I love this time of year. It’s always exciting to see the new men’s collections trickling in, filled with sartorial possibility and myriad wardrobe temptations. It’s almost as exciting as being asked to give your own take on a new collection on a brand’s behalf. Well, here goes nothing.
Crockett & Jones, it goes without saying, is a bastion of luxury English footwear, but the powers that be are no stick-in-the-muds when it comes to shoe design. In fact, this season’s collection strikes a smart balance between classic styling and pieces with an ever so slightly more relaxed – one could even say directional – design focus.
First things first, the boffins at C&J have got mean for Autumn Winter ’18. The company is introducing three striking new models called The Black Editions, which are significant for two reasons. One: they demonstrate just how Crockett & Jones’ shoes fit into a modern, fashionable space, and two; they draw influence from Japanese style, which any stylish man knows is the business.
Each fills a gap in the C&J man’s wardrobe. My personal favourite is the new Scotch Grain Chelsea XI boot, lasted with almond toes. The last is sleek but the sole chunky – an interesting contrast that makes them easy to dress up or down. The new Lanark III Derby works a treat, too. Its Cavalry Calf uppers make for shoes that look as sleek as can be, and again, the uppers contrast nicely against their robust rubber soles. Finally, C&J has lasted the Tay II double-monk shoe in Black Rough-Out Suede, which lends a formal style a wonderfully rugged edge. These are a no-brainer to wear with heavy denim and solid work-wear jackets now it’s cooling down.
Each is finished with cleated rubber soles that add some attitude to the design, and make them perfect for pounding city streets, even in poor weather. More importantly, these pieces couldn’t be sharper if they tried – they’re certainly not old fashioned English shoes. Instead, they’re impressively modern and clean-cut.
The mainline collection’s new models are a little less badass, but no less stylish. First up, ’tis the season of dark brown Derbies, whether shoes or boots. New for Autumn Winter ’18, C&J is introducing the Lanark III in Dark Brown Burnished Calf or Suede with Dainite rubber soles, and the Eskdale II Derby boot in Dark Brown Suede or in Dark Brown Waxed Calf. Then, the ever-reliable Hardwick Derby is back in two new colours; Dark Brown Pebble Grain and Dark Brown Suede. The suede model in particular is really handsome, the sort of shoe you’ll choose to wear before you’ve even thought about any others.
A word should also go to the Chiltern Chukka boot, an indispensable weekend boot if ever there was one. This season, C&J have cut a pair in a handsome shade of Earth Green Suede to accompany the already successful Dark Brown and Snuff Suede versions. While unusual, dark green’s no less wearable, and a great choice if you’re after something different – these work comfortably against dark denim or classic tan chinos without fuss.
If you’re after something that nods to country footwear, C&J’s Boston penny loafer is available this season in Dark Brown Country Grain, or you might plump for a pair of chunky Pembroke wing-tips in Dark Brown Waxed Calf with Dainite soles – perfect for lazy weekends and country walks.
The Hand Grade collection plays host to more formal models, and the Egerton Adelaide in Black Calf or Tan Antique Calf is as polished as business shoes get, cut with chiselled toe-caps but without brogueing for a clean look. The Walton Derby (also in Black Calf or else in Beechnut Antique Calf) is similarly elegant, as is the single-strap Grosvenor monk boot in Dark Brown Antique Calf. The black shoes cry out to be paired with grey flannel trousers and a crisp navy blazer, while the brown models suit a well-cut navy two-piece.
If you’ve yet to take the plunge on a pair of Hand Grade C&J shoes, these models are truly timeless – the perfect investment shoes for business dress or formal wear. Try them on and you’ll be struck by the quality of C&J’s leather; it’s surprisingly light and supple. The antique calf’s hand-burnished finish is beautiful, too.
Of course, there’s more to the collection this season, but these highlights demonstrate Crockett & Jones’s continued attention to craft and eye for design. Let’s face it, men are getting more casual, and this season’s The Black Editions and unfussy suede staples fit perfectly into a modern context. If you’ve got winter shoes on your mind (and if you’re reading this, you should have), calling into store to try some on is a must-do in the next few weeks.