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Crockett & Jones - Aesthetics?

PoshGentleman

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Long time lurker here, first time poster.

When I was shopping around for new pairs of dress shoes, I got lots of good info on this site and read countless posts from many folks praising the beauty, construction, and overall quality of Crockett & Jones shoes. I have to admit, before coming onto this site, I didn't even know of the brand.

Anyway, two months ago, I ordered two pairs of C&J shoes - one Connaught and one Hallam - and I have to say, I have been hugely disappointed with both shoes, especially considering the amount of coin I had to spend to get those pairs.

I am sure the construction of these shoes are fine, but as a slim, tall, young guy (late 20's working professional, 6 foot tall, 175 pounds), these shoes don't suit me at all. BTW, I am rather keen on the styles of clothes, shoes, watches, etc and I absolutely hate anything 'boxy' - jackets, shirts, pants, shoes, etc.

I have several pairs of dress shoes from Bally, Ferragamos, and Prada (loafers, oxfords, and derby shoes), and every morning to work, I reach for one of these 'designer' shoes, rather than C&J shoes - largely for aesthetics. My Ferragamo, Prada, and Bally shoes are much sleeker and look much more refined.

My biggest problem with C&J Connaught is that it looks wayyy too boxy, especially around the waist. Toe area seems ok (not too good looking there either), but the mid-waist area of the shoe is too broad and boxy. Actually, this shoe looks boxier and even worse than the AE Park Avenues that I have. Which really is disappointing.

My problem with C&J Hallam is that the shoe last looks wayyy too long (much longer than any of my lace-up shoes or loafers from the Italian brands) and these shoes just look bad on me. (my feet look disproportional compared to the rest of body)

Since I live in NYC, I went to the John Lobb store in NYC and I was just STUNNED at how beautiful some of the shoes they had were. One shoe that really grabbed my attention was JLP Beckett Oxfords. I know that these shoes are way more expensive than the C&J shoes I bought, but I kept thinking, I should've just bought one pair of really solid-constructed shoes of style that I really love, rather than 2-3 good 'quality' shoes that I don't really want to wear at all, either to work or to dates with women, etc.

I am wondering - is there anyone here that shares my view? I've only read / heard good things about C&J, AE, etc around here, and I am sure the shoe quality itself is fine, but for young, fashion-forward guys like me, these brands' products just don't seem to have much appeal in terms of style / design. Maybe these shoes are meant for middle-aged 'corporate business people'.

Sorry for the long rant. I feel like I just wasted a crap load of money buying shoes that I never seem to wear.
 
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Harrydog

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The Connaught is definitely a traditional, conservative last. Yes, the Hallam can appear rather elongated, but it is amore fashion forward last. What strikes me is that, since you live in NYC, why didn't you go into C&J wearing a suit and try on the shoes. The aesthetic issues you note should have been apparent, particularly with the Connaught. Even wearing them around the house on carpet might have led to that conclusion, allowing you to return the shoes. Seems to me, this is where you made your mistake, namely buying the shoes and they wearing them awhile before you made up your mind.
 
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arglist

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It's a matter of taste. CJ make classic English shoes in (more or less) classic English designs on classic English lasts. I like that and would call it classy. I suspect I would not like the shoes you mention and describe as more "refined". I call them fashionable and I don't mean this as a compliment.

For me the Hallam is almost too sleek already. If you don't like that one I suggest CJ is not for you.
 

PoshGentleman

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Quote: Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I really messed up. I knew from the beginning that I didn't like the style / design of C&J shoes I got at all, but I kept thinking "hey, since everyone that know anything about shoes recommends C&J's, I should give it a try". Which really was dumb of me. Lessons learned.

Btw, which styles of C&J shoes look ok? Some of the 'sleeker' oxfords that they sported (such as Hallam, etc) looked way too long. I don't like shoes that are too long.

Other 'traditional' lasts (like Connaught) are too boxy.

Is there any shoe of decent shape that you know of, from C&J?
 
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PoshGentleman

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It's a matter of taste. CJ make classic English shoes in (more or less) classic English designs on classic English lasts. I like that and would call it classy. I suspect I would not like the shoes you mention and describe as more "refined". I call them fashionable and I don't mean this as a compliment.

For me the Hallam is almost too sleek already. If you don't like that one I suggest CJ is not for you.
When I wore my C&J Connaught to a date with a girl, she remarked that while she liked my suit and my overall vibe, she just thought my shoes didn't look alright.

After this, I kept thinking that maybe C&J shoes don't really appeal to 'younger', fashion-forward crowds, but rather appeal more to 'middle-aged' or fashion-conservative buyers.

I guess, if you really want super high-quality (good year welt construction) AND sleek design, you'd need to go with John Lobb. But hey, my bank account is gonna hate me...
 

PoshGentleman

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Btw, a off-topic question... is there particularly a strong reason why many members on this site highly prefer good-year welt construction over blake? I know that most high-end Italian shoes are blake. (Ferragamo, Gucci, etc)

I just talked to my cobbler in NYC and he confirmed that most of blake constructed shoes can be resoled rather easily. Then, what really is the point of buying good year welt shoes for 'durability'?

I mean, if stylish, sleek Italian shoes are more to your liking in terms of design, why not go for those instead of boxy, long, and uninspiring looks of C&J?
 

FlyingMonkey

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I mean, if stylish, sleek Italian shoes are more to your liking in terms of design, why not go for those instead of boxy, long, and uninspiring looks of C&J?
Many people here do. What's your point? You seem to be trying to have an argument just based on your own taste (and mistakes).
 
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PoshGentleman

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Many people here do. What's your point?
I've got the vibe on this site that blake constructed shoes are of inferior quality compared to brands such as C&J, and given the similar price range, one should always go for the latter over the formal for reasons of 'quality' and 'durability'.

However, since most blake shoes can be resoled easily and are of decent quality anyway (at least from the ones like Ferragamo, etc), does one really need to pay attention to such claim?
 

jaywhyy

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I've got the vibe on this site that blake constructed shoes are of inferior quality compared to brands such as C&J, and given the similar price range, one should always go for the latter over the formal for reasons of 'quality' and 'durability'.

However, since most blake shoes can be resoled easily and are of decent quality anyway (at least from the ones like Ferragamo, etc), does one really need to pay attention to such claim?
Blake shoes are not as readily resoled as goodyear-welted. NYC has a plethora of great cobblers, but finding a cobbler with a McKay machine elsewhere can be more difficult. Personally, however, I don't think blake-stitch are any less inferior than goodyear-welted.

I agree that C&J lasts can be uninspiring. Benchgrade lasts like the 348 are too elongated and symmetric for my taste, and the waist is not tight. You cannot readily get a tight waist in a goodyear-welted shoe versus a blake shoe, which is why most Italian shoemakers use blake (in the price range before blake/rapid and hand-welt).

Go for Italian brands if it fits your aesthetic better. Ferragamo, Prada, and Gucci make some fugly shoes, in my opinion, though. Ferragamo Tramezza is of decent quality. Prada uses subpar leathers from my experience. Gravati is in the same price bracket as C&J and probably has what you're looking for. Vass F and U lasts are essentially Italian as well and are hand-welted, which is much superior to goodyear-welt or blake-stitch.
 
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FlyingMonkey

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Italian brands to look out for (IMHO):

Reliably excellent:
Lattanzi
Santoni Fatta a Mano
Salvatore Ferragamo Tramezza
Kiton (if you like the crazy antiquing)

Worth considering, produce some very good lines and models, but also less good stuff:
Gravati
Sutor Matellassi
Borglioli Fratelli (for Rider Boot Co., but they make some crap too)
Paolo Scafora, Napoli
Stemar
Bruno Magli Platinum Line (not normal Bruno Magli)

Not as good as they used to be, but you'll still find some nice models:
A. Testoni
Moreschi

Companies I have no experience of, but which I've heard some good things about:
StefanoBi
Bettanin
Venturi
Bonafe
Barrett
 

PoshGentleman

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Blake shoes are not as readily resoled as goodyear-welted. NYC has a plethora of great cobblers, but finding a cobbler with a McKay machine elsewhere can be more difficult. Personally, however, I don't think blake-stitch are any less inferior than goodyear-welted.

I agree that C&J lasts can be uninspiring. Benchgrade lasts like the 348 are too elongated and symmetric for my taste, and the waist is not tight. You cannot readily get a tight waist in a goodyear-welted shoe versus a blake shoe, which is why most Italian shoemakers use blake (in the price range before blake/rapid and hand-welt).

Go for Italian brands if it fits your aesthetic better. Ferragamo, Prada, and Gucci make some fugly shoes, in my opinion, though. Ferragamo Tramezza is of decent quality. Prada uses subpar leathers from my experience. Gravati is in the same price bracket as C&J and probably has what you're looking for. Vass F and U lasts are essentially Italian as well and are hand-welted, which is much superior to goodyear-welt or blake-stitch.
Thanks for the reply. Your answer makes a lot of sense. I guess if you live in NYC where blake shoes can be easily resoled by many cobblers, one shouldn't really worry about blake vs good year welt, but should rather worry about the fit, style, and just all around 'desirability' more, correct?

You are absolutely right that Gucci, Prada, and Ferragamo make some really ugly shoes, but these brands at least make some really elegant shoes. C&J, on the other hand... just my opinion but pretty much ALL of their shoes are very sub-par in terms of design. (at least to me)

Btw, my 'definition' of a 'beautiful' & 'sleek' shoe should look something like the following: (Ferragamo Lace-up)



Or: (John Lobb Becketts)




I like shoes with narrow round-toe (I hate square toe shoes and don't even like 'chisel' toe), need to be 'narrow' and 'non-boxy' around the mid-section of the shoe, the arch needs solid definition, and the shoe shouldn't be too long nor too short.

C&J shoes, at least to my knowledge, greatly failed me in the 'appearance' department. A lot of their shoes are way too boxy or too long for my liking, and when I put my C&J Connaught on my feet, I feel like I am wearing a pair of bowling shoes. Seriously.

It is a shame that I prefer the looks of AE Park Avenues (which I think are pretty ugly, too btw) over the C&J shoes that I own.
 
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PoshGentleman

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Italian brands to look out for (IMHO):

Reliably excellent:
Lattanzi
Santoni Fatta a Mano
Salvatore Ferragamo Tramezza
Kiton (if you like the crazy antiquing)

Worth considering, produce some very good lines and models, but also less good stuff:
Gravati
Sutor Matellassi
Borglioli Fratelli (for Rider Boot Co., but they make some crap too)
Paolo Scafora, Napoli
Stemar
Bruno Magli Platinum Line (not normal Bruno Magli)

Not as good as they used to be, but you'll still find some nice models:
A. Testoni
Moreschi

Companies I have no experience of, but which I've heard some good things about:
StefanoBi
Bettanin
Venturi
Bonafe
Barrett
Thanks for the list. I will look out for those next time I go out shopping.

However, one thing I've learned from my miserable experience with C&J is that once a shoe quality is of somewhat decent level, after that, you should worry far more about the shoe 'fit' and 'style', more than marginal quality differences or 'brand name' differences.

I don't care that C&J shoes are well-regarded and well built. I think these shoes are ugly, and I can't seem to wear them willingly.
 

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