Sunday, February 6, 2011

The New Brogue

Of all the shoes I own (and I own a lot!) my favorite are what we Europeans call the Brogue shoe (in America they are called wingtips).

This style of low-heeled shoe (sometimes a boot) have leather uppers (see chart below) with decorative perforations called  "brogueing” and serration.  To my mind they are the most versatile shoes ever made.
With a suit they complete the outfit in a sophisticated elegant way.
With denim they evoke a sense of 1950’s coolness and with shorts and no socks (or loafer socks) they transform the outfit into “casual comfort”, a look you can take from poolside to cocktails…

This type of shoe first appeared in Scotland and Ireland. The perforations were designed to allow water to drain from them after crossing streams or bogs.  (Personally, I hate wet socks so I would have had to find a way around those bodies of water.  

I have amassed quite a collection of these shoes in different styles and colors (there are multiple variations to the brogueing- I won’t bore you with the details...if you are interested you should email me for more specifics).

Recently, I have been surprised by some new variations of this classic; For example, these two which were featured in GQ’s street style section (Shot in Paris). As I just got a new pair from Tsubo seeing these made me think this could signal a new trend…

I can never get enough of these kind of shoes, The pair I just got as I said are from Tsubo (a progressive, design-driven company founded in 1997 that makes shoes with a unique style and an ergonomic design.)  They are black brogues with a grey leather strap that hugs the shoe. They also come in a brown cognac color and are unmistakably cool looking, sporty, witty and an affordable $148 at What is most impressive about them, is that they are as comfortable as a sneaker due to the sole technology that Tsubo is so known for.

To get a classic shoe that will last your life time and even longer choose a shoemaker that uses quality leather and makes shoes mostly by hand.  I’m particularly partial to Church’s (not easy to find in the US unless you live in New York where they have a shop on Madison Avenue).

They have been around since 1873 in Northampton (not far from London UK) where they have been tanning leather for the footwear industry since the Middle Ages. They are pricey (they run about $600, but are no doubt top of the line. I like the “Grafton” but they come in other styles as well in both leather and rubber soles.

 Crodovan leather brogues made by Alden are also a fantastic investment (and yes they too are pricey, $605 at ) From experience I can tell you that the shoes may outlive the person buying it…( I still have and wear my grandfathers shoes..)

If you want to wear Brougues but don’t want to spend a sizable chunk of change on them, there are some great options.
Try a pair from Florsheim by Duckie Brown.  Florsheim has been making shoes in Chicago IL since 1892. A few years ago the company asked rebel designer Duckie Brown to create a collection for them.  This has produced an amazing line of shoes that pay homage to classic Americana while producing a fashion forward look. This particular pair are not only a great Brougue but because of the elastic bands attached to the tongue of the shoe they can be worn lace-less for a more casual look (or as I mentioned with shorts…).  They are $295 at

They also offer a pair in a canary yellow, for those of you (uhhmm… like me ) who like a bold color from time to time..

For $138 (also at you can find this great Brougue made by Cole Haan. The company was started in 1928 by Trafton Cole and Eddie Haan, but is now owned by Nike. What this means to you is that the soles are made with some advanced technology for extra “sneaker like” comfort… (Not quite as good as Tsubo though…)

Lastly, I hope this chart of the parts of a well-made show will help you figure out the  difference between a welt and a vamp…

Keep Shopping  I