GJ Cleverley Bespoke Double Monks Part 3 – The Finished Shoes

DSC_0102Heading down to Melbourne a little while ago to try on and take home the bespoke Cleverley double monks, the shoes were more of an afterthought because I was most looking forward to seeing George and Teemu from Cleverley, and Chris, Nick, Kristy and the rest of the staff and friends of Double Monk. It wasn’t really until I got to the store that I remembered I was there to pick up shoes.

Chris... somewhere far away. Where do you go, Chris? Take us with you.

Chris… somewhere far away. Where do you go, Chris? Take us with you.

For those who have read the other posts in the series (part 1, part 2 and the separate post on their construction), you’ll have seen how the shoes have come together from concept to reality with a minimum of fuss. The shoes were largely in their finished form by the first fitting, with only one or two small changes being made to the fit and the sole needing to be welted on. It’s a credit to Teemu for being able to get the fit so close to the mark as quickly as he did, foregoing the need for a second fitting.

DSC_0106

On my request, the fish symbol which I have placed somewhere on every bespoke commission, punched in to the heels.

 

Trying the shoes on in the finished form for the first time, the small adjustments had been taken care of and the fit is accurate. The most notable difference being the lack of “breaking in” of the shoes that you’d expect from ready to wear or even made to order. They fit more like slippers straight out of the box and have softened up further over the following several weeks.

DSC_0100

The “Antique Whisky” leather has come up well

DSC_0108

 

DSC_0086

The waist nips in cleanly (the part of the shoe, just in front of the heel, where your foot narrows in the middle), impressive as there is only so much you can do with my feet, which are pretty flat and leave little room for creating a sculpted waist. The other surprise is their lightness. Cleverley are known for creating light shoes in comparison to other makers, no small achievement, given how much heavy leather goes in to the soles. They’re a fraction of the weight of my Lobb’s and that difference becomes more noticeable as the day wears on. The shoes trees, hand filed to fit the shoes are also lighter than any others I own, thanks in part to the thin construction and hollow centre channel which reduces weight and allows moisture to escape from the soles.

DSC_0091

DSC_0095

DSC_0068

George and Teemu

Once on, a quick walk around the store confirmed that the fit was right, so we all headed outside for a ceremonial first scuffing. Until the soles take a good beating on bitumen it’s like trying to walk around on ice skates. The coarseness of the bitumen rips in to the leather, allowing for some much needed traction. It’s an unholy feeling to intentionally damage a pair of £3,000 shoes, but unless you plan on mounting them as a permanent art installation then they’re going to get scuffed up at some point and it may as well be immediately. Life’s too short to be fussing over hurting a pair of shoes.

Christening...

A Christening on Smith Street…

The fiddle back waist on display

The fiddle back waist on display

Left to right: Myself, Teemu, George, Nick

Left to right: Myself, Teemu, George, Nick. All wearing Cleverley’s

DSC_0143

Another nice touch is the leather presentation box, lined with Alcantara and accompanied by a GJ Cleverley addition shoehorn from Abbeyhorn

DSC_0166

The only issue which has popped up is that the linen thread which secures both front buckles to the shoes, has broken, with the strap and buckle free to move around. I messaged Teemu about it when it happened and he was pretty shocked that something like that had happened. He asked me to send the shoes back immediately so he could fix the issue quickly. He’s also going to install brass toe plates to help reduce wear on the tips of the soles.

I think one mistake people continually make about high end hand made products is thinking that they’re supposed to be faultless. It’s unreasonable to expect that nothing will ever go wrong. The nature of a handmade, bespoke product is that due to the customisation that every single commission requires, issues will occasionally occur. That’s not a problem in and of itself. What matters is how a maker responds and what they do to solve the problem. In Cleverley’s case, Teemu’s sincerity and desire to fix the issue immediately is the perfect response and he was more bothered by the issue than I was.

When the shoes return from London, I’ll be back to wearing them on a semi-regular basis for the next 50-ish years, with the shoes making a pilgrimage to London every several years or so for a new pair of soles and some TLC. Not a bad return on investment in the end.

DSC_0077

Andrew is an Australian born writer, covering the world's leading bespoke tailors and craftspeople in menswear, with a focus on authentic quality, over branding. He spends most of his days running his successful (god knows how) consulting company and travels frequently to Europe for work and writing. He's a passionate cyclist, former trainee professional golfer and lover of all things Cocker Spaniel. He's married to his best friend and significantly better half, Mehri.

4 Comments

  • Reply April 17, 2015

    Aidan

    Really enjoying your articles so far. Their brevity and personal focus along with a bit of ‘real’ life understanding is a rather nice change from some of the unnecessary waxing on that other menswear writer delve into. I particularly like you notes on expectations and also value.
    Keep on keepin on.

    • Reply April 20, 2015

      Andrew Doyle

      Hi Aiden,

      Thanks very much. Let me know if there is anything else you’d like to see covered or explained.
      I’m glad the succinct writing makes it more enjoyable to read.

      Andrew.

      • Reply May 10, 2015

        Andrew Doyle

        Hi John.
        It’s from Kamakura shirts in New York. The cardigans from John Smedley (johnsmedley.com) are very similar and well made.

    • Reply June 15, 2015

      Andrew Doyle

      Thanks Aidan. Really appreciate your kind words.

Leave a Reply