THE QUINTESSENTIAL TRICKER

Tricker’s Keswick in C-Shade with a Commando Sole

Somewhere between a Tricker’s Keswick, Bourton, and Ilkley, you’ll find the quintessential English country shoe. Tricker’s may not be the veryfinest shoemakers in Northampton (although they’re certainly up there), but they can certainly lay claim to producing the most iconic English brogued Derby shoe and boot. The super round toe of the 4444 last, the overly heavy graphic broguing of the wingtips, the chunkiness of storm welted soles, and the iconic colours of C-Shade, Acorn, and Marron Antique: these all add up to a shape, colour, and style that many produce, but none quite match for the overall feel of sturdiness and robustness that the Tricker’s option offers.

The pair photographed here belong to the man who first introduced me to Tricker’s – my Dad – and were a 70th birthday gift to him from my Mum, Wife and myself. He chose the style himself on a trip to sunny Doncaster’s Shoe Healer. There he was sorted for a “6” width fitting which The Shoe Healer carries in stock in both this style and an attractive Matlock. It’s worth noting that the 4444 last is pretty generously sized and my Dad had to size down from an 8 to a 7 to get the right fit.

The differences between the three styles are small as they all feature identical uppers and a storm welt, but are offered with differing options on the sole, leathers, and colours. The Shoe Healer explains the differences here. This Keswick features a Commando Sole which is the chunkiest sole on offer, but is very robust especially for the Winter months.

As always Richard, Michelle, and the team at The Shoe Healer offered sound advice and help along the way. You really couldn’t ask for a better customer experience and I’d encourage anyone fancying a pair of bench made shoes to make the trip to Doncaster in person to check out what The Shoe Healer has to offer. My Dad was so impressed he was back buying a second pair of shoes two days later. You can’t get a stronger recommendation than that.

Detail of the chunky, but robust Commando Sole

M.T.O CORDOVAN TRICKER’S POLO CHUKKA

Tricker’s M.T.O Cordovan Polo Chukkas

I’ve fancied a pair of Cordovan shoes for some time now and after trying a few pairs of Alden Cordovan options on down the years I decided to take a risk and opt for a pair of Tricker’s instead. The reason being I find the American styles are much too long in the toe for my taste. As I have a slightly wider foot I tend to end up with half an inch room in the toe on most shoes, but with Alden styles it feels more like an inch.

I say ‘take a risk’ as Tricker’s don’t have the years of wide ranging experience with this specific material that Alden do. They also don’t use Horween Shell Cordovan like Alden. Again, Horween have such vast experience manufacturing this leather that it seems unlikely others would produce a product to match.

Tricker’s acquire their Cordovan from an Italian manufacturer called Comipel, and while they don’t have the rich history of Cordovan production that Horween do, their leather seems (to my eye at least) every bit as beautiful and is actually offered in a much larger range of colours. While some of Horween’s colours are iconic, the colour range is quite limited and I’ve not been impressed with all the examples I’ve seen in person. I’ve seen shoes made with the Whiskey shade that looked indistinguishable from Calfskin for example.

Tricker’s M.T.O Cordovan Polo Chukkas

For my M.T.O shoes I decided to go for the most comfortable style of Tricker’s I’ve found for my feet; the Polo Chukka on the W2298 last. It’s close to Alden’s classic chukka and I prefer Cordovan on simpler shoes such as this as the creases and ripples are more noticeable and highlight the material’s sheen. I find brogueing or any other decoration can detract from the beauty Cordovan (unless it’s Horween’s Colour 8 which seems to have a special richness and luster that is only exaggerated further on Alden’s longwings).

Barbour Welt

I chose a dainite sole with a Barbour welt and contrast stitching so wetter weather wouldn’t be a problem (more on that shortly…).

I kept the style simple opting for Tricker’s beautiful Mogano brown Cordovan which has a conker like surface and colour. It’s similar to Horween’s amazing Colour 8, but without the redness. The colour and style means this is going to be a good all rounder, working with many outfits varying from smart to casual. The finishing touch is the inside lining in British Racing Green.

As always the order was placed with Stitched & Stitched favourite; The Shoe Healer. Doncaster’s finest gave very sound advice and honest opinions about Cordovan which was all taken on board when deciding the style. I’m going to write a little more about Cordovan in one of my next posts which will hopefully offer up some advice and thoughts for anybody thinking of purchasing a pair of shoes in this unique leather.

Inside lining in a British Racing Green (although hard to see in this image)
Tricker’s Box

M.T.O TRICKER’S BLACK SCOTCH GRAIN SUPER SHOE

Tricker’s Black Scotch Grain Super Shoe

As it’s getting close to autumn, I’m about to once again be stepping out in my first pair of custom made Tricker’s, ordered through Stitched & Stitched favourite; The Shoe Healer. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as wearing a pair of shoes you’ve ‘created’ yourself and, at the time, this model was only a fraction more expensive than ‘ready to wear’ options.

Heel detail
I ended up looking at a custom made option as I’d missed out on a pair of Tricker’s Scotch Grain Allan boots with a red dainite sole that I’d longed after for a while from The Bureau Belfast. When I went to order them at last, they’d sold out of my size. So with that style in mind, mixed with a long term want for a simpler pair of Tricker’s in black, I went about designing my own pair.
Rather tragically, and to satisfy my own curiosity, I chopped up The Bureau’s product shot of the Allan boots in Photoshop to make the shoe I was after. It was my first time buying custom made shoes, so I figured if I had a clear visual reference for Tricker’s to match to then nothing could go wrong. I realise this was totally excessive as I would now be completely confident consulting with Richard (The Shoe Healer) on shoe style and materials with his expertise as a guidance (kind of how men have been ordering bespoke shoes for centuries really).
Designing a shoe in Photoshop. There are a lot easier ways to order an MTO pair of shoes.

The chopped up image I gave to Richard to match to resulted in a classic Tricker’s Matlock in Black Scotch grain with natural leather and black dainite sole with brass coloured eyelets to highlight the natural leather of the sole.

The real deal came pleasingly close to the visual.
Tricker’s box

ALFRED SARGENT HAND GRADE

The Incredible Alfred Sargent AS Hand Grade ‘Forde’

Whilst visiting The Shoe Healer a few months ago, Richard (the proprietor) took time to show me an absolutely jaw dropping pair of hand grade Alfred Sargents which I can safely say are the finest pair of shoes I’ve personally ever laid hands on.

I’ve always been a Trickers man myself and never been a great believer in Alfred Sargent as I find that on the ‘country shoe’, large volume production level, Alfred Sargents do not match up to the quality of Trickers. I think Trickers are a more robust and hardy shoe. Superiority of quality shifts however when you get to Alfred Sargent Hand Grade. This, from The Shoe Healer’s website, sums them up pretty nicely:

“Attention to detail is evident in every aspect of AS Hand Grade shoes. The finest Calf Leathers carefully selected and Hand Cut, the stunning ‘Fiddleback Waist’, worked by hand on an Oak Bark Sole, finished and ‘Finger Polished’ to exacting standards. AS Hand Grade are unquestionably at the pinnacle of true English Hand Made Shoes.”

Astonishing quality aside, the styles of the hand grade collection are very formal and the only pair that really grab my interest are the stunning double monk straps pictured.

AS Hand Grade ‘Forde’ – images from The Shoe Healer’s website

Of course with such amazing quality there is a nausea inducing price to match. The fact that The Shoe Healer doesn’t publish the prices should prepare you for the kind of figures to expect, but rest assured you won’t find a better price than Richard can offer and that the shoes themselves are worth every penny – these are the next level of craftsmanship.

Detail of the sole where personalisation options are available. The soles are so sculptural you really don’t want to walk on them.

 

SOLE MAN

After nearly three years of pretty solid use one of my favourite pairs of Trickers was looking a little worse for wear. The shoe in question was a classic brogue stow boot in Marron antique. Over the course of their use the double leather sole had started to delaminate slightly and spread at the front the shoe. The rubber heel component had also worn away well into the leather.

Rather than take them to Trickers who tend to have long lead times for resoling and would no doubt recommend to unnecessarily replace the welt (which was in decent condition) I took them to my man in Doncaster; The Shoe Healer.

I’m going to write in more depth about Richard and his excellent team at The Shoe Healer in the coming weeks, but first I wanted to mention about the excellent job he did resoling these particular boots.

For the resoling I chose a red Dainite sole (due to their excellent durability and striking colour) mixed with a natural coloured leather. In order to achieve this Richard and his team took the edge off the Marron antique painted sole, cutting it back to the leather’s natural finish. Then they stripped the old heel and outsole away, retaining the welt and added a new leather outsole, the Dainite rubber, and added the new heel. The original Marron antique colour is retained at the top of the welt which makes for a pleasing, crisp colour change in to the edge of the natural leather.

The heel piece showing the top of the welt and it’s original colour

Richard also replaced the stitching on the welt to the sole, which a lot of cobblers won’t do as not many have the machinery and skills to carry this out. On my brogues they’ve replaced it with a matching brown thread, but they mentioned they’d been tempted to finish it with a contrasting cream thread which I’ve seen them do on other examples to great effect. I kind of wished they’d gone for it and next time I might specify this.

A detail of the clean new stitching, expertly replaced
Another shot of the heel

The result has transformed an unremarkable, shabby pair of Trickers in to a fresh and unique pair of boots of my own creation and at almost a third of the cost of taking them directly to Trickers (who in my past experiences are always unpleasant and awkward to deal with).

More on The Shoe Healer soon, but in the meantime check out their website and their gallery of custom made Trickers they’ve produced for an international customer base.