Name : Chris Tan
Job Role : Assistant Manager
Retail Shop / Country : 69 Jermyn Street, London
What did you do before you started with Crockett & Jones?
I studied tax law in Maastricht, the Netherlands. During my time as a student I worked for Shoes & Shirts for several years. They are one of the nicest independent high-end shoe shops in the world.
Why did you decide that retail was a career you wanted to pursue, and what brought you to Crockett & Jones?
I didn’t particularly enjoy tax law much and spent all the time I could occupying myself with more interesting matters such as high-end menswear, shoes in particular. Shoes & Shirts is a C&J retailer and I had bought my first pair of C&Js there before I worked for them. In my opinion C&J offered a great range of quality shoes with great value for money. At a certain point I decided I’d rather spend my life working with a product I fully endorse than working an office job in a field that doesn’t have my interest.
Can you remember the first pair of shoes you ever sold?
Yes, a pair of Grenville in tan back at Shoes & Shirts. I bought the same pair myself a few months later and still have them. The Dutch love tan shoes but unfortunately seem to think that they are appropriate for every occasion.
How long have you been working for Crockett & Jones? In that time, are there any standout / interesting moments?
After working at 92 Jermyn St. for several months I moved to Knightsbridge and then 69 Jermyn St. I have worked for the company for two years in total. One standout moment was spotting a well-known actor talking to someone in the street holding one of his shoes in his hand and inspecting the inside. The next day the other gentleman visited our shop and asked for a specific brown suede loafer (Poole). He told us he had seen someone in the street the previous evening wearing shoes he liked and had asked this person the details of his shoes. The person had kindly removed a shoe from his foot to find out make and model. I told our new customer that I had witnessed this the previous evening and had been surprised to see a famous actor hopping around St. James’s on one foot with a shoe in hand. Our customer’s jaw dropped as he had been completely oblivious to the fact that he had been talking to one of the major stars from Love Actually the previous evening.
From the current collection, what is your favourite Crockett & Jones style?
Personally I love my Snowdon boots. I try to go into the countryside as much as I can and they are a great outdoor boot. For more formal purposes the Lonsdale is my favourite. The 363 last fits like a glove and is neither too modern nor too classic in my opinion. It is hard to beat a simple thing done well.
Working in London, you must know some hidden gems. Tell us something interesting about the City that you would happily recommend your customers do or see.
The Vincent rooms are lovely. A quality dining experience run by a college with third-year future chefs doing the cooking under supervision of more experienced chefs. Great value for money. There is also a Japanese restaurant called Asakusa where I love to go. Great traditional food in a humble, non-pretentious setting.
In your opinion, what really makes a pair of Crockett & Jones shoes special? Is it the Design, the Construction, the Heritage, the people?
We have lovely designs and our construction method is great but there are other companies who can say the same. What sets us apart is the width of our range, the world-wide availability of our products and the value for money we offer. Heritage also plays an important role. As we are a family business we are not just about the figures. It is nice to work for someone who sees every shoe that leaves his factory as an extension of his reputation. It's his name on the shoes after all.
What shoes did you wear to work today?
My Clarendons are today’s weapon of choice; I’m a big fan of split-toe derbies.
Who inspires you professionally and personally?
I don’t have a role model for either but I’m inspired by people who are good and at and passionate about what they do whether they are athletes, cooks, fishermen or shoe shiners.
There has been a wave of excitement towards English manufacturing and English brands over the past 5 years, where do you see the men’s footwear industry going over the next 5 years?
There is almost always a market for well-made, quality products. It is nice to see that people now prefer to invest in fewer good shoes as opposed to purchasing large quantities of budget footwear. To keep things this way I think the high-end shoemakers like ourselves must maintain our high standards in terms of both manufacturing and design. In terms of style I think the chiseled toe is slowly losing popularity and the almond toe is gaining popularity. My prediction is that in five year's time the almond-shaped toe will be en vogue again. These changes in style evolve slowly however as we aren’t subject to fickle high fashion trends.
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