Michael Hill discusses our first foray into footwear.
‘We wanted to create shoes with great style – something that we would wear ourselves, which would fit effortlessly into our wardrobes – and to do so at a competitive pricepoint, without compromising on quality,’ says Michael Hill of our new selection of in-house footwear. ‘Where better to produce shoes than Northamptonshire – the shoe-making capital of the world. It felt like a terrific resource sat right on our doorstep, something that we should be making the most of.”
With these guiding principles in place, and a wealth of manufacturing expertise at our disposal, we set about designing a small handful of versatile styles which would act as an ideal accompaniment to our offer of casual tailoring. In the process we unearthed a Japanese military last, which felt like the perfect shape for what we were hoping to achieve: ‘We’ve never been about a chiselled toe, it’s always been about a soft, round, comfortable shoe. It was about marrying practicality, style and strong manufacturing.’
The first of the two styles on offer is a modest cap-toe derby in a sturdy grain leather, that draws on classic country walking shoes, as well as military garb. ‘There’s something British and slightly austere about them,’ says Michael, ‘but you put them in brown, in a grain leather and they warm up a bit. It’s not a shoe that shouts, but has a quietly sturdy, reassuring presence.’
The second of the two is a rugged chukka boot, constructed from a waxy suede and built on the same Japanese military last. Chukkas are a personal favourite of Michael’s: ‘Over the last 20 years, the chukka is probably the style of shoe I have worn the most. If I look at my shoe collection, almost half of them are chukkas! So it felt right for us to do one. As most men probably know already, a suede chukka is a tremendously useful shoe. You can wear them to dinner, you can wear them with a casual suit, you can wear them on the weekend. If you’re travelling and can only take one pair of shoes, take these.’
Our shoes are lovingly crafted in Northamptonshire, using time-tested methods and materials. Each pair comes with a set of shoe bags made from offcuts of our patterned tie silk – a personal touch, and a nod to the universal language of craft.