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Current Quality of Church's Shoes

post #1 of 90
Thread Starter 
How do the current run of Church's shoes stack up against what seems to be our standard for mid-priced English shoes, C&J bench grades? I know that they are often priced pretty high. Shoe for shoe (e.g., wingtip balmoral vs. wingtip balmoral) are they of superior quality (construction and leather) to C&J bench grades? Inferior? Somewhere between C&J bench grades and Handgrades? What about their lasts and styles?

Just for context, I'm considering a pair of the Church's Glenshee model (Norwegian-toe blucher with rubber sole). The alternative would be the C&J Onslow (very similar in appearance and materials) at about the same price. Of course, the EG Dover would be nicer, but it's more than 3 times the price.
post #2 of 90
I'm not completelt familiar with the Gleenshee model, but I can provide a little information about the current Church lineup as compared to Crockett Benchgrade and Handgrade. First of all, Church's are better known than Crockett in the US and subsequently retail for similar prices or slightly higher (around the $500 mark). Following the Prada acquisition, and even before, Church's preferred to make extensive use of cobbler calf or corrected grain in their offerings. This is still true today, though I believe the majority of the current models are full grain calfskin of similar quality to crockett. The second criticism of the brand, has been their use of linen linings. Older models were consistently half linen lined. For Fall 06 and Spring 07, the Madison Ave. Church boutique has replaced the majority of the linen lined shoes with full leather linings.

Lastly, the company has introduced a "premier" range of shoes with slightly better uppers but similar appearing construction to the Custom Grade models. They retail around 600ish. For that price, Crockett and Jones are clearly superior. The only advantage to the Church brand is their wider distribution which will inevitably lead to sale stock. Ive purchased their shoes for as little as $100 via Ebay, and $150 from sample sales. At those prices, Church's is much sleeker and closer to the British aesthetic than any comparable US made shoe.

With regards to lasting, the current 100s models favor a lower instep. Toe boxes are similar to the square toe C&J lasts, particularly the 240.
post #3 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by norcaltransplant
Following the Prada acquisition, and even before, Church's preferred to make extensive use of cobbler calf or corrected grain in their offerings. This is still true today, though I believe the majority of the current models are full grain calfskin of similar quality to crockett.

When I visited their New York store on Madison Ave the place was full of corrected grain leather shoes selling for exorbitant prices. I ran out horrified.

You pay the price of an EG and get the quality of Loakes.

I would be reluctant to pay any more than about $120 for a pair of Church's.
post #4 of 90
At the risk of a hijack....

Are these Church's on ebay corrected grain or not and whats the expert opinion on quality?

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...6920&rd=1&rd=1
post #5 of 90
Royal tweed was a lower line of Church's. I imagine it still is.

The shoes look like they're made out of corrected grain leather to me.
post #6 of 90
Thread Starter 
Wrt the Royal Tweed shoes, I'd find it hard to be sure about whether or not they're made of corrected-grain leather. It's true that they are quite shiny--and this may be a clue that they are--but it might just indicate a high-shine polishing job. Also, most of the disadvantages of corrected-grain leather disappear with black shoes. Black really doesn't develop a patina the way brown and burgundy do, and it is this inability of brown or burgundy corrected-grain leather to develop the depth and character that full-grain leather does so beautifully that makes it really undesirable in those colors.
post #7 of 90
A slightly different take than Roger's: While black doesn't develop the same patina as brown, I find that black shoes made of poor leather often show their pedigree fairly quickly.
post #8 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by ms244
At the risk of a hijack....

Are these Church's on ebay corrected grain or not and whats the expert opinion on quality?

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...6920&rd=1&rd=1

Im almost sure the shoes are made from corrected grain. The Royal Tweed line from Church's is on par with many of the Loake offerings I've run across at Charles Tyrwhitt. They are, for the most part, completely forgettable for $100.

Quote:
When I visited their New York store on Madison Ave the place was full of corrected grain leather shoes selling for exorbitant prices. I ran out horrified....I would be reluctant to pay any more than about $120 for a pair of Church's.

Ive found their full grain models pretty nice, and definitely superior to anything made by Loake. The linen linings make for a lighter shoe that breathes a bit better during the warmer months, though this might be a psychological trick. Here are my two examples from Church's:



The monkstrap is from the Brooks Brothers English Made line prior to its replacement by C&J/Alfred Sargent labeled under the Peal Company.

The leather is easy to polish and the low instep of the last is well suited for my feet.
post #9 of 90
Those ones are nice. But could they be pre-Prada? I don't recall the ones in NY being anywhere near that good.
post #10 of 90
I think we have a better time of things here in England. The ill-informed can still be over-charged for a pair of corrected grain Church's shoes, but having owned a number of pairs of shoes from both manufacturers, the two can be comparable in quality at the same price, as long as you choose carefully.

Certainly looking in the Regent Street store last week, they had a good selection of shoes at a reasonable price. And even here C&J can be harder to find.
post #11 of 90
The top pair (loafers) were purchased at the To Boot Sample Sale in November. These were definitely after the Prada acqusition. They feature a linen liner but the uppers are quite supple and take on a nice antique finish. The monkstraps are from the Brooks Brothers English made line, feature full leather linings, built on the 73 last, and probably manufactured before the Prada purchase. I've been happy with both shoes. I especially like the fit of hte 73 last.
post #12 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by norcaltransplant View Post
Following the Prada acquisition, and even before, Church's preferred to make extensive use of cobbler calf or corrected grain in their offerings. This is still true today, though I believe the majority of the current models are full grain calfskin of similar quality to crockett. The second criticism of the brand, has been their use of linen linings. Older models were consistently half linen lined.
I own two pairs of Church and two pairs of C&J benchgrade. I like both brands, but honestly speaking, I do not see what the beef is with Church shoes. I have the Salisbury loafer (73 last) in chestnut and it is fully lined to the toe. I always get compliments when I wear them. I also have a pair of the Church Redhill suede wingtip oxfords, also fully lined to the toe. It is on a more sleek, tapered last.
post #13 of 90
Got these a couple of summers ago (Nordstrom's Rack) and the quality seems to be good.

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post #14 of 90
I have five or six pairs, some pre-Prada and some more recent, and find them generally very solid. That said, I don't like the corrected grain models, and favor the calf or shell. In my experience the best grade models wear very well; I have some 12-year old Graftons which look brand new despite being in heavy rotation for much of that time. I wouldn't put them below C&J, although they are a slightly different taste. Quality is definitely not anywhere near EG, but neither is the price. I do think they are better made than Loakes or Cheaney, but perhaps not enough to justify the price premium for some.
post #15 of 90
I have 4 pairs of Church's none pre-prada and the quality is fine compared to the C&J and Alden i own and definitely superior to a pair of Allen Edmonds.
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