I don't know about you, but I don't leave the house much these days. Removing the office from my list of daily destinations dramatically affected my taste in (and need for) more formal footwear, thus recent pivots towards more casual makers like Viberg.
As such, the London Super Trunk Show is not just a much-needed excuse to get out of the house and into Central London, but also to get hands-on with some of the most exciting brands in quality footwear. The event is sponsored by Jesper at Shoegazing and Justin at the Shoesnob, so if you want full details on the event (and of course the exhibitors) check the two articles linked. There is a raft of brands in attendance, and I won't cannibalise Justin and Jesper's work by listing them all.
The standout makers for me are the ones that have come up quickly in the last few years, particularly during Covid, which of course delayed the Trunk Show itself in 2020 and 2021. This piece will run through three of them.
Acme are the most exciting - a Chinese maker whose hand welted shoes are probably seen as the best value shoe (for the level of quality they provide) on the market. I know that might sound like the kind of thing all up-and-coming brands like to claim, but it really is true with Acme.
The model I've seen most represented from them on Instagram have been variants of the single buckled split-toe monkstrap, shown below. And with good reason - it's a beautiful design, and I've written several times recently about my particular fondness for the single monkstrap shoe.
I've been nervous about ordering with them as I wouldn't want to risk a bad sizing guess like my experience with Yeossal, so actually getting to see the product in person and potentially be measured for an order is really tantalising.
TLB Mallorca occupies a similar position of regard in terms of their value for money, although operating at a rather lower price point. I'm looking forward to handling some given how much traction they have gained on the internet in the last couple of years.
While TLB's whole ouput seems well-respected, it is their Artista line that has drawn particular attention for the fineness of finishing and generally higher-level features than you would expect at a sub-£500 price point. I did a comparison of one of their Artista pairs in comparison to my Gaziano & Girlings, and the TLB shoes emerged exceedingly well given the price differential. An image from that comparison is below, with the G&Gs on top and the TLB underneath.
Lastly, I'm excited to see Paolo Scafora. Those in the know will associate Scafora with extraordinarily well-made, often very flamboyant shoes. While I won't claim to love everything they do, there could be a space on my shoe rack for one of their more outgoing designs to break out on special occasions, like these exceptionally cool wingtips made with the Noble Shoe, shown below.
Beyond the exhibitors, there is also the Final of the World Championships in Shoe Patina, Final of the World Championships in Shoe Shining, and the Award ceremony for the World Championships in Shoemaking. Of these three, the last is the most interesting for me.
Makers from across the world submit a competition shoe which is judged to the criteria listed here. This really brings out the cream of the crop in shoemaking, and this year's model requirements - a longwing brogue derby in reddish brown leather - should show some interesting results.
One of the noticeable aspects of previous winners is that the shoes - while stunning as pieces of aesthetic art and sculpture - are pretty much useless in terms of being... erm... shoes. Master shoemaker Daniel Wegan's winning pair from 2019, while being technically peerless, were so exaggeratedly narrow that it seemed almost unfair to other makers who had tried to stick a rather more traditional ratio of length to slimness.
This has been addressed by the requirement that the shoe submitted be within two standard width measurements of the required UK 8 shoe size, which seems enough to accommodate slimmer but also intentionally chunkier models. A wise decision, I think.
It kicks off at 11am on Saturday 7th May, at Showcase.co, 12 Regent Street. Check Justin and Jesper's blog for far, far more info.