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Lasts, Leathers and Looking After Your Feet

Aleks Cvetkovic explains why understanding the way that different leathers and lasts behave is paramount to keeping your feet in shape.

Lasts, Leathers and Looking After Your Feet

Are you ready to read the most bodacious opening line of an editorial piece ever written..?

I, though the tender age of 25, have terrible arthritis in my feet. Delicious thought to open on, I know…

The arthritis runs in the family, and while it’s not really a big deal, it does complicate the process of shoe shopping somewhat. I’m into my clothes and I’d much rather strut around town in English-made shoes than a pair of sneakers, but formal shoes aggravate my feet if I wear them too often.

Why am I telling you this? I suppose because I’ve learned the hard way (through many expensive appointments with podiatrists) that you really do have to look after your feet properly. Yes, you should book in a pedicure every now and then, and you should also take some time to figure out which leathers, lasts and ultimately which shoemakers work with your feet. There are a couple of Northampton makers that produce truly beautiful shoes that I just don’t get on with – either they’re too stiff, or too narrow, or too tight across the bridge of the foot.

Thankfully, Crockett & Jones isn’t one of them. For the past six months, I’ve more or less lived in loafers made to the company’s 375 and 363 lasts. Loafers work for me because they’re relatively open and stretch a little more than tightly-tied lace-ups. I’ve got a pair of Tobacco Calf Suede Lichfield tassel loafers and just treated myself to a pair of Dark Brown Willow Grain Cadogan penny loafers too.

These two lasts boast superb heel clipping, so the shoes sit around the heels snugly and don’t slip as you move in them (a pet hate of all loafer-wearers), plus they are ever-so-slightly wider across the front of the foot with their sweeping rounded toes. I find both lasts nicely balanced, and easy to wear day-in, day-out. Discovering your own version of these lasts, which you can rely on and come back to without fuss, is invaluable. Of course, C&J’s retail staff are passed masters in helping curious customers to find the right last shapes for their feet.

The other consideration when it comes to finding shoes that are going to be comfortable to wear long-term is different leathers behave in different ways – and it pays to figure out what agrees with your feet and what doesn’t. Generally, suede is a little more pliable than calf’s leather, and will soften-up quicker. Likewise, some leathers are tougher than others. Cordovan and cavalry calf are extremely hard-wearing, but take several months of wear to really soften up, for example. The full-grain aniline calf’s leather that Crockett & Jones uses for all its Hand Grade models is also – hand on heart – the softest leather I’ve ever worn, but thanks to its quality and the fineness of its grain, it holds its shape superbly too. I’ve now got two pairs of Hand Grade shoes, and they’re both a godsend for my feet; pliable and soft, yet sturdy at the same time.

My mother has always said to me, ‘look after your feet Son, they’ve got to last you a lifetime’, and while us Cvetkovic’s often display a talent for stating the obvious, this does make sense. Feet get a poor deal; strapped into shoes, pounding against pavements and bumping, tripping and scraping their way through life. So, if you want to make life a little easier on your feet, pay heed to this advice – stick to what works for you.

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Words by

Aleks Cvetkovic

Aleks Cvetkovic

Freelance Style Writer

Aleks, is a remarkable young man and the phrase ‘an old head on young shoulders’ was written in the stars for him. His passion and knowledge for only the finest menswear, runs deeply and eloquently through every article that his masterful touch creates. Never far from a pen a paper (quill and scroll if it were his decision), he has the unfathomable ability to discover the very essence that courses through all of his go-to manufacturers and brands. Aleks will be going beneath the surface of Crockett & Jones having kindly agreeing to be a guest writer for 2018.

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