Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Real Shoes Put Their Stamp on a Man

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Real Shoes Put Their Stamp on a Man

Article excerpt

Byline: Richard Godwin

ABOUT the only school assembly that I can still remember was on the subject of shoes.

Mr Granath, an oldfashioned intellectual and head of the history department, addressed us daringly in his socks, holding up a pair of brown brogues on the lectern. He uttered the truism that you can tell a lot about someone by their shoes, before informing us that his were handmade by a family firm in Northampton. He dwelt lovingly on the details of the stitching and the sourcing of the leather. Finally, he revealed the price: [pounds sterling]250.

We gasped! The figure was incomprehensible.

"It may seem expensive to you," he reassured us, "but these shoes will last me a decade. As for your flashy hi-tops ..." And he told us how our trainers had probably been made for a pittance, by squinting children in miserable Asian sweatshops -- and he scolded us for throwing them away so casually.

With the benefit of years, I see that Mr Granath was not the eccentric old fogey we thought at the time but truly fashion-forward. There was an era when the trainer seemed unassailable. Now a generation has rediscovered the pleasures of real shoes -- shoes that endure, that are worth taking to the cobbler, and look much classier with a pair of well-cut trousers than a pair of daps.

The best men's shoe emporia have purged themselves of silly little canvas thingies and pointy ponce clogs and stocked up on Oxfords, brogues, Derbys and loafers -- the old classics, in other words. Grenson, the classic English brand, has been revived with great effect in recent years and recently spotted on the feet of George Clooney. Tod's has just launched a range in collaboration with Jefferson Hack. From David Beckham to the secret hero of men's fashion, Hamish Bowles, international editor-at-large of US Vogue, the smart men are wearing proper shoes. …

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