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T-bar sandals from Sonnet (Start-Rite Shoes' subsidiary in the United States), dating from approximately 2000.

Start-rite is a brand of children's shoes. The shoemaker, purportedly Britain's oldest and one of the first manufacturers in Norfolk,[1] was established in 1792 in Norwich, England, by James Smith.[2][3] His grandson, James Southall, gave the firm its current name; it rose in prominence during the 20th century thanks in part to an iconic poster, reading Children's shoes have far to go,[2] which was displayed on the London Underground for 20 years from 1947.[4] Controversy exists around the origins of the image in this poster. It has been attributed to artists Andy Wood,[5] William Grimmond, Joe Wilkinson of Stanley Studios, Susan Pearce, and to the company's own advertising agent.[2]

In 1955 Start-rite was granted a royal warrant by Queen Elizabeth II to supply footwear for the young Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Princess Anne.[6] The company was granted a second royal warrant in 1989 by the Prince of Wales to supply children's footwear for Prince William and Prince Harry.[2] This royal warrant was withdrawn in 2003 on production being moved from the UK.[2] In 2016 Prince George was pictured wearing Start-rite shoes in an official portrait taken to commemorate the 90th birthday of the Queen.[7]

In 2003 the company ceased production in the UK, outsourcing its operations to India[1] and Portugal.[2] The cost cutting move came amid a £600,000 annual loss, which the company reversed the following year to turn a £1.5 million profit. Sales further increased by 20% to 2007.[8]

The company focuses on correctly fitting shoes to children's feet, and was the first to introduce variable width fittings for children's shoes.[2][8] It once maintained concession stores in the now-defunct children's clothing retailer Adams.[9]


  1. ^ a b "SStart-rite ends UK production". BBC. 25 September 2003. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Barrow, Becky (14 July 2003). "Start-Rite toddles off to India to cut costs". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
  3. ^ "About us" page on the company's website
  4. ^ Windsor, John (8 August 1992). "In the footsteps of the Start-rite twins". The Independent. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
  5. ^ Start-rite logo
  6. ^ "Start-Rite Shoes - Our History". Retrieved 2016-08-15.
  7. ^ Clack, Erin E. (2016-04-20). "Prince George Wears Favorite Start-rite Shoes For Queen's 90th Birthday Photos". Retrieved 2016-08-15.
  8. ^ a b Jackson, Laura (27 May 2007). "The Rite stuff". Drapers magazine. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
  9. ^ "UK: Adams Steps Into Start-Rite Children's Shoe Business". Just Style. 21 February 2001.

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