Saturday, February 13, 2010

StylePointer rates English shoemakers

Shoes made in England have set a high standard in terms of craftsmanship and durability. Put simply, they wear like iron. A visit to Northampton is on my bucket list of things to do in my lifetime.

I have visited London's Jermyn Street and Savile Row several times over the last few years, and there are so many options from which to choose. A pair of handmade shoes is the ultimate luxury. However, one need not pay 2,000 pounds (about $3,140 as of this entry) to acquire this level of comfort.

Church's of England shoes are pretty popular in the U.S. I especially like their wingtip spectators. One of my contemporaries, Ryan Chua, who recently started his own bespoke tailoring business while working at the Polo store in the Houston Galleria, is a big Church's fan.

Charles Tyrwhitt makes models that regularly retail for up to $650, but have been selling for half price for quite a while these days. Tyrwhitt's shoes are made in Northampton and are quality items. My favorite is the Brown Calf Winchester Co-Respondent shoe, a cap-toe spectator shoe that offers a stylish retro look. The classic brogues in black and brown are available, sharing the denominator of being well made.

Edward Green is another heavy hitter, with bespoke as well as ready-to-wear lines. I recently picked up a pair called the Holborn in Rosewood Country Calf on a 606 last. These shoes retail for nearly $1,200, but I got a good deal on them as they found their way to an outlet store in San Marcos, TX. To possess the elegance of Edward Green shoes that fit like a glove is a lucky thing indeed.

Crockett & Jones is another esteemed company that has made shoes for Polo Ralph Lauren. I still am searching for the C&J last that fits me best, but without question C&J shoes represent quality.

On the high (bespoke) end, look into John Lobb, George Cleverly, W.S. Foster & Son. Each shoemaker has a tradition few others can match.

I hate to do a top five on these shoemakers when I know there are so many English shoemakers. I'll give it a shot, though (debate likely to follow ...):

1. John Lobb
2. George Cleverley
3. W.S. Foster & Son
4. Edward Green
5. Crockett & Jones

Other shoes that deserve mention: New & Lingwood, Grenson, Tricker's, Barker, Sanders.


Anonymous said...

new and lingwood are not really shoemakers.other shoemakers make for them.those that you have in your top 5 are.
lets not forget eric cook of alexander boyd.a great shoemaker of great distinction.

paquitookwesa said...

eric cook is the best.for absolute value for money you cannot beat costas of tooting on the mitchum road london $1000.00 for bespoke of quality that surpasses all the northampton guys.