A Fine Man Once Said:

"Part of the 10 million I spent on gambling, part of it on booze, and part of it on women. The rest I spent foolishly."

- George Raft

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Schott Brothers, An American Classic: The P-663 Delivery Jacket in Horween Chromexcel Leather


Schott Brothers is an American institution at this point, producing high-quality leather jackets and other mens and womenswear out of their factory in Union, New Jersey. As it turns out, the facility is only about 10 minutes from my home so I've been meaning to check out the annual Factory Sale, which is spoken of frequently as something not to be missed! 

I left early on the appointed day but still found a healthy line wrapping around the factory when I arrived about two hours early. Ultimately, the powers that be ended up letting people in about 45 minutes early, so I'd say things worked out well for me. This year, due to the pandemic, the sale was held outside in an open area on the side of the Factory building. There was a decent supply of just about everything one could imagine, from leather motorcycle jackets, to leather military-issue gear, to wool bombers and overcoats to sweaters and accessories. Everything was organized by gender, size and style. There were also a few racks of random items and custom orders that I guess were never picked up. Finally, there was a large section of items all priced under $50.

I was on the hunt for the discontinued model 563, a cowhide delivery jacket in a vintage 1950s design that features a half-belted action back with side gussets. I couldn't find it in the odds and ends racks but there were many other styles that fit the bill so I was not disappointed. At one point, I saw a very tall gentleman trying on a lovely delivery jacket but the sleeves were just way too short for him. He added it to his pile of discarded items, so I asked him if he was going to get it. He said no so I asked him if I could try it on as I was about a good foot shorter than him. 


He handed the coat over and and I tried it on and I have to say that it was just about a perfect fit. I was looking to purchase two leather jackets - one with a close fit to be worn with tailored clothing, and something a little roomier to wear with baggier clothes. This one fit the bill for the former and exceeded my wildest dreams. Most leather jackets from Schott, for some reason, have long sleeves but this particular coat was a custom order that had the sleeves shortened to an almost perfect length for me.


And the details on this jacket were just spectacular: a custom order P-663 delivery jacket featuring a sun-panel design on the back that has to be seen to be believed. Even more impressive, the P-663 Perfecto model eschewed the traditional cowhide leather that most Schott delivery jackets are made from. Instead, the P-663 is made from Horween Chromexcel leather, which shoe aficionados will be familiar with as a staple of Alden shoe offerings.


The prices at the Factory Sale were pretty impressive. This particular jacket retails for about $1,250 on Schott's website; other websites such as Bison Trading list this model for $1,650. So it was a bit of a coup to find a model in pristine condition that was basically already tailored to fit for significantly less, i.e. roughly 75% off the Schott retail price. 

Finally, a brief word on Schott sizing. The P-663 was a size XL but it fit me pretty well. I'm typically a size medium or large if I want something a little roomier. In fact, the sweaters that I purchased at the sale were all size medium and fit very well. So something to keep in mind when purchasing Schott leather jackets, you might have to size up one size or even two to get something to fit that you might be normally accustomed to. As an aside, the 546 lightweight cowhide delivery jacket that I also picked up (and will post images of at some point) was in a size XXL but I'd describe the fit as roomy enough to wear with a sweater underneath, not gargantuan by any means. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

The World of High-End Men's Shoes - The Rise of the Asian Contingent

Winson Shoemaker 

When I became enamored with high-end shoes about 15 or 20 years ago, the creme de la creme of the industry were limited to a few locations, particularly England, France and Italy. To my mind and tastes, the top tier of shoemakers was limited to a select few such as Edward Green and John Lobb. Lobb, for instance, was the only maker offering models featuring museum calf. One of my first purchases during my trip to Northampton was a pair of Lobb chelsea boot, the Tudor. I still own them and the museum calf leather still looks wonderful. These days, though, just about everyone offers a model in museum calf sourced from the Ilcea tannery in France. 

In addition to more accessible quality leathers being offered from a variety of makers, the quality and variety of shoemakers has increased in leaps and bounds since the early 2000s. In addition to the traditional countries mentioned earlier, there are now shoemakers creating incredible works of art from a number of countries in the Far East, particularly Japan, China, and Indonesia. These shoemakers are working very hard to improve their craft while at the same time combating the antiquated notion that only inferior quality products are produced in Asia. 

Many of the offerings from these newer shoemakers can be found on Instagram and I have to say that I've been particularly impressed by what I've seen from Winson Shoemakers in Indonesia, Gordon Jim Jun in Shanghai, and Acme Shoemakers, another company based out of China. The quality appears to be oustanding and represents excellent value for quality. It should be noted here Justin Fitzpatrick, also known as The Shoe Snob and the force behind J. Fitzpatrick shoes, has been an outspoken admirer and advocate for this new group of shoemakers. Knowing as much as he does about the shoe industry, as well as having handled all kinds of high-end shoes from around the world, that fact that he is so  impressed by this new wave of talent really speaks volumes in my mind. 


Offerings from Gordon Jim Jun Shoemaker.

With that in mind, over the next few months, I hope to be able to order from Winson Shoemakers, Gordon Jim Jun, and Acme, in order to experience these shoes firsthand, and hopefully share my experiences with the ordering process. I will also try to publish interviews with each shoemaker, to the extent possible (and language limitations permitting!), similar to the short interviews that I've published in the past with English shoemakers such as Alfred Sargent, Edward Green, and Foster & Son, and Italian shoemakers such as Bestetti.

ACME Shoemakers 

I chose to begin my Asian tour with Winson Shoemaker, an artisan who is doing incredible things in Indonesia. I will share my thoughts on the ordering process in the next few days!

Monday, November 2, 2020

Worth The Wait: Alden’s Leisure Hand Sean Loafer in Horween Ravello Shell Cordovan

It seems like a lifetime ago, but in February I placed a special order for a pair of Alden Leisure Hand Sewn loafers in one of Alden's exotic leather offerings, Ravello Shell Cordovan via the ShoeMart in Westport, CT. Typically, the wait time would be 3-4 months. At some point, I was contacted and notified that due to the pandemic and its effect on the ability of the Alden factory to operate, the delivery time would be closer to 6 months. This wasn't entirely unexpected so I kind of forgot about the shoes after a while, to be perfectly honest. 


Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I was informed that the shoes would be shipping at the end of the August. And the loafers were worth the weight. I had actually tried on a pair of black shell loafers on the van last at the Madison Avenue Alden store in Manhattan way back in February. Full disclosure: I went by the store and told them that I was considering the special order via the ShoeMart and asked the salesperson what size he would recommend for me based on my sizes in other Alden loafer lasts so I specifically stated that I didn't want to try on a pair - I dislike going into stores and trying on shoes when I have no intention of actually making a purchase in that store. 

The salesperson appreciated my honesty and suggested that I try on a few pair to ensure a proper fit - this was a Ravello LHS special order, after all! The store was pretty quiet but it was still very kind of him to take the time to pull out a few pairs from the back for me to try on. 


Ultimately, I decided to order a size 9E rather than my usual 10D and I have to say that I think the fit is spot on. Granted, I haven't actually worn them anywhere yet, but the shoes seem to be a perfect combination of a spacious toe box and a snug heel. I think these loafers will fit just right with thinner (or no) socks in the spring and summer.


Obviously, it goes without saying that Horween's Ravello shell cordovan is simpy immaculate. It's just one man's opinion but no one does shell cordovan quite like Alden. The tone and richness of the color is exquisite, and there's really something about the way the shell on each piece of the loafer never seems to quite match. But, of course, that's kind of the point, isn't it?