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Really good shoes

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I noticed a few of you are wondering where you can get really good (classic) shoes online at a fair price. Try this link: Shoes International and specifically this page: Grenson Masterpieces I visited a Paul Stuart store (Chicago) for the first time in June of last year. I had thought previously that Edward Green did their shoes but the salesman informed me that they had stopped using Edward Green several years back due to supply problems. The current line is made in Northampton by William Green (Grenson.) Could have fooled me and I collect Edward Green shoes - mostly the Ralph Lauren Purple Label versions. These Grensons are absolutely exquisite. They retail at Paul Stuart for $550 - a deal considering that they look every bit as nice as the Purple Labels. Then I discovered the Grenson Masterpieces Line. The models look identical in every way to the Paul Stuart shoes except they only cost about 205 pounds which is about US $310.00. That includes shipping. (Retail is about $340 including the European tax (VAT) but US customers don't have to pay the tax which brings them down 15% to about $285.00. Shipping costs about $23.00.) I am 99% sure these are the same shoes but I can't be 100% sure until I order a pair and look at them in person. I've been meaning to but I keep finding great deals on Purple Label's. When I finally get a pair I'll be sure to let you guys know how they turned out. If you happen to have a Paul Stuart catalogue compare the shoes in it with the ones on Grenson's site and you will see what I mean:  Grenson Masterpieces Range By the way, Shoes International also carries Trickers and they only run about $230.00.. Trickers
post #2 of 6
I would be interested in hearing bengal-stripe's opinion on Grenson - and Tricker's too - compared to Edward Green and Crocket & Jones. Marcus
post #3 of 6
Grenson is an old and highly respected, but somewhat low profile manufacturer. Edward Green used to make "Stuart's Choice", but when they signed with Ralph Lauren they stopped supplying Paul Stuart (that's Edward Green's version). Grenson now produces the English shoe range for Paul Stuart. I have not got a Paul Stuart catalogue, but it's quite likely that they are essentially the same designs. But the question is, and I don't know the answer, are they the same lasts? In common with all English manufacturers, Grenson have stopped producing different width, all shoes come in an F fitting, while all Paul Stuart shoes come in D. I don't think an American D and am English F correspond with each other. European shoes are wider, in particular higher; American insteps are shallower than European ones (so the theory goes). On the continent Alden and Allen-Edmonds are only available in E fittings, likewise Ferragamo only in EE (but in B, D, and EE in U.S). Edward Green is famous (or infamous) as the narrowest shoe, many shops stock EG only in F (Ralph Lauren is one, at least in London. The Purple Label EG shoes come only in F now, no longer E). But of course, all the manufacturers who have been around for hundred or more years have all the lasts in all the sizes. So if you order the required quantity (usually one or two dozen per color/size) they will produce AAA fittings, if that is what you want. I presume, and it's only a guess, the Paul Stuart shoes might be made on an "American" last., just as Crockett & Jones for Peal/Brooks Brother will be a different last to the standard C & J range. Cheney, who produce in England only F fittings, produce for Barrie Ltd. a wide range of fittings. I'm sure Grenson's Masterpiece range is made to the same standard of craftsmanship than their Paul Stuart shoes, but whether they have the same fitting I do not know. Maybe you can ask Messrs. Grenson themselves. I do have a soft spot for Edward Green; they are so fuddy-duddy it's charming. Not like John Lobb trying desperate to find new designs every season. They remind me of "Bristol cars" (have you heard of them in the States?). It's a hand build car, and I mean really hand build, probably by one old man in tiny numbers. Oh, by the way Edward Green makes the Pousen Skone range for New & Lingwood (but not N & L shoes, they are Crocket & Jones and Alfred Sargent, I believe). For anybody with a serious shoe addiction, try: if you don't speak French (I don't) let Google find (only one choice) and click "Translate this page", then you get a computer generated English translation, which can be somewhat strange at times, but can also be utterly charming if read with a French accent: Alden: The shoe amercaine in all its splendour [ in particular its moccasins with pompoms in Cordovan ].
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
I hadn't thought of the difference in the lasts. Of course I have a wide foot and a very high instep so the European fit you describe is perfect for me. It would make sense that Paul Stuart would commission their own lasts. When I was trying on some of the models most of the shoes available were D-width, they only had a few E-width shoes. According to Alan Flusser 70% of an Edward Green shoe is made by hand. I wonder if a top level Grenson can claim the same? I haven't visited the factories so I can't say for sure. But as far as looks go the the Grenson's are right there. They make a Ferragamo look cheap and shoddy. Definitely a great deal at just over $300. Those are really cool cars..
post #5 of 6
That thing with "handmade" for modern ready to wear shoes is a bit of a misnomer. They are not handmade the same way a bespoke shoe is handmade. A myth perpetuated by manufacturers who use in their promotional literature pictures from the 1920s where old men in white coats pull uppers with tongs over wooden lasts. "Hand guided machinery and hand finished" would be a better description. Anyone who has used a sewing machine will know that you need a great deal of skill to make the machine behave the way you want to. In shoemaking there are a few decorative seams, usually aprons, which, on better quality stuff, are stitched by hand; but that's more for decorative reasons. The actual "making" (i.e. combining uppers with sole) is done in traditional shoemaking entirely by hand, every hole is punched individually with an awl and a waxed thread with a needle on both ends is pulled through. Edward Green factory visit: Apart from Sylvano Lattanzi whose shoes are truly hand made (and cost some $ 1500) all other shoes are machine made. Edward Green just offers a greater refinement and accuracy than other makers, due to greater care and greater attention to detail. Edward Green can produce the nearest thing to a fiddle-back waist, which is the holy grail of British bespoke shoes. The welts are cut narrower than anybody else's. Even John Lobb (ready to wear) cannot produce such a refined waist. Strangely Edward Green when they were still together with John Lobb, did not produce shoes with today's degree of refinement. I just measured the waist on a size 8 ½: John Lobb is 71 mm Edward Green 61 mm. But then the question is, should one care about those details? I suppose it's up to the individual.   Does Grenson give that same degree of craftsmanship? I doubt it, but I haven't seen Grenson shoes lately (they have very few dealers in London and, as far as I know nobody here stocks the Masterpieces). Is a Canali suit as good as a Kiton? Probably not. Is a Kiton worth the extra money? That's your choice. Will a Canali look cheap? Definitely not.
post #6 of 6
Is a Canali suit as good as a Kiton?
Definitely not. Thanks for all the information, fascinating stuff.
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