Thursday, July 26, 2012

A look at Amsterdam, Paris and London


Paris, Smalto RTW


Paris, Hilditch & Key, coral saharienne jacket

London, Cheaney austerity brogues

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Quality and affordability in men's shoes: Have the twain finally met?

My new pair of Allen Edmonds Madison cap-toe dress shoes in dark chocolate calf arrived today via FedEx. Also available in black, it is currently on sale in the US for $249 with free shipping.

Allen Edmonds Madison cap-toe in dark chocolate
I bought these AEs since I was looking for a pair of versatile dress shoes specifically for business travel. For me, this means a few things in particular.
  • Non-metallic construction. So no metal shank in the sole, which unfortunately rules out Alden shoes. This matters less in the US since travelers are required to remove their shoes going through airport security. But this is not the case in Europe, which means the metal shank in the shoes almost always triggers a secondary inspection or removal of the shoe and another pass through the metal detector.
  • Dry and wet weather handling. The other consideration is a rubber sole to deal with both dry and wet, rainy conditions. The new Crane rubber soles on these AE Madisons are similar to British Dainite soles but with horizontal treads.  Since I travel light, I also prefer to bring a single pair of shoes, which leads me to the next consideration.
  • Color versatility. Although black shoes could fit the bill, they are less versatile in matching up to both a business suit and a more casual sports jacket. Hence, the dark brown calfskin.
It also goes without saying that I was looking for shoes with good value. Certainly on sale and even at full retail, I think these Madisons are very good value.

But here's the other thing I've noticed in the last couple of years. In RTW, there is a much greater retail selection with new brands and/or diffusion lines from existing shoemakers. These include:
Among existing RTW makers, there has also been a reinvigoration of new models and lines by Alfred Sargent, Cheaney and Allen Edmonds.

On the bespoke side, one can get bespoke for just a few hundred euros. In Vienna for example, Maftei bespoke starts at about EUR 700. In Warsaw, veteran shoemaker Tadeusz Januszkiewicz makes bespoke shoes for around EUR 500. In Italy, one can find even more choices at a similar price point.

Additional links
- Shoe Snob profile of Maftei

Monday, July 16, 2012

England's last oak bark tannery: J & FJ Baker

When I chatted with Emma and Jon during Foster & Son's NYC visit, they mentioned taking a tour of J & FJ Baker, which appears to England's last remaining oak bark tannery. Apparently there's been a tannery on Baker's site in Devon since Roman times. Let's hope it continues well into the future!

Friday, July 06, 2012

1930s style biswing jacket

A Los Angeles-based reader wrote to me and supplied photos of his recent commission with Enzo Caruso. The jacket is inspired by a specific example worn by Clark Gable in the 1935 film China Seas.

Clark Gable's biswing jacket

Clark Gable's biswing jacket

The Caruso jacket pictured below is made out a Holland & Sherry blue wool-cashmere mix and features a stitched, half-belted back, bi-swing shoulders and military pockets. In the right pocket, there is an additional insert pocket.

Second fitting

Biswing back