What shoes fall between A-E & EG?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by jmatt, Jun 29, 2006.

  1. jmatt

    jmatt Senior member

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    If Allen-Edmonds is my baseline, and Edward Green (on sale) is my peak, then what else falls in between?

    I've hear Alden may be a slight step above. Then perhaps C&J Handgrades.

    Anything else bridge the gap and fall in around $400-$500?

    Where would C&J Benchgrades rank?
    Where do Loakes (recent sale) calfskin (not corrected leather) rank?

    Thanks all.
     
  2. odoreater

    odoreater Senior member

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    If Allen Edmunds is my baseline, and Edward Green (on sale) is my peak, then what else falls in between?

    I've hear Alden may be a slight step above. Then perhaps C&J Handgrades.

    Anything else bridge the gap and fall in around $400-$500?

    Where would C&J Benchgrades rank?
    Where do Loakes (recent sale) calfskin (not corrected leather) rank?

    Thanks all.


    I'd say that the Loakes rank either at or slightly below the level of AE. I have a few pairs of Ferragamo Tramezzas from ebay that are about $330 that are probably a slight step above AE.
     
  3. skalogre

    skalogre Senior member

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    If Allen Edmunds is my baseline, and Edward Green (on sale) is my peak, then what else falls in between? I've hear Alden may be a slight step above. Then perhaps C&J Handgrades. Anything else bridge the gap and fall in around $400-$500? Where would C&J Benchgrades rank? Where do Loakes (recent sale) calfskin (not corrected leather) rank? Thanks all.
    Loake is mixed. Styling, last, definitely above AE. COnstruction about the same (some think lower but I don't really see it - depends on shoe I guess). Grenson Masterpieces are definitely above Loake/AE, as is the regular line (NOT Feathermasters) of Grensons IMHO. Not sure compared to C&J. If my single shoe (boot) from Grenson's Country line is anything to go by, that line is also very good (slightly different scope of shoeism of course [​IMG] )
     
  4. aportnoy

    aportnoy Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    J. Fenestrier and Carmina are good options.
     
  5. dah328

    dah328 Senior member

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  6. jmatt

    jmatt Senior member

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    Most of the makes on JCusey's list fall in between AE and EG:

    http://www.askandyaboutclothes.com/T...seyOnShoes.htm

    Yes - I have dutifully read his wonderful report many times over. What he refuses to do, is to actually rank any of the shoes. Also, there is no indication as to real-world pricing. That's what brought me here with the question after reviewing his work.

    Sounds like there's a big gap between $300 and $500 dollars with the possible exception of C&J Handgrades.
     
  7. jmatt

    jmatt Senior member

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    Well, he doesn't rank numerically, but he does express opinions about quality . . .
    ...and to speculate, in the U.S., only Alden may be above A-E. In the U.K. The better Loake's may be close, Grenson (if they still exist would be nice) and Alfred Sargent may be nice. The italian and french stuff seem inaccessible to those of us midwest-bound, and I have no understanding of where to find any of them, or what any of their price points may be. So here I am again . . . . .
     
  8. TomW

    TomW Senior member

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    My experience has been that from the UK the following are on par in construction, and often more pleasing to the eye than AE: Loake 1880, Tricker's Jermyn Street and Alfred Sargents Premier and Premier Exclusive ranges. Grenson's regular (Shoes and Boots, not Feathermaster) line and the C&J Benchgrades come in a notch or two higher. C&J Handgrades and Grenson Masterpieces are the next step and then come the exquisite collections from EG and Lobb.
    I own shoes from all of the above, YMMV.
     
  9. thinman

    thinman Senior member

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    I think Bruno Magli Platinum line fall in this quality range and they can be found at Neiman-Marcus Last Call stores at reasonable prices if there is one near you. STP sometimes has Mantellassi. Franco's in Richmond has a website with Marteganis in the price range from $350-$450. And for the record, I *really* like Ferragamo's Tramezza line and believe they are a significant step up from AE or Alden and a step above C&J Handgrade or Grenson Masterpieces.

    Paul Stuart's shoes are Grenson Masterpieces, admittedly at prices north of $600. There are also many sources of discounted C&J shoes, including plal, or sales on Brooks Peal shoes (not all are C&J), Polo "Benchmade in England" shoes (reportedly now made by Sanders & Sanders, but I cannot confirm this), and Ben Silver (rarely on sale).
     
  10. Roger

    Roger Senior member

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    OK. I'm going to jump in here and make a fool of myself [​IMG] (feel free--all you shoegeeks--to rip into what follows). All of this is from what I have learned from many posts on various forums, along with, in most cases, my own experiences. I'm considering dress shoes in what follows.

    First, Loake (even the 1880s) are barely on a par with A-E. From what I've seen, I'd rate them below. Next, in my own personal experience of owning both, Alden are of no better quality than A-E; they're equivalent in both concept and quality of leather and construction. A step up, we find C&J Benchgrades and Grenson Footmasters (forget about the Feathermasters; they're low quality and much like Loakes in my opinion). You can get C&J Benchgrades online from PLal for about $325 with inexpensive shipping. Grenson Footmasters may be as good, but they're no better. Alfred Sargent--in their top couple of lines--are equivalent in quality to C&J Benchgrades and cost about the same from Pediwear. Trickers--in their top line--are at about the same level (Pediwear again). (Church's and Cheaney I have no experience with.) At about this same quality level and at about the same price, there are good Italian shoes to consider: Martegani (which I have), Gravati, and Borgioli--all available from Franco's--run around $350-$400. These are good shoes--at about the C&J Benchgrade level in quality in my experience--and are superior, I believe, to A-E. Moreschi and Magnanni also make good shoes in about this same price bracket. You could also probably get the lower-line Santonis for about that, although I can't comment on their quality.

    Once you cross the $400 line, your best value, in my opinion, is the C&J Handgrades--available from PLal for about $410 plus shipping. Pediwear sell them too, and the price must be fairly close. For that price, these are the best shoes available in my opinion. The Grenson Masterpiece--of equivalent quality--is, unfortunately, no more as its own entity, being available only through Paul Stuart now (as Stuart's Choice), but for $625 except when on sale. So I wouldn't count on Masterpieces in the future. (It's possible some other retailer of whom I'm unaware has them too.) Oh, there's the Ferragamo Tramezzas too--about the same quality as the C&J Handgrades, in my opinion--but costing more at retail (and not available economically online, as far as I know) at around $500+ (although often on eBay for around $340). They're very nice shoes. (Can't comment on the Fenestriers mentioned by Andrew, except to say that Ian Daniels has them at his online ShoptheFinest.com.)

    Once you hit the $500 boundary, other possibilities open up, with better-quality Santonis, Sutor Mantellassis, Carmina (Sky Valet), Weston (Sky Valet again), and, if you time it right, RL Purple Label (EG) shoes on sale for under $600. One very good buy, in my opinion, is the Sutor Mantellassis from Lance Hughes at Virtual Clothes Horse, which can be had for $300 to $400 for some extremely nice shoes (although sizes are, understandably, limited). So there's lots in the $300 - $500 range to consider.

    Edit: Within a price range, the choice may come down to the British vs. Italian esthetic. At about the same price, my C&J Benchgrades look quite different from my Marteganis. The good British shoes convey solidity along with a certain degree of elegance; the Italian models are racier (sometimes too much so), usually sleeker, and generally lighter. I have a place in my shoe rack for both forms. Many of the Italian shoes in the price ranges noted above are not welted (as virtually all the British shoes are, as too are A-E and Alden), but constructed by the Blake/Rapid process. Although welting is often portrayed as evidence of superior quality, I'm convinced (largely by Ron Rider and my own experiences) that Blake/Rapid-constructed shoes are every bit as good and as durable as welted, and as easily re-soled. Some would say that Blake-constructed shoes are definitely inferior to the methods noted above, but this isn't always the case either. I have a pair of Brioni Blake-stitched shoes that are as well-made as anything in my possession (including EG and JLobb). Although not as sturdy as a welted shoe, they are a pure delight on the feet, weighing just 10 oz. each (vs. about 18 oz. for my C&J Benchgrades and A-Es), and if I were worried about sole life (which I'm not because I wear them infrequently), I could have them Topy'd. Another factor is choice of leathers and finishes. I must admit that, for me, one of the attractions of Martegani was their heavily-antiqued Radica calf. So there are a lot of factors that guide our choices, but, in the end, I think, any of the shoes mentioned above in the $300 - $500 price range will be of at least good quality, and your choice in the end will come down to these other factors.
     
  11. jmatt

    jmatt Senior member

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    Wonderfully helpful!!!! Thank you all!
     
  12. thinman

    thinman Senior member

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    Very nice post, Roger, and absent a minor quibble or two, in complete agreement with my experience and reading of the fora.
     
  13. aportnoy

    aportnoy Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I concur, an outstanding post Roger!
     
  14. kitonbrioni

    kitonbrioni Senior member

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    It would seem that John Lobb is step above in refinement to A-Es and EGs.
     
  15. edmorel

    edmorel Quality Seller!! Dubiously Honored

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    A shoe that does not get much mention here are the Zegna Napoli Couture's. Wonderful sleek styling and very good construction and leather. For my money, better than C&J Handgrades and when they show up on ebay, you can get them cheaper than C&J's. Carmina shoes are also wonderful. Tramezza's do not get enough credit here, great shoes at a minimum on par with C&J Handgrades.
     

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