A couple of months back I had a chat with Julian Nelson, the co-founder of A Fine Pair of Shoes who runs the shop with his wife Sarah. I had a little experience of their business, I had read about their shop and I had talked with people who knew them and I’d got the picture that they are offering nothing less than some high quality products with extremely fine and well customer service.
After chats and changing emails I’m happy to have AFPOS as the first official “supporter” of DressLikeA. To start this joint journey I will share with you some thoughts by Julian about the business, shoes and above all how to take care of them.
1) Tell a bit of your history, how did you end up founding A Fine Pair of Shoes?
J: I had a history in Commercial Finance and Sarah was in HR and we started with a love and admiration of fine footwear. We wanted our own business and 8 years ago, while working in other professions, started buying and selling fine footwear all made in England. This progressively grew and allowed us to concentrate more on driving the business in the right direction. We wanted to continue to focus on the high end English shoe manufacturers and developed A Fine Pair Of Shoes to do this. With our experience built up over several years we have progressed and built the business into something both myself and Sarah are very proud of. A small company with big ideas.
2) At the moment AFPOS carries Alfred Sargent and Sanders, why these?
J: We wanted to concentrate on niche manufacturers that offer something quite special in the world of English shoe making. These two companies offer these attributes and we are very proud to be official stockists of these brands. Their depth of knowledge and craftsmanship is quite simply stunning, and this bedrock of manufacturing excellence goes into every pair of shoes and boots Alfred Sargent and Sanders make.
3) Your basic advice for guys who are buying their first pair of “better shoes”?
J: Buy a pair that you are most likely to wear in your daily life. This way means that rather than keeping them for best, you will start experiencing the better quality straight away.
Once you have the basics covered you can add to your collection with shoes that entice you. Once you have a few pairs, you can rotate them so you spread the wear.
4) How large is your own collection of shoes and your favorite pair?
J: I have a few pairs of nice shoes that i wear and enjoy. They have to be practical for use as we run a business with lots of boxes, so I tend to favour Dainite and Commando sole as they are very hard wearing and better in our lovely Winter months.
My favourite pair are some Alfred Sargent Harrolds in Acorn Calf - hard wearing but polish up really well.
5) Any “secret tips” or how to achieve the perfect mirror shine?
J: Use the best products you have and care for your shoes regularly. That way you keep an eye on wear and can maintain those lovely shoes and boot you have worked hard for. My tip is to keep it simple - find the right colour for your shoes and apply only a small amount of cream at a time, working it into the leather in small rotations with either a cloth or a dauber. Leave to dry for 3-5 minutes then buff with a large horsehair brush to a shine. Once this has been done you can continue to develop a mirror shine on the toe with wax polish and a finger drip of water, slowly repeating the action until you get the shine you want.
My love for Alfred Sargent shoes is no secret. In my book AS is offering probably the best value for your money especially when talking about the exclusive range. You can find more pictures and thought about AS from here. Deviating from the previous practice AFPOS does from now on ship the AS Exclusives all over the world again. They are also offering an mto-order option (minimum of 6 pairs) for those who are interested.
I have no personal experience of Sanders yet but in case you are looking shoes for more casual wear I’d take a good look of their selection. The styling and colors of their casual collection are a bit more contemporary but according to Julian the craftsmanship is very traditional and
In addition to shoes AFPOS carries the best shoe care products (Saphir Medaille D'or) on the market, other shoe care equipments by La Cordonnerie Anglaise. and accessories like for example belts by AS, socks by Corgi and horn products by Abbeyhorn.
As you may have already notice, you’ll find the link that will take you AFPOS from the top of the page under the portrait picture.