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Vintage Florsheim Imperial Longwings - worth it? - Page 2

post #16 of 20
I also have a pair in brown that are much more worn in. the leather's somewhat damaged but they have character and i've been conditioning and polishing them to get them back to a nice patina instead of a blah brownish reddish blackish mess with shiny toes.

I need to stop being a neglectful owner and break those black ones in.
post #17 of 20

*duplicate* (newb mistake)

Edited by DaBakr - 8/10/13 at 7:46am
post #18 of 20

I am reviving this old post as a new member here ( im on a lot of vintage watch forums so I know my way around a 'style' blog. I'll give the short version 1st and then-if anyone is interested in the whole long story-they can read it after I show the pics and ask my basic question. I am only asking the basic question: Do these vintage 70s facsimile  of the Florsheim Kenmoor Imperial in the O'Sullivan and the Bostonian line stack up in basic quality to the Florsheim? 



top: Bostonian circa 70s w 'v' cleat and 5 nail sole,  'Benchmade' , Same 'florsheim' style cartouche, all leather /full grain tops etc,

O'sullivans Imperial also supposed to be 70s maybe early 80s, worn once, otherwise pristine. full grain with white  rubber 'logo' heel insert, same 'florsheim' style cartouche, goodyear welt on both.  Are these the 'real deal' in terms of US made vintage quality gunboat wingtips? I paid just under $70 for both from 2 different sellers. I am not too worried if I make a mistake as I know I can always wear them to work in my shop.












hello, long time vintage watch blogger (WUS, TRF. Omega forum, etc etc, Hodinkee, )but first time pover here. The following is my unedited long version of how I came to understand I have had for shit shoes for many years except the 6 and 8 inch workboots I have been buying and wearing for over 35 years. Mason, Wolverine, RedWing and it turns out a pair of Allen Edmonds and I accidentally had ONE fantastic pair of these Dirk Bikkenberg dress shoes that turns out were made by a either a   custom Italian or English maker (but that was a fluke-store had one pair and it was my size and it was just put out 20 seconds earlier back in 2010) The rest of my stuf is-as I understand it crap, some of which is very good looking and comfortable but will not last for more then a couple or few years of heavy use and can not be rebuilt.


Sorry if I am reviving a long dead thread on a subject that may or may not have been  'beaten to death in years past. A real testament to how timeless these vint. shoes are will be to see who is still as enthused about these boats as they were 5 years ago when this thread was started. '. I do love men's style and fashion but I am really a vintage watch fanatic (or WIS) more then a shoe nut. While I love a great pair of styish shoes it turns out I had a LOT to learn about the modern methods of shoemaking that is meant to purposefully deceive. Ironically-as a furniture designer and cabinet maker the best shoes it turned out I own are the 6" & 8" farm boots made with goodyear welt and full grain leather uppers and insoles as well as some (like my Wolverines and Redwings) have stacked leather heels  and soles and the 1000miles have horween leather. But other then that- Some Cole Haan/Nike Air BS (okay-their comfortable but will they hold up? No) and some semi-crap "Italian" quality leather thats GLUED not stitched to the sole (which I learned the hard , embarrassing way) I also picked up a pair of Dirk Bikkenberg full grain  black tuxedo w/ spats shoe at a Daffy's closeout for $29. They seemed well designed but still possibly too thin and no width #.   But it turns out that through this sight here I tapped into some web site which helped me understand Vintage quality mens shoes-the leather, dye, stitching, nails, etc. So-really its only by accident that I picked up the Dirk B shoes turn out to be made for him by some top quality Italian or English maker. (someone told me they looked like a c& __(?) brand. They have covered channels evidently?  But don't really know. If I had to guess..I would say an Italian maker for DB shoes. Probably corrected leather but otherwise nicely detailed and not so shiny that the thick  shined  grain tops stll show off a natural pore pattern under small loupe. 


 So my REAL question is on the said Florsheim Imperial Long wing gunboats. I did about as much research as I could cram into the free afternoon I had and-honestly-my heart did sink a little when I came to understand how STUPID and poorly I chose shoes over the past 20 - 30 years on my post adolescent men's style journey on the way to my double nickel. [As I said-I got the 6" brown cordovan work boots down over 20 years ago when my daughters were born and I wore them with long cargo shorts and cable sweaters every day of the year. And now every Jake and Joe in Brooklyn is wearing a 6" farm boot like the Wolverine the AE or Redwing. Oh well.   But any grade above 'farm' boot I went on style over substance and my pricing structure was all screwed up. I still believed one could get high quality  new Italian, US, or English shoes for very little money.    Yes- I purchased 'doubles' of 'Italian' 'Leather' wingtips and  I'd been saving for years to replace the first pair  I finally wore out. Thats when I learned that the leather was real all right and it was nice and soft-but none of it was actually STITCHED together. ALL glue of which MOST dried out over a five year period of being stored in a cedar closet.  The leather sole insert cracked out of its rubber tray while the rubber sole that was essentially an empty grid that the upper was squished onto. I should have trashed them then and there but their are really beautiful in colour and line. So I had the shoemaker glue them back down and I'll wear them until they start to separate again and then I'l have the big-ass Florsheim/O'sullivan/ Bostonian vintage.  


So-today was research and blog-search day. I have a small balance in my paypal with enough to assure that I can either go for broke and try and win one of the english 'bench-made' usual suspects like Churches, Cleverlerley[sp?], Loack, etc --OR-- find the most PRISTINE pair of old (or NOS) Florsheim Imperial longboat wingtips in brown pebble finish. I read more then I ever thought was written on the beauty and former glory of this great american titan of the shoe industry. And I did decide that the vintage Florsheim (and PLEASE_CORRECT ME if I am WRONG..but the other comparable brands such as  mint NIB vintage 70s O'Sullivans 'bench-made' with v-cleat and even a pair of Bostonians from (supposedly)1971 that look so much like the Florsheim (down to the little tiny cartouche with the brand in the ankle pocket) that I hope it was safe to assume that the same techniques and same quality shoemakers were building these very popular 'gunboat wingtips' for their own American brand outfits. I must have studied the pics of the Florsh. vint. Imerials with cleat and 5nails against the O'Sullivan 'benchmade' full grain with v-cleat replaced by original cats paw with white dots. 


So-my question -after that whole long-winded  talkative tribute to the merits of vintage American mens shoes and the days when the union workers really made  a difference in how the world saw the products the USA produced. - is that Am I right in assuming that the Florsheim gunboat was responsible for sprouting at least several equally high caliber US (and maybe british?) wing-tips gunboats with many -if not ALL-the same features that the Florsheim has.  


And why do I ask? Of course its because I-for the very first time EVER with "gently used" bid and won 1st a pair of 'Bostonian' brogues in caramel and pebble grain with a very beefy welt and 5 nail soles and v cleat heels that look like they were only worn on the sales floor to be tried on. Then about 2 hours later a seller selling O'Sullivans 'benchmade, Imperial with the SAME little cartouche type as Flor. rejected my $20 offer (down from $88) and said he "does well with wingtips but he would take $34" and I just said "yes' w/o thinking. So now I have 2 pairs of burgundy pebbled & caramel tan pebbled leather longwing gunboats coming and I am still not sure if I got the 'money' ones (models) and not some modern reinterpretation of the union made classics. [and no I'll see if the eBay allows me to post the sellers images. I not a very big advocate of wearing used shoes so it took a long time to find the 2 I picked and even they with their slight wear doesnt thrill me. I am hoping its totally offset by the spectacularness of the gunboat wingtips! :

top: Bostonian circa 70s w 'v' cleat and 5 nail sole, all leather /full grain tops etc,

O'sullivans. also supposed to be 70s maybe early 80s, worn once, otherwise pristine. full grain with rubber 'logo' heel, goodyear welt on both.  Are these the 'real deal' in terms of US made vintage quality gunboat wingtips? I paid just under $70 for both from 2 different sellers. I am not too worried if I make a mistake as I know I can always wear them to work in my shop.






  And if I can...I should note-I already bought-both-for just under $70 so its too late for me to be warned away but I can still learn-through humiliation if I have to. I want to know if anyone here can tell if EITHER of the two I snagged look like the correct style period for when these shoes were considered up there with the worlds best? And if worse comes to worst-I can always just wear them tyo workin my shop, outdoors and basically replace my 6-8" laceups with a more comfortable  lows and rotate the 1000m and redwings into the rotation. And then wtf to do with my Cole Haans  Nike fusion? The are VERY pretty, and pretty comfortable, but I have NO illusions about then lasting much longer then the year or 2 I'll wear them .


So-yeah-I am new here (though I have 1000s of posts on vintage watch blogs like WUS and TRF but I could have just said(instead of talking my butt off) :

 "So, How did I do with these two pair of ebay vintage longwings---one being pretty near to mint and the other slightly  or lightly worn(even though the pics of the Bostonian make the souls look much worse then they are. They are just  staimd but have no visible? Are they the 'real deals" Or-are they pretty ubiquitous and mediocre junqué thats not much better then the invasion of outsourced workers, glued-not-stitched leather, and other poor compromises in quality for bottom line. 


Thanks for letting me 'revive' this old and fascinating thread. 

Edited by DaBakr - 8/9/13 at 11:20pm
post #19 of 20
The thread makes me sad. What have happened to the American shoe industry?

By the way, this looks promising:

(Not my ad, and I wish they were my size.)
post #20 of 20

Yes, the vintage Florsheim Imperials are worth collecting and wearing. To anyone who stumbles across this dead thread, please com join us at a much newer thread by clicking here.

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