My visit to Loake

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by unbelragazzo, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Jewfro Dubiously Honored

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    Of all the companies I visited, Loake stocks the widest range of quality levels and styles. Whereas each of the other brands goes after a luxury market that must of necessity be somewhat of a niche, Loake has something for everyone, including customers who are only just being introduced to quality footwear.

    Its history, however, is as rich as anyone shoemaker's. The company was founded in 1880 in Kettering, a little less than an hour's drive from Northampton by the Loake brothers, Thomas, John and William. It has remained in the hands of the Loake family ever since. Andrew Loake is the current custodian.

    There are three broad quality categories of dress shoes that Loake produces. Loake 1880 and Loake Evolution are full grain, burnished calf leather shoes for around 200 pounds. Loake Shoemakers shoes are mostly made of polished leather, knocking the price down to around 150 pounds. Both these lines are Goodyear-welted and made in the Kettering factory I visited. Finally, the L1 line's polished leather dress shoes are Goodyear-welted shoes made in India, which can be had for closer to 100 pounds.

    At each price point, Loake takes pride in providing as high a quality shoe as they can. There's an honesty and integrity to what they do, reflecting how seriously they take the name they stamp on their products. On the tongue of every L1 shoe, you'll see the “Made in India” stamp, which is refreshing in a world where other companies might just send the shoes to an English factory to have the laces put in and call them “Made In England”. These shoes are made by a factory in India in close cooperation with Loake, using lasts from the Loake Shoemaker line.

    But there are significant advantages to paying more to get a pair from the Loake 1880 line, or the Loake Evolution, which is similar to the 1880 except that it uses a more flexible leather sole for more out-of-the-box comfort. Each line uses lasts that are more refined than those used for the Loake Shoemaker. These top level shoes also use full grain calf leather, which means that the shoes will only look better with every polish. The leather in the other lines comes already “polished”, meaning that the tannery treats them with a sort of gloss to hide imperfections. These might look great when brand new, but they will not age so well as the burnished calf used for Loake's highest quality level.

    And really, 200 pounds is a bargain for a genuine English-made, Goodyear-welted, full grain leather shoe. They're well made enough that you can make them last for decades, and beautiful enough that you'll want to.

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  2. dopey

    dopey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Nice. What differences used in the 1880 line result in those shoes costing so much less than EG/CJ/Tricker/Sargent etc? There is definitely a price difference even if they are all GY welted full-grain shoes? The market is pretty competitive, so what explains the difference?
     


  3. YRR92

    YRR92 Senior member

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    Are these some of the "Shoemaker" line? They look CG-ish. I've been thinking of picking up the suede brogue from that line -- if that's it on the far right, I'm leaning even further in that direction...
     


  4. Calder

    Calder Senior member

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    I have altogether too many Loakes (from across all the ranges) already, and you making me want to buy more...
     


  5. Chuckie Egg

    Chuckie Egg Senior member

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    Thanks for sharing the insight. Having had my 1880 Edward tan brogues for a few months now and covered miles in them, I can say they remain very comfortable even after a long walk and polish up really nicely. The best pair of shoes I've bought.
     


  6. wurger

    wurger Senior member

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    yes, the Loake 1880 is definitely one of the best shoes in the 200 pound range.
     


  7. JTA

    JTA Senior member

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    Thanks for the review, very interesting read.
    Would you say that the quality for 1880 and Evolution line is on par? Seems like both are mentioned on the same breadth.
     


  8. Farhad19620

    Farhad19620 Senior member

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    Thank you for the review, I just wish they bring all the production back to the UK.
     


  9. NORE

    NORE Senior member

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    I can' roll with Loake. I would like to hear an answer to Dopey's question, however.
     


  10. SeaJen

    SeaJen Senior member

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    My first "quality" shoes were Loake and they are still my go to black shoe after 20 years. Admittedly, I don't now wear black shoes very often, but they have lasted exceptionally well for the price.
     


  11. Yowzer

    Yowzer Senior member

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    Was a pleasure to read. Well done.
     


  12. Quadcammer

    Quadcammer Senior member

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    Loake builds a quality, if not remarkably interesting, shoe. I have a pair of loake for herring and they have held up great. Especially impressive is the very long lasting heel toplift.
     


  13. dddrees

    dddrees Senior member

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    Thanks for sharing.
     


  14. Balfour

    Balfour Senior member

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    Wurger has a pretty good go here:

    http://www.styleforum.net/t/354125/loake-appreciation-shoe-p0rn-thread/100_50#post_6476930;
    http://www.styleforum.net/t/354125/loake-appreciation-shoe-p0rn-thread/100_50#post_6508312.

    I have a soft spot for Loakes, and black 1880s are a perfectly respectable day-to-day shoe (my beaters now).
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2013


  15. othertravel

    othertravel Senior member

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    Good write up by Wurger. Similar situation to Meermin v. Carmina.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2013


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