When warm weather finally arrives there’s a natural desire to get into the optimism of the season. You drink Negronis with a vengeance, dust off the fly rod even though the fishing hasn’t picked up yet, you even watch the Mets before they take their annual swan dive in the standings. Spring is a time to express yourself, and that’s a very fine case for white shoes. Real shoes mind you, not Vans or something straight from the court: bucks, cap-toe oxfords, cricket shoes, even wingtips. A few years ago, Crockett & Jones released an elegant pair made of deerskin—they were practically criminal.
Some of these Red Wing Heritage boots you can actually get, some you can’t. Well, you might be able to get all of them but these black 6″ moc toes are going to pose a bit of a challenge. Released and only available in Japan, these boots are actually part of a small collection of special edition Irish Setter boots that were resurrected especially for Japan a few seasons ago.
Keeping with the exclusivity thing, the 9874s are only even available at the best Japanese Red Wing retailers, namely: Beams, United Arrows, Ships etc. Want a pair? Make a friend in Japan or just book a flight. If you ask me, the long haul would be worth if. Never before have black and brown worked in partnership so well.
The Rancourt & Co. shoe portfolio has been expanding beyond just loafers and blucher mocs recently. I’ve noticed a few interesting new styles have been popping up on the company Instagram and other social channels as of late. Intrigued, I reached out to Kyle Rancourt to find out more. Eventually this lead to a preview box of nine pairs of the Maine maker’s new styles —all made with a Blake welt construction—showing up at my office. They are great shoes, I didn’t get to keep any but getting a closer looked sparked this post to find out more about Rancourt’s new Blake shoes. These are their stories.
Part of this new crop of Blake styles is Hamilton boot, which is more traditional dress boot —as opposed to the handsewn styled moc toe shapes that Rancourt has become known for— made with the Blake welt process. If you like the shape but wanted something sightly different from what is seen here, Rancourt can also do custom orders of styles like these with the outsole and leather of your choosing. More on the Blake welting process and it’s similarity to Goodyear welting below.
What is it about Harris Tweed that gets me every time? I see it all over the place, collab’d almost to death, but still it never ceases to amuse me. Today I went by the Brooks Brothers offices to get a look at the fall 2013 collection. It’s a tricky thing, going to look at cold weather clothing when it is actually cold outside. Maybe tricky is not the word, maybe the term is torture? At any rate, they have some good stuff coming this fall including these Rancourt & Co. beef roll penny loafers made from a dark brown Scotch-grain leather and a Harris Tweed vamp. In real life the tweed looked slightly more grey than blue, as they appear in these photos — though regardless of the photogenic nature of the tweed, they are a handsome pair of shoes.
Two other examples of Harris Tweed footwear domination that come to mind are the Nigel Cabourn x Red Wing Munson boot and these Alfred Sargent Harris Tweed Seven Eyelet Boots. Don’t get too excited about either of those, I believe they are both long gone, though I could be mistaken.
What if I was to ask you: “What city do you think has the finest men’s shoe store in America?” One would automatically assume to hear the following cities (probably in this order): 1. New York, 2. Boston 3. Chicago. Logic would suggest cities that have strong business communities with lots of banks and other serious institutions where men wear suits and make serious decisions. What if I was to tell you that the best men’s footwear store in the United States is in Honolulu?
“No fucking way.” Would be your response.
Well, add a dollar to the swear jar, because the best men’s shoe store in the U.S. (if not the world) is in the Royal Hawaiian shopping center in Waikiki, Its name is Leather Soul and it will make your head explode.
The history, the shape of the lasts, the legacy and most of all the quality. Those are the reasons which keep me buying and wearing shoes from Crockett & Jones. Every time I am in London I stop by at least one of the Northampton shoemaker’s shops (there are two storefronts on Jermyn Street for some odd reason) in Mayfair to browse and to occasionally take home a new pair of shoes that I plan on owning forever. The New York store is also nice to visit, but not nearly as much fun as seeing these shoes on their home soil.
Crockett & Jones is one of those companies that I have long sought to know on a more intimate basis, partially because I admire the history of the company, but also because I like to wear the shoes so much. Only thing is, Crockett & Jones is a pretty conservative company, one that is much more focused on making great shoes than making much of a fuss on the internet. It rightfully figured it has a loyal following and a strong business, the product is the marketing.
All of this reminds me of Alden. (Incidentally I have basically never had any contact with Alden, but that’s fine because all I need from them is to continue making shoes I love.) The beloved New England shoemaker is another company that doesn’t need to have a heavy hand when it comes to marketing, the shoes and the quality tell everyone all they need to know. Production is limited and it doesn’t want to go crazy increasing it and risk ruining everything. It’s admirable because it works, and also because both Alden and Crockett make such great things.
Canvas sneakers are a way of life. An attitude. For me, they are a refuge from the heat and stress of a summertime city. The classic Jack Purcell are available these days in many variations, two of which are acknowledged by ACL as acceptable: white and navy blue canvas with laces. The classics, pure and simple. I don’t need the slip-on laceless variety. I don’t need crazy colors. I don’t need work boot laces. Less is truly more.
This past week saw us on an adventure in Maine with a brand new pair of Jack Purcells on hand for all of the Gosling’s soaked excitement — It was high tide for summertime. Being near the sea and doing the things you did as a child make you appreciate when things don’t change. It’s amazing when a pair of canvas sneakers can do the exact same thing and take you back. Like I said, they are a way of life…