On Buying English English Shoes

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 begrudgingly started looking around for some new brogues.  This time I was thinking of spending a little more money in the hope they wouldn’t fall apart in six months.  I looked for ages and couldn’t find anything I liked.

I can’t remember quite how it happened but I read somewhere about benchmade English shoes from Northampton.  Church’s, Trickers, Cheaney, Crockett & Jones, Barkers:  I remember seeing shoe shops like this when I was younger, stuffy, old fashioned things with all black formal shoes.  Reading this article opened my eyes.  Northampton produces some of the finest shoes in the world 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.

On the downside, they’re not particularly cheap.  It was just before christmas, 2013 that I went into one of the cheaney stores to have a browse and walked out with a pair of Arthur III mahogany brogues.  I also looked at Church’s and Grenson’s but in the end I like Cheaney’s the best.

Cheaney Arthur III

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 normally spend the winter months sliding around.  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.

cheaney-mens-boots-pennine-burnished-burgundy-side

Both pairs of shoes are over a year old and I can’t recommend them highly enough.  They still look great, are comfortable, and haven’t fallen apart within six months.  That’s got to be something to celebrate.

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