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The Quintessential Dress Shoe: Black Cap Toe Oxford

post #1 of 1028
Thread Starter 
No man should be without a pair of black dress shoes in his wardrobe; if there is room only for one pair, it would be the quintessential black cap toe oxford. It is one of the most versatile shoes a man can own, suitable for nearly all formal occasions from office to weddings. While dark brown offers deep patina and changing highlights, black brings out the best in mirror shine at the same time being a subtle conservative foundation to a good outfit.

A cap toe oxford is a closed lacing shoe with a straight stitch cap, with the quarters sewn under the vamp and fastens together by laces over the tongue, which is sewn onto the vamp.

Please follow this thread for various shoemakers' black cap toes; there is a photo comparison of only the initial eight RTW pairs in three sections, high to low in term of RRP, please click on the shoemaker's name to go to each post.

Beyond the initial eight pairs, there are more to follow in makers like Carmina, Meermin, Vass, Saint Crispin's and Bestetti.

Top Tier

Gaziano & Girling
John Lobb
Edward Green

Middle Tier

Crockett & Jones
Alfred Sargent

Entry tier

Allen Edmonds

Now to the question of why have eight pairs of the same style in the same colour? It’s quite simple, I am a shoe nut and my favourite style is the simple cap toe oxford, I really enjoy the subtle finer differences such as the swan neck seam, and the size of the quarters to completely different lasts.

Another question that seems to be asked all the time: “Is it worth the price difference if I buy the same style from brand A compare to brand B?”

• There has never been and never will be a linear relation between value and quality when comes to luxury goods, it’s a law of diminishing returns, and luckily, shoemakers are a lot better than fashion houses.

• Brand, the quality of leather, the cost of labour and finishing all attribute to the higher cost of the shoe, leaving shoes look nicer over a longer period of time when cared for. We buy them because either we or other people have good experience with that brand, believe in the quality of craftsmanship and styles and thus decide to patronize certain brands.

• Each brand has their own different lasts, even though the shape of the last shouldn’t affect the price of the shoe, one would find the lasts used by the middle to top tier shoemakers are more elegant and aggressive, compare to the tubular lasts of the entry tier brands. The more aggressive lasts leave less room for error when comes to fit, which could a lesser issue as when one spends a substantial amount on a pair of shoes, there is a higher chance that they spend the time and effort to get the right fit.

• The quintessential black cap toe oxford isn't the best style to tell the difference in quality. While the entry tier shoes have visible imperfections on the welt leather strap finishing, it is not visible from middle tier shoes, and the stitching overall across all pairs are very neat and straight along the edges. Very unlikely for anyone to tell the difference between the black cap toe oxfordsonce they are on your feet. But it’s this subtlety I enjoy.

• Even with entry tier shoes, their leather seems to be decent quality, provided that you care for them over time.I haven't had them long enough to tell over a couple of years.

• Put it in simple terms, if Loake 1880 is at 80% in terms of RTW dress shoe quality, it costs around 200 pounds; Crockett & Jones Handgrade is at 90% in term of quality, and Gaziano & Girling Benchmade is close to 100%. So the correct question is to ask yourself is whether you care about the last 10 - 20% at double or triple the price.

• My online purchasing experience has been great with online vendors I have dealt with, kudos to their great service!
post #2 of 1028
Thread Starter 
Gaziano & Girling

Founded in 2006 by Tony Gaziano and Dean Girling, their shoes represent the most innovative and aggressive last designs with shaped waists in yet very classic styles. Tony Gaziano had worked at George Cleverley & Edward Green’s bespoke workshops while Dean Girling was a Master Shoemaker worked with John Lobb Bespoke. They have their own factory in Kettering, just outside Northampton, offering Bespoke, Deco and Bench Made lines.

The Gaziano & Girling team combines over 100 years of shoemaking experience. Over half are bespoke craftsmen with a holistic knowledge of shoes, and even the craftsmen working on the ready-made line of shoes are better trained than most bespoke craftsmen.

My Gaziano & Girling Bench Made Oxford Black in MH71 last, size UK 6.5E
Purchased from Bespoke England, RRP £615 ext. VAT
Topied at Coombs in the Strand Arcade Sydney

Back to Group Photos
Edited by wurger - 9/27/13 at 4:29pm
post #3 of 1028

The beginning of a ...






Thanks, wurger.

post #4 of 1028

A wonderful collection, Wurger!


They all look great, but you can can clearly see the beauty in the bottom right three pairs.



post #5 of 1028
Great thread, Wurger
post #6 of 1028

From the initial picture I would rate them, for their looks alone, as the following:
EG > JLP > G&G = C&J > Loake > AS > Tricker's > AE

The EG Chelsea could be the perfect black shoe for his lovely last and his swan neck, if only his heel would not be as ugly.
JLP comes close second for the second nicest last but the best heel.
G&G and C&J are a bit too chiseled for my liking but overall very good looking shoes.
Loake to me is the best value for money in both looks and build.
I am a bit underwhelmed by the look of the AS but it could be due to the shoe trees which seem to be too big for this pair? I have seen pictures of the Armfield which looked lovely.
I would neither wear the Tricker's nor the AE, I think they look blobby and not elegant at all.

Those are C&J Audley and AS Armfield, right?
I think you should add the following:
C&J Connaught, Carmina on Forst/Rain/Robert last, Meermin on Hiro/Olfe last, Vass F last
Edited by Louis XIV - 9/15/13 at 6:06am
post #7 of 1028
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys!

Just to be clear, top left is Loake Aldwych, top right is C&J Audley.
post #8 of 1028
An absolutely essential thread, thanks Wurger!Subscribed
post #9 of 1028
Originally Posted by Louis XIV View Post

I think you should add the following:
Carmina on Forst/Rain/Robert last, Meermin on Hiro/Olfe last, Vass F last


The theme is English!

post #10 of 1028
Thread Starter 
I think the whole world agrees that I went a bit nuts with black cap toes to last me a lifetime.....

though I might add a pair of Saint Crispins when I receive my first MTO is less than 2 months.
post #11 of 1028
What if the Spanish or Hungarian could produce an English style as nicely or even better than the Brits themselves?
post #12 of 1028
I like this thread...where would you put Santoni in your pecking order?
post #13 of 1028
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately, I have never seen a pair of Santonis, can't comment.
post #14 of 1028
Originally Posted by Michael Sy View Post

The theme is English!

Then we're missing Church's!
post #15 of 1028
Thread Starter 
Church's doesn't seem to get much love on SF since Prada took over.
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