We have compiled a collection of frequently asked questions; please review these questions and if you are not able find the answer you are looking for then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Are Solovair 100% made in England?
Absolutely yes. All the magic happens on site at the NPS Shoes (which stands for the Northampton Productive Society) factory in the village of Wollaston, Northamptonshire. From Michael and his team who cut the leather to Ron and his assistants who add the Solovair swing tag before packaging them for dispatch by Kieran.
NPS Shoes Ltd. was founded in 1881, as one of the world’s original footwear manufacturers. Please visit our history page to find out more about Solovair and NPS.
- So who is NPS then?
NPS Shoes stands for Northampton Productive Society and was founded in 1881 and has always remained a show factory since its beginnings.
NPS make for all sorts of customers from industrial like the Fire Brigades of the UK to fashion retailers such as John Lewis, Marks and Spencers, Kurt Geiger and Margaret Howell. It is not necessarily obvious that NPS have been behind the making of some of the great English made footwear out there on the high streets. That’s why we also have our own brand Solovair which we also make at the NPS factory.
- Where to Buy Solovair
We do not stock all our ranges on our website as we have great friends and customers that hold stock of some of the original styles.
It was not until 2015 that we decided to dip our toe in the waters of the digital world of online shopping and hold some of our own stock. Previously every pair was made to order. This is why you will not find the classics Solovair styles you may be already be familiar with. Instead we have great friends that do that for us and stock original styles.
Please check the ‘where to buy’ page to identify local and international bricks and mortar stores where you can see our footwear in the flesh and try them on.
- Why can I not find a stocklist for a product shown on Solovair-shoes.com?
Since the very first pair of Solovair left our factory we have made hundreds of different varieties of our footwear, either using materials that were freely available at the time of production or as one of request for independent retailers. Each and every pair was made to order and we have never carried stock.
Solovair-shoes.com sees the launch of a premium collection starting with just 12 products based on popular styles using high quality grades of leather which we have produced for our own website.
If you are unable to find a stockist of a product you are interested in, why not sign up to our newsletter (found at the bottom of the homepage) to receive infrequent updates about the latest products or limited editions being made.
- Where does the name Solovair come from?
Good question! Solovair is the bungle of words Sole of Air after the Soft Suspension Sole. For 35 years NPS produced Solovair boots and shoes under license, which were sold under the name “Dr Martens by Solovair”.
NPS no longer produces boots and shoes under license, but NPS patented the name Solovair in 1995.
- What does Goodyear welted mean?
Goodyear welted footwear acquires its name from the long strip of material called a ‘welt’ which is sewn to the upper and insole of the shoe or boot by means of chain stitch. The (out)sole is then attached separately to the welt by means of a lock stitch. There are up to 200 highly skilled stages in the making of a pair of ‘Goodyear welted’ shoes and this traditional method of manufacturing serves to provide the following key advantages in terms of:
- Exceptional comfort: The cavity created by the inseam between the inner and outer sole is filled with a flexible compound that moulds to the shape of the wearer’s feet.
- Strength: Comfort combined with durability to provide strength, outstanding performance and excellent shape retention.
- Insulation: The flexible compound that is sandwiched between the inner and outer soles provides excellent thermal insulation and protection from uneven surfaces.
- Easy to Repair: As long as the uppers are taken care of, it is easy to re-sole worn welted footwear by sewing or heat-sealing new soles to the existing welts, to give a life expectancy up to 20 years.
- Flexibility: The ‘Goodyear’ welted construction is adaptable to almost every style of footwear which enables Solovair to respond and meet new trends in fashion.
All of our footwear manufactured here at Solovair is proudly all handmade; part of this process is the Goodyear welted method.
- I'm not sure what size to buy!
- What does it mean when the product I want to buy is available on back order?
We have enabled back orders for a number of our popular styles, these products are constantly in production and the wait should be no longer than 6 weeks. By ordering a product on back order the relevant footwear in production is assigned to you so as soon as they are completed our warehouse team will get it packed and on its way to you.
- I've signed up for a waitlist, what happens next?
As soon as the footwear you have signed up for becomes available, you will receive an email informing you that the product is back in stock with a link to enable you to purchase the item. This is on a first come first basis, however we are constantly monitoring the waitlist and ensuring that we are putting enough footwear into production to cover demand.
- Delivery Information for UK?
Please visit our Delivery & Returns page.
- Are you able to manufacture bespoke orders for wholesalers or retail companies?
Simply, yes. With a highly skilled workforce and access to a wide variety of components, including virtually any leather or material suitable for shoe manufacturing, we can create bespoke orders for our customers. Please remember that we require a minimum of twelve pairs per product (style/colour), but mixed sizes per product are acceptable. If you own or represent a company and would like to stock our products then please contact us at email@example.com for further information or a copy of our latest catalogue.
- Can I select my own leather and sole combinations?
Presently we only offer this option to those looking to order 12 pairs or more so not your everyday consumer (or one with a very large wardrobe). If you are a wholesale or retailer looking to stock bespoke Solovair we manufacture a large range of boots and shoes, using knives and lasts that have been part of the company for decades. We also stock a broad selection of Solovair soles varying in thickness and colours, the choice of leathers and fabrics is only limited by your imagination. To discuss style options or to obtain a copy of our latest catalogue please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- I’ve been told my items out of stock!
Our website shows that we have all sizes available, however, as every item is handmade, levels are subject to some fluctuation. But don’t worry! Our boots and shoes will constantly be in production as we pride ourselves on our footwear being classic and timeless.
As soon as your order has been processed, we will contact you via the email address provided to advise if the size is out of stock. From this, you have the option to wait for the ordered footwear to be completed or exchange for an alternative style. Commonly, we all own more than one pair of boots/shoes which hopefully can suffice until your brand new Solovair’s have been completed in production however, if you are unable to wait we can process a full refund upon request.
As soon as the requested style has been completed, your order will be dispatched directly from the factory to yourself.
Unfortunately we are unable to offer any compensation or discount for the waiting period advised.
- Are your steel toe boots made to EN ISO 20345:2004?
No. Our boots are classified as fashion steel cap only; we do not recommend them for industrial use.
- Are your PVC Solovair soles Alkaline, Petrol, Acid and Fat resistant?
Our soft suspension soles are made from a PVC compound (Poly Vinyl Chloride), which means they are resistant to acid, oil, fat, petrol and alkali.
- How do I care for my shoes?
If you consider that Solovair footwear takes several weeks to make and can last a lifetime, it’s well worth taking a little time to care for your investment. Here are some simple guidelines:
- Always clean shoes regularly by cleaning off any surplus dirt with a brush or damp cloth.
- For leather shoes apply a good quality shoe polish or cream and buff with a dry cloth or soft brush.
- For suede shoes brush up the nap with a suede brush.
- For nubuck shoes wipe with a cloth dipped in slightly warm soapy water.
- If the shoes are wet, let them dry naturally as quality leather shoes need a slow natural drying process before cleaning.
- If possible, use a shoe tree when not in use to help retain the shape of the shoe.
- Can Solovair footwear be worn in sub-zero or high temperatures?
The compound used to make the Solovair soft suspension sole is pliable / flexible under sub-zero temperatures. Exposure to extreme low or high temperatures, quick fluctuations in temperature extremes and high torsional movement under these conditions will reduce the life expectancy of our soles.
If the above conditions are unavoidable, the good news is that the soles of our footwear can be replaced with a new sole. A local cobbler will be able to re-sole our footwear and we offer replacement soles via our website.
- Replacement Laces
Laces are a personal preference, but we generally recommend the following sizes laces when purchasing replacements:
- 3 eyelets: 60cm or 65cm laces
- 4 or 5 eyelets: 90cm laces
- 6 eyelets: 120cm laces
- 8, 9, 10 or 11 eyelets: 140cm laces
- 14 eyelets: 210cm laces
- 20 eyelets: 240cm laces
- What type of leather do you use?
We use full-grain, chromed, tanned bovine (cow) leather of EU Origin and tannage. This included 100% bovine leather lining.
- How do Solovair shoes compare to other brands?
We cannot compare our products to other brands. Solovair footwear is made in the same factory in Wollaston, England and the same tooling is used every time; therefore the fit remains as consistent as possible for handmade footwear.
- Can you explain the different leathers?
Smooth Leather – The majority of Solovair boots are made using ‘Smooth’ leather, this is a corrected leather. The Class 8 Eye Derby Boot was originally a work boot and has always had all of its imperfections sanded smooth, and then a manmade coating placed over the top, giving it a shiny appearance and a ‘smooth’ finish.
Full Grain Leather – Full grain leather is higher quality leather, it is selected because it has no imperfection and the full-grained surface of the leather can be seen, along with the original hair cells. As this leather still has the original surface, it can be nurtured, polished and waterproofed by the owner. The leather will become softer over time with no chance of the surface becoming brittle and peeling as some ‘smooth’ leathers do.
Greasy Leather – This leather is full grain leather but impregnated with oil that gives it a supple and waterproof quality. The leather trend to be thicker too, taking a little longer to break in. Due to the ‘greasy’ finish you cannot get a shine on this kind of leather, it just needs to be fed with more wax balsam, oil or grease.
Gaucho – This leather is the same as Greasy Leather (see above) the difference being that the same technique is applied to a lighter leather so every time the leather creases it leaves a mark/impression which gives it a great distressed quality. All marks are removed by a new application of wax balsam or grease.
Rub-Off – This is a technique applied to ‘Smooth’ leather products. The initial colour (e.g. Burgundy) is placed on the leather then a second colour is applied over the top (e.g. Black). The topcoat is then ‘rubbed off’ to reveal the initial colour below.
Haircell Leather – All leather has fine hair cells that are visible to the naked eye (the pattern left by the hair follicle cells from the animals hide). When leather is ‘corrected’ (sanded smooth) to remove imperfections the hair cell pattern is also removed. Haircell leather is corrected smooth leather with a haircell impression print applied.
If we’ve missed something or you have any further questions please let us know, you can contact us here.