I didn’t always like English shoes. When I was 17 I had some money to spare which I wanted to invest in something that would last. I decided to purchase a pair of sleek and exquisite looking three-eyelet derbies made in a country known for its good footwear, food and football. The shoes looked incredible and I was as proud as a peacock... for a while.
Later, at university I worked on Saturdays in the shoe shop where I had been a customer. Part of my job was to check the repairs and by doing this I became more acquainted with worn Italian, English, French, American and English-Italian shoes. Working with these worn and used shoes I noticed that my taste started to shift. On the shop floor the English shoes missed the depth that some shoes with pre-made patinas had. Looking at the worn shoes in the repairs fixture however Northampton shoes started to shine through. In my eyes, these older, worn shoes started to look better than their new brothers on the shop floor; the leather had more lustre, was softer and generally looked richer. In comparison some of my European shop-floor favourites looked a little tired when they were returned for repair.
Fast forward several years and I’m neither a Lawyer nor an Engineer (my studies); I’m the manager of the original Crockett & Jones store - 69 Jermyn Street. I work with a product I believe in for a company I love. How many people can say that?
We make shoes for almost every purpose. From climbing cold mountains to gallivanting around warm boulevards my favourites, Snowdon and Teign, have me covered. My shoes are an extension of me, they are tools and they follow me wherever I go. I don’t baby them, I just wear them. This is no secret on Instagram where I have occasionally been criticised for (ab)using my shoes. In a world focused on luxury it is easy to forget that as a company we aim for quality. We used to make boots for the army in the same way we make shoes now. I promise you these weren’t cradled by menswear enthusiasts but worn and loved by soldiers. I’ve even had an officer in the shop with army boots he inherited from his Dad. Your present day Crockett & Jones’ will survive the odd mishap as long as you look after them.
In a world focused on luxury it is easy to forget that as a company we aim for quality.
When it comes to care, different types of shoes made for various occasions require different treatment. We make footwear in waterproof waxed leather, fine young calf, suede, waxed suede, grain, cordovan and even canvas. Some are made for business meetings, others for countryside hikes. Some should reflect your capability, others should keep your feet dry; they all have their purpose.
A black dress shoe should look immaculate and shine with understated presence. Formal occasions or work are neither the time for scruffiness nor extravagance. Too many good suits are let down by poor(ly polished) shoes. Suede loafers on the other hand can look a little more relaxed. In my opinion the odd little mark from that BBQ last summer even makes them look better. They are at home at casual occasions and needn’t reflect your pristine business strategy in a board room. Outdoor boots look best when not immaculate. An off-road hike without the odd scuff here or there is not going to happen and it is these scuffs that show the boots are being used for what they were made. A spit-polish on a spotless heavy boot is like faux, spray-on mud on a polished Land Rover. Sure, there are Defenders that have never ventured outside the M25 but they look better in the countryside - fact.
Shoes are made to be worn. Wear your shoes and embrace the signs of wear. Good shoes will just look better with wear and care.