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Hello, My Name Is... (I bought my first pair of expensive shoes!)

Franky In T.O.

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Hello, this is my first post to SF. I've spent brief moments casually reading threads from time to time and decided I'd join the board. The name is Frank, if you haven't guessed already.
As this is both an intro and show and tell, please bear with the length of this message....

I'm a relatively young guy living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada who after pursuing an education and gaining a few years of work experience is finally coming into his own career wise. I grew up in a small city before moving to Toronto a few years ago and am from a family on the low end of middle class where there was a sense of frugality mostly out of necessity. I like nice things. But I'm a value guy before being either a spendthrift or a penny pincher. I've always had a taste for fashion and style and always try to learn little things here and there.

I've always tried my best to dress well within my means, which I suppose is good straightforward advice to anyone. I've been developing a taste for higher quality clothing, especially for the office. While I've always known the importance of good quality shoes, only this past weekend have I finally mustered up the "courage" to spend the money for an expensive pair of shoes. By expensive, I mean over $300. That's not to say that $200 shoes are cheap, but I've always considered $300 to be the next level or barrier as far as my budget would be concerned. (You'll notice that I'm not quite there yet on dropping over $1K for a single pair, though I can see the difference and appreciate why many SFers would... perhaps one day I will too as I'm envious after seeing some of the shoeson the shelves and on these boards)


I slightly lied... on Saturday I went to David's in Toronto and I didn't just buy my first pair of expensive shoes, I bit the bullet and bought two.


The first pair are meant to be my "go to" pair. They're Zegna mainline, black, described on their web site as derby model in calf with exclusive goat printed effect (the salesperson described it as pebble something or other... anyone?). The picture at http://www.zegna.com/?lang=en&sectio...section2=shoes (3rd from left; Style: A08ZZX_HER_NER) doesn't do them justice, IMO. Normally, I've been going with less simple shoe styles, preferring a bicycle toe or something, but this shoe I find has a simple refinement with the effect on the leather and prominent toe making it stand out. I have no worries about this shoe not being fashionable 5 years from now should I be lucky that they last that long. Cost was $595.

OK, so this is more than double what I've ever paid for a pair of shoes before! But I decided to fill my wardrobe out a bit and get a pair of brown shoes as well. I ended up picking up a pair of Hugo Boss (Style: 50141719) in a very nice chocolate brown colour. It's slimmer looking with a cool "holey" bicycle toe. You can see them here in black: http://www.kurtgeiger.com/online-sho...s-sertel-derby Cost was $395.

If anyone has sources of better pictures of these shoes, especially the Boss ones in brown, please post here, if you could.

While these shoe purchases aren't as big time as many that we see on here, this was a very big purchase for me and somewhat of a defining moment as I'm proud to finally make a good quality purchase on something I've always found to be important.

Anyway, thanks for looking and I hope to partake in some discussion on SF from time to time. If there are any stores in Toronto I should know about, please let me know.
 

Tarmac

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you made it to the Kurt Geiger website. so close, and yet, so far....
 

Master-Classter

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Where to start.... I'll try to be brief.

1. Congrats on committing to making yourself a better dressed and self-respecting man. Good on you for wanting to make your life better then the generation before you, it's evolution.

2. As for shoes, seems like you're on the right path. Some comments:
As for the particular shoes you've chosen, they're pretty normal regular decent everyday shoes. nothing particularly out of the ordinary or anything. My criticisms are twofold:

For that money, I think you can do a lot better. If you're willing to spend that much, or even less then that I think you can get some better shoes. I think you paid too much because
a) you chose a flashy designer name
b) you bought retail from a store with high overheads that adds a mark up
c) they weren't on sale (I'm assuming) and you paid 13% tax.
It's not gross, but you might have overpaid a bit and you don't seem like the type who has lots to throw around.

2. Stylistically, I think they're so so... passable with suits (they're bluchers, balmorals are a bit more formal - look up the terms if you're not sure) and are def ok for everyday. So they're decent for dual purpose. With so much use though, I'm just not sure if they'll hold up over time.

The most important thing though is that you're happy. If you feel great and are happy with them, then by all means stick with them. I just think that if you're willing to take a bit more time and effort investigating, there are other options out there that you may find more to your liking and budget.

Toronto doesn't have too much in terms of shoes to look at... Harry Rosen has Allen Edmonds and I think Holt Renfrew might have too, also some other brands. (again, fit them on then buy online. These guys add $50 to suggested price and charge tax). Dack's has some Churches (although again, they're overpriced, limited selection, and personally I'm not a fan (a bit chunky)) and they also have some Johnson and Murphy. Other then that, I don't relaly know of too many toronto stores for shoes, it's been tough!

Good luck, if anything comes up I'm also on the lookout for good retailers.
 

Franky In T.O.

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Hey M-C, thank you very much for your reply and your critique. I'm very much a fan of constructive criticism and I really appreciate your response. Nice to hear from a fellow Torontonian.
You're right about the points that you made. There would be a premium paid for brand recognition, David's certainly would have a high markup though priced the same as Harry's, and although I managed a modest discount one can't overlook the taxes we have to pay which I possibly could avoid if I could find these shoes online. One thing I didn't mention is that the Zegna's are remarkably comfortable. When comparing with the Boss and most others, there is a huge difference and I can see why they would be priced $200 more than the Boss pair. But I think what you're alluding to is that with more research and experience, I'll be able to find shoes just as good or better for significantly less. This is coming from someone who's first foray into high quality shoes was just this past Saturday after all, so bear with me.
The shoes I'm replacing are actually Johnston & Murphy's. I paid $200 for them at Town Shoes. I was extremely happy with the style and they're very comfortable, but very surprised that I've only got a year out of them. I keep good care of my shoes and got 5 years out of a Brown's label pair of dress shoes that I wore often to work and with suits during formal occasions. Everyone thought I had new shoes and were astonished to hear how old they were. With proper care, you can get a lot out of good shoes. I'll definitely get more life out of these new shoes. It wouldn't be embarrassing to continue wearing the J&M's, but they've lost the "it" factor and sooner than I expected. With that said, I'd buy another pair to expand the wardrobe without expanding the budget. Stylistically, though both stand out a lot more in person, I agree they fall under the category of ordinary compared to many others. But I was looking for a mix of classic and stylish. Allen Edmonds are definitely high quality and they've caught my attention online and in magazines. The Zegnas and the Boss will certainly get a lot of use and we'll see if I get 5 years out of them with proper care. Maybe I'll get 5 years out of them if I find a pair of Allen Edmonds to spread out the wear.
What I need to find is a local smaller retailer on a less busy street that specializes in high quality shoes. The sticker prices will likely be the same, but it's easier to negotiate. Plus I prefer to spend my money at small businesses when I can. If I come across any great stores, I'll let ya know. What about online stores for shoes? Where do you shop?
 

habitue

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You made the right decision but completely failed when it came to action.


Those Zegnas are not even goodyear welted, only Blake. Overprised Italian label junk.

Not to speak of the glued together Boss crap. Worn down after one or two years.

Another thing: Comfort has nothing to do with the price but the form of the last matching your feet.

Don't go for AE. For some strange reason (costs?) they don't use a shank piece for their shoes. Not good for your feet.

Next time buy EG, Alden, C & J, Church's or if you want lower priced ones: Loake, Grenson, Sanders. Not to speak of zillions of other good brands.

Hope you can still return that stuff.
 

penguin vic

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Originally Posted by habituÃ
You made the right decision but completely failed when it came to action.


Those Zegnas are not even goodyear welted, only Blake. Overprised Italian label junk.

Not to speak of the glued together Boss crap. Worn down after one or two years.

Another thing: Comfort has nothing to do with the price but the form of the last matching your feet.

Don't go for AE. For some strange reason (costs?) they don't use a shank piece for their shoes. Not good for your feet.

Next time buy EG, Alden, C & J, Church's or if you want lower priced ones: Loake, Grenson, Sanders. Not to speak of zillions of other good brands.

Hope you can still return that stuff.


That's a bit harsh IMO. I really like Zegnas - agree they're pricey - but I don't think the OP did badly just because he chose to buy them over EGs or CJs. Wouldn't call them 'junk' either.

Why would you recommend Church's ?!
 

habitue

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Originally Posted by penguin vic
That's a bit harsh IMO. I really like Zegnas - agree they're pricey - but I don't think the OP did badly just because he chose to buy them over EGs or CJs.
Value for money-wise? Even with a Loake 1880 he would have been in a far higher league.
Why would you recommend Church's ?!
Why not? I know there is lot of bashing going around. IMHO without any proof. Apart from being slightly overpriced they are still fine shoes.
 

ccffm1

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I´m far from being an expert on the subject, but I always felt Blake stitching is not necessarily inferior to Goodyear welting. It just depends upon which qualities one is looking for when it comes to shoes, i.e. more sturdy and durable compared to lighter and sleeker last.
 

habitue

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Originally Posted by ccffm1
I´m far from being an expert on the subject, but I always felt Blake stitching is not necessarily inferior to Goodyear welting.

Absolutetly. That was indeed a bit harsh of me.

Here however I would say it is the pure desire to get more money out of the brand victim.
 

bleachboy

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Yikes. Sure, I might have chosen differently, but there's nothing wrong with Hugo Boss or Zegna. They are both much nicer than what at least about 85% of the population wears. It sure doesn't make the dude a "brand victim". It sounds like you're of the "the more obscure the brand, the better it must be" school of thought.
 

mimile

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Hi Franky,
Welcome to SF. Congrats for your new shoes ! I thinks you will be better dressed than 99.9% of Canadians. Being a Haligonian myself, I know something about how we dress

I think you have started a learning process. The information provided here, often by great guys and sometimes experts, will help you make good choices in the future.
Of course, many things we talk about on SF might seem a little bit strange for you (Goodyear, Blake, etc..). Little by little you will understand what this means.
If you speak French, I would suggest that you read this article, which IMHO, is the best ever written on how to choose shoes, the different terms and shoe care:

http://www-lil.univ-littoral.fr/~collet/chaussures.html
 

whiteslashasian

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Originally Posted by habituÃ
You made the right decision but completely failed when it came to action.
Those Zegnas are not even goodyear welted, only Blake. Overprised Italian label junk. Not to speak of the glued together Boss crap. Worn down after one or two years. Another thing: Comfort has nothing to do with the price but the form of the last matching your feet. Don't go for AE. For some strange reason (costs?) they don't use a shank piece for their shoes. Not good for your feet. Next time buy EG, Alden, C & J, Church's or if you want lower priced ones: Loake, Grenson, Sanders. Not to speak of zillions of other good brands. Hope you can still return that stuff.

I do recall the point that AE not using a shank piece has been covered on this forum quite often before. IIRC the lack of a metal shank does not in any way impact the comfort of the shoe or do any extra harm to your feet. At least that's what I recall and has been my experience so far. I have several pairs of AE shoes and find them to be extremely comfortable and at the very least on par with some of my English made shoes (Church's, Loakes). I do believe that Frank may have been a bit too hasty in his shoe purchases but we all go through that phase in the beginning of not really knowing where to get the best value for money. He will learn, that's what SF is for! I'm also surprised to hear that his J&M's have crapped out so quickly. Were they Rubber soled? I have some older J&M's that I wear about 3-4 times a month, since they have welted leather soles I've been able to get them resoled and they're still alive and kickin'! Wearing them right now with jeans for Veteran's (casual) day. *EDIT* Also with a fairly favorable exchange rate looking into getting Loake's, Chuch's, or some other English made shoes wouldn't be a bad idea. Herring Shoes has a good selection and has quite a few sale/discontinued/seconds available at great prices. I'd check them out if you're looking for more shoes to add to your rotation
 

habitue

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They are both much nicer than what at least about 85% of the population wears.
If that's your benchmark...

It sure doesn't make the dude a "brand victim". It sounds like you're of the "the more obscure the brand, the better it must be" school of thought.
I would not call the other brands mentioned "obscure" but it is obvious, that there are myriads of small Italian shoe companys, that are way better than Zegna. Not to mention the many good French ones!
 

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