Women love them, and men with soul wear them. No other type of shoe combines earthiness with elegance better than the country brogue.
And, with the arrival of colder weather, the wind cries...brogues. Lately, our eyes have drifted towards these four contenders :
Photo courtesy of Sir Max, St Crispin's retailer in Amsterdam (with a large choice of St Crispin's wonders) : www.sirmax.nl
These are serious shoes, 100% made by hand, including a set of signature hollowed-birch shoe trees, with each shoe being individually-crafted, as no series are produced.
The special thing about the top-of-the-line Saint Crispin's Brogues (that makes them different than the other contenders), is that these shoes really can't be categorized. Sure, they can be worn more casually as a country brogue, but are also easily elegant enough to be worn with the finest bespoke suit...making them one of the most versatile brogues out there.
For the Saint Crispin's Brogue, plan on investing $1,200€. If you have special fitting needs, for an additional 100€, the standard last you choose will be modified according to your needs (with cork pieces added). If your foot needs special fittings, but is smaller than the standard last, then an additional one-time 300 euros will be required to produce your personal last, that will be reusable for future orders.
Ten weeks later, you have a custom pair of Saint Crispin's Brogues...a truly unique custom experience that brings us as close as possible to the Bespoke experience while remaining "affordable".
One of the best kept secrets in shoe making. Scarpe di Bianco is one of the few Italian Houses who places a priority on fine hand-craftsmanship, in contrast to other Italian shoe-makers who are driven by producing quantity for the high-fashion men's shoe market.
William White founded Scarpe di Bianco, after working four years for Sutor Mantellassi. He has a preference for Cucitura Doppia, or double-stitch construction that incoporates two soles, one attached Blake-style (inside) and the other attached by a diagonal outer stitch, making for a more watertight shoe and allowing for resoling--similar to a classic Goodyear-welted style.
Available through the U.S., they offer a custom experience through the use of model shoes and lasts, and a plethora of choices for leathers, soles, designs and colors that typically go for about $950.00 per pair, with a turnaround time of about three weeks. In the world of Scarpe, you can expect finishes (with nice highs and lows), burnishes, taps, and patinas.
Sometimes we just crave a good, quality English shoe. The Crockett & Jones RTW full brogue derby Pembroke answers the call for a well-made shoe (at 370£), with high quality Goodyear welted footwear made from the finest scotch grain or smooth calf, with Dainite rubber soles and a storm welt. A rather legendary shoe, we have read reports of 40-year-old Pembrokes still being worn (found here), as well as a report of a gent still proudly wearing his Grandfather's 70-year-old CJs.
Known to be long-lasting and comfortable shoes with practically no "break in" required, the purist aesthetics of the Pembroke Brogue are also sure to please.
Duggers of London, The Dickie
Justin FitzPatrick of The Shoe Snob recently reviewed these country brogues, and was bordering astonishment with their appearance, value and comfort (not to mention the compliments he received since he debuted these tan, full, rich-toned brogues).
Duggers provides a nice one-minute video (found here) overviewing the designing, cutting, welt-sewing, stitching, and hand-finishing processes. Surprisingly, these brogues are offered at just 140£.
Sonya Glyn Nicholson, Senior Editor