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Thread: A question about shoes: Who are the best manufacturers?

  1. #1
    I'll Lock Up Two Types's Avatar
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    A question about shoes: Who are the best manufacturers?

    As a Englishman (whose father worked in the shoe industry for 25 years) I was naturally brought up to believe that our shoes and boots were far superior to anything produced anywhere else in the world. I am naturally fiecely loyal to the industry and only ever buy from one factory. As such, I have no practical experience of good quality footwear from around the world.

    Therefore my question is this (regardless of patriotic support for one's own industries) does English footwear still deserve its reputation? What are the thoughts of people around the world about the comparative standards in international shoe manufacturing? Who do you think are the best manufacturers at various pricing levels around the world?

    In particular, I would be interested in the views of anyone working in the industry (whether in design, production, sales, repairs, shop buyer etc).

    I look forward to reading your opinions.

    In the meantime, here are my favourite boots:
    "I know I believe in nothing, but is my nothing."

    Rank & File: A British Cinema Blog

  2. #2
    Practically Family
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    My For What it's Worth, TT--I've only owned Crockett & Jones, Barker's, Church's (pre-Prada), Grenson, and Cheaney's. I liked all of them--with a distinct preference toward C&J. I know Cookie loves Edward Green[e?], but I've never had a pair, nor Lobbs. That said, I LOVE the vintage American shoes. For gunboats, Cap Toes, hand stitching, the quality of leather and skins (sharkskin especially), I'd rank FootJoy, Cordwainer, Clapp, Crosby Square, older and custom Florshiems, Hanover LB Sheppards, and Bostonian Denny Murray's,at the top of my list. By the way--I'm not in the industry, unless spending way too much on vintage shoes qualifies me as a member!!

  3. #3
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    In the USA, Alden shoes are probably the best now.

  4. #4
    One Too Many
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    Quote Originally Posted by bburtner@moran View Post
    In the USA, Alden shoes are probably the best now.
    Being the best of two isn't much to hang one's hat on.

  5. #5
    One Too Many
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    In the UK, Gaziano & Girling has become a wonderful (and somewhat daring, ESPECIALLY by English standards) option.

    The French make some very nice shoes. The top Weston models (Chasse, demi-chasse & Triple sole models) are excellent. John Lobb Paris is the top maker in the world in some peoples' opinions. Anthony Dellos is arguably the best Bespoke maker there is (at minimum, top 3).

    Although Spanish shoes used to be very average (or lower), Carmina makes some very nice shoes.

    Personally, I LOVE Italian shoes. Lattanzi (Crazy prices, though) is great... and has so many choices. My personal favorite is Santoni's Limited Edition models, and their Goodyear line is excellent as well.

    Sutor Mantellassi makes SOME excellent shoes, and Bontoni has those Berluti-esque antiquing and crazy styling at a fraction of the Berluti price (and better made, i think).

    Of course the Hungarians make some excellent shoes as well. Vass are very nice, and I've heard there are many great makers in Budapest.

    Saint Crispins is located in Vienna, and they also make great shoes.

    Sadly, the US shoes STINK comparatively to all the makers i listed above. The best of the US (Alden) isn't in the same class.

  6. #6
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    I've had nothing bad to say about Allen Edmunds, and much good to say about them. Perfect? Perhaps not. What is?

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    One Too Many esteban68's Avatar
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    Not much to say really, but I have Bally,very good quality IMHO, Russell & Bromley ditto, Loakes very good even the Indian made ones though time & longevity will tell on those, Cheaney again very good, Tresham I've only one pair and never seen anymore but the pair I have are excellent, as for Italian due to having wide feet I can pretty much say goodbye to most of their offerings.

  8. #8
    My Mail is Forwarded Here Undertow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Isshinryu101 View Post
    Sadly, the US shoes STINK comparatively to all the makers i listed above. The best of the US (Alden) isn't in the same class.
    Hey Isshinryu101, the quoted statement is pretty strong. Could you go into some detail? Unfortunately, I've not had the experience with any of the shoes you've listed and I would be interested in learning what differences are evident in craftsmanship, quality, durability, etc,.
    "We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will." ~ C. Palahniuk

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by esteban68 View Post
    Not much to say really, but I have Bally,very good quality IMHO, Russell & Bromley ditto, Loakes very good even the Indian made ones though time & longevity will tell on those, Cheaney again very good, Tresham I've only one pair and never seen anymore but the pair I have are excellent, as for Italian due to having wide feet I can pretty much say goodbye to most of their offerings.
    Bally shoes are still good, I agree. Their Platinum line is excellent & Goodyear Stitched.

    As for the Indian made shoes, it's not so much the construction I have a problem with (i suppose if they last a decade, they did their job), it's the poor leather quality. No one seems to send top-quality leather to India to have it made into shoes. In Hong Kong, the Chinese are doing a better job, i think.

    If one can learn to embrace the squarish toe, many Italian shoes will fit a wider foot just fine. It's those long, pointy lasts that are ultra-narrow... and not an aesthetic preference of mine.

  10. #10
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    Are we talking ready-to-wear, or 2000$ bespoke?

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