About Classic Shoes for Men
Classic Shoes for Men offers the largest collection of fine antique and vintage men’s shoes in the world and serves a clientele of discerning and well-dressed gentlemen on every continent. It represents the culmination of my 40 years of collecting the very best in men’s luxury footwear and the contacts to continue to provide the best of shoes to the best-dressed of men in Europe, America and throughout the world.
I had been an avid collector well before beginning in the business of shoes in 1995. With the inception of the Internet in the mid-1990s, my passion for the finest men’s shoes found an audience with like-minded gentlemen worldwide, a clientele of refined and knowledgeable collectors whose patronage has made my enterprise the single most interesting destination for vintage and luxury shoes on the net and the most visited by European, American and Far Eastern gentlemen-collectors and shoe aficionados.
My loyal coterie of repeat clients has come to depend upon me to present the very finest of antique and vintage shoes and the most cultivated of their modern descendents, always, of course, with an eye to the traditional; traditional style and traditional workmanship. My specialties of Antique & Vintage shoes, Bespoke & Custom-Made shoes, Two-Tone Spectators, Exotic Leathers & Shell Cordovan shoes, Estate & Equestrian boots and fine Goodyear Welted Golf shoes have found their places in the collections of the most sophisticated collectors and, judging from their acquisitions, some of the best dressed men in the world.
My clients are remarkably well informed about shoes and are as enamoured with the medium as I am. I have haunted shoemakers’ and antique shops for many years but I have surely learned as much from my clients themselves as from my own study, and I am grateful for the community of these gentlemen connoisseurs.
My interest today is not only in the best made contemporary shoes. Rather I have an abiding curiosity in the history of shoemaking and an appreciation for the classic works of the great craftsmen of the latter half of the 19th century and turn of the 20th. With the advantage of having started relatively early with this preoccupation, before the successive waves of interest in “retro” and “vintage” fashions emptied the antique shops of the best examples, I have assembled a considerable number of treasures representative of the medium from the very decades during which automation changed the truly bench-made work of the 19th century into the ubiquitous machine-made shoe of present-day. From the tanning of hides to the welting and attaching of soles, the industry has been transformed by ever more powerful machinery. How fascinating that period of transition, when Mr.Blake’s and Mr.Goodyear’s inventions increased efficiency many fold and raised the general standards of the industry, but before the personality of the shoemaker, the stamp of the craftsman, which is true soul of the shoe, had been rendered obsolete by the machines’ tyrannous uniformity.
There is little room in modern industry for the risks, the imagination, or the fantasies of the hand-craftsman, which, when successful, rendered astonishing results. The best of these shoes, radical sometimes, even challenging the limits of good taste, can be ravishingly beautiful. A few of these antiques are for the display case, too rare and too precious to be worn, and I include a few examples from my collection in my section called “Objèts d’art”, but for every one of these extreme rarities, there are many wonderful classics that are absolutely ready to serve my gentlemen clients and to serve them handsomely, even after 40 and 50 years! Most of these shoes are so well made that they will last much longer than any modern shoe.
The Internet is replete with self-styled experts on fashion from whose blogs it is a short distance to the commercial interests they represent. I hope you will find my remarks throughout this website more candid than that. I limit my inventory to what I personally endorse for my clients, in the hope of promoting the timeless and dignified in dress. My opinions will not always reflect the conventional wisdom. I eschew fashion and fads. Novelty for its own sake holds no fascination for me. I understand the word “classic” to mean one thing, “that which is proven good by time”. The vagaries of some designers flight of fancy driven by loud publicity I leave to the insecure who wear labels not clothing, who need the doubtful imprimatur of a Gucci, a Pucci or a Fiorucci. To the old question, “style or fashion”, let us respond thus; if you have cultivated a personal style, you will always be in fashion, more correctly stated, you will always be above fashion. If you had nothing else to wear but a good blazer, some old but fine flannel trousers and a pair of proper oxfords, you would be welcome anywhere and look smashing. This is true today and it has been true for a 100 years. If we invest in a wardrobe, let it be suitable not for a season but forever. The best investment is in quality and the best bargain is the best quality you can afford. My prejudice, for which my website is ample testimony, is for all that has the stamp of personality, shows a little history, the seal of ownership, and the signs of time and travel. I am speaking of your old blue regimental blazer or your inherited Harris tweed jacket, finally comfortable after 30 years of breaking-in, your grey flannel trouser as good today as when you wore them with your school uniform, and your old cordovan leather brogues who’s warm tones glow of oxblood, aubergine and ripe cherry, these venerable garments which bear the imprimatur of the generations.