The Double Monks Series, Part V: Conclusion

(Original photo credit: The Armoury)

Since more and more men are gaining interest in double monks, I decided to create a series that would serve as a buyer’s guide. My purpose was to give you a survey of over twenty-five different models, which I’ve broken up into three price tiers at the high-, mid-, and low-ranges. I even covered some discontinued lines. Now, of course, this survey wasn’t meant to be all inclusive; I’ve left out many models. For example, I’ve ignored those that I know very little about, such as Paraboot’s Vigny, Tim Little’s Still a Fool, and Mezlan’s Burris. I also didn’t discuss any that I wouldn’t either buy for myself or recommend to a friend, such as Santoni’s Jadwin. In short, I’ve tried to make this a reasonably curated list about the models I knew something about. Hopefully you’ve been left with a good sense of what options are available to you. 

So of the 25+ models I’ve discussed, which would I most recommend? That’s a difficult question to answer. Much of it depends on your budget. As you’ve seen, the more money you’re willing to pay, the better shoes you’ll get. Additionally, which model will be best for you will depend on your current wardrobe. A rounder, shorter, and more natural toe will be good if most of your clothes have a strong American sensibility. Similarly, a sleeker, pointier toe will be good if most of your clothes run more European. At the end of the day, it’s about your style and your money, and you have to take a hard look at what will work for you. 

Now, personally, I favor conservative European styles, as I find them to be elegant and sober. This means I like sleek shoes, but not ones that are vulgarly so. If I were to make a recommendation for each tier, based only on my own tastes, I would give the following.

On the upper tier, I would recommend Edward Green’s Westminster. The leather works well in formal situations, unlike pebble grain, and is handsome enough without being loud, unlike museum calf. Additionally, it has a sleek chiseled toe that has been built on an asymmetric last. I find that this gives the shoe a conservative, elegant feel. 

In the mid-tier, I would pick Carminas on the Inca. They’re sleek but with a rounded toe. I think this gives them the same conservative, elegant, European sensibility that Edward Green’s Westminster has, perhaps even more so. 

On the low-tier, I favor Howard Younts’, but partly because I have faith that the leather will darken after a few treatments with leather conditioner. I think a darker leather would make the shoe much easier to wear, and it would also hide the antiquing a bit, which I find to be too prominent as is. Still, even apart from my concerns over their color, I really like their shape. 

Lastly, a word about how to wear these. The decorative buckle makes monk straps look a bit dressier, but also casual at the same time. Think of them like Jodhpur boots - a dressier version of boots, which are commonly considered a very casual shoe. However, while monk straps have a lot of versatility between formal and casual functions, they don’t play well to the extremes. For truly formal events, you should always wear cap toe oxfords. For casual settings, there is a lot of debate to be had. Since I see them as an elegant, semi-dressy shoe, I think they’re best worn with trousers or when you’re casually wearing a suit. 

(Photos by: The Sartorialist and Mister Mort)

However, many people also wear them with jeans. To me, this doesn’t speak to the shoes’ elegance. When they’re worn with jeans, they can turn from being refined, sophisticated double monks to being goofy buckle shoes. They also call too much attention to themselves and don’t play well with the rest of the person’s ensemble. Personally, I think a person’s outfit should largely be coherent - just as seasonal clothes should be worn together (eg no sockless loafers with peacoats), extremely casual clothes should be worn together (eg no cap toe oxfords with shorts). Additionally, I think clothes are worn best when they draw attention to your charisma, not to specific parts of your body. By wearing double monks with jeans, your “fancy shoes” play too much in the foreground, thus forcing people to look at your feet instead of your eyes. When they’re worn with trousers or a casual suit, however, they make for a much more coherent, elegant outfit, and thus don’t call attention to themselves. 

Still, my opinion on this is very much in the minority. Wearing double monks with jeans is very ”of the moment” right now, and you’d be very fashionable to wear them as such. I don’t mean this pejoratively, as I don’t think there is anything wrong with being fashionable. It just means that the majority of people will be giddy about your clothes, and there’s nothing terribly wrong with that. In fact, if you started a “double monks with jeans” version of 100 Days of Ties, the internet might explode. 

If you want to wear them with jeans, I would suggest at least getting a pair that is more casual. Avoid buying double monks with broguing and opt for ones in a lighter shade. Additionally, try to get ones made out of materials such as suede or pebble grain leather. You should also aim for the models with shorter, more natural toes, such as Allen Edmond’s Mora or Run of the Mill’s private label, instead of sleeker models such as the Crockett & Jones’ Lowndes. In the end, if you are going to play these further out on the casual spectrum, you should try to make your shoes as casual as possible as well.

So that’s it - a survey of over 25 models, a few links to double monks I didn’t discuss, my recommendations for each tier, and a sure-to-be controversial position on how to wear them. Now go out and get a pair. 

The Double Monks Series, Part IV: Discontinued Monks

(Original photo credit: The Armoury)

In the fourth installment of my double monk series, I’d like to talk about discontinued models. It may seem strange to discuss these since you’re unlikely to find them easily. However, they still occasionally pop up at retail outlets, online auctions, and various menswear forums. If you’re willing to put in the time and work to hunt around, you can score a pair of double monks for under $200. Note that since this is about discontinued models, there won’t be any links in this entry, as there are no stores where you can readily buy these. 

The first are Ralph Lauren’s Alstons. They originally retailed for around $550, but last summer, they were on Gilt for $268. There was a buying frenzy, but shortly after, Alstons started popping up every so often on various menswear forums and auction sites. You knew the sellers had gotten them off Gilt. They still hit eBay every once in a while. I typically see them go for between $150 and $225. 

The second is Allen Edmond’s Mora. As Allen Edmonds is an American company, these have a shorter, rounder toe. You can occasionally find them at Nordstrom Rack for around $100. 

Herring just discontinued their double monk model, called the Shakespeare. Like other brands such as Charles Tyrwhitt, Herring offers really good value if you can’t afford anything more expensive. These were priced at $237, which means they should be even less if you find them on the deal market. Of all the discontinued lines I’ve seen, the Shakespeare is probably the best, in my opinion. 

Lastly, we have To Boot’s York model. I’ve seen these pop up at Nordstrom Rack and Jeremy’s in San Francisco for around $100-150. They’re not terrible, but the leather feels a bit plasticky, almost more so than other corrected grains I’ve come across. At deep discounts, To Boot represents a decent value if you’re on a student’s budget, however. 

Conclusion: As you can imagine, there have been many companies that have made double monks over the years, and many of them have been discontinued. I can’t possibly cover them all. Instead, I’ve only listed those that I’ve seen most often, but this is obviously biased by what I look out for. Over the time of my sartorial travels, I’ve also seen double monks made by Prada, Gucci, and Ferragamo. I have little interest in those lines, however, so I’m unfamiliar with the names of their double monks, and I don’t know how frequently they show up on sites such as eBay (since I don’t look for them). If you’re interested in them, you can easily find the information you need on Google. For example, a quick search on Ferragamo models yielded this catalog, which has a few double monks. Pop those into an eBay search and you may be able to score a decent deal. 

Tomorrow I’ll end this series with a post about how to wear double monks as well as which models I recommend the most. Come back for the exciting conclusion!!

The Double Monks Series, Part III: Cheap Monks (Priced Under $400)

(Original photo credit: The Armoury)

Some of you may have felt that yesterday’s installment was still too rich for your blood. After all, most of your menswear shopping consists of digging through Loehmann’s final sale rack just to find Lands End Canvas from last season. ”Where’s the love for poor people, Die, Workwear?” I learned my lesson from John Edwards’ campaign in 2008 - you can’t win on that platform. Still, I’m a man of the people, so let’s talk about some really cheap options. 

Howard Yount has one of the most affordable double monks on the market. It has a nice balance between not being too pointy or rounded, and comes in a cognac brown. From my experience with other shoes, cognac is a difficult color to maintain. As you apply leather conditioner, the color will darken a bit. I think this gives it a much richer, deeper, and more interesting color, but it’s a matter of personal taste. Also, all due respect to Howard Yount, but they take terrible product shots (though their products are incredible). If you’re on the fence about these, know that they’re probably much better in real life. Most popular sizes are out right now, but Yount is taking special orders for delivery in June. Buy a pair for $349 at his site

In yesterday’s installment, I talked about Crockett & Jones Lowndes. If $435 is too much for you, however, check out Shipton and Heneage’s Lowndes. It’s the same exact shoe - made by Crockett & Jones on the 348 last and to benchgrade standards. I haven’t handled one of these in person, but from pictures online, the leather looks a bit flatter than the C&Js Lowndes I’ve seen. It may be the same leather however. If you don’t mind, or you’re willing to take the risk, you can buy these at Shipton’s website. They sell for $400, but you can deduct an additional $50 if you join their discount club, which makes these a cool $350. That’s about $100 savings over the C&J versions. 

Shipton and Heneage has another affordable monk - the Burford. These have a shorter, natural toe, and thus are less aggressively styled than the Lowndes. They’re made by Cheaney and come in black, brown, tan, and chocolate suede. They’re on sale right now for $250, but with their discount club code, you can drop these down to $200. 

I was a bit hesitant to include these Loake Blackfriars, as I’m not a fan of them. The front apron looks a bit too small and emaciated, but then again, so does your budget. These are $230 at Pediwear, so they might be priced low enough for you to just put up with the design flaw. Personally, I think you’re better off saving up your money for something better, but I understand that for some people, $230 is saving up for something better. If you’re living out of a public bathroom and have four children to support, then you can justifiably buy these. If you’re caught wearing them with $400 selvedge denim jeans and a $500 trucker jacket, however, your menswear pass may be revoked. You’ve been warned. 

Conclusion: Between the Burford and Lowndes, Shipton and Heneage has most of your two basic double monk styles covered, frankly. You have an aggressively sleek option and a more rounded, natural toe option. If those aren’t to your taste, you can go with Howard Yount’s, which are nicely in between those two models. I would sooner wear any of those than Loake Blackfriars, but it was so hard to find double monks that retail for under $400 that I decided to include the Blackfriars just to give you more options. Consider it a menswear blogging equivalent of volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. 

The Double Monks Series, Part II: Mid-Level Monks (Priced Between $400 and $600)

(Original photo credit: The Armoury)

I ended my post yesterday with a claim that most men can afford $600+ shoes if they just cut back on their other purchases. I understand, however, that some have responsibilities such as mortgages and children, and spending $600 to $1,000 for shoes, regardless of other spending habits, is just irresponsible. A crowning pair of shoes for them is something that costs maybe half that. Thus, in my second installment to this series, I’ll cover double monks that cost between $300 to $600.

I’ll start with one of the most popular. Crockett and Jones’ Lowndes has long been considered one of the mid-range grails among double monk enthusiasts. In fact, for a while, it was considered by many to be the double monk to have. I don’t think they’re for everyone, however. These are built on Crockett & Jones’ 348 last, which is one of the sleekest on the market. Not only can they be too aggressively styled for some men, but also not everybody’s foot will comfortably fit in it. Additionally, the 348 is a bit symmetric from the vamp to the toe. For these reasons, the Lowndes has always been a bit controversial. You either love it or hate it. If you’re looking for an extremely sleek double monk, however, the Lowndes should be on your short list. You can pick up a pair of these at Pediwear for $435

Paul Stuart’s Newbury is another aggressively styled double monk, even more so than the Lowndes. Like most of the other double monks I’m featuring in this series, this also features a cap toe. However, it has a folded seam instead of stitched, which is a handsome detail. They’re Goodyear welted, made in Spain, and come in tobacco brown and black. You can buy them at Paul Stuart for $448

I talked yesterday about Edward Green’s Fulham and Crockett & Jones’ Arlington, which are styled a bit differently than the rest of cap toe double monks I’ve been featuring. Well here’s another one. This is a wingtip double monk by Paul Stuart, called the Rothschild. Like the Lowndes and Newbury, these are also aggressively sleek. It’s not a style that’s suited for everybody, but if you have the panache to pull it off, then you should take advantage of these. These come in espresso suede, and the buckles are slightly rounded, which I think help make them a bit more elegant. The Rothschilds are available at Paul Stuart for $548

Speaking of uniquely styled double monks, Calzoleria Silvestro handmakes these out of Italy. The proprietor and cordwainer at Silvestro, Paolo, has a long history in shoemaking. He’s been making shoes for 40 years and was trained under his father, who was also a cordwainer. Both of them made shoes for labels such as Bontoni, so you know they’re quite skilled.

These monks are completely handmade. The shoe is constructed by hand. The decorative medallion at the toe is punched by hand. The leather’s antique finish is colored by hand. Should you want a different last or leather, Paolo is happy to accommodate. If you just want the basic model, however, they start at $525. Contact him at his website

Sid Mashburn’s double monks are among the most celebrated online. Indeed, they have a good balance between not being too pointy or too stubby. These are benchmade grade by Alfred Sargent in Northampton, England. Like all good shoes that come out of that region, they’re Goodyear welted. These come in burnished calf and have a one and a half sole. You can call Sid Mashburn at his store and order a pair; they’re $595

I think Carminas are going to be the next big thing among shoe aficionados. Their leathers have so much richness and depth, the lasts are so ideally and elegantly shaped, and their prices are so much more affordable when compared to other similar makers. Perhaps they’re priced low because they’re made in Spain, and Spain has yet to distinguish itself in the way Northampton and Italy have? Either way, they’re undervalued right now. These double monks are made on the Inca last, which is very well balanced in its toe shape, as you can see here. I like them so much, in fact, that they’re the shoes I’ve featured in the title photo at top of this post. You can buy these at The Armoury for $575

Ovadia & Sons are quickly becoming one of the most impressive new menswear labels in recent memory. A month or so ago, they released their FW11 lookbook and it was one of the best collections I’ve seen in a long time. I never expected them to be able to come out with beautiful shoes as well. Their Mildford double monk model is Goodyear welted and made in England. It comes in dark brown and snuff suede, and you can either have it in the beautiful leather sole shown above or in Danite. Pick it up at Ovadia & Son’s website for $595

Run of the Mill’s double monks made a big splash when they were released last month. There was a lot of anticipation, and when they were finally released, most of the menswear community celebrated. There were some anonymous skeptics, however, in Sartorially Inclined’s comments section. Some visceral attacks on the shoes’ quality were hurled, even though nobody had handled (let alone worn) them yet.

Though many of the negative comments were clearly trolling for reactions, I think there are many Sartorially Inclined readers who are silently agnostic or skeptical, and thus hesitant to pull the trigger. I sympathize with this position. Run of the Mill is a new label, and when you don’t have very much information about a brand, it can feel safer to rely on more trusted company, such as Crockett & Jones. 

So I privately talked to LAS at Run of the Mill in order to get more information for this write up. He told me who they sourced these from, and I can sincerely say - these are a very, very big deal. 

First, let’s talk about the publicly known facts. These are made in Italy and Blake/ Rapid constructed, which is on par in quality to Goodyear. Stylistically, they’re more American than English or Italian. The toe box is a bit shorter and rounded, and the style can be likened to Allen Edmond’s Mora. If your predominant style runs a bit more American than European, these will be easier for you to pull off. 

Now, let’s talk about some things that aren’t as publicly known. Since these are private label, their sourcing is meant to stay private, so I can’t reveal the producer’s name. I also haven’t actually handled or worn these, so everything here is inferred from the quality of the producer’s other shoes. It’s likely, however, that ROTM’s double monks are comparable to the maker’s other goods, since it would be impractical for the house to switch up their machinery, labor, and materials just to produce for ROTM. So then what can be inferred? Some very, very interesting things:

  • It’s likely that the leather has been sourced from Ilcea. From the other shoes that I’ve seen come out of this house, everything has been made from Ilcea materials. As I discussed yesterday, Ilcea is where Edward Green and John Lobb get their leathers.
  • The maker has a few lines. The less expensive line is better than Crockett & Jones’ benchgrades, but sit under C&J’s handgrades. The more expensive line, however, is popularly considered to be better than Crockett & Jones’ handgrade line. I assume, only from photos, that ROTM’s double monks are made to the standards of the less expensive models. ROTM’s leather doesn’t seem to have the finishing on the leather that I’ve seen from the maker’s higher lines, and the sole is stitched aloft instead of channeled. This doesn’t mean they’re bad, obviously. In fact, they’re still better in quality than almost every model in this post. 
  • I’ve seen this maker produce shoes with Ilcea Radica calf (which is what the two John Lobb models yesterday are made from) and feature soles with beveled waists. They know what they’re doing over there. 
  • It’s an old company. They’ve been around for more than 100 years, but have gone through a few family hands. 
  • One of the top fine-footwear companies in the US carries shoes from this house, and does collaborations with them. I would go as far as to say that this company is one of the only three voices in the footwear community that I fully trust. I have a lot of confidence that many menswear forums veterans feel the same way. I can’t reveal names, but if I could, everyone here would recognize the credibility this company’s association lends.
  • When the maker sells shoes under their own label, they typically go for between $500 and $600. When they’re rebranded for another company, they typically sell for a bit more than that, perhaps $600 to $750. ROTM is selling these for $405 at their website. Like I said, these are a big deal. 

Now, of course, there are legitimate reasons not to buy ROTM’s double monks. Perhaps you don’t care for their color, or you’re looking for something a bit more European styled. Quality, however, should not be the reason. ROTM’s are the cheapest on this list, but potentially the highest quality. If you’re thinking about buying, you’ll have to move quickly. The deadline for pre-orders is March 24th. 

Conclusion: The mid-priced tier has a lot of variation. There are benchgrade, machine made monks, such as Crockett and Jones’ Lowndes. There are also completely handmade, hand-finished monks, such as Silvestro’s Boccaccios. There are aggressively styled options, such as Paul Stuart’s, as well as more conservative models, such as Run of the Mill’s. What you choose here will depend on your preference for styles and how much you value certain construction details. All in all, however, every single one of these would make for a good selection. 

The Double Monks Series, Part I: Baller Monks (Priced above $600)

(original photo credit: The Armoury)

A few weeks ago, a reader asked me if I could do a series on double monks. Well, here it is: a five-part series on the shoe that everyone lusts over. That’s right - five parts. This is a massive buyer’s guide, and at the end of it, my goal is to leave you with a strong impression of which models fit your style and budget. The first three installments to this series will focus on different tiers of double monks, sorted purely by price. I’ll begin by talking about some of the most expensive models, and by Wednesday, I’ll review the cheapest ones. Thursday’s installment will cover some discontinued lines, which you can hunt for on eBay and at outlets. Finally, Friday’s installment will conclude with how to wear these shoes and which double monks I recommend most. 

Note that this series will often discuss “lasts.” For those uninitiated, a last is the mold that defines a shoe’s shape. It looks something like this. When a shoe is being manufactured, leather is pulled over the last, and then steam and heat are applied so that the leather becomes pliable enough to conform to the last. This defines the shoe’s width, size, heel height, and toe shape. Being familiar with lasts means that you know which shoes will fit you best, both in comfort and style. If you’re not familiar with lasts yet, don’t worry, with enough time, you’ll get to know which you favor as you try on more and more high-end shoes. 

So let’s start with the first installment. This will cover double monks priced above $600. For some of you, these will be viable options. For the rest of you, however, these will just be sources of inspiration, as well as a chance to learn a little bit about why top tier shoes are able to command the prices they do. 

John Lobb’s William is probably the most iconic double monk. The William comes in two models, I and II. William I is built from pebble grain leather, features a double sole, and is typically offered in dark brown and buffalo tan. I haven’t seen the dark brown version offered in a while, but LeatherSoul has the William I in buffalo tan for $1,195

William II comes in black and Parisian brown museum calf. Now, if you haven’t handled museum calf before, you should make this a priority. It’s a beautiful, slightly mottled, antiqued leather made by Ilcea. You can see the leather more clearly on Ilcea’s website; it’s in their section on antiqued leathers and labeled “Radica.” Since William II uses museum calf and William I uses pebble grain, the William II model is more formal. William II also features slightly more prominent stitching on the toecap, but this looks more exaggerate on the internet than it does in real life. You can get the William II model at John Lobb for $1,240

If you liked that beautiful antiqued leather on Ilcea’s website, you might want to consider John Lobb’s Chapel, which is also made from museum calf. Whereas the William is built on the 9795 last, the Chapel is built on the 8000. This means it’s sleeker and has a more articulated chiseled toe. More significantly, the Chapel is a wholecut, which means the body of the shoe is completely made from one piece of leather. You’ll notice in the picture, for example, that there are no seams in the quarters (the area of the shoe that would sit near your anklebone). It’s a craftsmanship detail that makes the shoe look even more refined. I’ve had the pleasure of trying these on and they’re quite amazing. They’re a bit roomier than other Lobbs made from the 8000 last, so size down at least 1/2 a size from your normal 8000 fitting. These are available at John Lobb for $1,640

Let’s say you like the Chapel, but something about it is just not quite right for you. In that case, you can try Gaziano & Girling’s Oakham, which is available through Bespoke England. It’s modeled after the Chapel, but where the Chapel is a wholecut, the Oakham is made from two different leathers. The real upside to the Oakham, however, is that it’s completely customizable. You can choose the sole from one of their six different options, which even includes an oak bark tanned leather sole with a beveled waist. What do those terms mean? Well, as the name suggests, oak bark tanned leather is a type of hide that has been tanned exclusively from vegetable agents made from barks and fruits. The process takes place inside of an oak-lined pit that is ten feet deep. The hide sits in the solution for about a year. There are no mechanical movements, no chemical catalysts, and the solution isn’t heated; the hide just sits for a year. It’s a slow process, but the leather that comes out is very lightweight, very hardwearing, and very flexible. It is also highly water-repellent, but very breathable. This makes it perfect for soles. As for beveled waists, this is simply when the mid-section of a sole is shaped into a convex form, like this. The combination of the oak bark tanned leather and beveled waist gives your shoe a much more slender appearance. 

Continuing with the customization options, you can also choose a last from one of their five models, as well as select the material to be used from one of their three different leathers, or go with their suede. Lastly, you can choose the color, of which they have 35 different choices. As you can see, you can basically create whatever double monk you want through this. Even if you don’t like the photo above, trust that this level of customization will allow you to get to something you will like. That is, as long as you have the $960 to pay for it. 

One of my favorite double monks, if not the favorite, is Edward Green’s Westminster. These are made on the 888 last, which has a slightly elongated chiseled toe. This is one of my favorite lasts on the market. It’s elegant without being ostentatious and roomy enough in the toe box to be comfortable. If you’re interested in the Westminster, contact Leffot. They carry a Westminster in an antique dark oak, one of the richest Edward Green colors, as well as black (you should at least click through to see the pics). You have to inquire about pricing, but expect them to be around $1,000. 

Crockett & Jones’ Repton hits a good balance between not being too stubby or too pointy. It’s built on the 337 last, which is like their 348, but is a bit wider in the toe. It’s still very sleek, but not vulgarly so. Crockett & Jones typically come in handgrade and benchgrade standards; this is handgrade. What’s the difference? Well, both grades are Goodyear welted and machine made, but handgrades feature finer calf leathers, asymmetric lasts, and those amazing oak bark tanned soles I just talked about. The soles also have channeled stitching (which means the stitching is hidden), instead of ones that are stitched aloft (which means the stitching is visible). In short, they’re better constructed, more handsome, and are made from better materials. You can get the Repton at Ben Silver for $760

Crockett & Jones has another double monk almost exactly like the Repton, but instead of a cap toe, it has a plain toe. It’s called the Seymour. It’s built on the same last as the Repton and also made to handgrade standards. I haven’t been able to find an online retailer for these, but if you’re in London, the Crockett & Jones shop on Jermyn Street carries them, as does the one in Burlington Arcade. If you’re not in London, you may be able to call the stores and have them ship a pair to you. These will run you about $705. 

One thing you’ll notice in this series is that almost all double monks feature a cap toe, which can make them look slightly more formal. If you’re interested in something more casual, there are two options that come to my mind. The first is Edward Green’s Fulham, which features a ghosted blind split-toe seam and pie-crust styled apron. They were offered at LeatherSoul in Honolulu and Giuliano Venanzi in New York (now closed, unfortunately), but I don’t believe you can get them anymore. You’re encouraged to hunt, however, as the shoe is very, very handsome. The second casual double monk is Crockett & Jones’ Arlington, which is the one in the picture above. They’re built to handgrade standards and the toe is much rounder than many of the other models I’ll feature in this series, but that’s because these are meant to be fairly casual. They’re not as nice as Edward Green’s Fulham, but they’re also readily available for sale. You can get C&J’s Arlingtons at Ben Silver for $725.  

I remember when I first read about Vass many years ago, my jaw dropped when I saw the price. As I learned more about fine footwear, however, I’ve come to realize that Vass is an incredible deal. Vass shoes are entirely hand crafted out of a small artisan shop in Budapest, Hungary. Quality wise, they’re much more comparable to John Lobbs and Edward Green, but they cost about half as much. The price on these begins at around $700, which is about how much Crockett & Jones’ handgrades cost. Note, however, that Crockett & Jones handgrades are still largely machine made. With Vass, you’re getting a true hand crafted item. Like you would expect with a customizable, handcrafted shoe, you can specify the last and leathers. The F last is a bit sleeker than the U last, and you can get these made from calf, suede, or even shell cordovan. The cordovan, of course, will cost more than their basic models. If you’re interested in a pair, contact Vass to get something made-to-order. If you can stop by their small workshop in Budapest, you can also get something fully bespoke. 

Lastly, we end with Alfred Sargent’s Ramsey, another made-to-order double monk. These can be produced in two different materials (calf or suede). The calf comes in black, tan burnished chestnut, and dark brown burnished espresso; the suede comes in either black or brown. You can also specify the bottom to be either Danite or oak bark tanned leather with channeled stitching. These are built on the 99 last, which is one their best, in my opinion. The price on these is $620 and since they’re made-to-order, you can only get them through Alfred Sargent

Conclusion: With enough money, you can get the finest quality and an unmatched level of customization. Monks in this tier come in cordovans and the best calf leathers, sometimes even in a beautiful antique finishing. Soles are often made from oak bark tanned leather and have beveled waists, as well as channeled stitching. There are handiwork details everywhere, and in some cases, even complete handcraftsmanship. These are the best of the best. 

Now, I understand that the prices seem high, but I think these are still worth considering. Every man should have a “crowning pair” of shoes - a special pair that serves as the crest to his collection. Your crowning pair of shoes should not be Allen Edmonds. They should be something from this class of footwear, or at least something close. It’s an expensive purchase, to be sure, but such luxuries are to be purchased only once every five years or so. Most men with careers can afford something like this every five years if they just cut back their spending on other things. Ask yourself, which would be more satisfying to have - 15+ pairs of Florsheims and Allen Edmonds, or a smaller collection that’s crowned with a pair of John Lobbs or Edward Greens?