A year and a half ago I started to look for a new pair of shoes, before that I mainly wore desert boots or cheap shoes from various retailers. The desert boots were good but lethal in winter and all the other shoes fell apart in 6 months. It was that time of year, so I started looking around for some brogues. This time I was thinking of spending a little more money to get something that wouldn’t fall apart and started looking around but still couldn’t really find anything.
I can’t remember quite how it happened but somewhere I read about benchmade English shoes from Northampton. Church’s, Trickers, Cheaney, Crockett & Jones, Barkers – I remember seeing shoe shops like this when I was younger and they seemed old fashioned. It was probably all the black formal shoes. But reading this article opened my eyes. Northampton produces some of the finest shoes and reading about the process, skill and craft made me think it could well be worth it.
I’m not really an impulse buyer. I like to read about things and mull them over first if I’ve got the chance and there was no rush so I started to reading about shoes, English in particular but not exclusively. Over the next few months of looking I came up with a number of arguments to myself.
Reasons to buy benchmade shoes
- Goodyear welted/Veldtshoen construction means they can be repaired. I find buying nice shoes a struggle so when I find a pair I like, it’s annoying when they fall apart within 6 months. I could get these repaired. As a bonus, many makers offer a refurbishment service where they resole at the factory – that’s faith in your product.
- High quality materials – again, this means they’re not going to fall apart in 6 months, also, they look much better than cheap shoes.
- Comfort – I sound like a grandad here but comfort is important and these shoes are comfy.
- Style – in terms of brogues, which is what I was looking for first, there’s a massive choice and they all look amazing.
It was just before christmas, 2013 that I went into one of the cheaney stores and walked out with a pair of Arthur III mahogany brogues. I had looked at Church’s and Grenson’s but in the end I like Cheaney’s the best.
Around that time I also was fortunate to score a pair of Pennine IIR Burgundy boots. Besides brogues, I also desperately needed winter shoes as I spend my time sliding around in winter. These things are indestructible and also look great and a year of use and they still look like new and they’re nowhere near being resoled.
I’ve had both pairs of shoes for over over a year and I can’t recommend them highly enough. Both still look great, are comfortable, and have not fallen apart within six months.
I’ll be doing a few posts in the next few weeks on looking after and polishing your shoes and also a brief overview of English shoemakers.