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Grenson shoes

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I've been promising everyone pictures of the Grenson "Masterpieces" shoes for a while now. I was able to buy a couple of pairs of Paul Stuart "Stuarts Choice" shoes on ebay recently. These shoes are made by Grenson to the same standards as the Grenson "Masterpieces" line. I've taken some pictures of one of the pairs so that you can evaluate them yourselves: Those of you who have owned Edward Green shoes will be able to tell that Grensons are not finished to quite the same standards. These shoes are probably seconds but that doesn't wholly acount for it. They came with the antique finish but they were not as highly polished. I put a few coats on them and I also spit-polished the toe. As you can see the results are well worth the 45 minutes expended.   All in all they are VERY nice shoes. I'd say they aren't quite worth the $550 that Paul Stuart charges for them. But if you can get them on sale or if you order them direct from England (appx. cost is $325.00) they are a steal. But if you buy them on the net (try Pediwear or Shoes International) you won't be able to get this particular style. It was done expressly for Paul Stuart as far as I can tell. Before I saw a pair in person I was wondering if the toe shape would look good or not. It is a unique shape and I like it a lot. Please post your comments. I'd especially like to hear what Bengal Stripe thinks as he has the most experience with English shoes. I've recieved my Jantzen Tailor shirt and I will be posting pics and comments on it soon.
post #2 of 17
In addition to Mr. Harris' post, here are my own Grenson experiences: the Wholecut (Stowe) and the Doublemonk (Felstead).  All my ready-made shoes are size UK 9 ½. And in addition Mr. Harris' comments and comparisons with Edward Green (which I am in agreement with), I find Grenson's leather a tad softer at first, but not as soft as, say, Mantellassi.  Consequently, they took much less time to "˜break in' compared to Green's and, of course, Lobb's.  In fact, the Grensons felt comfortable the first time I walked in them, whereas the Greens took longer (and Lobbs even longer).  In the long run, I find the Greens molded to my feet the fittest, and the leather softens up the most.  Also, Greens leather has the most resistance to water, but that's another topic. The buckles on the Felstead use elastic bands instead of sewn-on buckles in Green, which I think it's pretty 'low-budget', but they do offer easy buckling. The Grensons have higher in-step and less curve at the heel (see picture comparison with Green).  Both of my Grensons are made from last 92, which is roughly similar to Green's 808 but not as wide as the new 888 (and close to C&J's 337 but not as pointy), and as pointed out before, a much less attractive heel-curve then Green's lasts.  If only the wholecut comes with medallion... The "˜antique' finish in quite interesting, though I am anxious to see how the leather ages after another year or two.   The cedar shoe trees are practical, though heavy. They are spring-actioned on the toes as well, to accomodate both pointy toes and square toes.  The base is almost flat, with only a slight degree of caving in.  The Grenson plates are nailed onto the trees. The shoes polish is quite oily, medium-to-thin and even.  It is almost odorless as compared to Green's (which I consider quite strong), but not as odorless as Trickers' (which you almost can't detect).  It is not quite water resistance. For US$550, you might be better off getting Green or Lobb when they are heavily discounted --- as in these past seasons due to poor economy.  In my opinion, Grenson shoes could summon a market price of about $350 to $400, depending on models, within the Masterpiece range.  I am not familiar with the other ranges.  However, at this price, they are as good as you can get.  I highly recommend Grensons, but as I said, only if you are paying no more than $400.  My shoes were purchased from London, for about £200 (less VAT).  An interesting side note: both sites mentioned by Mr. Harris are operated by one company, and they can pretty much get anything for you since they take their shoes directly from the makers' factories.   Here are the pictures: (Sorry for the poor picture, but I took it in a hurry to give you the comparison. I will try to take a better picture later.)
post #3 of 17
We are once again well informed by our resident shoe hounds. This is starting to get expensive for me, for one...
post #4 of 17
Quote:
. But if you buy them on the net (try Pediwear or Shoes International) you won't be able to get this particular style. It was done expressly for Paul Stuart as far as I can tell.
Never tried Shoes International, but I have bought from Pediwear. Despite the unfortunate name, the service is first-rate. They'll answer questions via e-mail, and I received my order (antique tan Handgrade C&J wingtip bals) faster than with most places in the United States that I've tried.
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Before I saw a pair in person I was wondering if the toe shape would look good or not. It is a unique shape and I like it a lot.
It's a classic toe shape. It's not quite Cleverley or even EG 808, but it's very nice. I think that the last number is 92, which is similar but slightly more squared than the 91, which all of the Grenson Masterpieces that I've seen on the web are made on. One thing that I love about Paul Stuart products (and this applies to the clothing as well as the shoes) is that they're classic but quirky. These shoes are a wonderful example. It's just a plain blucher, but it's been spiced up with the tassels and the single eyelet. You're not going to find a shoe like this many places else.
post #5 of 17
Quote:
The buckles on the Felstead use elastic bands instead of sewn-on buckles in Green, which I think it's pretty 'low-budget', but they do offer easy buckling.
The only monkstraps that I've ever seen in the flesh with sewn-on buckles are made by John Lobb Paris. Everything else, including Handgrade C&J and some pretty high-brow Italian shoes, has the elastic. I can't honestly make the argument that elastic isn't more functional, but I'm with you: sewn-on buckles just seem nicer.
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If only the wholecut comes with medallion...
Just wait a while. Paul Stuart, just like Ralph Lauren, seems to be enamored of the medallion. My pair of Grensons is a plain toe bal with a toe medallion. A medallion whole-cut can't be far behind. Have you contacted Grenson about a special order? Surely they must have such a shoe in their archives.
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The shoes polish is quite oily, medium-to-thin and even.  It is almost odorless as compared to Green's (which I consider quite strong), but not as odorless as Trickers' (which you almost can't detect).  It is not quite water resistance.
My one complaint about the pair of Edward Green shoes that I have is the way they smell. The odor of magic marker was pretty overpowering when I opened the box; it has dissipated somewhat over time, but it's still there. The only remotely plausible hypotheses that I could come up with to explain it is the polish that was used to antique the shoe and the ink on the logo stamp inside the shoe. Maybe it was the polish...
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I find Grenson's leather a tad softer at first, but not as soft as, say, Mantellassi. Consequently, they took much less time to "˜break in' compared to Green's and, of course, Lobb's. In fact, the Grensons felt comfortable the first time I walked in them, whereas the Greens took longer (and Lobbs even longer). In the long run, I find the Greens molded to my feet the fittest, and the leather softens up the most. Also, Greens leather has the most resistance to water, but that's another topic.
Naturlaut's observations are dead-on. The leather on my Grensons is butter-soft. I wore them tonight for the first time and they were quite comfortable immediately. Mantellassi leather is softer still - incredibly soft. Does anyone know what it is that makes these leathers so soft? However the softest leather I've ever felt belongs to a pair of Edward Green cap toes my brother has - they are broken in and they are indescribably soft. I always put a couple coats of wax polish on new shoes to protect them from stains (actually I put on a couple of coats of shoe-conditioner, let them dry and then I go at it with the wax polish.) The Grensons absolutely drank up the polish. They absorbed a LOT of polish before I could get a good shine. That would explain the lack of water resistance.
post #7 of 17
I've always had a soft spot for Grenson shoes, ever since I lusted (and I believe never got them) after my first pair. Maybe twenty years ago they had a casual range of light colored shoes, which had the edge of the soles and the heals not painted (as is normal) but just waxed, so it looked rather like the edge of plywood, showing all the different layers. Like many English manufacturers Grenson offer shoes at different price points. I also think their "Footmaster" range is a fine no-nonsense medium priced shoe. They might have fallen a bit behind in recent years, at least in London they are not very well represented in the shops (they make the shoes under the Ede & Ravenscroft and Maxwell labels). Whether this low-ish profile is through choice or circumstances, I wouldn't know. As I believe I have mentioned before, they have a bespoke service, where they make a shoe over your own last and, probably, you can also get a "stock special" with as many medallions (I'm pretty certain, they have more than one medallion design in their archive) as you want. One thought just crossed my mind: Grenson (founded 1866) stands for "William Green & Son" and there is also the firm of Edward Green (founded 1890). I wonder if Edward is that son of William, who after a family bust-up, set up his own company in that same line of business? I do not know whether the two men are related, but the shoe business might warrant its own soap opera. Then zoom forward a few generations: what happened between Edward Green and JohnLobb/Hermes, where one firm ended up occupying the previous factory of the other one? Maybe there is more to the shoe business then the eye can see.
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Have you contacted Grenson about a special order? Surely they must have such a shoe in their archives.
I emailed them asking if they they still carry the "Harrow" in brown suede. This was the reply: "Dear Mr. Harris, We could make a one off pair of Harrow for you at a cost of approximately 350.00 Sterling plus carriage charge and if this is of interest we would channel the order through Paul Stuart in New York City.  Comparing Masterpieces with Paul Stuart shoes, both ranges are of the highest specification made in our factory."
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As I believe I have mentioned before, they have a bespoke service, where they make a shoe over your own last and, probably, you can also get a "stock special" with as many medallions (I'm pretty certain, they have more than one medallion design in their archive) as you want.
I emailed them in July of 2002 asking about the bespoke service. This was the reply: "Dear Mr. Harris, A first pair of Bespoke would cost around £875, which would include last and patterns.  Thereafter additional pairs would cost around £440 (unless a new last is required when it would be as the original price). The lead time is approximately 20 weeks and this service is available through our selected bespoke retailers." The prices aren't bad for the bespoke shoes. I'm fairly certain that Trickers and Foster & Son run quite a bit more.
post #9 of 17
Dear everyone, Those are quite shoes as posted in the pictures. But then the style just doesn't suit me as say Lattanzi. The style just seems a bit too English conservative for me. Also I was wondering about the elastic buckles. What is the difference between these, and hand sewn ones? I have a pair of Ralph Lauren monk strasp that utilize this method. Also what is the opinion on Berluti's bnespoke, and ready to wear lines? I personally think they are very beautiful shoes albeit quite expensive. More than Lobb I think.
post #10 of 17
Quote:
I emailed them asking if they they still carry the "Harrow" in brown suede. This was the reply: "Dear Mr. Harris, We could make a one off pair of Harrow for you at a cost of approximately 350.00 Sterling plus carriage charge and if this is of interest we would channel the order through Paul Stuart in New York City.  Comparing Masterpieces with Paul Stuart shoes, both ranges are of the highest specification made in our factory."
That's a pretty hefty surcharge for a special order. Considering that shoes in the Masterpieces line retail for around £225 per pair, surcharge is over 50%. It seems that the world of high-end shoemakers is divided into two camps: those who encourage special orders (eg, Gravati, Edward Green, and John Lobb Paris) and those who are willing to do them only grudgingly (eg, Alden and, apparently, Grenson). Of course, it could be that they just don't want to undersell their sole US retailer...
Quote:
I emailed them in July of 2002 asking about the bespoke service. This was the reply: "Dear Mr. Harris, A first pair of Bespoke would cost around £875, which would include last and patterns.  Thereafter additional pairs would cost around £440 (unless a new last is required when it would be as the original price). The lead time is approximately 20 weeks and this service is available through our selected bespoke retailers." The prices aren't bad for the bespoke shoes. I'm fairly certain that Trickers and Foster & Son run quite a bit more.
Bengal-stripe has previously said that Grenson and Tricker's bespoke both normal factory shoemaking techniques on their bespoke shoes. That is, they make their bespoke shoes exactly like they make their ready-made shoes, except that the bespoke shoes are made on custom lasts. Still, £440 plus the cost of the last seems very reasonable. I would imagine that Tricker's bespoke shoes would come in at a comparable figure.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Of course, it could be that they just don't want to undersell their sole US retailer...
That would be my guess. So it would probably be better to request the special order through a UK retailer...
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Dear everyone, Those are quite shoes as posted in the pictures. But then the style just doesn't suit me as say Lattanzi. The style just seems a bit too English conservative for me. Also I was wondering about the elastic buckles. What is the difference between these, and hand sewn ones? I have a pair of Ralph Lauren monk strasp that utilize this method. Also what is the opinion on Berluti's bnespoke, and ready to wear lines? I personally think they are very beautiful shoes albeit quite expensive. More than Lobb I think.
Actually, if you tried to wear these Grensons, you'd probably attract more attention than wearing Gucci or Prada; and if you put up an ensemble carefully, there are no less stylish than Lattanzi's.  As I said before, my only regret is that my wholecut does not come with medallion.  By the way, have you seen the Lattanzi 'sneakers'?  You will be amazed. Berluti is made with an entirely different philosophy, and the leather is treated differently.  I am planning to list a pair of Berluti on eBay (still pondering if it's a good idea), and I have already written up some things, so I don't want to rewrite them here.  (It's a worn pair, but in exceptionally good conditions, any pricing suggestions will be appreciated.)  But, yes, they are very expensive.  The 'cheapest' pairs were 495-pound (~US$840), and only that 4 or 5 styles are set at that price range.  Others retail from 700-pound to infinity.  And since the company was partly purchased by LVMH, this is another store that will never go on sale ... If you are planning to purchase a pair of Berluti, I suggest you get a few pairs of matching socks from them too (I assume since you posted you are familiar with Berluti's colors.).   At about the same price for a ready-made, I think I prefer Berluti to Lattanzi for its stylishness.  The welting on Lattanzi is, in my naive opinion, a bit overdone on some ready-made models.  I like a balance of craftmanship and stylelishness.  However, for bespoke, I really can't decide.  I may still go to Berluti for its color and water resistance leather.  This Berluti-Lattanzi conflict has been lingering in mind for some time, and I have been changing my mind every other minute.   Also, Lattanzi's leather takes a while to soften up.   John Lobb has increased the price of the bespoke service ... again.  Depending on the leather, it starts from somewhere around US$2800 to $3000 now, instead of $2400 to $2500 earlier, and now it will take even longer than before.  A Lattanzi bespoke, surprisingly, starts from this same range too --- from US$2600 to, well, infinity.  I forgot Berluti's quotes.
post #13 of 17
Quote:
That is, they make their bespoke shoes exactly like they make their ready-made shoes, except that the bespoke shoes are made on custom lasts. Still, £440 plus the cost of the last seems very reasonable. I would imagine that Tricker's bespoke shoes would come in at a comparable figure.
Tricker's (starting from GBP 750) and Grenson shoes are machine made, while Foster & Son bespoke is a totally handmade shoe and will clock in, price wise, as a bit below Cleverley. That said, as the machine-made bespoke shoes are one-offs, I presume they are made with even greater attention to detail and tighter quality control than the batch produced top of the range of either manufacturer. Also certain production steps might well be made by hand, as that will be quicker for a single pair than to set and adjust the machines. (A bit like not utilizing the dishwasher for a single plate.) The willingness (or not) to make one-off stock specials seem to vary enormously between different manufacturers. Edward Green charges a premium of 15% which, I believe, is very reasonable while Crocket & Jones once quoted me a premium of 100 %, which means in clear text: Go away. Berluti and Lattanzi shoes have a completely different design philosophy than any English shoe. (Although both have a few "English styles"  in their collection.) Both are designed to draw attention to themselves. You either like that or you don't. Berluti ready-to-wear are made in Italy by Stefano Bi (also LVMH owned) and most models are Blake-stitched, not welted. Silvano Lattanzi are totally hand-made. Still, once I win the lottery, I would opt for a pair of Cleverley's. Although John Lobb (London) might be more famous, in my opinion, Cleverley are the classiest shoes in the world.
post #14 of 17
Just to take up the bit with the buckles. I bought today (the sales are starting earlier and earlier each year) at the Polo shop a pair of RLPL/Edward Green double monk strap. Style is called "Markham" and they are different from the EG "Westminster" with a plain toe and thus quite similar to the Grensons featured. They also use elastics to attach the buckles. I once had a pair of Fratelli Rossetti monks, which did not utilize elastics, and I found them somewhat difficult to close tightly. You need a few millimetres extra to pass the prong into the whole and unlike a belt there is no breath you can hold for a second until the prong had passed the hole. I always had believed all English buckles would use elastic, but I might be wrong. The shoes were 50% off and come on last 808, so I'm quite pleased with my purchase. (One of the Japanese shoe web-sites is called: "Obsessive Compulsive Disorder". How true.)
post #15 of 17
For all those that posted pics, thanks a mil. Now I finally know what I am missing out on. Please let me know where I can find these brands in NYC.... or do I have to order them online.. Thanks
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