With the passing of summers the one crucial change that happens to men’s shoes is the re-introduction of styles that allow for socks to be a part of the ensemble. It takes a brave man, or a really sombre occasion, to wear socks with shoes in summers, or, more correctly, to wear shoes in summers that need socks. But as summer turns to autumn and monsoon washes the dust away, it is time to stash away the loafers and bring forth the others. These can include anything from monk straps to lace-ups, brogues and wingtips to work boots and even weather-proof gear. All in all, the next few months are all about variety.
But with most big brands copying each other to point of high-flattery, it almost becomes impossible to decide where to apply our purchasing prowess. Here then are a few brands that are not as mainstream and yet make some of the most solid constructions as also the most unique designs the world has to offer.
Matthew Cookson: This Englishman in Paris does something quirky and cheeky yet formal and fairly inconspicuous. His slippers are quite the rage and he has quite the collection with all sorts of motifs. He can even personalise them with initials or a logo of your choice.
Justin Fitz Patrick: The American-in-London gentleman who has written about shoes and shared forth his passion finally launched his own collections a few seasons ago and there has been no looking back. Although his services can also be accessed at 1, Savile Row, his online presence remains strong. The collection is, to use a clichéd word, `different’ and it would take a stroll through the standard high street luxury brand stores before you understand just why
I use this word and, if I may add,
with a renewed reverence for it.
Berluti: In French, someone once said that what other’s make are shoes; at Berluti you have ‘Souliers’. The word roughly translates into slipper but the emotion is better conveyed if you can imagine the male equivalent of Cinderella’s golden slipper. Comfort and class were never quite so elegantly married. This 100+ year-old (French) brand manages to stay with the times and their two-tone burnished loafers are definite head-turners.
Gaziano & Girling: This English brand is almost a sartorial secret for few know of this brand outside of the ardent lovers of shoes and soles. Now with their Savile Row address things may change and the designs manage to straddle English propriety with European (read: Continental) flair.
Bontoni: One of the most revered brands for shoes in Europe but mostly unheard of (a death clause by the founder decreed that they would only do bespoke for friends and never sell ready-to-wear in Europe) has quite the following elsewhere in Asia and the US. Absolutely classic understated elegance and artisanal perfection, with a signature Italian flourish, of course. If you consider yourself a serious shoe collector, then you aren’t one till you have one from them.
Aubercy: Parisian chic for men since 1935, the brand to reckon with should your leather fetish run into the more exotic types: crocodile, stingray, ostrich, and even lizard. Their style philosophy is the outcome of the founder spending time in England to hone his shoemaking skills and then incorporating stylistic footnotes from his Italian counterparts, all fused together with his innate French sensibilities. Three words: Love. Their. Sneakers.