The most formal of footwear styles that is thought to date back over two centuries was reportedly named by the students from the famous English institution, Oxford University. Other worldwide references include the ‘Oxonian’ shoe, and from across the pond the ‘Balmoral’ or ‘bal’.
Manufacturing technicalities; the Oxford, unlike its Derby counterpart, is defined by its closed lacing system (see above), in which the inside and outside quarters are expertly stitched underneath the vamp, as opposed to over the vamp on the Derby. The tongue is then stitched in separately underneath the Quarters, Vamp and Facing, therefore making a style that is smart in appearance, and more suited to a lower instep.
Evidence shows, that in the early 18th century, bucklemakers’ deputation resulted in strap boots being retained for court, but most men turned to an early laced shoe for these more formal occasions. These laced styles gradually became low cut, with a short vamp and low heels, and were usually made in black calf. Having evolved from these laced boots, the closed lace system was then developed, which required a more exacting fit.
In the early 1900’s the open laced Derby, and closed laced Oxford dominated the Northampton shoe trade, although by this time there were notable changes in decoration, such as 'Broguing'. Fast forward several decades (c.1985) and the boundaries of the English Oxford were being exceeded in the form of coloured suede and calf, lacing and contrast stitching. By this time, the most formal '6 eyelet' versions (see archive image below) were now generally being made with '5 eyelets' but steadfast in society, black patent Oxfords were still considered de rigueur, for formal evening wear.
Firmly cemented in the long history of formal dress code, Crockett & Jones have been developing, enhancing and manufacturing Oxford Shoes or Oxfords, for men and women, for over a century. Lending itself to variations such as Brogues, Semi-Brogues, Wholecuts, Adelaides, Spectators and many more, the classic Toe Cap Oxford has long been the statesman of business and formal wear, all of which correlates to the Oxfords that are still on offer in the Crockett & Jones collection today.
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