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Shoe bias?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by mbc, May 11, 2006.

  1. mbc

    mbc Senior member

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    It seems as if nearly every shoe related thread I read here has to do with one of 3 or 4 manufacturers, namely C&J, Edward Green, John Lobb, and sometimes Vass. Yet the "Comprehensive List of Links to High-End Shoes" lists roughly 80 manufacturers in the first post alone.

    As someone who doesn't own a single pair of any of the above mentioned brands... what's the attraction vs the other dozens of makes in that thread?
     
  2. whoopee

    whoopee Senior member

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    While I'd like to think that it's all about those shoes' quality and looks (and surely some of it is) and EG's special order program, I do think that this "bias" derives more from their general availability in the USA and UK (I love those Corthay, Carmina, St. Crispin's etc but they are hard to be had outside of the Continent) and the blessing of the more respected shoe freaks. A few years ago, the bent of this forum was very different (you were here for it), and only a few people had wide ranging experience with high-end shoes, and they had their own preferences, which included EG, JL, CJ, and Vass, when A Harris introduced them to the board. There is also a (natural) tendency for a sort of groupthink to develop on web fora and message boards. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing.
     
  3. odoreater

    odoreater Senior member

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    I also think that sometimes people are reluctant to post about shoes that are under the quality of the ones you listed. For example, when people post about shoes that are of high quality, but perhaps lower quality than C&J, EG or Lobb, someone will say something to the effect of "those are a piece of crap" to the point that people don't want to post about any shoes if they aren't the brands you mentioned.

    That's part of the reason why I started the Mid-Range Shoes thread, because I thought that the threads about the more expensive shoes don't really apply to me.
     
  4. minimal

    minimal Senior member

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    I think the brands you mention have managed to occupy a narrow space where they are (or appear) both exclusive and at the same time remain very available to those who are "enthusiasts". I suppose on the supercar forums there will be a lot of talk by people experienced in driving ferrari, lamborghini & porsche for much the same reason. Sure, there will be the occasional post by someone who has driven something rarer, but they won't be able to hold a conversation with many others with the same experience. In short, the definition of "community" has something to do with shared experience, and that has been made available by these brands.

    One thing I love about this board is that there are very few of the "what would you purchase if you had a million $" posts. Most of the threads are about real experiences, with real material, and so what is shared is not theoretical. We talk about a specific pair of shoes, a particular pair of pants, sometimes to excrutiating detail but that's how we communicate and share. It's hard to have ideological arguments with people who know the names of the sheep who's wool made their last suit, if you know what I mean.

    And the mid-range shoe thread was a brilliant idea.
     
  5. AlanC

    AlanC Senior member

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    Of course Grenson gets a fair amount of play, too. There are a number here who also own Allen Edmonds and Alden (both get more play at AAAC than here, though). You might want to check the 'What Are You Wearing Right Now' thread for a more varied list of what people own and are wearing.
     
  6. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    It is a good question that you ask.

    I think that a lot of it is a feeling that there is only one way to skin a cat. Many people here feel personally offended by non-English shoe styles. I think that it is sort of an extreme conservatism that is, in the long run, not very useful. I like all three, but they are not the be all and end all of shoes.
     
  7. Get Smart

    Get Smart Senior member

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    My take is that those labels represent the epitome of a "dress shoe" that are attainable by folks without too much egress. They're top tier for someone in a conservative work environment.

    Personally, I appreciate the quality of those shoes but aesthetically aren't for me. With $400 in hand, where most members here would probably get a pair of CJs from Plal (or a similar deal) I would take it to Paul Smith and drop it on one of the 5 pairs they currently have that I've been eyeing. [​IMG]

    different strokes and all...
     
  8. JBZ

    JBZ Senior member

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    Alden is my go to brand for shoes. Along with Allen Edmonds, they're the best RTW shoes made in the U.S., and they're one of only a handful of companies world wide that does a substantial amount of work in shell cordovan (which I happen to love). Most here will describe their styles as "clunky," but this is a part of their charm to me. I think that a company with Alden's experience could produce shoes on sleeker lasts if they wanted. That they don't is not, in my mind, a failing. It represents a conscious effort on their part to produce the type of shoes that appeal to their customers.

    I would never argue that the construction of Alden is on par with Green, Lobb, or Vass (and I own one pair of Vass and four pairs of Green - no Lobbs), but I just appreciate Alden as the producer of a no nonsense, simply styled, well constructed product.

    I also think that Allen Edmonds is an outstanding choice for people who want quality shoes on more of a budget. I never had such a shoe "epihany" as when I stepped up from Johnston & Murphy and Cole-Haan to AE. It was like entering a different shoe world. BTW, no one has shown me anything to indicate that C&J bench grade are any better manufactured than either AE or Alden (and I have a pair of bench grades). The styling may be different, but I think the construction quality is comparable.
     
  9. Etienne

    Etienne Senior member

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    My take is that those labels represent the epitome of a "dress shoe" that are attainable by folks without too much egress.
    Still, I guess we could benefit from experiences about other dress shoes in the same price range (400-700$).

    Granted, some labels, such as Corthay RTW, Aubercy RTW, Altan, Carmina, might be difficult to get in some places. But what about Weston? What about those many Italian brands?
     
  10. zjpj83

    zjpj83 Senior member

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    For me, it's the styling and construction. Italian shoes, by and large, do absolutely nothing for me. At worst, they can be hideous monstrosities. I just like English shoes.
     
  11. whnay.

    whnay. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Still, I guess we could benefit from experiences about other dress shoes in the same price range (400-700$).

    Granted, some labels, such as Corthay RTW, Aubercy RTW, Altan, Carmina, might be difficult to get in some places. But what about Weston? What about those many Italian brands?

    Tis true Weston doesn't get much love here, even the 180 is rarely mentioned. EG, CJ, & Lobb seem to get the most play with Santoni, Testoni, and other well known Italian manufacturers taking a back seat.

    I happen to own a couple of pairs of Santoni and one pair of Weston's that I enjoy very much, after my shoe trip to Europe this coming Christmas I hope to share with all of you guys my entire collection.
     
  12. thinman

    thinman Senior member

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    I think several issues are involved here and most of them have been mentioned. The shoes that are discussed most frequently are conservatively styled, well-made business shoes that are more or less readily available in the US. I would also note, however, that these manufacturers generally have only one or two lines of shoes, so you won't get a comment that "C&J are crap", whereas you will read that "Ferragamos are crap". I think the companies who sell both high- and low-end shoes are not always appreciated by those who have experience only with the lower-end lines. I personally like to have a variety of shoes in my collection. I appreciate English shoes for business (my current favorite shoes are a pair of Grenson Stowe "wholecuts" in dark brown calfskin and suede combination.[​IMG] Thanks Chris!) and I like shell cordovan very much. So I own several pairs of Alden and C&J shell cordovan shoes. But I like Italian shoes to wear when more casual, fashion-forward shoes are appropriate, so approximately 40-50% of my good shoes are Italian. I'm basically quite conservative in my tastes and don't own any shoes with truly extreme styling, but the more conservative Italian styles are just slightly more stylized versions of standard styles. I also like the fact that Italian shoes can be found on sale more easily than the English shoes. Edit: I would dearly love to try Weston, Sutor Mantellassi, and other brands such as Carmina, but I'm now approaching the stage where I can target specific styles by specific manufacturers. On my next trip to DC in June, I may stop at Sky Valet to see what they have. Last time I was there, I was disappointed to discover they had no Carmina shell cordovan shoes in my size, 12D.
     
  13. dah328

    dah328 Senior member

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    Italian shoes on sale more than English shoes? Perhaps at the mid-range. At the higher end, I find a lot more English shoes (C&J Handgrade, EG, Grenson Masterpiece) available at discount than Lattanzi, Santoni FAM, Kiton, etc.
     
  14. Mr. Checks

    Mr. Checks Senior member

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    Like JBZ, when I stepped up from J&M to Alden (monks) and AE (Park Ave) it was like a different world. I literally didn't know that shoes could feel so good.
    The Park Ave is the best interview shoe that I can think of, and the Aldens have a certain Trad charm.

    Check out the Certos at virtualclotheshorse for a nice Italian shoe for $200 and under.

    I aspire to Greens and Lobbs because I don't think I can get that last bit of refinement in shape and exquisite brown leather at any less a price. If I could, I'd be all over it (Carmina intrigues me in that regard). If the Alden split toe was as refined as the Dover, I'd buy two today.
     
  15. Etienne

    Etienne Senior member

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    Tis true Weston doesn't get much love here, even the 180 is rarely mentioned.
    I have two pairs. A pair of their 666 (a conservative captoe balmoral) and a pair of their signature 180 loafer. I find both to be really great shoes.

    I have considered the new Perry-designed line also, I really like their last.
     
  16. Jovan

    Jovan Senior member

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    What about Florsheim or their other brands? I own a pair of shoes by them and they seem to be excellent quality.
     
  17. Morris

    Morris Senior member

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    It seems as if nearly every shoe related thread I read here has to do with one of 3 or 4 manufacturers, namely C&J, Edward Green, John Lobb, and sometimes Vass. Yet the "Comprehensive List of Links to High-End Shoes" lists roughly 80 manufacturers in the first post alone.

    As someone who doesn't own a single pair of any of the above mentioned brands... what's the attraction vs the other dozens of makes in that thread?


    Good post.

    I can only speak for myself, but I generally only wear C&J. I have a few pairs of old AEs, but wear them infrequently.

    EG, JL, Cleverley, Vass, Berlutti and JM Weston make fantastic shoes, but given that I am a family man, I find it hard to justify spending $800+ ... especially when C&J's handgrades are close in terms of construction to the aforementioned makers.
     
  18. thinman

    thinman Senior member

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    Italian shoes on sale more than English shoes? Perhaps at the mid-range. At the higher end, I find a lot more English shoes (C&J Handgrade, EG, Grenson Masterpiece) available at discount than Lattanzi, Santoni FAM, Kiton, etc.
    I agree that we have good sources for discounted C&J Handgrades, Grenson seconds that Paul Stuart has returned, and EGs. But these discounts, with the exception of the Grenson sales at Bennies, are not what I would call spectacular (prices are generally >50% of full retail) and sales generally occur on the web so customers don't have the chance to try on the shoes before buying. But I can and have routinely found Ferragamo Tramezzas, which I consider slightly better made than C&J Handgrades or Grenson Masterpieces, in their outlet store and I sometimes find Testoni and Sutor Mantellassi shoes on sale at Neiman-Marcus and Neiman-Marcus Last Call stores. I would dearly love to find discounts on English shoes comparable to the 60-75% discounts I've seen on some Italian shoes in the brands mentioned above. For those of us who don't live in NYC, the sightings of deeply discounted English shoes can be very rare. Edit: I would rather not debate what constitutes mid-range vs. high-end English and Italian shoes, since we would probably eventually have to agree to disagree. I agree with you that I have never found Lattanzi, Santoni FAM, or Kiton shoes on sale.
     
  19. Get Smart

    Get Smart Senior member

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    I've seen Santoni FAMs (medallion wholecut) on sale at Nordstroms Half Annual Sale for 50% off, as well as C&J handgrades (clifford wingtip) on sale at Barneys Warehouse Sale for more than 50% off, so if you're willing to wait and are geographically well-inclined, and a bit lucky, you can get awesome deals on them. I believe Ralph Lauren had EG MacKays for about 50% off during boxing day as well.
     
  20. StevenRocks

    StevenRocks Senior member

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    What about Florsheim or their other brands? I own a pair of shoes by them and they seem to be excellent quality.
    I have 2 pairs of Florsheims and an AE. Even though the Florsheims are decent, the AE is a better-constructed shoe overall. Still, if I had to get some dress shoes and couldn't get a good deal on AE, I'd go with Florsheim.
     

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