I can’t exactly remember when or where my love affair with shoes began.
I do know that from an early age I noticed how much a poorly chosen pair of shoes could negatively impact someone’s whole outfit.
For instance, there have been occasions in the past, where the shirt, or the piece of knitwear or the jacket of a nearby guest in a bar or restaurant has caught my eye, leading me to assume that this person is stylishly turned out…until the moment their legs appear from under the table and the shoes disappoint.
I think it was from this odd reaction of my eyes - always making a beeline for somebody’s feet - that led me to pay more and more attention to shoes and my interest grew from there.
On a trip to London, around 2003, I found myself in Mayfair with a free afternoon. Not a bad place to be with a free afternoon. I wandered around Bond Street and Savile Row, Regent Street and Piccadilly, stopping for a coffee, pausing on the street from time to time watching the world go by.
I eventually ended up on Jermyn Street for the first time. It reminded me of a street in a Harry Potter novel. There were speciality shops selling cigars, others who sold umbrellas, there were those that specialised in shirts and others selling male toiletries.
And then there were the shoe shops.
Trickers, Edward Green and John Lobb (just around the corner).
The one I chose to visit that day was Crockett & Jones. I was smitten.
I have a soft spot for these shoes ever since the first pair I bought which I still have today - a Cavendish loafer in brown suede
As the years went on, I found myself accumulating more and more.
Occasionally I bought online or from a stockist in Dublin, but for me, half the joy and experience of buying the shoe was to buy it in the Crockett and Jones shop on Jermyn Street, soaking up the atmosphere of the store and the surrounding Mayfair.
During a milestone birthday trip to London, I once again paid a visit to the store. Already owning far too many brown suede loafers, brogues and Chelsea boots, I decided to take the plunge and buy a pair of burgundy Cordovan loafers. My purchase was expertly guided that day by the ever-pleasant Chris Tan, @muddy_fishing_boots.
I loved them and they have been among the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn.
During December of the same year, after a long Christmas lunch, I came home, carelessly kicked off the shoes and fell into bed. I awoke the next morning, to find that the dog had a good chew on the shoes during the night.
They looked beyond repair, but I couldn’t throw them away, so I took a chance and contacted Chris to see if they could be saved. He didn’t promise any miracles but assured me that the expert craftsmen in the factory would have a good go at bringing them back to life.
It’s a credit to their skill that my shoes were returned to me vastly improved, and I’m still wearing them today.
Despite being unable to travel to London over the past few years, I’ve continued to buy Crocket and Jones footwear, albeit over the phone. There are other brands of shoes I wear, but Crockett and Jones remain my favourite, and I look forward to returning to their store on Jermyn Street.