June 09, 2020 4 min read
We often take our sartorial cues from the men we admire. That jacket, the watch, his hair, that price tag! But with many of us so fixated with what's going on above the ankles, we often miss the one item (well, technically two) that binds it all together: his shoes. In this post, we look at three classic shoe styles and the famous men who walk in them.
The black leather lace-up shoe has been worn by more famous men more often than any other shoe style. From royalty to famous actors, singers, authors, and scholars, the black lace-up was essential wearing for anyone of note. These days, we're more likely to see them on politicians and businessmen, but no group of people has captured the imagination - and helped shoe sales along the way - than the well-dressed British spy.
Contrary to popular belief, Bond's wardrobe is not all cocktail suits and cap-toe Oxfords. In the 2012 movie Skyfall, Bond, played by Daniel Craig, sports a pair of black Highbury derbies by Crockett & Jones (RRP £430) in a number of critical scenes. This is the perfect shoe for the more rugged, 'close-quarter battle' Bond that we know today. The shoe's open-lace system is used by militaries around the world because it offers the wearer flexibility and mobility, which is especially useful when you're jumping off buildings, chasing down bad guys, or just generally saving the world. The derbies are also back in the latest installment, No Time To Die (2020).
In the movie Kingsman, agent Harry Hart, played by Colin Firth, owns the archetypal British look: tortoiseshell specs, double-breasted suit, a Fox brolly, and of course a pair of black Cap-Toe Oxfords by London shoemaker George Cleverley. Apparently, a poison-tipped blade extends out of the right shoe when Hart taps his heels together. In reality, I'm not sure the skilled artisans at GC have detoured much from their traditional shoemaking techniques, 68-years in the making.
Brogue shoes have a humble beginning, being originally made for Scottish and Irish labourers, with perforated holes in the leather to allow the water to run out when submerged in boggy, wet fields. These days, they're more synonymous with the brogue and tweed wearing Country Gentleman. Given the brogue shoe's humble beginnings, their formality remains a contentious issue and debated ad nauseam by shoe nerds and menswear aficionados everywhere. Essentially, some still believe brogues are not appropriote attire for business or formal occasions; others, likewise, beg to differ.
Past and present British Prime Ministers don't seem to mind wearing brogues on formal occasions. During Tony Blair's tenure as British Prime Minister, he owned a "lucky pair" of black Chetwynd brogues by Church's Footwear, which he wore to every session of Prime Minister's Questions - over for ten years!
Brogues also seem like a popular choice with National Basketball Association (NBA) players. NBA legend La Bron James was seen sporting a pair of Allen Edmonds Strandmok Semi-Brogue Oxfords in GQ. When players collaborate with NBA's sometime sponsor Allen Edmonds, they inevitably design up some sort of shoe with broguing, such as NBA star Michael Carter-Williams in the video above. This makes perfect sense. Brogue shoes can be dressed up and dressed down or dressed sideways as was the case with Dennis Rodman. Perfect for the roadshow that is the 82-game NBA season.
There are men's boots, and then there are lace-up men's boots. They look good in almost any ensemble, they make us look just that little bit more muscle, they even give us a few more millimetres up top. For that rugged look, it's essential kit. For the light-of-frame, lace-up boots ratchet up one's brawny credentials. Infact, we go so far as to say that a pair of lace-up boots should be on every man's shoe rack.
Chris Hemsworth's style has been turned up a notch since acquiring A-lister status. Sure, you'll likely find him these days on a red carpet in a dashing monochrome suit, looking every part the movie star, but when not rubbing shoulders with fellow A-listers, Chris goes for an uncomplicated look. His casual go-to, a pair of jeans and a simple tee, doesn't set the menswear scene on fire, but Chris knows that with a pair of well-chosen leather boots, it gives his casual ensemble that devil-may-care finish. The pair of 1000 Mile Wolverines that Chris wears above look like they've done some mileage too (we think he'd look much better in a pair of TGC Turon Service Boots...)
Ryan Gosling is one of those annoying people who just looks good whatever he wears. When he's not crooning on the silver screen, you will likely find him in a pair of leather lace-up boots. Ryan uses his boots as the foundational item and builds his casual look from there. Gosling has been snapped on quite a few occasions in the Red Wing moc toes pictured above, which adds a touch of the masculine to his otherwise debonair reputation.
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