Made in Hackney: Step inside Well Street footwear factory Freed of London, which makes 130,000 dance shoes a year

Up to 100,000 ballet shoes, and 30,000 theatrical dance shoes, are made in the factory each year. Pi

Up to 100,000 ballet shoes, and 30,000 theatrical dance shoes, are made in the factory each year. Picture: Freed of London - Credit: Archant

Each week, the Gazette takes to the streets to unearth something being manufactured right here in Hackney. This week we feature Freed of London, which creates dancing shoes for the stars from a factory in Well Street.

Theatrical shoe designer Jimmy at work in Freed of London's Well Street factory. Picture: Freed of L

Theatrical shoe designer Jimmy at work in Freed of London's Well Street factory. Picture: Freed of London - Credit: Archant

From its humble home halfway down Well Street, Freed of London makes shimmering shoes for twinkling toes.

The company has been producing some of the world’s finest dance shoes from the site, its main factory, since 1971.

Up to 100,000 ballet shoes, and 30,000 theatrical dance shoes, are made in the factory each year. Pi

Up to 100,000 ballet shoes, and 30,000 theatrical dance shoes, are made in the factory each year. Picture: Freed of London - Credit: Archant

The team of 90 employees shape ballet and theatrical shoes for customers from the stage to the big screen.

Up to 100,000 ballet shoes, and 30,000 theatrical dance shoes, are made here in Hackney each year.

Up to 100,000 ballet shoes, and 30,000 theatrical dance shoes, are made in the factory each year. Pi

Up to 100,000 ballet shoes, and 30,000 theatrical dance shoes, are made in the factory each year. Picture: Freed of London - Credit: Nick David


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In recent years, performers from the New York City Ballet to those on Strictly Come Dancing have worn Freed of London productions.

Rafiqul Haque, 32, has been a quality control assistant in the Freed factory for 12 years.

Theatrical shoes at the Freed of London factory. Picture: Freed of London

Theatrical shoes at the Freed of London factory. Picture: Freed of London - Credit: Archant

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He told the Gazette the company’s growth has matched Hackney’s own development: “The place has really grown, and now it makes sense that our shoes go all over the world.”

And it’s always entertaining working with the company’s 10 master craftsmen who create the shoes for showbiz stars, Rafiqul said.

Up to 100,000 ballet shoes, and 30,000 theatrical dance shoes, are made in the factory each year. Pi

Up to 100,000 ballet shoes, and 30,000 theatrical dance shoes, are made in the factory each year. Picture: Freed of London - Credit: Archant

“Watching them work is fun,” he added. “It’s very different from any other job. I love it.”

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