It is totally impossible to be well-dressed in cheap shoes. Hardy Amies* said that. We believe that. Now you know that.
No matter what you’re wearing with them, an English bench-made shoe is what separates the men from the boys. As the name implies, bench-made shoes are hand-tooled on a craftsman’s table or cobblers bench as they undergo up to 250 different operations. A single shoe will pass through an assembly of English artisans with names straight out of a Harry Potter film—the last-maker, the pattern-cutter, the clicker, the closer, the maker, the socker, and the tree-maker—before eventually landing in the inky embrace of the polisher. Have we worn bench-made penny loafers with sweatpants? Absolutely. You could dress like a juvenile in a pair and discerning types would still know you’re a man with his priorities in order.
Expensive Goodyear-Welted shoes can last almost as long as you do if you take care of them. The key is in their ability to be re-crafted. Whether you’re sending off a pair of Alfred Sargents, Church’s, Aldens, Crockett & Joneses, or Allen Edmonds, each cordwainer’s process is similar. Shoes are stretched over their original lasts (to retain shape and appearance), soles are replaced, welting, laces, and heels are replaced, and the uppers are refinished—they essentially look new again, all for about the price of a cheap pair ($125-$200).
We sent off a pair of Fred’s well-worn Allen Edmonds’ tassel loafers to be recrafted ($150, Prestige Package) in Port Washington, Wisconsin. They came back four weeks later looking brand new, yet feeling as familiar as the back of his hand…oh, and they’ll last him at least another 5 years.
*Not some random Englishman with a fancy one-liner. Amies was a fashion designer and dressmaker for Queen Elizabeth II. He knew a thing or two about being well-dressed. As if that wasn’t enough, he designed the costumes for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (one of the greatest and most influential films ever made). So not only did he know about being well-dressed on Earth, he knew about being well-dressed in space too, in case Earth wasn’t impressive enough. Ok, enough vouching for Sir Hardy Amies. Ooooohhh—he’s knighted!