August is ending, so it’s time for me to go back to my eternal passion, shoes. Lately I traveled quite a lot, being somewhat inactive, but it’s time to catch up on things. Considering the fact that autumn is approaching at a fast pace, I decided to return to a more classical look. And what can be more classic than a cap toe oxford?! This time I chose a range of which I heard many things, but which is quite rare at sight – Loake Export Grade.
Loake goes currently through a phase of increment of their product range. If, until recently, their models were quite boring, now they are trying to walk a more modern path. They can’t make it for all the models, but at least some of them are very interesting from the point of view of the price/quality ratio. One can see that they are making great effort to give up the paradigm of producers and to start having a online shop/retailer mentality. The shoes from this range are made in England so you will be spared of the poor quality of the cheaper ranges made in India. Export Grade target a different customer than usual: Crockett & Jones Main Line customer for example.
Going back to the model that drew my attention, this is the Loake Export Grade Hanover in Smoked Teak. The Loake 1880 Export Grade has so far only been available on a limited number of markets due to the fact that it requires an effort on behalf of the factory to maintain quality, and so the number of produced units is somewhat limited. The pair presented came on the line of the Loake exclusive representative from South- Eastern Europe, to be more precise Loake Romania managed by Matei Ladea, a very nice and helpful Gentleman.
Hanover is made on a standard fitting Tower last, a bit elongated. This last was especially designed for this Export Range and it’s by far the most modern and well balanced last from all Loake lasts. At first sight it resembles 82 last from Edward Green, with the mention that the Edward Green proportions are better balanced, Tower giving the impression of an Italian last. You will not find the classic lines of Crockett&Jones 236 last of Edward Green 202 last but a modern interpretation of a classic lines for a younger customer.
The sole has an open channel with a slightly beveled waist. The monogram and metal flushed toes were not made in the factory, but at a local cobbler.
Hanover 1880 Export Grade is probably the best oxford made by Loake so far. The price is maybe a bit higher than what a Loake 1880 regular line buyer is willing to pay, but the details are worth every dime. It is made on a new imporved last with attention to details (see below the swan neck seam), leather is very nice and it’s made in England. Above all a big step forward for Loake.