Monday, September 8, 2014
Edward Green for RLPL: The Carter
Online clothing enthusiasts like to talk about "grail" items - although at some point the definition changed from a hard-to-find, obscure, or downright unobtainable item to merely some object that one simply hadn't gotten around to purchasing just yet. With a shelf full of shoes, I would be hard-pressed to say that there are any "grail" shoes remaining out there for me. After I found a few pairs of J&M Handmade 100s and Edward Green's Windsor, there really wasn't that much out there that I was pining after. However, if I was going to use the term "grail shoe" to describe any one pair of shoes, the Carter, an Edward Green shoe made for Ralph Lauren's Purple Label, would be the shoe.
Ralph Lauren's Purple Label offerings from Edward Green represent an interesting paradox. None of the models made by EG for RLPL are truly hard-to-find, because if it came down to it, you could probably have any of the models made up to RL's specifications via EG's MTO program. That being said, the RLPL models are somewhat hard to find because RL doesn't offer the same models season after season. So if you liked the a particular model and didn't purchase it when it was available, you might to wait a few seasons before its available again. This was an issue with my RLPL Barksdale loafer in Edwardian Antique, a pair of shoes that I have literally worn to death (and still do). I actually have never seen them offered again in Edwardian, and was surprised to see them this fall in dark oak after a hiatus of several years.
The Carter is another model that disappeared from the shelves after being stocked with some regularity over the course of several seasons. For many years, I assumed it was RL's version of the Dover. In reality, its probably more closely related to EG's Ecton, the Dover's three-eyelet cousin featuring EG's magnificent split-toe that is actually crafted together using pig bristles. In the Carter's case, RL added EG's HAF sole - basically a double sole that tapers elegantly to a single sole waist.
In any event, the Carter is a wonderful model, featuring the split-toe design that really exemplifies EG's expert craftsmanship and subtle elegance with regards to shoe design. Somewhat surprisingly, RL designed the Carter on the 808 last, rather than their old favorites the 89 or 888. I have read many complaints about the shape of the 808 last over the years. Tony Gaziano, the designer of that particular last during his EG days, has been quoted many times as stating that the 808 was ill-conceived and plagued with fit issues from its inception. Indeed, the popular 888 last was apparently a re-design of the 808, but I have to say that if I had to choose between the two, the 808 would probably get the nod. The toe box isn't quite as squared, which also results in more room for the toes along the sides and at the vamp - as I'm not the biggest fan of square toe boxes to begin with. I imagine they''ll feel great in the fall with a thick pair of socks on. Looking forward to it :-)
Of course, an added treat with older EG's for RLPL were the lasted shoe trees in burnished mahogany. At some point, the trees were discontinued and unlasted trees had to be purchased sepaartely. The fact that these Carters came with the 808-lasted mahogany trees was a special bonus!