatile option for on- and off-duty ensembles.

Conclusion and Quality

Prior to visiting a couple of Northampton-based footwear factories it was all to easy to dismiss shoemaking as relatively straightforward task. It’s not. It is a highly-skilled profession, home to skilled craftsman with generations’ worth of experience passed down their lineage.

This same devotion to workmanship is evident in everything Artisan Revolution produces, with its handful of select artisans working through 200 processes in the manufacturing of each pair of shoes. Our expectations of the quality – from build to fit to material – were exceeded as we unpacked them from the carefully organised shoe box they arrived in. And this bar was maintained as we put them through their (literal) paces.

Therefore, we can give the brand the official Ape stamp of approval: for those of you looking for classic style with a subtle edge, without sacrificing quality, look no further than Artisan Revolution.

Availability & Price Point

It should be said, Artisan Revolution were keen to impress on us that the price point isn’t everything. That the brand was all about fusing traditional workmanship with a versatile, contemporary aesthetic. But with this level of quality, it’s worth mentioning that with shoes starting from £198, you’re getting serious value for money.

Visit www.artisanrev.co.uk for more information and to buy now.

A paid partnership with Artisan Revolution – words, opinion and photography Ape’s own