The Shoe Snob Blog

May 16, 2012

Written by , Posted in News

The Perfect Shoe For Spring 2012

I have always had a hard time balancing smart and casual. I either tend to want to wear a suit with dress shoes, or jeans with trainers…only being forced to do the whole in-between as I have to for work. Part of this problem is finding the right shoe to tie together the smart-casual look. That, I think, has been my biggest problem. Suede is usually a good balance as it can be smart, but also casual at the same time. Same thing with the loafer style. It’s clean looking, simple and can look great with some smart jeans or nice, dress-casual trousers. But the icing on the cake, for me, in regards to this shoe presented, would have to be the crepe sole. It’s texture, color and comfort give it that one-up when it comes to being ‘dress casual.’ A leather sole on it would make it too dressy looking, a dark rubber sole would be too boring, but the contrasted crepe gives it everything it needs in order to be fun, yet still maintain it’s sharp look.

Funny enough, this model is a collaboration between Japanese clothing brand Deluxe, and English shoemakers Loake, a brand that I must say that I have not been too particularly fond of in the past. But these here give me a new respect for Loake and make me want to go search for them, and then buy them, as I believe that would get a lot of use out of me! But I have a feeling that they will be a hard find, which is probably for the best anyway, as I need to save up!

Pictures Courtesy Of: The Shoe Buff

  • Alex

    Hello Justin,

    I’m not sure about crepe soles myself – I think they can look rather cheap, although these look very solid. Could you explain the difference between this crepe sole and other synthetic constructions?

    Also, I’m interested in your reference to Loake. You’ve been pretty damning about the brand, and I was surprised – particularly, as a man of limited means, because for large parts of my life I’ve used them. I currently have two pairs – classic black oxford cap toe and a burgundy plain toe – that have lasted me for 10-15 years despite very poor care.

    Clearly there are more expensive and better shoes around, and perhaps also the quality has declined over the years since I last bought a pair. But could you explain why you dislike this brand so much? Also, your other favourite “piata” seems to be Kurt Geiger. They certainly made some irredeemable garbage under the “Mr KG” label, and the “KG by Kurt Geiger” looks hit and miss. But the “Kurt Geiger – London” stuff looks reasonable enough, not that I’ve bought any. So what’s the history with both of these brands, if I might ask?

    Sorry for all of the questions in one go – I’ve been following your informative and entertaining blog for a few weeks and have been saving this up!

    Best regards, and thanks for putting the effort into this blog!

    Alex

  • A gorgeous shoe! I love crepe soles but I generally only see them on desert boots/chukkas, so seeing them on a loafer is refreshing.

  • Laurence

    These shoes are not my cup of tea, but yes Loake do come in for a lot of stick on the various fashion websites. And to be fair, they do bring a lot of it on themselves with some of their lower price offerings.
    But I did read somewhere that if you’re wearing a pair of Loake shoes then you’ve got better shoes than 90% of the people you pass n the street.

    The man who runs 5th Avenue Shoe Repairers, on Goodge St, holds Loakes in high regard.
    http://fifthavenueshoerepairs.com/#

    Like Alex above, I’ve limited means for shoes, and have to buy the best I can, Sometimes this is Loake, sometimes Herring.

  • Alex – There is no history with either one of them really, have never owned any myself. It’s just that I know that they shirk on quality to make a lower pricepoint, but will still claim that their shoes are of the utmost quality and/or ‘handmade.’ Most of Loake’s shoes are made from bookbinder leather (that cheap glossy leather that looks like plastic) and I find it to be quite atrocious. This is why I wrote about the decline of Church’s shoes just recently as I believe that they are also heading that direction. There are many other brands that are bigger on my shit list but as I am subjected to these two brands quite often, it just comes out…

    Byte – indeed!

    Laurence – I guess if you are wearing goodyear welted shoes, then yes, they are better than the 90% of glued soles out there. That statement must be true….better them, than say Kenneth Cole or the likes

    -Justin

  • Laurence

    True enough Justin.
    Loakes are an entry level drug to the world of shoes.
    Avoiding the polished leather when possible.

    My frequent viewing of your excellent website is mainly aspirational. I’ve to balance my want for shoes with my need for shoes, and my two small children’s need for shoes too.

    Wearing Herring boots today, made for them by Loake.
    Goodyear welted, but I think the soles aren’t the most hardwearing.

  • Anonymous

    Justin,

    I quite understand, and as the saying goes, you get what you pay for (well, usually, there’s some designer crap around for 500 too I would say!). Are there any mass market brands you would recommend, e.g. Barker, Allen Edmonds etc., in a similar price range but better value in your opinion?

    Also, do you notice any difference between older and more recent pairs? Mine have certainly lasted well, and the burgundy ones shine up especially beautifully (to the compliments of the John Lobb salesman, but I guess compliments are part of the job!). Fifty quid end of line, and fifteen years is still a good deal! But I seem to remember reading somewhere that manufacturing had been outsourced at some point. Mine just say “made in England” along with the serial and last number and whatnot. I’m curious to know if they’re still the same, or something has changed since I bought mine.

    Anyway, enough about Loake, but more questions if I may: what are the technical differences between an “entry level” proper shoes (i.e. still Goodyear, Norwegian or Blake manufacture but at the cheap end), and a better shoe? Perhaps you would think of doing a piece just on that? I find the technical aspects you’ve written about quite fascinating and would love to know more about who does what, and why it’s important.

    In the mean time, thanks for the introductions to relatively accessible brands like Septieme Largeur and some of the more obscure makers (how does one contact Clifford Roberts?!). Some of the styles you have put on here are really quite inspiring: I am about to order a pair to my own design and made just for me, for the first time in my life, so I will have you to thank for some great ideas and tips!

    Best regards,

    Alex

  • Alex,

    The differences had been exposed by Justin, but his post was made eons ago… so I’ll try to synthetize 😉

    Basically, there are only three price discriminants in the high-end shoe market; material, craftsmanship and design.
    – The design, once established, is not a problem for an industry (in the bespoke and semi-bespoke worlds the model deisgn becomes quite irksome)
    – The materials have a consistant influence in the final price. A first class French anilveau costs quite a lot more than a run-of-the-mill box calf. But be careful, because the “bookbinder” leathers are NOT so economical.
    – The real costs come from the type of construction, be it handmade or machine-made. Basically almost every phase can be realised with a machine (from clicking to lasting to stitching).
    Polishing CANNOT be reproduced ONLY with a machine: the rough, silicone based, products used by the worst producers are immediately recognizable as a synonym of “crap shoe”. Thus the use of the (quite costly) corrected grain leathers becomes convenient, by cutting away the costs of the hand assisted polishing.

    I’m sure that Justin will fill the voids of my necessarely short exposition.

    Il Satiro

  • Laurence – Don’t worry, I think reading my own blog is aspirational too, as I cannot afford to fork out 700 for some EG’s…

    Alex – Yea, believe me, most of that designer stuff is absolute crap, with the exception of a few such as some of LV’s shoes, but still too expensive. As far as mass market brands, Allen Edmonds does a great job of making a good shoe for a great price, Alden too, but they are a bit pricier. Barker does a decent job too, but I think that it is shoe by shoe, some look good for the price, some don’t.

    In all honesty, I think many brands that are +40 years old, have changed in quality for the worst. Not everyone obviously, but many. It’s very hard to maintain quality when your exportation grows exponentially and a lot of these old, big brands unfortunately had to make things quicker and cheaper to be able to handle the demand for their product.

    As far as your next question goes, I think that Il Satiro answered it below for you. You can always search for my post labeled ‘Grades of Shoe Craftsmanship’.

    As far as contacting Cliff goes, I have no idea really. I have tried myself, in order to help promote his product, and he never replied…so needless to say, your guess is as good as mine…

    Il Satiro – Thanks for that!

    -Justin