The great thing about shoes is that once you’ve reached adulthood, your shoe size will never change. That means that you can afford to invest in at least one pair of men’s smart shoes, even if you only plan to wear them a couple of times a year. The very best of these ‘smart’ shoes have been built to stand the test of time, with thick soles and high-quality leather.
If you are ready to splurge on a pair of shoes that will last you a lifetime, you could do a lot worse than considering one of these classic British brands.
GrensonWith more than 150 years’ experience of shoemaking, Grenson is synonymous with sturdy yet elegant footwear. The firm made shoes for British soldiers during World War I and World War II, and they were one of the first brands to bring suede shoes and moccasins into the mainstream. To celebrate their 150-year anniversary, Grenson has reissued some of its most timeless designs from across the ages, which have already proven that they can stand the test of time.
Expect to spend: £145 for leather moccasins, or £230 for the brand’s iconic ‘Archie’ shoes
Paul SmithAs one of the top names in British menswear, it was only a matter of time before Paul Smith took the shoe world by storm. His shoe collection is inspired by classic styles such as the Derby, but he always adds a uniquely ‘Paul Smith’ twist.
Expect to spend: From £195 for suede or leather ‘Sterling’ shoes
BarkerBarker is synonymous with high-end footwear, and their iconic leather brogues can be spotted everywhere from Chancery Lane to Mahiki. When Arthur Barker began the business in 1880, he hand-made every single pair of shoes, and this attention to detail is what makes the brand stand out 137 years later.
Expect to spend: At least £200 for a pair of Barker brogues
Tricker'sTricker’s is one of the oldest shoemakers in the country, and started out creating hardy shoes for estate owners and the landed gentry. Waterproof and practical, yet still sleek and stylish, one pair will last for many, many years.
Expect to spend: £375 for a pair of country shoes
Jeffrey WestDescribing itself as a ‘house of intrigue’, rather than a classic shoemaker, Jeffrey West shoes use traditional techniques to create stylish shoes with a gothic edge. Think fine leather brogues finished with lasered insect embroidery, or tapered chukkas with a shark on the side. The very definition of statement shoes.
Expect to spend: From £295 for a pair of ‘Spider Punch’ Gibsons
Church'sThe Church family was making shoes as far back as 1675, when every single pair was hand-made to order. Church’s shoes still take an average of eight weeks to complete, using an exclusive method which allows any pair to be resorted to brand new condition.
Expect to spend: Around £400+ for a pair of simple leather Oxfords
CheaneyCheaney’s have been making shoes in the same Northamptonshire factory since 1900, using the same methods of cutting and sewing. In recent years, the firm has won a slew of awards and a number of new fans who love the vintage designs.
Expect to spend: £350 for a pair of leather Oxfords or brogues.
LoakeA family business with five generations of history, Loake is one of the few shoemakers to have won the royal seal of approval. Each pair of shoes is expertly handmade, taking eight weeks to complete.
Expect to spend: From £130 for a pair of ‘plain tie’ shoes