Comparing £1,600 Gaziano & Girling Hayes Deco with a very similar pair of £365 TLB Mallorca Artista
Specs of shoes being compared
Gaziano & Girling Hayes, Square Deco, UK 9.5 left /10 right, Vintage Rioja calf, Burgundy lizard
TLB Mallorca Artista 107 Adelaide Oxford, Soft Square, Burgundy Vegano Leather
A frequent question when discussing shoes past the £200 pricepoint "is x shoe worth the extra cost compared to y?" It can be hard to answer - the general conclusions were:
1) diminishing returns on cost are very much a thing
2) If you can drop £5,000 on a pair of shoes, you're probably not staying up at night worrying about the "value"
With that in mind, last year got along to the Gaziano & Girling sample sale and, after a long queue in the rain, snagged a lovely pair of Hayes Adelaides with lizard facing on the soft-square Deco last. They were in brand new condition at a sample sale price of £550 - I'd guesstimate the retail to be £1,600 given the lizard skin and that the Deco last is generally M2O.
When I got home I realised they were extremely aesthetically similar to TLB Mallorca's Artista 107 Adelaides, a shoe I'd been eyeing up for a while as a possible wedding shoe. This isn't an accusation of plagiarism or anything. Shoe companies don't own designs (certainly in terms of copyright - maybe the ethics are a bit blurrier but let's save that for another day).
But it's good for consumers to have the choice of what are very different price points, and I don't think TLB are going to be stealing potential customers from G&G. They are undeniably very similar-looking designs, so they make for a valid comparison. What does the extra £1,200 really get you?
You'll also find comparison sliders with some images.
Note: This is just a discussion of the design - I can't speak to comfort or leather quality because I don't own the TLBs (and I'm unlikely to buy them now!) but hopefully it gives some context.
To give the best comparison I've collated all the images of the TLBs I can find online and taken similar G&G shots for comparison - thanks to Misiu academy for their detailed review that I've pilfered info and images from. As I understand it the Artista range was also developed in collaboration with Jesper from Shoegazing, so interested to see if he drops by with any thoughts. There's a thoughtful article on the development of the range on his blog here which is worth a read first.
Note pt II: I have no association or contact with any of the brands, blogs or companies listed above, and no particular horse in the race. Just thought it might be informative.
Probably about £1,600 RRP for the G&Gs as this model is made to order only and features lizard leather on the lace facings, vs. £365 for the TLBs.
G&G features a sturdy black box, with two branded shoe bags, polishing cloth, leaflet and spare laces. The TLB is a slightly more austere experience with a less distinctive box and shoe bags.
The upper end of British brands provide a pretty uniform experience generally - sturdy box, two bags, cloth, leaflet, spare laces, maybe a shoehorn and sometimes insoles or polish thrown in.
Both shoes are 5 eyelet Adelaide oxfords with a medallion toe. "Adelaide" shoes are distinguished by the U-shaped facing around the laces, a design pioneered in the 1970s. It's a strong and versatile design overall - not too fiddly, but with enough visual interest points.
G&Gs Deco last takes its name from the Art Deco movement. A distinctive feature of Art Deco design is the combination of sweeping curves with sharp, angular lines, which is abundant in G&Gs Deco Designs.
As a piece of design, the G&G Deco shoes are about as aggressive as you can get without looking overly, comically stylised. You can feel the hug around every part of the foot - it's a credit to the skilled people at G&G that they are still very comfortable.
The TLBs clearly have a bit more volume to them - look at the difference in the instep shape - but would still be considered close-fitted compared to models from other brands.
Silhouette & Profile
This is a good example of the subtle but noticeable difference in overall feel between the two shoes. You can clearly see how much lower and more fitted the instep on the G&G shoes are.
You can also see the quality of the burnishing on the toes and heels for the G&G shoes compared to the TLB.
Related to the above, the TLB toe, while far from blobby, pales in comparison to the arrowhead-like magnificence of the G&Gs. Of course for a lot of people the G&Gs are just a bit *much* in terms of style - you might even prefer the TLBs more understated design.
The G&G Deco last does make shoes look very...well... long - compare the length here of the UK 9.5 G&G with a UK 10 Crockett & Jones.
The medallion hole pattern is almost identical between the two brands. A visible difference is that the G&G shoes use a mixture of smaller round holes with larger diamond-shaped ones; TLB are all round, regardless of size. Unsure if one signifies more effort than the other, as you'd need a different sized punch for the larger and smaller circles regardless.
The medallion of the G&G sits entirely on the top of the toe, whereas the TLB spills onto the sides. I think I prefer the G&G approach personally, but it's subjective.
Adelaide seam and facing
The most obvious difference (which is saying something as it's still relatively subtle) is the flare of the corners of the Adelaide seam in the G&Gs - it kicks out at the corners rather than forming smooth lines like the TLB.
I definitely prefer the G&G approach here - the extra sharpness to the angle nicely complements the overall design and profile, compared to the slightly softer feel of the TLBs.
Like the medallions, the TLB facing border extends slightly further down to the quarters of the shoe, whereas the G&G border stays on the vamp.
Unsure if the TLB tongue is held in place with hidden stitch as the G&G ones are. The most obvious difference in terms of craftsmanship is that [the hole-punching pattern is applied along the edge of the G&G tongue](https://imgur.com/D9vVwhQ), a feature absent from the TLB.
It's not a super common feature - I spotted something similar in the George Cleverley bespoke wingtips I reviewed a while ago. It's not a big deal, but it provides a nice sense of design cohesion and almost certainly adds some extra faff in the production process.
Backseam, heel cup and stack
Both shoes feature a dogtail back seam - the TLB overlap is rounded, whereas G&Gs is squared off. Maybe G&G use a squared-off one to complement the more pronounced angles of the Adelaide border shape?
Note the triple stitching of the G&G backseam, vs. the single stitch directly along the seam of the TLB shoes.
You can start to see more of a difference in the slimness of the heel cup of the G&G shoe here, and the tapering heel stack of the G&Gs compared to the TLBs. Interestingly in his article on the development of the line, Jesper shows prototypes that are quite similar to the G&G heel shape.
Sole shape and finish
A tight, bevelled waist is de rigeur these days, with both models showing a pretty similar approach. The overall neatness of the sole finish is where you can see the difference in craftsmanship - note the sweeping lines of the black sections of the G&G soles compared to the uniform TLB. Both shoes are closed stitch, perhaps expected at G&G price levels but a nice bonus given the TLB pricing.
The breast of the G&G heels (the concave, forward-facing part) are more aggressively curved than the TLBs. Both heels feature a very similar nail pattern - 4 lots of three nails in a triangle.
An interesting detail - Jesper explains that the waist bevel of the TLB extends all the way underneath the heel (as the G&G does). Ordinarily, at this price point any bevelling would end before the heel so that a flat heel seat can be applied - you can imagine the extra complexity it creates working to a curve.
This is a good illustration of where a maker might choose to draw the line in terms of production - undoubtedly this adds cost and complexity to the make, and it's a detail probably a tiny fraction of customers would ever appreciate. Conversely, it's a slippery slope if you start trying to skimp on the details.
This one's hard to get a clear image of, but the lining of a shoe often shows the extra craftsmanship quite clearly - everything just looks neater and more consistent.
This isn't something I've ever been very precious about - after all, the only time other people really see your shoes is when you're wearing them!
Welt, edges and fudging
What a good band name "Welt, Edges and Fudging" would be. Jesper writes at length about the efforts that went into smoothing the edge of the TLBs, which needed to be finished by hand for full smoothness. The fudging is slightly different between the two, and clearly more pronounced on the TLB shoes. Can't say one is "better" than the other, though I prefer the G&G's look.
Having read all this back, it speaks well for the value proposition of the TLB shoes. The difference is I think best summarised as the G&G shoes as being a more refined and dramatised version of the design. The actual physical differences would probably only really be spotted by fellow enthusiasts. There is generally a very slight impression of roughness in the finishing for the TLBs where the G&Gs are generally flawless.
Given that the TLB Artista shoes were so carefully designed to include some of these finer design elements, you may find the comparison of limited value - something like comparing a fine watch to one made to very carefully imitate one. Certainly, it would be good to compare against similar designs from brands like Carmina or more entry-level brands like Loake to get a really meaningful breakdown.
This whole deep-dive has also reminded me how well made G&Gs shoes are - I'd highly recommend you identify your size and then keep an eye out for them on eBay, as they can generally be grabbed for about the same price as this sample sale pair.