As yet-another youngster on the hunt for a pair of double-monks in the 300$ region (or rather, 250 Euro region, as I'm in Europe), I'd be delighted to hear feedback from owners of any (and preferably several) of the below shoes and how they compare. I'm going for an aggressive, point-toe alternative and thus the best options in my price range appear to be the ones below:
Herring Shakespeare II:
Good selection of colours, design is spot-on for me (except for the “antiqued” appearance of the buckle metal), Herring is a reputable dealer, various goodies such as free trees included, occasional 10% discount codes on their twitter.
Quality, esp. leather quality is a bit unclear to me. Heard less flattering this about the Herring "Classic" line - who makes them, and what line from which maker are they roughly comparable to?
Loake Black friars:
Part of Loake 1880 line that I believe is of reasonable quality.
The small front apron and the close-together placed buckles give it a sort of "uptight" appearance that I'm not very fond of.
Same as above.
Cons: Looks better then Blackfriars but still design is far from what I crave. Not pointy enough!
These would normally be totally out of my price range - there is however one shady E-bayer who deals in C&J seconds/subs where they can occasionally be grabbed for 200-240 pounds (never seen them in my size tough).
Pros: Obviously the superior shoe of lot in both design and quality.
Cons: Going for these means going for subs/seconds, and waiting who knows how long for the right size to show up.
Since I'm leaving for Tokyo in September, I intend to grab a pair before since buying or importing from Japan tends to get slammed with a ludicrous 60% customs tariff on leather shoes. The current plan is thus to stalk E-bay for a few more months and hope to score something (preferably some Lowndes subbed at a low bid), and if not, pull the trigger on the Herring Shakespeares.
Still quality on those has me somewhat worried, and perhaps ideally I'd be looking for some kind of intermediate step between the 195GBP Herrings and the 340 GPB C&Js...