The world of men’s shoes is not spared the trends. We have the tendency to consider that footwear trends are a characteristic of feminine fashion, but sometimes, without even knowing it, we, men, bought at least a pair of shoes being influenced by “trendy” models. I remember at least four threads in which traps I myself fell over the years. From those sometimes I remained with memorable pairs, other times with pairs of shoes which I wore only several times.
The monk trend. A while ago everybody was wild about monks. There were models one crazier than another (bicolor monks, for instance), infantile ways to wear the monk with an open strip (Lino Ieluzzi was and I think still is the champion of this hideous way of mocking a pair of shoes as you can see here). When I thought I had seen everything regarding monks, appeared Goyser models or combat sole models, worthy of the French Legion. The monk trend brought me a pair of monks which I wear very rarely.
Museum calf – Lobb (Paris) popularized Radica (Museum Calf), and since Lobb doesn’t have exclusivity for this type of leather anymore, many producers use it. Even if it is a beautiful leather, the excess is bad, especially when it is used for heavy models. iGents love Museum. Maybe because it is a bit flashy, especially when one can find it in shades of green, for instance. And for them, the market abounds in false Museum calf. Original Radica is fabricated by Gruppo Vecchia Toscana S.p.A., the new ownership of Ilcea Tannery. However, I stick to the opinion the the most beautiful nuances are the darker ones (except for the gold museum for which I have a weakness).
Dainite in the winter – Dainite slowly became the only option for bad weather. I don’t understand…It is one of the worst soles ever. It stiffens excessively the shoe and the profiles on the sole are totally inadequate for city wear. I don’t understand why soles like Weensum from Gaziano&Girling don’t replace the heavy Dainite soles. We live in the City not in a remote region in Highlands.
Patina shoes – the fever of patina shoes isn’t over yet. On the market there are many interesting models and a reasonable number of patina artists. But there are also many horrible patinas. A lot of producers consider that it is a must to have patinas in your collection, but for this you should also know how to create it. And of course to use quality crust leather. A beautiful patina shoe is a rare thing, and if you wish to try your luck search for producers that have partnerships with Artists (for instance J.FitzPatrick had a collaboration with Alexander Nurulaeff from Dandyshoecare, but I don’t know if is still available).
Getting over the trends that come and go, I want to return to a type of leather about which there were many discussions some years ago – the Russian hatch-grain. I will not dive into its history (if you are interested in the story or the original leather read A 200-year-old gift from under the sea by R.M. Stevenson, or watch an interesting video here) , but I will limit myself to observing that even if what we now call Russian leather isn’t actually Russian but only some embossed leather, this model of leather continues to fascinate. The model is discreet and has the elegance of a wrinkled face treated nicely by years. I have five models made of Russian leather, some truer to the real Russian leather, others with a leather that is a bit different from the classic model.
One of the most beautiful models is a MTO wing brogue made by Buday (Horween leather). I’m going over the fact that Buday makes some very comfortable shoes, despite their robust aspect, but the image of this shoe in Russian hatch-grain is perfect. I saw a model with a classic design that was just as beautiful at Gaziano&Girling, but Buday is closer to what I call the soul of shoemaking.
The combination between a well executed shoe and a leather that ennobles it makes from the Buday the perfect casual shoe. I was rarely that enthusiastic regarding a pair of shoes as I was with this pair. Maybe because these days I see many unsuccessful re-interpretations in modern key of some classic models, when, instead, we don’t have to go too far in order to discover the soul of the Shoe.