Ask the majority of women what’s first thing they look at when meeting a man and you may be surprised by the answer.
I happen to agree. The single most important part of any gentleman’s attire is his shoes. All that effort into honing one’s appearance can be rendered useless in an instant if a man’s footwear is inappropriate, cheap or ugly, or even worse; inappropriate, cheap AND ugly.
Personally I’d rather go barefoot, or in socks, citing mental health issues or that my luggage had been destroyed by overzealous airport security than be seen in cheap shoes.
It’s a simple fact that good shoes and good clothes go together, yet even if you own just one great pair of shoes it can be enough to rescue even the most questionable wardrobe disaster.
So this raises the question how does one go about spotting a quality pair of shoes and where can you get your hands on them?
Edwards of Manchester, established in 1830, is the oldest independent shoe shop outside London. It has been based on the same site on Deansgate since it’s inception. Craig Johnson manager of Edwards explains what you should look for:
“It’s quite subjective, in that people often judge shoes on appearance rather than construction. For me personally what defines a well-made shoe is one that is Goodyear welted. What that means is that all the component parts of the shoes are stitched together and that means you’ll get an extremely comfortable and well fitting shoe. Particularly when you’ve had a chance to wear it a few times. Another benefit of the Goodyear welting process allows the shoe to take the shape of your foot, so that it becomes bespoke to you in a sense.”
Good shoes are made with care, attention, using quality leather and to some extent are made by hand. At first glance it is difficult to tell the difference from a really well constructed shoe and that of mass produced high street varieties. This can take years of practice and costly error before you train the eye to spot the best. Craig again:
“High street stores don’t carry Edward’s kind of range and product. We have a higher price point and a lot of people would not understand that on the high street, say. if they found a pair of Crockett and Jones for example at £320 next to a similar shoe at £50. It’s about education our customers. Nowadays a lot of customers are attracted to names such as Dolce and Gabbanna or Paul Smith who are not shoe makers, they’re designers who get their ranges made of a mass scale compared with say Church’s, or Gaziano and Girling who run very small operations with shoes made entirely in England.”
Its no mystery that English shoes have a worldwide reputation second to none and the home of English shoes is of course Northampton. Counting amongst others, Churchs, Crockett & Jones, Grenson, Barker, Trickers, and Cheaney as long standing residents.
Craig again: “We believe there will always be a market of high quality shoes, particular those with timeless styles such as brogues, chukka boots”
Fashionbeans: “Anything we should look out for?”
“Well like I said the brogue is doing well, as always, but we’ve noticed an increase in the desirability for the loafer, which has been slow to catch on in the UK, especially up north probably due to our weather.”
Edwards of Manchester
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