It’s been a long time coming, but Daniel Craig’s James Bond is finally, eventually, at long last about to take his final steps in front of that iconic gun barrel. He’s going to stride onto the screen next month in the much-anticipated No Time To Die — and he’ll be wearing Crockett & Jones shoes when he does so.
To celebrate this milestone in British cinema, Gentleman’s Journal sat down with Steve Murdoch — Head of Retail at the heritage Northampton shoemaker — to discover the story behind this very British collaboration. How and when did the most famous spy in history start lacing up the fine, world-saving footwear of Crockett & Jones?
"Crockett & Jones and 007 are firm friends..."
Because it’s no secret that Crockett & Jones and 007 are firm friends. You’ll no doubt remember Bond on a crusade to save Queen and country in Skyfall; all the while relying on the brand’s Alex Black Calf oxford, Highbury derby shoe, Tetbury chukka boot and Islay derby boot designs.
The brand also collaborated closely with costume designer Richard Davies when it came to kitting out Bond for Spectre — and did so again for the upcoming No Time To Die. But how did this very British relationship first strike up? How did Crockett & Jones step its revered, refined footwear into one of the biggest British franchises of all time?
“Daniel [Craig] was a [previous] customer of ours,” says Murdoch, plainly. “And he’s been a great advocate of the brand for the past 20 years or more. He’s purchased our shoes from our shop in Jermyn Street, and in New York as well; and we did shoes for him for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, back in 2010. So he knew our brand, and our shoes fitted him very well — he just wanted to wear our product, I think. Because he needs to be comfortable in it.”
Murdoch vividly remembers the initial contact with the Skyfall costume team — and he’s unequivocal about the large part that Craig’s own personal preference played in the process. “I was approached by [the costume team,] back during Skyfall, and they said they needed to take some shoes for Daniel to try during the Skyfall film. [They were open about the fact that] other brands were involved as well, but they said, ‘He likes your shoes, so we’re going to take yours as well.’ Being a lover of our shoes, [Daniel] was very keen to wear them. So I gave them quite a few samples; and they came back and said, ‘Yep, we’re going to go with you; he wants your shoes’.”
Knowing the durability, reliability and resilience of Crockett & Jones’ shoes, it’s unsurprising that Craig felt so strongly about them. “They fit him, and he knows our product. And with filming, it’s a tough business; you’re on your feet all day, jumping around, leaping off buildings,” Murdoch points out, with a wry chuckle. “You want something you can rely on, basically. That’s not to say that other shoes aren’t good; but he knows ours, you know?”
Craig isn’t the only cast member to have a longstanding relationship with the brand; Ralph Fiennes, too, was clad in Crockett & Jones during Skyfall. “He’s always been a customer of ours, so we did shoes for him as well,” Murdoch confirms.
As collaborations go, the collaboration between Crockett & Jones and the Bond costume team is every bit as seamless as slipping a foot into the sleek black leather of the Highbury. “They ask our advice about sole units — because the last thing you want is Daniel or the stuntmen getting injured in the film,” Murdoch explains. “So we recommend what works well, what would be the best grip; but they have a good idea of what they want.”
And when it came to No Time To Die, the respective expertise on the part of Murdoch and Costume Designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb resulted in a freely flowing, mutually respectful creative process. “[Suttirat] had a clear idea [of what she wanted] — but [the team are] so easy to speak to, and they listen to us, in terms of what’s available and also the fit. I’ve known Daniel 15, 20 years; so we know what fits him, we have a record of what he buys. It’s a collaboration where they listen to us, but they also know what they want; and it works well.”
"It fits him like a glove..."
Such is the beauty of creative processes that are based on trust, respect and wholly open minds. “The boot [Daniel’s] wearing in No Time To Die — the Molton boot — that’s a boot he’s had personally for many years. It’s his favourite boot. He’s had tonnes of them; he loves them,” Murdoch enthuses. “They wanted a boot similar to that, and I said to them, ‘This is the boot you want; but also, he loves this boot. It just fits him like a glove.’ So they went along with the Molton boot, which was different to what they were initially looking at.”
Together with the Molton, viewers can expect to see the Highbury serving Bond as he, in turn, serves his country in the upcoming film. “The Highbury is because he wears a lot of suits in the film, and you need something that’s got a good rubber sole; because obviously he does some of the stunts and the running around himself,” explains Murdoch. “And then the Molton, I think, was because for the scenes in Norway, he needed something rough and tough. It’s rough-out suede material, almost waterproof — it’s a fantastic boot.”
When it comes down to it, the partnership between the brand and the franchise just: clicks. It makes perfect sense; it has a certain satisfying, resolute symmetry to it — and it all comes down to shared qualities that make both Crockett & Jones and Bond who they are. They’re both inherently British; they’re both synonymous with a suave, stylish tuxedo. But it’s something more than that, too — and Murdoch puts his finger on just what that is.
“They’re both very loyal,” he explains. “Bond is very loyal; in all the films, you see that he’s loyal to the people around him, and the people he works for. [And] throughout Crockett & Jones, there’s a lot of integrity. Jonathan [Jones, Managing Director] is fantastic; he’s very loyal to our stockists all around the world, and the people who sell our shoes.”
Murdoch points out, too, the shared desire to unfailingly, irresolutely do the right thing: a quality that both Crockett & Jones and Bond live by. “We have a Royal Warrant; and to be a Royal Warrant holder, you have to have great sustainability and environmentally friendly products right through from the sourcing deals and the factories they come from,” he points out. “So [the Bond franchise] wants to be associated with a brand that’s upright and honest.”
“Like Bond himself”, I muse.
“Exactly!”, chuckles Murdoch. “He has his moments, though — he’s allowed to shoot people, I suppose. We don’t do that.”
A relief, indeed; but gun-wielding aside, the mutual integrity of Crockett & Jones and the Bond franchise knows no bounds — and it’s led to the successful collaboration that’ll see Bond defending his country in the way that only Bond can, with the crucial help of his reliable, durable and effortlessly elegant footwear. Roll on 30th September.
The James Bond products will relaunch on the Crockett & Jones website on 3rd September 2021.