As people are fond of saying: winter is coming. The mercury is dropping already and it’s almost time to layer up. I’m an advocate for dressing seasonally but not many other guys are. I see most of my work colleagues wear the same shirts and chinos all year round. But autumn and winter is a time when clothes are the most interesting and you can take the opportunity to explore some different looks.
So Part I covered some of the basic considerations when it comes to starting a collection of decent shoes. In Part II, I’m going to look at season appropriateness, price considerations, and some good places to buy from.
So I hear a lot of guys say “I’m looking to spend some money on a decent pair of shoes, but I don’t know where to start”. And usually people start throwing brands or advice at them about what’s good but really a lot of that is just their own preferences. To build up a shoe collection, you must first understand the language of shoe styles, what they convey, and what you intend to use them for.
It’s meant to be autumn but it still feels like spring. But there is a bit of a nip in the air and the rains have been present. I have already had occasion to wear my Barbour Beaufort jacket to walk the dog.
The Beaufort is a waxed cotton jacket which Barbour is known for (the UK brand is protected by the Royal Warrant and also does some nice quilted jackets) and keeps out rain by basically impregnating the fabric with wax. Over the time, movement and abrasion removes some of the wax and the jacket becomes less water-repellent so it needs to be re-waxed. I actually bought this jacket second-hand from the UK and it smelt like a musty attic so I have already cleaned the lining (which you’re not really supposed to do) and waxed it once.
I’m doing a kind of staycation at the moment, and we are currently staying with my sister-in-law who lives near the city. Even though we don’t live that far from the Sydney CBD, we don’t visit the city that often, so it was a great opportunity to visit some interesting stores Sydney has to offer.
My first stop was to seek out The Big Trouble Store. This little gem was not easy to find, tucked in the Summit Arcade next to some Asian convenience stores. The store was not as big as I imagined, given the range of stock on offer on the website, but boy was it chock full of awesomeness! Engineered Garments, Orslow, Post Overalls, Doek, Lady White Co., 3Sixteen – every garment I picked up was well-made and interesting. Think military-inspired/workwear/streetwear often with an Americana bent and Japanese quality. Continue reading “My City, Sydney”
For part two (see part I here), we’ll move onto some dressier shoes, and some interesting materials.
With most dress shoes made of calf leather, you start by doing the same things as boot care – put in a shoe tree, brush off any dirt with a brush, remove the laces.
First Step is conditioning. You can get any number of conditioners from shoe makers like Allen Edmonds and Loake. Brands like Kiwi and Lexol also make conditioners. But my favourite product (and it is supposed to be the best out there) has to be Saphir Renovateur. It is expensive stuff, but you only use the tiniest bit at a time. I apply it to the leather using a soft cotton cloth. You can get a welt brush or an old toothbrush to apply the conditioner to the welt. Leave the conditioner to dry for about 20 minutes or so.
When I got my first pair of quality shoes, I was a bit confused by all the conflicting advice on the internet. Is mink oil good for your shoes or is it bad? Does lanolin ruin leather or is it moisturising? Should I polish my boots weekly or monthly? I was also pretty busy so I didn’t have time to spit-polish my shoes every weekend. So here is a fairly comprehensive list of my shoe care habits (and a little bit about my mistakes along the way) in a 2-part series. I don’t want to pretend it is only right way, but it has kept this time-poor dad’s shoes looking schmick.
As much as I love heritage brands from overseas, I also like to support local whenever I can. With Local Spotlight, I hope to share some of the Australian brands, craftsmen and tinkerers I know and love.
I love my mechanical watches but watches are an expensive hobby. I am not a millionaire and can’t afford to buy a new watch every month (or even every year for that matter!). When I want a new look with my watch, I swap out the strap. It’s actually very easy – all you need is a springbar removal tool which you can pick up from most watchstrap makers, watchmakers, or ebay for not very much. Continue reading “Bas & Lokes”
Trying to buy better can be a difficult thing in Australia. We don’t have the rich history of Saville Row, or the heritage of Northhampton, or the expertise of Glashütte. The rise of e-commerce has evened the playing field somewhat but you still can’t just walked into a department store in Sydney and try on a pair of Aldens. Buying online is fraught with risk – the item may not fit or may not look as it does in your mind’s eye. Shipping to Australia is sometimes impossible, usually costly, and almost always slow. Fret not dear reader, here are some handy tips I have amassed over the years and I pass them to you. (Note: If you live in the UK or USA, the majority of this will be pretty useless to you). Continue reading “In the land of Oz”
My first foray into quality came in the form of shoes. During my trip to America, I wandered into J.Crew at the height of their lofty success and lusted after their Alden longwings but balked at the price. At the time I knew next to nothing about shoes and had no idea why a pair of shoes should cost so much. I thought I could do better and came home with a pair of Hugo Boss shortwings and Cole Haan loafers. I now know they are cheap and glued but at at the time I thought they were a “lifetime” purchase because the sole looked like they were stitched on. Later I realised the stitching was just decorative and served no functional purpose. Continue reading “Goodyear Welt”