I happened to be in the city for a work-related reason and couldn’t resist the chance to visit Double Monk in The Strand Arcade. These guys have been in Melbourne for ages but have recently opened a Sydney store about 18 months ago. Like all good menswear stores, it is tucked away so you have to go looking for it on the top floor right in the corner. It is not a very big store and there are floor-to-ceiling boxes full of shoes from names like Edward Green, Crockett & Jones, John Lobb and most recently, Alden of New England (which was what got me so excited).
I had been very excited to see Alden finally come to Australia. Internet purchases are always hit-and-miss and I have a pair of beautiful Alden tassel loafers in shell cordovan which are too small and foot-breakingly painful by midday. Once bitten, I have been apprehensive about pulling the trigger on a pair of Alden Leisure Hand Sewns on the Van last because they are notoriously difficult to size. Unfortunately Double Monk did not have the LHS or any other Alden in the Van last so my loafer purchase remains elusive. Sascha, the manager running the show at the Sydney store, told me that the reason they don’t stock many Alden lasts is purely because of lack of storage. At this rate I may need to pay another visit to America or Hawaii to get my loafers!
Sascha was very helpful and recommended a pair of Crockett & Jones Cavendish in dark brown suede. This is C&J’s tassel loafer (coincidentally just appeared today on putthison.com and one of Derek’s favourites) built on their 325 which is quite rounded and comfortable. Sizing in English shoes is fairly new to me and Sasha’s experience was immediately apparent. Suede is usually more comfortable out of the box and although the UK 8E was a pretty nice fit, Sasha recommended I size down half a size to account for stretching once the leather breaks in. This is particularly good advice on a pair of loafers as there are no laces to adjust and heel slippage can become a problem later on.
I also had a chance to try on a pair of Edward Green Dovers on the 606 last. This is pretty much a grail shoe for me and I have always told my wife I will buy a pair when we eventually visit the UK. Now it looks like the prospect of owning a pair is much closer than I thought! I love the norwegian split toe style and Edward Green is right up there for me (along with Vass, and maybe JM Weston). The fit was like a glove on my feet and really really comfortable, surprisingly so for brand new lined shoes that aren’t suede. This is a comment I have heard from other people as well. The colour was a mid-to-dark-brown with a burnished toe, which is slightly chiseled on the 606 last – a true classic! I can tell you I was very very tempted!
If you are anywhere near The Strand, definitely give Double Monk a visit. While the brands available are more in the middle to high tier price range (most of the shoes start at about $750 AUD), newbies to goodyear welt with a slightly more liberal budget will find the experience, service and lower risk associated with a brick and mortar store very attractive. More seasoned shoe lovers also have plenty to love here. The staff are knowledgeable and the service is top notch. I don’t think there is another shoe store in Sydney with this kind of range and I will definitely be back when I have accumulated some funds…
p.s. apologies for the crappy smartphone pictures.