Like these, and these, and these, and especially these: drool.
Anyways, so I bump into this story about how Tony Blair has worn the same pair of shoes for 18 years.
The shoes in question, an 18-year-old pair of hand-made leather brogues that have only been re-soled once, were made by Church's in Northampton, central England.If y'look enough, you can find some common ground with most folks, and Mr Blair is right that cheap shoes are a false economy. My favorite shoe store in Vancouver, for years, was Sheppard's Shoes, but I gather they've closed their Granville Street location and now deal direct, online. S'okay, the shoes are still killer.
"I know it's ridiculous, but I've worn them for every PMQs (Prime Minister's Questions), I've actually had them for 18 years," Blair told The Times in an interview, adding that "cheap shoes are a false economy."
According to a spokeswoman for Church's, a 134-year-old company, the shoes Blair bought would have cost 150 pounds ($353) when he bought them, and cost about 290 pounds ($682) now.
But I remember when most shoes found in shoe stores were well-built and solid leather. Bata Shoes, for example, used to carry very well made classic leather men's shoes at prices ranging from very normal to...okay, well y'could get a pair of very high end water-buffalo brogues with double-welt soles (I did)...but over the years Bata has seemingly devolved to selling moulded sole trendy running shoes; at least that's all there is in my town...
(Disclaimer: I do have a soft spot for Converse Chuck Taylor high-tops.)
These days what y'get is plastic or faux leather (read: ersatz, placebo, spurious, as in: not even genuine Naugahyde) or, if you're lucky, leather and cloth stitched and glued together in a George Jetson/Dennis Rodman mash-up with a sole that's guaranteed to wear out, making your uppers useless, in about two years. Or you can head over to Wal-Mart and pick up some "man-made material" they call 'em dress shoes (as if...) with cleverly molded plastic soles that mimic everything about a real dress shoe except the comfort and quality. Why, they even fake the stitching so you can pretend the shoes ain't crap.
But damn straight, those Church's can last 18 years with a resole or two. Easy if you're even a bit careful.
And y'know something: Canada used to have a good few companies that made premium quality, fine leather shoes, too. I have a pair of John McHale shoes (thick leather soled, burnished medium reddish-brown blucher cap-toes) that equal the best I've seen from today's British shoemaking elite. I cherish them like diamonds, and I treat 'em like gold. I bet they're twenty years old or more. They look pretty much new, and they fit like the day they were made: perfectly. Really though, the rest of my good shoes are British.
Ah, but dontcha know: some of the world's best riding, western and police boots (some say the best boots) are still made in Alberta...
(Edit: I found an ad for the exact model McHales that I own...they're from the 1950s...), that's more than 50 years of wear.