Menswear Essentials Pt. 2: Footwear

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October 10, 2014 by Wayne.

A (sort-of) continuation of the previous part. This one will be structured a little differently though. It’s harder to specifically highlight brands as a whole since there’s a large variation in the types of footwear offered, the lasts used, and so on. Instead, I’ll pick out the shoes/boots that are among the best I’ve tried/seen.

Andrew McDonald

Sometimes you want to make a statement with your footwear without it being too out there. And sometimes that statement costs $800 to make. This is one of those times.

Balenciaga chelsea boots

Chelsea boots – not everyone’s cup of tea, but a solid addition to most wardrobes nonetheless. They admittedly don’t look that great when paired with a simple T-shirt and jeans, which may be why people tend to lean towards desert boots instead of em. With most other combinations though, Chelseas lend an air of almost nonchalant sleekness. Get them in suede, like these ones, if you don’t want them to draw that much attention. I’ve some suede side-zips that I still break out every now and then. The reason I don’t use them more often is they’re hard to match – so don’t fuck up like me, and just stick to black.

Beckett Simonon Hughes longwings

Cheap, versatile, essential. Get burnished tan for a more bold flavour, or stick to a darker brown if your office is more stodgy. Goodyear-welted, full-grain, leather sole – all the bare minimums for a good, solid dress shoe. This here is your workhorse.

Common Projects Achilles Vintage Lows

If you haven’t tried CPs, you’re really missing out. It’s not (just) one of SF’s circlejerks; it’s close to impossible to find shoes like this. Clean, free from shitty branding and garish garnishes, with an unbeatable slim profile. The leather’s tougher than Margiela’s which means it takes longer to break in but is also a good deal more hardy. Stains fairly easily but seems almost impervious to scuffs and scratches. Chances are your strings will get all worn out before the leather shows much sign of wear.

If they go on sale and you have the cash, spring for them. This is the grail of sneakers, son.

H by Hudson Buckley

Washed calf leather uppers, suede lining, leather sole. Essential? Of course not. Certainly very pretty though.

John Lobb monkstraps

Admittedly not a massive fan of the sole’s colour, but this still represents the grail when it comes to monks. Sleek, commanding, expensive as fuck.

Lanvin patent leather shoes

When it comes to black tie events, can you get away with vigorously polished black Oxfords? Yeah, usually. Depends on the company you keep, the setting and context, the occasion, how much scrutiny your feet will be under – all of which is to say, you should buy patent leather shoes anyway, but not for any external factors. Well, not any immediately apparent ones, at least. Instead, buy them because there’s a small amount of satisfaction in following sartorial traditions, regardless of how meaningless they ultimately are. Practically all the “rules” of dressing are baseless and pointless anyway, but it’s nice to conform once in a while.

Loake Burford

A dressier boot than some of the others in this list. Think of it as a high-top version of your brogues, with the laces and other parts adjusted to fit the new silhouette. More casual than the usual brogues, which means it pairs great with casual-ish outfits without looking overly dressy. Think dress shirt and chinos, and this right here is a perfect complement.

Maison Martin Margiela leather GATs in grey

Have they slipped from their heady heights? Yes, very dramatically. They’re still churning out some great footwear though, and the GATs are amongst the most iconic high-end sneakers there are out there. And they’re iconic for a reason – while sporting a slightly bulkier profile than CP’s offerings, the heft is compensated by the fact that Margiela replica GATs are ridiculously comfortable. From the gum sole to the pliant leather body, every part conspires to create a truly transcendental sneaker experience.

Not without its downsides of course (price aside). The leather is a lot less durable than the nappa leather of the CPs, and consequently develops tears and general wearing-down really easily. Not in the good way either, it just looks beat up as hell.

Bear in mind the GATs come in a myriad variations and colourways: my leather ones are in white but those stain really easily and don’t look good scuffed up. I also have a pair in canvas and suede that I rarely use to prolong their lifespan. Anyway, get grey or navy, they’re versatile and should look less damaged for much longer.

Maison Martin Margiela hi-tops

Hi-tops look good when you’re tall.

Native Fitzsimmons

Sometimes the weather is really fucking terrible – snowbroth and ice everywhere, constant downpours, that sort of thing. That’s when Fitzsimmons comes in to save the day, much like its Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. counterpart (cough not in season 2 so far cough). Waterproof – very waterproof. In addition, there’s an inside shell if water gets through the outside, which it almost certainly won’t. Especially good if you have to traverse more challenging terrain, since the hiking-boot styling looks slightly less incongruous in those situations.

Nike Air Force 1

Far from a fan of Nike – they churn out some truly horrific looking footwear, and emblazon everything with as much details and branding as possible – but if you absolutely must have a pair of sneakers from them, go with this one. Understated and subtle, with a beautiful washed hue.

Red Wing Heritage

In black cherry. Red Wings are a classic for a reason – incredibly sturdy and durable, they’ll last a lifetime if you take care of them properly. And often even if you don’t.

There are cheaper alternatives, of course. I like some of Grenson’s boots, though they do tend to look slightly dressier. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Rick Owens Island Dunk

I like these better than the typical Dick Runks, and it felt wrong to not include anything from him in this list, so… yeah. Well tbh I really like these. Gorgeous texture and a very pleasing silhouette, especially with the ankle-high mid-cut. Subdued details too, would go great with plenty of outfits, not just typical Gothninja ones.

Timberland Earthkeepers Britton Hill Waterproof Ankle Boots

I know, I know. These Timberlands are a bit different from the usual glut, okay? At least these ones have a relatively slim profile, plus the oxblood looks pretty great. Waterproof full-grain leather too, but I don’t personally know how good the quality is. Also, not Vibram soles, but some sort of “green rubber” which sound decent enough to me. Think the Natives I had used green rubber too. In any case, these would be great beaters for winter, especially during the annoyingly icy times.

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