The Black Cap Toe Oxford – Your Safe Bet
***Figures have changed since post was originally written***
In the safe world we live in, the black cap toe rules as the ultimate shoe for business wear. It’s usually the first shoe you get when you are a teenager, the one that your parents buy you as your first pair of smart shoes that you will have for special occasions (and then probably never wear). Then again it will most likely be the shoe that you just might buy for yourself when you finally get your first proper job or possibly for your graduation of university (thus leading to your first job). And with that, it will forever remain the “safe” shoe to buy for all intensive business purposes. While I don’t necessarily think that it should be, who am I to argue with the rest of the world? That being, I concede on this one and will therefore list for all of you, all of your Goodyear welted options that you can ponder upon needing your first (or maybe second after a nice promotion) pair of proper shoes.
*all prices shown below are assuming VAT included and with today’s current exchange rates (which are not favorable for the US/EU at the present moment). These can vary after VAT is deducted to become a lower amount is USD – providing you don’t get hit with high customs fees*
Meermin – £130 = €160 = $215
Welted shoes for this price? What more do I need to say? Your perfect “first shoe”!
Septieme Largeur – £200 = €245 = $335
At £200, SL represents a great value for a solid GY welted shoe. And even better is the fact that they possess that French sleekness, that makes them even more expensive looking. If you can afford the bump up from the entry level Meermin, I would go for this.
Allen Edmonds – £220 = €270 = $365
While not being a personal fan of this particular model, AE shoes have been known to stand the test of time, so compared to all of the other shoes in the American Marketplace, this one appeals strictly on a good value for money that will do the job and last you for years.
Cheaney – £275 = €340 = $460
A quintessential English brand, Cheaney will be your work-horse shoe that will be good for a bit of pounding, but will also take a nice shine a look the part. Even better is the fact that the Church’s family now owns Cheaney and have since been doing some great things for the company, like the addition of the Imperial Line.
J.FitzPatrick – £325 = €427 = $480
J.FitzPatrick shoes stand in the middle of the benchgrade price scale but pride themselves in the offering of handgrade features within that price. And while a cap toe will always be just a cap toe, you will find injections of details in JF shoes that subtly set them apart such as the triple-row stitching.
Carmina – £295 = €385 = $435
Probably the most famous of the Spanish shoemakers, Carmina offers amazing value for money, making shoes at very reasonable prices for the quality of the product in return. They offer all of the same handgrade features that the shoes £200 more do and have very good attention to detail.
Crockett & Jones – £375 = €465 = $630
C&J is the brand that you can trust to give you a solid shoe that is complemented by a tasteful, modern look associated to an array of classic models. And that’s why it’s the go-to English brand for a good part of the men of the world!
George Cleverley – circa £500-£600 = €620-€745 = $840-$1000
One of the most famous names in English shoemaking, George Cleverley has been the company that pioneered many of the quintessential English shoe models that you see today. Although the cap toe model itself is quite a bit older than this company is, GC do it well and they look the part!
JM Weston – £600 = €745 = $1000
JM Weston is easily the most respected of the big French shoemakers having been in the business for over 100 years now and making exceptional shoes during that entire period. It is said that it is nearly impossible to destroy a JM Weston sole, so you can rest assured knowing that your money is definitely being well spent when purchasing a pair of their shoes.
Edward Green – circa £750-£800 = €930-€995 = $1260-$1345
The Chelsea model by EG is probably one of my favorite black cap toe oxfords simply for the stitching on the facing line (on the sides of the laces). Little details like that really set apart such a mundane shoe (IMHO) and make it that much more interesting. When you buy an EG shoe, you know that you are getting quality.
Gaziano & Girling – £924 = €1150 = $1555
The new kids on the block that have taken the industry by storm, it goes without saying that when you buy a G&G shoe, you get a piece of art in return. Having taken English shoemaking to a new level with their signature fiddleback waist and curvaceous lasts, you never go wrong when getting a pair of these beauties.
John Lobb – Depending on the line, they run anywhere from £700-£950 = €870-€1180 = $1175-$1600
“Lobb,” as you would say purposely excluding the ‘John,’ has been synonymous with fine shoemaking since practically forever. Having made for the likes of the Royal family and ever actor and famous person under the sun, there is no disputing their level of greatness. But many of us would have to aspire to ever dream of affording one!
A cut above your average GY welted shoe, SC takes it one step further and creates their shoes near enough entirely by hand. On top of that, they offer you a complete customization package that in return offers you something that would be considered semi-bespoke. Many people don’t go back after purchasing on of these.