If I think of Loake shoes, I think of traditional methods, classic designs and their famous Goodyear welted soles – and since 2007, when they were bestowed with a royal warrant, I think of British craftsmanship at its finest. Odd then, that I never actually owned a pair….. until today.
Impulse buy and shoes are words I would usually associate with my wife, so when my son asked me to visit the toy department of our local Debenhams, I would never have thought I would walk out with some new shoes!
The men’s shoes are right next to the toys, so when I saw the 50% off sale signs, a deal was struck. For a 3 yr old, my son drives a hard bargain. In hindsight, I should probably have got him to help me negotiate some extra discount off the shoes!
I wouldn’t usually get my shoes from a department store; I prefer a traditional shoe shop where I can speak to someone who lives and breathes gentleman’s shoes all day long, and who know where and how the shoes are made. Most of my branded shoes are from Edward Green so I was not expecting to find shoes of any discernible quality, despite the flashy brands on offer. I had just gone over to be nosey – I hadn’t intended to buy anything.
It was with some astonishment when I picked up a pair of brown leather shoes, that they felt like real quality items. A quick look inside revealed the Loake England label and I found myself instantly reassured that these were the real deal. So many of todays shoes are a couple of bits of leather glued to a rubber sole where using the phrase ‘cobbled together’ seems too much like praise – the net result is a pair of cheap shoes that are far too light to last; Not these, instantly I noticed these shoes were substantial in a very positive way. On closer inspection, the sole appears to be stitched on which is a sure sign of a quality constrtuction, although with many shoe makers now putting in fake stitches in the welt it is getting harder to tell, but with the Loakes, the stitches match up with the stitches on the soles – either way, I’m impressed by the attention to detail. A quick scan on the company website unearthed other quality details:
“We are delighted to offer a full repair service at our Kettering factory. All our Goodyear Welted shoes are designed to be repairable and our experienced craftsmen will resole the shoes on the original lasts.”
Loake Bryant shoes are marketed as brogues and yes they do have the familiar holes stamped in them, but they are very slim and close fitting, almost Itallian in shape and profile. It is this blending of old and new that will make these a very versatile shoe, allowing them to be worn in casual or formal settings alike.
Once on, they the leather felt quite stiff and inflexible, but the quality of the leather suggests it will loosen up nicely and provide that familiar ‘second skin’ feel that only quality shoes can provide.
Can these £125 shoes really compare with shoes that cost four or five times more? I will wear these shoes once a week over the coming months to give them a chance to break in properly and I will report back on my findings. If they do, Loakes might just be the bargain of the century.
Oh and the only issue with impulse buying of men’s shoes? I have to buy more shoe trees!
To find out how they got on, check out part 2 here
For more from Loake – visit their website: http://www.loake.co.uk or watch this short video: