The GORAL brand was launched in 2018 but the story started in 1936 when Franciszek Goral built a small workshop by his home in Poland to begin repairing and handcrafting shoes for family, friends and others in the local village. He soon became the go to shoemaker and was in high demand with the whole family working to fulfill and deliver orders, even the young children pitched in, helping pack the shoes.
Things went from strength to strength, with Franciszek taking on a team of craftsmen and what once was a small workshop was now a fully fledged factory crafting a range of traditional shoes and boots. The business continued to grow and was to be passed down from generation to generation.
During the war and the stalinist years that followed, times were tough for the business with manufacturing and distribution suffering due to government regulation. The family were determined to keep the business going to protect what they had built and their employees livelihood. This meant operating mainly by night and going to extreme lengths to distribute the shoes such as the women of the family hiding boxes underneath their dresses to get past police and other authorities.
As the situation in Poland began to improve the family experienced growth again and were able to return to business as usual. This continued for the next few decades with the factory taking on contracts from a number of large international brands due to their expertise and reliability. During this time the factory solidified it’s reputation for impeccable craftsmanship and use of more traditional shoe-making techniques.
Around the turn of the century Poland’s economy began to struggle and Franciszek’s grandson Bogdan started looking for a way to turn things around and keep the business in the family. This meant making the tough decision to leave Poland and move to a new factory and a new home in Sheffield, offering the current craftsmen the opportunity to join them, of which many did. This new life brought with it it’s own challenges but steadily things were on the rise again and due to their traditional, quality-first approach they began securing contracts to produce high end footwear for a number of major UK fashion brands.
Then in 2018, with the Business now being run by the 4th generation, Dominik, the decision was made to build a factory brand centered around it’s reputation for handcrafted quality and traditional manufacturing processes. Combining this with his passion for British fashion and culture, GORAL was born.