The black cap toe oxford is one of the most versatile shoes a man can own, suitable for nearly all formal occasions from office to weddings. The Aldwych is Loake's best seller in the 1880 range and also the most elegant English men's shoe to be recognised by its closed lacing, and its only decoration is the double seam along the straight toe cap and the join between the vamp and the quarters. On a closed lacing shoe, the quarters are sewn under the vamp and fasten together by laces over the tongue, which is sewn onto the vamp.
THE LAST & FIT
The Aldwych is on the Capital last, Loake's most straightforward last, designed to fit standard average feet, true to size. I purchased my normal UK 6.5F which had the right length, sufficient width, comfortable toe box and a snug heel. The Capital F last is similar to Alfred Sargent 724 F last, Tricker's 4537 fitting 5 last, which I also wear in UK 6.5. For reference, I wear a US 7 E in Allen Edmonds Park Avenue and Kenilworth.
The double stitching on the uppers is neat, same goes for the inside lining. Goodwear welt is stitched aloft, standard for shoes at the 200 pound price point. The soles have nice patterned grooves, which my cobbler applied topy to. There is a slight imbalance between the sole and heel, when the heel stands flat on the ground, there is a small gap between the sole and ground, again, quite common in shoes at this price range with pre-made leather heel blocks.
The heel is 2.5 cm/1 inch tall on a flat sole, common for most dress shoes; while the higher grade shoes from Gaziano Girling and Alfred Sargent have fiddle waist with a smaller but taller heel at close to 3cm/1.2 inch. In my opinion, a narrow waist with a small tall heel is more pleasing to the eye and more elegant.
If I look hard enough, I will find some imperfections in finishing and welt edge dressings, but none of these will take anything away from the quality of the shoe.
Both leather uppers and interiors are rather supple, no excess creasing from wearing and very comfortable from the first wearing. There is no suede inside heel counter to help with heel slippage, but that feature seem to be only available on brogue shoes. The upper is not very porous, thus relatively smooth, makes polishing very easy and produces very good shine.
Considering its relatively low price of 200 pounds, and been Loake's premiere line, it offers a pair of good quality goodyear welted shoes at a very affordable price, especially for people that doesn't live in UK or the US. Comparing to the my other higher grade English made shoes, there are differences when taking a really close look and feel the leather by hand, but then they do cost around twice as much as the Loakes.
The Loake 1880s, from my experience, are one of the best goodyear welt shoes in terms of fit, style, leather and workmanship in the sub 200 pound price point.