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, February 5, 2012

Vintage Edward Green: The Captoe Longwing for Wildsmith

As I mentioned last week, I recently purchased a pair of longwings made by Edward Green for Ralph Lauren's Purple Label (see the post here). I thought it would be interesting to note the differences between that pair of shoes, made on the elegant 888 last, and this vintage pair of Edward Green shoes made some time ago for Wildsmith & Co.

Its unclear from a quick internet search whether Wildsmith & Co. remains a going concern for bespoke shoes. The current address appears to be 13 Princes Arcade, St. James's, London. The address on this pair of shoes is actually 15 Princes Arcade.

In any event, at one time Wildsmith & Co. were well-regarded bespoke shoemakers. The company offered a variety of models/designs and then essentially coordinated the separate portions of the shoe-making process completed by various outworkers. The company's ready-to-wear footwear was made in either the Edward Green or Crockett & Jones factories in Northampton. Apparently those designs were also created by Wildsmith, although Edward Green seems to have also made shoes for Wildsmith based on designs by Peal & Co. and Cleverley (for Poulsen Skone).

The channeled sole of the vintage Edward Green shoe. 
There really is not much of a bevelled waist to speak of. 
In this case, the sole was showing quite a bit of wear, so I had them replaced with JR Rendenbach heels.

This particular pair of shoes appears to be an example of the ready-to-wear footwear provided by Edward Green for the Wildsmith & Co. label. These shoes also differ significantly from the RLPL Brooksville - which was based on the classic longwing design - in that the Wildsmith shoe features a captoe, so the horizontal broguing running the length of the shoe does not extend from the wings at the toe box. In this case, the horizontal broguing begins at the throat of the shoe.

In addition, this pair of shoes, on the more substantive  32 last (now defunct, although still available for Made-To-Order or Special Order Edward Green shoes) offers quite a contrast to the decidedly sleeker 888.

As is often the case when comparing vintage Edward Green shoes with their more recent counterparts, the leather burnishing or patina of the older shoes certainly leaves something to be desired. In this area, especially when looking at the patina on the Brooksville, most notably along the toe box as
well as the back quarters, the Edward Green production process seems to have made significant advancements. Whether this is due to the quality of the leather or more advanced burnishing techniques when compared to what existed 20-30 years ago is unclear.

But one can hardly argue with the results. Despite all of the above, the leather uppers on the Wildsmith shoes are holding up quite well after what is most likely 15-20 years (at least). The color and tone of the leather, which appears to be somewhere between Edward Green's dark oak and chestnut antique, is certainly exquisite and seems to have aged very well, which is generally the norm for a pair of  Edward Green shoes.

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