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Dacks and other Canadian shoe brands

Rampart

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I've been looking at a few older models of Dack's shoes, oxfords, brogues, etc.. and have noticed the exotic materials being used in some. Anyone know when they stopped making the wing tip camel skin shoes? or were there any other exotic materials used similar to church's?
 

MyOtherLife

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I've been looking at a few older models of Dack's shoes, oxfords, brogues, etc.. and have noticed the exotic materials being used in some. Anyone know when they stopped making the wing tip camel skin shoes? or were there any other exotic materials used similar to church's?

Dack's Shoes were based in Toronto, Ontario (Tretheway Drive). They manufactured shoes in Toronto until 1996.
In their glory days, they did indeed manufacture shoes made from various leathers such as Calf, Ox, Buffalo, Reindeer, Antelope, Shark, Camel, Crocodile, Alligator, etc.
In 1996 their Toronto plant closed and production was relocated to Mexico where the quality (arguably) was maintained to its end in 2010.
Dack's had a 'HandCrafted' line that was of wonderful quality all around.
They also carried a 'Made In England' line that were manufactured for them by Church's (pre 1996) and later Cheaneys (post 1996).
Their re-branded Cheaneys line were sold until the company's closure in 2010.
Dacks made very good quality shoes, comparable in quality to Alden (Toronto Pre 1996) and Allen Edmonds (Mexico Post 1996-2010)

As to your Camelskin Wingtips, would you be so kind as to post several photos (top-sides-bottom-inside) please.
This will give us a better idea of the vintage. They are definitely pre-1996 but we need photos to be more precise.

Also, as a cross-reference, Florsheim, Nettleton, Allen Edmonds, etc, also played with exotic leathers in the 1960s and 1970s (possibly even later). This may also help date your shoes.
 
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Rampart

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Thanks for the info, the camel skin shoes I'm referring to are almost identical to these that were up for auction, yet doesn't have the 1834-1984 anniversary printed on the inner sole. I wasn't sure if the camel skin version was made up until 1996 or if it was just a limited release in the mid 1980's. Do you know of any online examples of their Buffalo, Reindeer, Antelope & Shark etc.. shoes?



 

MyOtherLife

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I doubt they would have used camel in the 1990's. My guess is 1960's-1970's
My pairs in buffalo and reindeer I handed down to my brother almost 20 years ago so unfortunately I have no photos. One never knows what one can find on Ebay. I am sure they still exist somewhere. Beautiful leathers they were.
 
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daxman

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I saw your question about Dack Shoes and I have some info for you .I worked for the company for a long , long time as a store manager and have kept a great many of the old catalogues . Regarding the Camel Skin Brogues, , the last catalogue with the actual Camel Skin was issued for 1992 , however, the identical line , stock # and all, with a "printed camel grain" was produced in 1993 and 1994. To your second question -- the list of exotic leathers used is a long one indeed.A few of the more notable ones were: elephant , seal , lizard, crocodile, water bison . antelope, kangaroo, ostrich. There were additional skins used for limited edition lines and special orders. I once had a shoe made up for a customer using rhinoceros leather. I hope this answers some of your questions !!
 

bellyhungry

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This is what I found on the web, written not too long after the company's demise:

http://www.canadianbusiness.com/article/11264--the-ode-dack-s-shoes

By Matthew McClearn | April 07, 2011

Dack's Shoes was born in 1834, when Irish immigrant Matthew Dack opened a shop for the well-heeled at the corner of King and Jordan streets in downtown Toronto, then a settlement of some 10,000 souls. His untimely death from pneumonia that December handed control to his eldest son, Edward, who travelled widely in search of new styles and sources of quality leather. The surname became synonymous with quality men's footwear among those who could afford made-to-measure shoes and boots.

In its first 80 years, Dack's Shoes remained small; during the First World War, it consisted of a small King Street store with a factory at the rear. Expansion began shortly after, with new stores opening in Winnipeg, Montreal and elsewhere, not to mention a thriving mail-order business. By the Second World War, it had stores and agents across the country. The last family owner, Stanford Dack, personally inspected finished shoes wearing a white glove, says one longtime employee. "If he saw any black or brown polish on his white glove, there was hell to pay. He'd cut a shoe in half rather than send it out with a missed stitch. That's the type of guy he was, and that's how the company was run."

Dack sold out in 1948 to AH Marston Corp. of Toronto, which in turn sold the company to the prestgious English shoemaker Church & Co. Ltd. in the 1960s. Under Marston, Dack's bought a plant in Fredericton, N.B., in 1957 and moved production there. It was an age when sons wore the same shoes their fathers did, and customers had leather-soled shoes rebuilt regularly. Even as cheaper, rubber-soled shoes manufactured offshore began appearing on Canadian shelves in subsequent decades, the company believed enough consumers would insist on better-fitting, more durable products. In a 1985 company history, then-president Lorne Grainger declared: "It is easily possible to imagine Dack's Shoes being made with the same philosophy and even greater success 150 years from now."

Tastes, though, were changing. Workplace attire became ever more casual, and younger customers turned to mid-market brands like Clark's and Rockport, which Dack's was forced to stock. "The market was really flooded with shoes from China and other Asian countries you just couldn't compete with," says John McDowell, a director and longtime Dack's executive. As for Dack's storied brand, "I hate to say this, but it was becoming an older man's shoe."

Decline began in earnest in 1999 when the Fredericton plant, unable to make rubber soles, closed. Henceforth, Dack's best offerings were made by Church's in England, though the companyexperimented (unsuccessfully) with Mexican manufacturing. When Prada, the Italian fashion house, bought Church's a decade ago, things got worse. "We were the little red-headed stepchild that got thrown in with the deal," recalls one Dack's employee ruefully. With sales crumbling, the company stopped renewing leases. By the time Prada quietly dumped Dack's in December 2007 to private equity firm CoBe Capital of New York, just 10 stores remained.

The recession, during which shoe buyers became even more frugal, ended the sad decline. Claiming assets of just $600,000 and liabilities thrice that (mostly to trade creditors), Dack's filed for bankruptcy in December. "The longevity of the company has not allowed it to escape the financial issues that have plagued this industry for the past decade," read an official statement. As perhaps a last testament to craftsmanship, liquidator Danbury Sales discounted lesser mass-market shoes by half. Those who wanted the last pairs of Dack's, some priced as high as $900, could get only 25% off.
 

Rampart

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Thanks for the info! Rhino leather.. you rarely hear of that these days! What were the cost of them?
 

MyOtherLife

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I saw your question about Dack Shoes and I have some info for you .I worked for the company for a long , long time as a store manager and have kept a great many of the old catalogues . Regarding the Camel Skin Brogues, , the last catalogue with the actual Camel Skin was issued for 1992 , however, the identical line , stock # and all, with a "printed camel grain" was produced in 1993 and 1994. To your second question -- the list of exotic leathers used is a long one indeed.A few of the more notable ones were: elephant , seal , lizard, crocodile, water bison . antelope, kangaroo, ostrich. There were additional skins used for limited edition lines and special orders. I once had a shoe made up for a customer using rhinoceros leather. I hope this  answers some of your questions !!

Daxman, thank you for ringing in with this very much appreciated information.
Scans of those old catalogues would be greatly apreaciated as well if you ever consider undertaking the task.
I am sure you will never throw those out and if you have multiples of any of those catalogues, please message me.
Welcome to Styleforum.
 
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daxman

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Rampart: I don't recall the price way back then but if they were being made today-- it would run "at least " $850. By the way , those shoes were white and size 11 AAA. Not much resale market for those , I wouldn't imagine LOL. Daxman.
 

daxman

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I " might " have a few duplicates of these old catalogues. When get a moment to check the " archives", I'll let you know . Daxman.
 

Bjorling

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Here are some Dacks from my collection - the first two are kangaroo, the third is antelope and the last is bison







 

MyOtherLife

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Bjorling thank you for posting these ^ and welcome to Styleforum.
I just found my pair of bison longwings I thought I gave away. I'll try to post photos later.
 
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MyOtherLife

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Matthew welcome to Styleforum. Are there no plans for any retail locations? How are people supposed to size properly if they cannot try them on first? and if no retail outlets are in the works, would you please provide dimensions on your website in both inches and millimetres. Thank you. Best wishes for the Dack's revival.
 
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Bill Smith

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Just to say that Dack's are back ! Still made in England, same quality and style. Dack shoes are now sold exclusively online : http://www.matthewdack.com

MD

Hi, quick question, are you going by North American sizing or should I sized down half size, also is F equivalent to medium width?
 

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