Hector Freemantle

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
On the I've got 2 pairs of Chukkas thread that Victor C started there is a comment by Leather Man that Victor's CT and Loake Chukkas will serve him well but that he should not expect them to have the longevity of a pair of Churches or shoes from C&J.

My question is whether higher end shoes really do provide more in terms longevity and not just better fit feel and appearance. It's my contention that it is likely that the majority of properly constructed Goodyear Welted shoes will, with care and rotation, last as long as any other. What are other members thoughts and experiences on this?
 

cbird

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Sure, better materials, better construction, and inherent rebuildability mean that real quality shoes will last many years. My main experience is a pair of Alden cordovans that looked as good eight years after purchase as they did two months after purchase (with a couple of Alden recraftings) and probably would still be going strong if I hadn't given them away (my feet stretched too much to fit anymore). These were worn at least two or three times per week for eight years and were also used for many long walks as well. It really makes more sense to go from $150 semi-disposables up to AE or Alden (or to one of the many fine English makes) rebuildables - every wearing will provide superior comfort at, ultimately, a lower cost per wearing.
 

Miket61

Advanced Member
I'm curious as well - a salesman at the Ralph Lauren store confidently said that a good pair of high-end shoes should last a lifetime (thirty to forty years).

I have maybe a dozen pairs of shoes, not counting specialty footwear such as bowling, golf, and tuxedo shoes. I tend to favor three or four pair.

Most are Aldens, the oldest of which is about six years, when I upgraded to that class of shoe. Maybe it's because I've got a big, wide foot, but I tend to wear out shoes not by wearing down the heel and sole (which are easily replaceable), but by making the sides so floppy that every shoe eventually fits like an old pair of Bass bucs.

I've sent my shoes off to Alden to be redone and have been very pleased with the results. A highly recommended shoe repair place here in Atlanta charges as much for new soles and heels (from the ground up) as Alden does for their service, but Alden gives you shoe trees and bags in the deal. They currently have my favorite pair of black cap-toe bluchers, and I'll see how they do if I want to entrust any more to them. If they weren't $400 shoes, I'd NEVER pay that much for maintenance.
 

Hector Freemantle

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Sure, better materials, better construction, and inherent rebuildability mean that real quality shoes will last many years... It really makes more sense to go from $150 semi-disposables up to AE or Alden (or to one of the many fine English makes) rebuildables - every wearing will provide superior comfort at, ultimately, a lower cost per wearing.
I'm with you here,cbird. But my post was not about how long semi-disposable shoes (generally cemented soles) will last compared with 'rebuildable' (usually Goodyear welted soles) shoes, but rather with the difference in longevity between shoes like AE, and their British price -point and quality- equivalents such as the Loake 1880 range and similar, and the much pricier labels such as C&J and Church.
 

Hector Freemantle

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I'm curious as well - a salesman at the Ralph Lauren store confidently said that a good pair of high-end shoes should last a lifetime (thirty to forty years).
Yes. I'd like to quantify exactly what 'good' means in terms of characteristics that determine length of service. Had I bottomless pocket I'd certainly look at the $600 and upwards dollar shoes rather than the $200 to $400 but I do feel that I'd be paying for detail and luxury not necessarily durability.
 

Miket61

Advanced Member
Yes. I'd like to quantify exactly what 'good' means in terms of characteristics that determine length of service. Had I bottomless pocket I'd certainly look at the $600 and upwards dollar shoes rather than the $200 to $400 but I do feel that I'd be paying for detail and luxury not necessarily durability.
To this gentleman, a "good" shoe would include those who make them for Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers - Alden, AE, Edward Green - which start around $400 and go up into the stratosphere.

Presumably one criteria he considered was a Goodyear welt, which allows for many re-solings.
 

Dogtooth

Starting Member
The trouble with this question and any answers that follow is that there are almost too many variables to get a true answer.

For example the man who owns at least several pairs of top end shoes having a pair of Loakes in the list and wears them accordingly may have one answer.

Compare this to the man who owns one or two pairs of say Loakes and wears them daily to work but keeps his one pair of top end shoes for weekends.

You would really need to do a scientific or at least well controlled test to give all the shoes a fair chance.

Bob

PS Typing this whilst wearing a pair of Loake Royal Brogues and I expect them to last a long time as long as I look after them like my other shoes.
 

Hector Freemantle

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
The trouble with this question and any answers that follow is that there are almost too many variables to get a true answer.

For example the man who owns at least several pairs of top end shoes having a pair of Loakes in the list and wears them accordingly may have one answer.

Compare this to the man who owns one or two pairs of say Loakes and wears them daily to work but keeps his one pair of top end shoes for weekends.

You would really need to do a scientific or at least well controlled test to give all the shoes a fair chance.

Bob

PS Typing this whilst wearing a pair of Loake Royal Brogues and I expect them to last a long time as long as I look after them like my other shoes.

A good post. And one that I agree with. It would be interesting if a member with a combination collection of lower and higher end 'quality' shoes could comment. It's interesting that you mention Loake Royals. Whenever these are talked of, someone will invariably criticise them for being 'corrected grain'. And yet Church use in shoes costing 3 times as much a leather they refer to as 'polished binder', which a search of this site informs me is exactly the same as 'corrected grain'. Now I do know from experience, and my cobbble assures me that this is correct, that there are huge difference in sole qualities insosar as durability is concerned. But for someone like me, who always has a sole guard applied to a new pair of shoes, this is not an issue. And anyway can an oak bark sole really last 3 times as long as the kind used on the likes of Loake Royals? By the way, what kind of lining do they have?
 

Groover

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
A good post. And one that I agree with. It would be interesting if a member with a combination collection of lower and higher end 'quality' shoes could comment. It's interesting that you mention Loake Royals. Whenever these are talked of, someone will invariably criticise them for being 'corrected grain'. And yet Church use in shoes costing 3 times as much a leather they refer to as 'polished binder', which a search of this site informs me is exactly the same as 'corrected grain'. Now I do know from experience, and my cobbble assures me that this is correct, that there are huge difference in sole qualities insosar as durability is concerned. But for someone like me, who always has a sole guard applied to a new pair of shoes, this is not an issue. And anyway can an oak bark sole really last 3 times as long as the kind used on the likes of Loake Royals? By the way, what kind of lining do they have?
Hector,

Approximately 2 years ago I used to alternate two pairs of shoes for work. The shoes in question were Loake Gloucester & C&J Aintree. Both styles from the "Top" ranges offered by said manufacturers.

Firstly the cost, Loakes came in at £130, C&J at £350. Both are manufactured in the same way, i.e Goodyear welted, both had leather soles/heels (inc quarter rubber tip) but the C&J have Oak Bark soles, full leather linings.

Secondly, caring for the shoes. Both were cleaned after wear, polished once a week using the same polish and both had shoe trees in them from the moment I took them off.

Lastly, wear. Both shoes were alternated every other day so that neither were worn two days running. The Loake shoes, were comfortable although a little firmer under foot, after (approx) 11 months the soles had worn through. The uppers had small cracks starting to appear in the creases across the vamp. Inside the linings in the heel had started to wear and the lining in the toe area had nearly worn through. The leather around the heel area became very 'loose', it felt as though the heel stiffner was breaking down. The general condition was ok, but the shoes looked a lot lot older than what they actually were.

In contrast the C&J's are still going strong on their original soles to this day, albeit getting very close to wearing through. The uppers are showing no signs of age, no cracking or looking aged prematurely. The linings are in excellent condition with very little sign of wear. the sock liner is in ok condition and will last until the soles go and they're returned to C&J for repair.

In my experience the more expensive shoe (and C&J Handgrades are worlds apart from Loakes) will outlive it's less expensive counterpart. I'm not talking Loakes down, in fact I like a lot of their styles and the 1880 range are nice well made shoes. If you're going to put sole protectors on that will increase the sole life significantly.

Since that time I've expended my collection significantly and the rotation cycle is greatly increased resulting in a longer life expectancy.

Hope this is of some use to you.
 

Hector Freemantle

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Hope this is of some use to you.
A very informative post, Groover. So in your experience, the C&J really were a better buy. The Loakes did very badly showing cracks in the uppers after only a year! I have just retired a pair of Dexter Goodyear welted after 10 years of wearing them at least 3 or 4 times a week because of small cracks in the uppers and I have a pair of 13 year old cemeted K shoes that I've worn pretty frequently yet still have uppers in excellent supple condition. The cemeted soles were a problem and I had my cobbler stitch them to the upper as best he could.
 

Groover

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
So in your experience, the C&J really were a better buy. The Loakes did very badly showing cracks in the uppers after only a year! .
Yes, the C&J were a better buy even though they were nearly 3 three times as expensive.

I was disappointed in the Loakes to be honest, not so much in that tiny cracks or splits were starting to appear but because they just looked years older than what they were. That said, I like some of their styles and will no doubt own some more in the future, perhaps I was just unlucky with that pair.
 

Des Esseintes

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Indeed, many variables at work here, clearly type of construction, pattern of wear and quality of shoe care but others, too.

Just as a personal benchmark, entirely not representative, of course, I still own a pair of Lobbs made about 20 years ago and still in outstanding shape, as well as one of my fathers old Wildsmith (R.I.P. - Wildsmith that is, not my father, fortunately) suede brogues, probably about 40 years old, a bit dried out but still perfectly wearable. Several other pairs of mine are between 15 and 20 years old, easily.

dE
 

Hector Freemantle

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Just as a personal benchmark, entirely not representative, of course, I still own a pair of Lobbs made about 20 years ago and still in outstanding shape, as well as one of my fathers old Wildsmith (R.I.P. - Wildsmith that is, not my father, fortunately) suede brogues, probably about 40 years old, a bit dried out but still perfectly wearable. Several other pairs of mine are between 15 and 20 years old, easily.

dE
What frequency of wear have these Lobb and Wildsmith had?
 

misterdonuts

Senior Member
I have a pair of Lobb RTW (William) and a pair of Weston (Chasse) that are about 20 years old, have been worn approximately once a week, have taken some appalling abuse and are still in rotation. The Westons are in a condition such that Weston's Belgian country manager asked me last year whether it was a relatively recent special order (the original tan colour has aged beautifully into a very rich and deep brown). I retired two other pairs of Weston last year after 17 years.
 

VincentC

Senior Member
All this talk about shoe maintenance like resoling high end shoes etc after 4 years or so. I think for some people when the need calls for their shoes to be mended they would prefer to throw them away and buy another pair, rather than take them to a shoesmiths or sending them off somewhere.
 

Hector Freemantle

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
All this talk about shoe maintenance like resoling high end shoes etc after 4 years or so. I think for some people when the need calls for their shoes to be mended they would prefer to throw them away and buy another pair, rather than take them to a shoesmiths or sending them off somewhere.
But isn't one of the reasons for paying more for a good shoe in the first place because they are not wear and throw away?


Mr Donuts: Any chance of photos of these shoes?
 

Miket61

Advanced Member
All this talk about shoe maintenance like resoling high end shoes etc after 4 years or so. I think for some people when the need calls for their shoes to be mended they would prefer to throw them away and buy another pair, rather than take them to a shoesmiths or sending them off somewhere.
When a complete overhaul costs $125 (as Alden offers), it doesn't make sense to be that diligent with a $160 pair of Cole-Haans.
 

Orsini

Honors Member
When a complete overhaul costs $125 (as Alden offers), it doesn't make sense to be that diligent with a $160 pair of Cole-Haans.
The prices of this service, recomended by another member, may make it feasible to repair rather than discard some less expensive shoes:

http://www.americanheeler.com/

However, one will want to avoid the recent experience of a friend of mine who was very disappointed to be charged ~$50.00 USD by a local shop to have a favorite pair of $30.00 USD shoes resoled. Obviously, he should have asked the cost of the repair before commissioning its execution…

Note that even a $50.00 USD pair of shoes can give more than five years of service on their original soles while maintaining nearly original appearance when properly maintained and rotated.
 
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