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





Friday, July 15, 2011

Vintage Edward Green: John Hlustik's Windsor

          In 1983, John Hlustik purchased the venerable English shoemakers Edward Green for one pound sterling and immediately set about revitalizing the British shoemaking industry. In addition to introducing new lasts that were considered almost sacrilegious at the time, such as the Great 88 - Lobb enthusiasts called it vulgarly Italian in nature - Hlustik introduced a variety of wonderful styles to the Edward Green catalogue.

          One of Hlustik's designs that is occasionally lifted from the archives, revived and reproduced is the Windsor model. Originally, the shoe was designed as a five metal-eyelet blucher with extensive broguing. Hlustik's design enticed the eye with a playful tweaking of the traditional wingtip blucher design. The Windsor, however, ended up looking like some kind of decadent cross between a captoe and a wingtip because the cap did not extend down to the welt but actually continued toward the back of the shoe as a wingtip would.

          That is really just the beginning of Hlustik's wonderful vision. For me, the beauty of the original design lies in the wonderful broguing patterns at the toe box, along the sides of the apron, and at the back quarters. I'm not entirely sure what the original medallion is, but to my eye, it appears to be crossed golf clubs or lacrosse sticks with an arrow laid across the top of the two clubs/sticks. Or perhaps I'm simply letting my imagination run wild . . . In any event, whatever the design may be, it appears again on the left and right side of the back quarters. If that isn't enough, Hlustik added three sets of triangular perforations along each side of the apron. You can see a (not too detailed) stock photo of the Windsor in the Derby section of an older Edward Green catalogue, probably from the mid-1980s, here.

          My understanding is that, during Edward Green's move from the company's former premises at the John Lobb factory to its current location, the tools for the Windsor's various perforation designs were lost/destroyed/misplaced. I'm not sure how difficult it is to replace the tools in question, but the story seems to be borne out by some of the more recent limited/special edition Windsor models produced by Edward Green. Those shoes adhere to the original hybrid captoe/wingtip blucher concept, but the exotic designs are missing. In some instances, the "crossed clubs" have been replaced with a more traditional medallion design. While this "cleaner" look will certainly appeal to some Edward Green enthusiats, I find that the more subdued effect essentially creates a very different shoe.





Edit: There seems to be some debate (or maybe I'm just being stubborn) as to the origins of this particular shoe. Several commenters have identified these as a pair of Vass shoes, although the original post on Style Forum identified the shoes as Edward Green for Ralph Lauren's Purple Label Windsor on the 888 last with HAF sole in chestnut - in any event, still a good example of the Windsor model sans medallion and broguing designs along the sides and back quarters (Photos taken from StyleForum).



A limited edition Windsor made by Edward Green especially for members of the London Lounge forum. This particular model includes a more traditional medallion design and also adds what appears to be a floral motif (Photo taken from London Lounge).


          A few months ago, I was lucky enough to come across an older pair of Windsors made during the Hlustik era. I say lucky because, quite simply, the design is just amazing to look at and it literally cannot be recreated (I'm assuming that Edward Green would have had the tools re-made by now if it had the desire or ability to do so). According to Edward Green's records, this particular pair was delivered to Nordstrom in October of 1985.

          While the leather uppers unfortunately had some staining from water/salt/something, there were no cracks or significant creasing. The soles and heels appeared to be original and were in good condition.


The original 5 metal eyelet Windsor, 1985. You can see the ornate medallion which appears to be crossed golf clubs, or crossed lacrosse clubs, or crossed bows with an arrow at the center of the design -
take your pick!



In this photo, you can see the medallion, with the matching design at the back right quarter of the right shoe. You can also see the set of three triangular perforations along the outside of the upper. Another set of three triangles runs along the left side of the shoe as well.


The original sole, with "Made In England" stamped along the waist of the sole.



This particular pair of shoes was re-badged for Nordstrom.
The insole is stamped "Made in England Exclusively for Nordstrom."


Edward Green's sizing and last information: size 10.5B on the defunct 201 last.

          While the soles were in good condition considering the age of the shoes, I wanted to breathe some life into what I consider to be a fine example of the innovation and excitement John Hlustik brought to the English shoemaking industry almost 30 years ago. I wasn't entirely confident that anything could be done to address some of the leather staining, particularly on the right shoe; nevertheless, this seemed like a good opportunity to take advantage of Edward Green's recrafting service. 

          So with that, I shipped the shoes off to the company's factory in Northampton, England. I recently received word that the recrafting had been completed and now eagerly await the return of the Windsors.

9 comments:

  1. Great article, nice story.
    But the first 2 pictures are not EG for RLPL but Vass shoes.
    Cheers,

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi PB,
    Thanks for the positive words!

    Interesting comment about Vass - I actually lifted those photos from a Style Forum thread where the original poster stated that he purchased the shoes at the RL store in Manhattan (RLPL by Edward Green). I suppose he could be wrong, but here's a link to the (rather long) thread where I found the post:

    http://www.styleforum.net/forum/thread/9013/cool-shoes-paraphernalia-desiderata

    If you search for Windsor within the thread, you should be able to find what I'm referring to.
    Thanks again,
    Dan

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love this Vass (the 'Weymouth')
    posted here: http://www.styleforum.net/gallery/image/view/id/20019/tag/vass by Von Rothbart on StyleForum
    and ordered an identical one from Vass a few yrs ago, but it came out as an Oxford in Red Cognac instead of a Derby in Plain Cognac *&?.

    The Vass is based on the classic EG, and I think that's why the mix up. The 'EG' in your photos is a Vass U confusingly posted with RL trees.

    But you've made me want to take another shot at it, I love this style. cheers Nick

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well what fooled me was the original post stated "Damage from the current RL sale at the Mansion, Edward Green RLPL Windsor 888 last with HAF sole in chestnut" lol but those Vass do look pretty similar!
    Dan F.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The similarity between the two marques doesn't end there IMO Dan - just as the EG 888 is similar in shape to the Vass U last, the EG 82 is like the Vass F. It's no secret that the Italians, like Roberto Ugolini, the designer of the Vass U & F, love the English style, and I guess there's a chance that he used the EG classics as his template. In any case, there's no doubt tho that the U cap Derby Vass above was modelled on your EG Windsor. What I referred to as the Weymouth is also misnamed on SF.. so my bad - the Weymouth is actually an Oxford U cap with Adelaide styling at the quarters. What i love about the Windsor is that it's a brogued Derby that doesn't look clunky. That gives it the value of versatility, and great for someone who wants it to dress up and down.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anon -

    There's definitely a strong resemblance between the two shoes! I don't own any Vass, although I do have a book on shoemaking by Laszlo Vass that includes some incredible images of his wonderful creations. Maybe someday :-)

    I also agree regarding the sleekness of the shoe. The 201 last seems to have been less "bulbous," for lack of a better word, than the 202, although in this case, the lack of clunkiness is also probably a direct result of the shoe's "B" width. Definitely a versatile shoe, I agree!
    Dan F.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dear blogger,

    a very thorough and informative post -- thanks for seeing the trouble! I believe 'the set of three triangular perforations' is a peculiar version of the still-used EG thistle motif (eg. on the model Sandringham).

    Cordially,
    your new avid reader

    ReplyDelete
  8. Mr. Raivio,
    Many thanks for the kind words!

    The "triangles" do look similar to the design on the Sandringham - I've always wondered what that is, by the way . . . is it some kind of floral motif?
    Dan F.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hello again,

    well, yes, it's a floral motif and thistles are abound:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thistle

    ReplyDelete