Load of Crêpe
I've been having a lot of shoe repairs recently. The latest were old black Oxford shoes with Goodyear welt that received a full resole using my cobbler's hard wearing leather option. Rubber soles were applied on top of the leather, and metal sections added to heal and toe. I should be able to gallop for another ten years on top of all that.
I warned him not to use any cover-up cobbler's paint, so he said he would apply wax and polish to the outer sole and heel edges — I live in dread fear of bodges being covered over with cobbler's paint. He was as good as his word.
When I collected the shoes, we got to talking about other types of sole. My Alden All-Weather Walkers are close to needing a resole. These shoes actually have quite an eccentric combination of a leather toe on a plantation crêpe sole — attracting some controversy. I found the toe shrank away from the crêpe and will look to go full-crêpe with the re-sole. Mr. Cobbler blanched at the mention of crêpe, he thinks it's the hardest material to work with.
Crêpe may be hard to work with, but I find it bouncily good to walk with. Alden's All-Weather Walker might easily be called the All-Day Walker, such is the comfort it provides to one's trotters; perfect if you're on a walking holiday around the North Coast 500 route.
To my mind, the All-Day Walker represents the pinnacle of crêpe-soled footwear.
We had friends visiting from Spain last week. Were they eager to visit the Bishop's Palace in Wells? No. Stourhead? No. The Hauser & Wirth Gallery in Bruton? Well, yes, but just for the restaurant. What they wanted most of all was to take home some Clark's Originals.
We went to the old Clark's factory in Street to seek out some rare specimens at the factory shop. I couldn't help but join in the fun. My choices all had one thing in common: crêpe soles.
I think I've gone a little crêpe ape recently.
Classic Desert Boot
I scooped up a pair of classic desert boots in sporting green suede. Every home should have the Clark's Desert Boot on their shoe rack. No need to go into the history of this boot — we all know it.
Encouraging to hear that a limited-edition collection of these classics was made in Northampton last year. More please. The closest I could get was this pair, which were made with suede from Charles F. Stead (1890) of Leeds, Fine English Tannery. There's a nice stamp on the inside of the boot to indicate such provenance.
Beckery Hill Boot
Based on a Clarks archive model, the Beckery Hill Boot has a double-stitch storm welt and a seriously thick crêpe sole (see top photo) — it's almost like being propelled on springs like Tigger. The boots are just the job for a planned Cornish walking holiday at Christmastime, although I think they would be fine for skirmishes in the desert. They might look a bit clunky shown on their own like this; if I find the time to show them with sock, trouser, leg and so on I will — as they make better sense that way. The grain leather looks like it will scuff easily, but age nicely. I promise to cream it often.
The London Derby shoe has a pleasingly soft beeswaxed leather upper. I'm tucking these chaps away until next summer. Funnily enough, given the shade, I wouldn't consider wearing these shoes in London, though I think they will make excellent companions when travelling to dry and dusty Israel.