For years Loake represented for me a badly managed English brand. Although they had a lot of models, most of these had oriental shapes, so you couldn’t know whether the target client was from Mumbai or from London. The quality was bad for most of the models, line 1880 being unable to save the image of a brand which had its heart set on burning its own ship. One could only sit there and think if there was any reason behind the company’s board, someone that would observe the competition and see the new market direction. With a bad marketing and a website on which you couldn’t spend more than 5 seconds, it seemed that things were on a clear path.
Nevertheless, for a while now I noticed a change of direction. I’m not saying that the models with an unattractive design are gone, but there are some interesting models that came into sight. The site has become human friendly. The quality increased significantly, so we can say that, for the time being, Loake washed some of its sins. Some models (see Export Grade range) are close to their richer and fancier relatives from Crockett&Jones, so the temptation is bigger, given the sensibly lower price.
Like in the past, the 1880 line is the one holding up the flag, but now it is somewhat wider. A very interesting model is Anglesey, a boot that shows that people from Loake are trying to bring a bit of freshness to the classic model. In the case of the suede (the boot from figure being a suede), the quality is surprising, the boot bearing a big resemblance to the iconic Australian boot RM Williams. Loake Chatsworth confirms once more that change isn’t random and that somehow people from Loake are seeking for the recipe of coming out of an anonymity. With competitors like C&J the battle can be fierce but they have started well.
With Anglesey, Eton loafer in various colors and the casual Lawrance in sand suede shoes are starting to look good. I’m glad about the fact that, for autumn-winter, the reign of the annoying Dainite rubber is starting to fade, Victory sole being an interesting choice. Nevertheless, they should introduce a city sole for most of the models. I shall not insist about the negative parts because I’m starting to like Loake, and I tend to be a bit more lax in judging what I like, but an annoying thing is the difficulty of ordering online the new Export grade range. If the people from Loake think that, by keeping it hidden they will make it more attractive, I believe they are wrong. From what I saw, Export Grade has a good quality, but the fact that I have to strive in order to find information or to see the product is not a very intelligent thing coming from those who thought this palette through. I shall try some more models from Loake, the next on my list being an Export Grade model though. I have to find out if it’s worth the money or not.
Special thanks to Mr. Matei Ladea and Mr. Alex Dragan from loake.ro