Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Having returned eagerly to London. After a month break at my Grandparents country estate close to Munich/ Germany, I really enjoyed the newly created London Collections: Men, an excellent showcasing of the British men's fashion. Ever since Beau Brummel created the 'modern' men fashion in the early 19th century, London has been the epicenter of men's dressing and style. While the ladies flocked to Paris to buy the latest couture, the gentlemen have always gone to 'their' London tailors, with Savile Row as its pulsing heart and the rest of Mayfair as its arteries.

For the true gentleman during the Victorian and Edwardian period, dressing was almost considered as a profession.  Women as well as men changed up to 6 times a day. So if you went to a shooting party at one of the famous Great English Country Houses, you had to change for hunting, tennis, walking,  biking which just came into fashion during this period, riding, polo, cricket and of course, in the evening into your 'tails'' for dinner were 'de rigeur' in polite society during the 19th century until after WWII. To keep the order in a gentlemen's wardrobe and helping dressing in an age without zippers,spandex and jeans,  a valet was as much of a 'must' as a watch and a cigarette.....

The ' Modern' Savile Row- an ongoing problem in the pinnacle of mens' fashion is  how to combine  century old sartorial traditions with the modern customers wishes and needs. Like The Monarchy- Savile Row and its tailors have been
pronounced dead as many times as the House of Lords.

Beau Brummel- the grand father of men's fashion. He introduced  a lot of rules  and innovations like the wearing of darker shades of material, the classic colour palette of beige, black, dark blue, camel, cream and white and an elegant simplicity. Yet on the other hand, he was very fussy about the cut of jackets and trousers, he was crazy for expensive cloth and absolute mad about his cravat which took him hours to arrange.
Therefore you should not be surprised that many ideas and expressions in men's fashion are British or better said from 'The Island' since the traditional wardrobe of a true gentleman or dandy derives from clothing items worn from Wales to Scotland from Ireland to Shropshire etc. Men's fashion has mainly been influenced by the sports and the army. Always with an emphasize of being able to move easily in ones clothes without loosing an air of elegance and since colour got more and more reduced all the excellence of a heroes wardrobe lay in the cut to the clothes in which British tailors excelled over the years.

And do not forget the accessories and of course the shoes. Next to the riding boots three main types of men shoes developed during the second half of the 19th century: The Derby Shoe, The Oxford Shoe and The Brogue shoe. The latter I would love this time to concentrate on since the Brogue has again for at least the last 5 years has been rediscovered by the hip crowd of Shoreditch and Hackney-and surprisingly also as the favorite foot gear for the girls!

What an example- everything I wanted convey can be found in this photograph- a cute trendy couple,  London skyline, and of course they both wear a pair of brogues- do you understand what I'm trying to be getting at? Yes, Brogues are true fashionable classics again! 

Today's brogues trace there origins to the rudimentary shoe originally invented by the Scots and Irish. The shoe was constructed in a way that the leather used had perforations that allowed water and damp to drain from shoes when the shoes were worn for crossing wet areas like a bog. And the word 'brogues' naturally comes from a late 16th century expression for 'leg covering'. Yet the word as I mentioned before is not yet British but a derivation of the Irish and Scots Gaelic word 'bróg'- going even further back to the Old Norse word ' brók'.  
The common use of the word brogue for this kind of shoe style came firstly at the very early of the 20th century into us.  During the time the brogues was used an outdoor country walking shoe traditionally worn by men. The brogue was not considered 'appropriate' for any other occasions, socially or professionally except for the use mentioned above. Yet we can see how fashions are changing even for men. The brogue nowadays is the basic stable shoe for every men and therefore offered in a multitude of styles as laced ankle boots, made from canvas, as a leather sneaker hybrid with rubber soles and also love by women a classic shoe or as high heeled women's shoe, thanks to the androgynous stars of the 20's and 30's like Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo. 
Yet enough of fashion history. My  readers who regularly follow my posts know that after an interesting introduction of an item your Fashion Philosopher is interested in, usually I introduce you to some interesting boutique which sells items which I was more or less 'philosophical' about-the Brogue shoe.

Back to my second hobby 'consuming', I found this great independent shop selling very well edited men's and women clothes in picturesque Durham City since 1996: Van Mildert.
This icon of independent clothes shop was the first shop outside of London selling brands like Dries Van Noten, Comme de Gracons and Helmut Lang in the 90's. Today it still stays at the top of bringing ubercool lables like Marc by Marc Jacobs, By Malene Birger, DVF Diane Von Furstenberg  to smaller cities  and it actually won three Drapers Awards in one year, in 2009! So we are not surprised that they are even expanding during our difficult times. Have a look at the merchandise and you know why!

Van Mildert's most southernly outpost : Meadowhall
On purpose I was looking for a boutique with 'character' and Van Mildert has a lot of it, selling its live style and taste from a 17th century Goal and successfully expanding, counting meanwhile six stores without loosing its forwarding thinking ways with great brands, a pinch of traditions yet going with the times by offering luxury brands together with young high street labels like Vero Moda, Almost Famous and G-Star therefore opening their doors also for the younger ones.

The first lifestyle boutique in Durham City, close to the famous cathedral-  here you can find this 'temple of beauty''.

At Van Mildert I struck luck with a great selections of brogues in an excellent price range and if you are lucky you can get them even in sale now. So let's start with my brogue hot list, shall we?

1.Although naturally I'm not a traditionalist in terms of fashion. Yet I consider it a 'must' to have at least one pair of classic brogues in your wardrobe, combined with a pair of great skinny jeans and flea market knit jumper and an Acne sport cap, I would defiantly go for the Clasto Black Brogue Shoes by the German luxury brand Boss Black.
Classic luxury for your feet- Clasto Black Brogue Shoes by Boss Black 

The Clasto Brogue is also available in  brown .

These pair of shoe are considered 'Full Brogues' also known ( especially in the USA) as 'wingtips'. Full Brogues must have a pointed toe cap with extensions ( wings) running along each sides of the toe, ending close to the ball of the feet. If you view the shoe from the top, perforation creates a 'W'-shaped pattern which some 'fashionisto intellectual' ( like me- ha, ha ,ha...) thought look like a bird with extend wings- therefore the expression.'wingtips'.

2. This pair of contrast colored brogues I chose since they have beautiful little details like an embossed logo to the side, the red contrast leather lining and a diamond pattern to the heel. Jeffrey West's Bilba College Black& College Gray Brogues I would consider as a true 'contemporary luxe' addition for you wardrobe.

Sleek& Chic- Jeffrey West's  Bilba College Black & College Gray Brogues           

The diamond shaped cut detail 

Here is a good example why Van Mildert is going from strength to strength  Their men's buyers just know what the successful gentleman of today wants- classic styles mixed with a urbane vibe and details which make the difference. By the way in regards to the red leather lining- in the 17th and 18th century only the king was allowed to wear red shoes or red heels....
3. Last but not least I fell in love with the suede leather brogue. For me, this style connects with the country life- the 'squire shoe' par excellence going back to the historical roots of the brogue as a shoe for outdoor country walking. My favorite 'country house brogue' at Van Mildert must be Paolo Vandini's Redress Camel Beige Brogue.

Paolo Vandini's Redross Came Beige Brogue- the modern country house style brogue 

I love the tartan textile lining in red- white
A very light shoe thanks to the rubber sole- and here again we find little details to elevate the classic brogue to a modern piece of footwear with a focus on style. Yet if you still want to keep your Barbour jacket and Mum's self knitted jumper- to add a bit of Hackney cool, roll up your jeans or cord trouser legs, like the Teds did in the 50's with their Levi's jeans, and be brave and go for a really unusual pair of socks. Lucky you, Van Mildert is also an ace in regards to accessories and stocks one of the most innovative and quirky sock labels around at the moment: Happy Socks. With them you will find lurid colours, block stripes, neon colours, animal prints etc. So if you feel brave enough at least to go 'eccentric-fashionable' with your socks you can bring a complete new flair to your country style.

By the way Van Mildert offers also a great range of jackets, trousers, jeans, jumpers etc etc from luxury to high street. With Van Mildert emphasize on sourcing and buying their brands with trend and innovation on their buyer's mind, it is really worth it to bookmark the internet shop in your personalized shopping pages!

I hope you enjoyed this rather extensive post- I did- and also I learned a lot about tradition, style and even language- and a lot about brogues of course! 


  1. Super Collection of beautiful Shoes ,, i have never seen shoe like this really they all are awesome Like it so much.

  2. I've just stumbled upon your blog and I really am quite glad I have. Brilliant, in-depth insight into just how men's fashion and the notion of sophistication and style was born and your appreciation of the brogue and all things classic is admirable!