Solovair is a brand of British-made boots and footwear, produced by NPS Shoes Ltd., which was established in 1881.
The NPS factory is based in Wollaston, Northamptonshire. NPS shoes are known for their Goodyear welt technology and use it in all their shoe production. This particular technique is needed to fix the Solovair sole onto "Soft Sole Suspension" boots and shoes.
Shoe manufacturer R. Griggs Group Ltd. had the patent to produce Dr. Martens boots but not the technology. So in 1960 Griggs and NPS collaborated to create a boot using a Solovair sole and a Griggs upper, and the result was the now iconic Dr. Martens boot. The first pair left the NPS factory in 1960. NPS Shoes continued to make footwear under licence until the mid 1990s called 'Dr Martens made by Solovair'. They trademarked the name Solovair in 1995 and now make their own air-cushioned boot using the same lasts and leather cutters and machines used to create the first original Dr. Martens suspension soles in the UK.
In the 1960s, NPS was one of the leading manufacturers of shoes manufactured using Goodyear Welt Technology. The soles are attached to boots and shoes with air-cushioned "Soft Sole Suspension" using a welt and pre-formed canvas.
After R. Griggs & Co acquired a license from Klaus Märtens and Herbert Funck in 1960 to manufacture safety boots, they lacked the technology and tools to manufacture and attach the soles. Therefore, Griggs developed with NPS a shoe consisting of a Solovair sole and Griggs upper, which later became known as Dr. Martens. Dr. Martens was then manufactured by NPS for 35 years until 1995 under the name "Dr. Martens by Solovair"
After the expiration of the patent protection period, Briggs produced its own soles for the shoes, from then on known as "Dr. Martens AirWair", and in 2003 moved the entire production to Asia. At the same time, NPS registered the name Solovair as a trademark and continues to produce shoes today using the original machines, tools and techniques used to make the first Dr. Martens.
These shoes have the same look and characteristics as the first Dr. Martens and are similar to today's Dr. Martens AirWair. The yellow sewing thread used to sew the sole and upper material had to be changed to grey for trademark reasons. The Solovair logo can be found on the sole and on the green and black pull loop you will also find the logo and the writing "Made in England since 1881".
Buyers and wearers of Solovair shoes see them as an alternative to today's Dr. Martens, manufactured in England.