Crockett & Jones Veldt Vintage Shoe Review
While not a huge vintage collector of vintage shoes compared to some of the people over on the Styleforum vintage shoe thread, a certain number of older shoes have crossed my desk during a long career flipping shoes from charity shops on eBay.
There is an unusual charm to buying well-made vintage shoes. Shoes are, by their nature, objects that go through a very traumatic life, exposed to weather and wear and physical trauma that most items are not. With that said, leather is a hard-wearing material, and as any obsessive shoe-collector will tell you, the construction benefits of well-made shoes allow them to survive for a long time if properly cared for - to survive not for just years but decades.
Additionally, while styling trends and sensibilities will come and go over the years, many 50 or 60-year-old men's dress shoes are still relatively wearable today as part of a modern outfit. The same cannot really be said for tailoring, which is more likely to fall to pieces physically or look rather aesthetically outdated or costumey.
Occasionally, I'll consciously go out of my way to pick up a vintage pair, as with these Crockett & Jones. This is a bit of a follow-up to a post about a pair of similarly vintage from the same maker from a few months past, although this pair are somewhat more stylistically relevant and practical than that pair.
The model name of this pair is "Veldt", which is of course a clue to their construction methods. Veldtschoen construction is an occasionally seen alternative to Goodyear welting, generally renowned for its ability to resist water.
In Veldtschoen construction, the leather of the uppers is folded away from the shoe and stitched through the welt to the sole. By doing so, water has pretty much no chance to penetrate the shoe except through a physical hole in leather uppers, even when waterlogged.
The downside of this welting method is related to the upside of Goodyear welting - when a resole is needed, the replacement stitching will need to go through the original holes in the uppers into the new sole, which will weaken the leather over time and may also be a very unfamiliar task for many cobblers. With Goodyear welting, the welt can replaced at no detriment to the leather uppers.
None of this will be particularly obvious to the layperson at a glance though. What we do see is quite a handsome, weighty pair of shoes that have so far proved quite comfy.
The uppers are an oxblood Zug (grained) leather. Having long wondered exactly what Zug leather is, it seems to originate from the Swiss town of Zug, with a particular tanning method that aids in the material's water resistance and gives the leather a good resistance to physical wear. To the hand, it is relatively rigid and thick.
In appearance, Zug has a rather more pronounced and raised grain than a standard scotch grain leather -for comparison, underneath the Veldt pair above is a closeup of a pair of grained Crockett & Jones Islay. You can see how raised the grain is in comparison, whereas the Islay leather looks rather flatter.
The shoes themselves are probably around 50 years old - it's hard to be more precise, but that's around the period C&J were using the old iteration of their logo found on the footbed. With that in mind, the condition is very good. The leather has a nicely aged patina, with a slight reverse patina fade setting in at the toes, but is relatively free of creasing.
Stylistically they feature a relatively short, plain captoe, with an unusual seam detail of one larger stitch bordered by smaller ones. A subtle vintage-looking detail, but not an overpowering or dated-looking one. They are faux toecaps rather than separate pieces of leather.
My favourite feature (and the main reason for buying them) are the dovetail seams on the side, which are a bit evocative of the Edward Green Galway. They feature the same stitch detailing as at the toecaps. Interestingly this design feature is found on many Veldtschoen derby shoes from other makers, perhaps a reflection of the design of the original historical model?
Gratifyingly this pair include full bellows tongues, where the tongue is folded and attached on both sides of the inner lining. This is of course good for water resistance, but also nice for those of us who loathe having a tongue that slides to the side during wear.
The welt stitching could best be described as a bit rustic. Sturdiness is clearly the priority over neatness or high SPI here. The welt joints are quite messily done.
The soles are well-worn, but not feeling like a resole will be needed for some time, which is fortunate as I'll need to find somewhere to send them off to be resoled. Some interesting nail patterns on the waist.
Inside you can see the Crockett & Jones older logo, as compared to the newer one you are probably more used to. The footbed is well-worn, which is a good indicator of how much action a shoe has seen over the years. You can see from the sizing label they are on the 232 last, EX fitting.
I'm going to give them a bit of polishing, but don't want to strip back the established patina needlessly. A good purchase overall, and the colouring provides a bit of contrast to the many pairs of brown shoes currently floating around my collection.