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so I got fitted by the St. Crispin's founder today (pictorial)

medtech_expat

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With 2 free hours in Vienna today, I intended to get fitted by St. Crispin's and drop into Balint for a look. I corresponded by email with Mr. Car, who advised that the former facility in Vienna had been shut down, so we made an appointment at Kaufhaus Steffl, the oldest department store in town and St. Crispin's sole retail representative in Vienna. I was more than a little surprised when Mr. Michael Rollig - founder of St. Crispin's - showed up to fit me personally. I was wearing a pair of Vass Austerity Brogues on the F last, which Mr. Rollig recognized immediately. He was highly complementary of Vass construction quality and attention to detail, and also threw in a historical tidbit that Mr. Vass actually produced for St. Crispin's in the early days prior to establishing their own facilities in Romania (news to me).

Mr. Rollig is quite the conversationalist and gentlemen, and with the nearly 2 hours he spent with me I was starting to feel a bit guilty as I only intended to order one pair! He spent most of the time talking about last design and construction, and how his designs have evolved over time. Another historical note - his early lasts were based on Edward Green, whose majority shareholder at the time (Mr. Clarke) partnered with Mr. Rollig at an ill-fated attempt at St. Crispin's shoes for the Indian market! Mr. Rollig laughed off the anecdote, realizing full well how ridiculous the proposition sounds... but we all make mistakes, particularly early in our respective careers. The classic St. Crispin's round last is in its 3rd iteration (see pic), but I opted to go with a captoe oxford in a burnished mid-brown on the chiseled last... a bit more pronounced than EG's 888 but less extreme than the Vass U. Mr. Rollig has partnered with the same Italian lastmaker for the past 15 years to bring his designs to life. I didn't realize how much orthopedic consideration was incorporated into the last design... prior to this, the Vass F last was a near perfect RTW fit. The St. Crispin's chiseled last, by comparison, is one step closer to perfect. Good news for my feet, bad news for the wallet.

As some of you may be aware, there are no immediate plans for a US retail partner, as the deal with Leffot fell through when Lehman crashed a few weeks later. Mr. Rollig has a few new lasts in development, and overall the near future will bring more formal shoes, as he cited insufficiently robust sales for more casual models like chukkas which still carry the same material and production costs, but for which many buyers (myself included) resist parting with the same level of money. With this in mind, Mr. Rollig has established a new venture named Zonkey Boot (yes, a cross between zebra and monkey) which will be focused on more casual footwear, completely independent of St. Crispin's. www.zonkeyboot.com will go live in the next few weeks.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable 2 hours with a knowledgeable, humble, articulate and personable character. Now I just have to wait 9 weeks for my shoes... probably a good thing I didn't make it to Balint! Enjoy the pics...

Paris tomorrow to pick up more shoes... from ABP... for my Langes


Cheers,
Eddie

























 

ljrcustom

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Great story. Thanks for sharing.

-LR
 

bigbris1

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Nicely done. I still have a pair of St. Crispins as my avatar over on the other forum.
 

voxsartoria

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Nice stuff. I really love my Saint Crispin's and Philip was a pleasure to deal with even at long distance.

- B
 

KObalto

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Wonderful post.
 

Shikar

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Excellent, thanks for taking time to post this.

Regards.
 

Sebastian

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Not a fan of the chiseled last, but the round last is spectacular. Didn't know, that Steffl carried St. Crispins. Will have to pay them a visit next time I am in Vienna.

Thanks for sharing!
 

teddieriley

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Awesome. Can you speak more to the how the relationship with Leffot fell through and the connection with Lehman? Did it rely on Lehman funding, or did customers dry up when a bunch of IBankers lost their jobs?
 

makewayhomer

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Originally Posted by teddieriley
Awesome. Can you speak more to the how the relationship with Leffot fell through and the connection with Lehman? Did it rely on Lehman funding, or did customers dry up when a bunch of IBankers lost their jobs?

I'm sure it's that. they knew the market for ultra lux would be shrinking
 

LeatherSOUL

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Awesome! I love St. Crispin's, always admired their shoes. Thanks for sharing.
 

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