After reading a thread on Ask Andy ("Having Luncheon with the Incomparable Mr. Pollock"), I picked up a pair of Handmade J&M's. Â These shoes used to be $1000/pair, perhaps equivalent to $1500 or more today. Â These were shoes that were given to Presidents and foreign dignitaries and were used as a marketing tool by J&M. Â Unfortunately, J&M has closed virtually all of their US shoemaking facilities, and so the Hand Made line has been ended. Here are some pics and comments about these fine shoes. IMO, these wingtips remind me most closely of an old pair of Brooks Brothers English Peals from the 70's (made by E Green, I presume.) They have a very nice overall line, with a close cut welt ("just showing" as it is known in the bespoke world) and a narrow, slightly bevelled waist. The brogueing is done with a relatively small holes, and there is no "pinking" on the seams. All of this creates a light appearance to the shoe. The sole features a hidden channel and cross-hatched incisions to provide traction when the shoe is new. The sole is a natural color, rather than stained a la Green et al. The upper leather is a very nice calfskin, and it features perhaps just a hint of antiquing. I think two things stand out about this shoe. First, the stitching of the uppers is as fine as I've seen, in terms of stitch length/stitches per inch; some of the stitching is up to 18 spi, and the balance is at 14 spi. Whoever made this upper used a very small needle and fine thread. In comparing the upper to those by Lobb (RTW), Green, C&J, Vass (bespoke), JM Weston, the stitching is far more delicate; these companies seem to use 12 spi as their upper limit; some bespoke uppers I have from London max out at 14 spi. Second, the entire perimeter of the insole shows small tack holes, which seems to indicate to me that the shoe was in fact hand-lasted. Further, it would appear to me that the outsole may well have been hand-stitched to the welt, a very rare feature indeed in a RTW shoe. In summation, a beautiful, exptremely well-made shoe. Were they worth $1000? I don't know, though I think they certainly are competitive with the E Greens, whose price is pushing toward that level with less handwork. Are they worth $250. You bet your a**. And, you get a bit of an great American shoemaking heritage with them.
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7/13/04 at 9:51pm