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, July 21, 2013

More from Scotland: The Cashmere Heritage Center at Johnstons of Elgin (Part Two)

With apologies for the delay, here are more photos from my trip in April to 
Johnstons of Elgin's Cashmere Heritage Center. You can see Part One here.

Johnstons' factory produces men's clothing and accessories for a variety of clients. 
On display at the Center were a variety of scarves, 
including this beautiful multi-colored merino wool piece made for Paul Smith.

The variety of patterns on display were absolutely mind-boggling. 
This small pile of scarves on display offered some idea of the wonderful variety.

Patrick Grant of Norton & Sons/E.Tautz singing Johnstons of Elgin's praises.

The 100% vicuna roll-neck sweater that purportedly sold for GBP 1500. There were actually vicuna samples on display to provide a sense of the softness and feel of the texture versus wool and cashmere. 

While touring the grounds, we passed the visitors quarters  - luminaries such as the Prince of Wales have stayed there when visiting the Johnstons of Elgin factory and the Cashmere Heritage Center. 

Unfortunately, I didn't stay there but it looked lovely, just the same.

All in all, a lovely way to spend a day trip when visiting the Northeast Scottish Highlands.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

More Mailbag: Reconsidering the Windsor

A reader recently sent me a few incredible photos of what appear to be Peal & Co. Windsors from what I would guess are from the 1950s or 1960s - a guesstimate based on the royal warrant stamped on the insole for the late King George VI.

I was initially under the impression that the Windsor was a John Hlustik design, created when Hlustik took over the company in the early 1980s. Somewhere along the way, I heard here and there that the Windsor design was actually inspired by an archived 1930s model. After seeing these shoes, it seems that the latter theory might be the more accurate one.

Of course, if Peal&Co. were producing a Windsor design in the 1950s-1960s, there doesn't appear to have been any legal impediment to Edward Green (and Crockett & Jones, who also have produced a Windsor model for Ralph Lauren at one time or another) using the design. The situation seems similar to the various firms who have produced versions of Nicolas Tuscek's classic "butterfly" loafer design.

In any event, whenever the design was created, the Windsor remains a wonderful of English craftsmanship at its finest.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Ruminations On A Feeding Frenzy (Or The Curious Case of The Great Barneys' G&G Dump)

Gaziano&Girling's Gable
(and the infamous inverted captoe)

Recently, there has been some speculation as to whether Barneys New York will continue to carry select models from Gaziano & Girling. Initially, certain models were offered at a 40% discount. Shortly thereafter, it seemed that all of the G&G inventory was being offered at a significant discount (up to 60% off), with the sale price going as low as $459 for certain models.

Only time will tell whether Barneys/G&G relationship has actually been severed for good, but the situation raises an interesting (if touchy) question: how much is a high end men's shoe actually worth? The answer to that question is usually, "Whatever someone is willing to pay for it." In the case of the Barneys G&Gs, it seems fair to say that not too many people were willing to pay the manufacturer's suggested retail price (roughly $1200-1400). Discerning customers were more interested in actually purchasing the available models at the $450-650 price range - which is when the feeding frenzy really took hold.

Gaziano&Girling's Savoy
(another example of the polarizing inverted captoe)

If this is actually true, then the next question then becomes: was it just the models that Barneys was offering that were unsellable at the $1200-1400 price range, or does this speak to the value of the entire Gaziano & Girling catalog?

Personally, I would think the problem has more to do with the models that Barneys was selling. Relying on a totally unscientific survey based upon my own (admittedly limited) conversations with other shoe fanatics, I would say that G&Gs inverted captoe is not a universally loved feature. Barneys had several of these models for sale, including the Gable and Savoy (pictured above). Then, there were two-tone (seasonal?) offerings like the Walkton and St. Ives.

Gaziano&Girling's St. Ives

In my opinion, I think smaller internet sellers like Nick Anderson's Bespoke England (full disclosure - I am a satisfied customer) have better offerings - the styles are much more dynamic and interesting. Nick's monthly MTO picks take already popular styles and infuse a breath of fresh air by providing a unique twist.

All of this being said, I am by no means a G&G hater. Although I'm not in love with the elongated lasts from an aesthetic standpoint, I think my G&G Rothchilds might be the most well-made pair of shoes that I own. The vintage chestnut leather color and its accompanying patina has to be seen in person to be believed - I don't think describing these shoes as "exquisite" is overdoing it. At the full manufacturer's suggested retail price, I think the Rothschild is worth every penny.

Hopefully, if Barneys is in fact discontinuing its relationship with G&G, this is hopefully just a temporary state of affairs. However, if the two companies do work together in the future, let's hope that the next selection of models is a more accurate reflection of what we know Gaziano and Girling are capable of.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Reader Comments - When You Can't Get Enough Braemar

Braemar, Stag Suede, 33 last.

One of the benefits of An Uptown Dandy is the correspondence that I receive from like-minded shoe aficionados from around the globe. The kind words and compliments are always nice, but its also quite enjoyable to communicate with a variety of people of different nationalities, backgrounds, and professions who share the same passion for well-made shoes.

Braemar, Dark Oak, 201 last.

One Japanese reader has a collection of Edward Green shoes that puts mine to shame, frankly, and he has been kind enough to send photos of his collection. Some of the models are old favorites of mine, some are quite rare, while others may be notable for their patina or exotic leather. All of them, however, are very

Braemar, Coco Suede, 201 last (1983).

Word has apparently reached Japan that I'm a big fan of Edward Green's Braemar (although, if truth be told, the first picture that reader sent to me was a 1950s Peal & Co. shoe featuring Edward Green's Windsor design - but more on that later).

Braemar, Chestnut Antique, 201 last (1985 for Berk).

For now, I do hope that you enjoy these images of some truly rare, and exquisite, vintage Braemars from Edward Green as much as I did.