In no particular order:
- The catalogue photos do not do these shoes justice; you really have to see them in person.
- These are just about the most bespoke-looking RTW shoes I have ever seen. The heel treatment is better than anything out there. The waist bevelling is a shade behind Lobb Prestige, but the fiddling is better. The shape of the sole is also better. The finishing exceeds Green, certainly, and Lobb, maybe.
- There are four main lasts, which Tony and Dean refer to as "smart round," "soft round, "smart square," and "soft square." Basically, the smart versions are narrower and little more defined. I preferred the soft versions, though I could see a place for the smart square. I did not love the smart round, though perhaps it will grow on me. The first impression it made on me was "Too pointy." Soft round is like a mean between 202 and 82; smart round is more aggressive than 82. Smart square is little nicer than 888; soft square is significantly nicer than 606. Or so I thought.
- The overall lines of the lasts are otherwise basically the same, and very well done. These are classic lasts in that the inside lines are almost dead straight, and the outside quite curved. To really appreciate the lasts, pick up a shoe and look at it head-on. The tops are far from parallel to the sole, but really slope downward from inside to out, like a bespoke last. Also, the throat noticably cants outward, rather like this (taken from Dmitri Gomez's website):
- The emphasis is on contemporary and unusual designs. They want to distinguish themselves from the pack, and of course from Green. Plus, Tony really likes to do new and unusal stuff and I think enjoys designing more than making. There are a few classics in the line but they are the minority. Tony made clear that he considers those obligatory, and really has little personal interest in them. Nonetheless, he did a hell of a job with them.
- Highlights (for me): The plain black stitch cap was a thing of beauty. Such a boring shoe, so well done. The vamp seam sweeps much further back than is typical, all the way to where the heel meets the waist. The punch cap, also lovely. The austerity brogue rivals the C&J Tavistock in terms of design, and of course beats it in terms of make. The plain toe monk is hands-down the best RTW monk I have seen (excluding Jermyn II, which is really a different shoe). It has lovely V-cut quarters, a nicely swept-back strap, and a lovely burnished brass buckle of an unsual shape (not the typical, bland, rounded-corner rectangle). This last point is a small one, but it shows how well Tony and Dean have thought through the little things. I wanted to love the Adelaide brogue, but the pointy throat corners put me off.
- It's been a while since I last thumbed the EG swatches, but the leathers G&G had on hand seemed better to me. Better, richer, more varied colors. I have never seen so many distinctive and attractive shades of brown. Choosing is hard. A lot of the reddish browns were also lovely. Alas, I still could not cross the bridge into burgundy calf. Sorry, JLib. Their suede color "Polo" (chocolate) is the nicest non-bespoke suede I can ever recall seeing.