On my trip in London I also had the pleasure to visit at Wildsmith Shoes on Savile Row, sharing address with the famous tailoring house Cad&The Dandy.
I took a glimpse of the newly launched collection and also had a chance to have a little chat with Ian, one of the new owners of the company.
Unlined apron loafer Bloomsbury is definitely one of the core designs of the new collection. A modern version inspired by the classic "Wildsmith loafer".
Wildsmith shoes back in the day and today
Wildsmith shoes was originally founded in 1847 by Rebecca & Matthew Wildsmith in Piccadilly, London. For generations they were purveyors of English shoes and boots. Initially they started with serving and repairing boots for the Household Cavalry but as their reputation spread they built up a clientele who wanted fine shoes as well.
Over the years Wildsmith have made shoes for Kings, Princes, Presidents and movie stars; King George VI (for who the company designed and made the world's first ever slip-on loafer, model 582), Prince Charles, John F Kennedy and Gary Grant to mention a few.
Through the years (since 1980s) Wildsmith first moved from shoemaker to primarily a seller of re-branded ready-to-wear shoes made by companies such as Edward Green and Crockett&Jones and in 2006 the original Wildsmith eventually came to the end and the business simply closed up.
Since the close-up of the company, John Wildsmith the oldest and last member of the family still involved with the business was looking forward to find someone to continue the heritage and tradition of Wildsmith. After the met-up with Chay Cooper (who formerly worked for Alfred Sargent) and Ian Meiers & James Sleater of Cad & The Dandy both parties saw the occasion as a perfect fit and opportunity to resurrect a great English company producing high-quality shoes.The new owners have also got the old-man Wildsmith still on hand for advice and help, which considering the knowledge and experience of the man can not be anything but a great asset for the company in the future.
In the recent phase of the story the newly launched company will continue to work with the skilled craftsmen of Northamptonshire who have over 100 years of experience in exceptional shoemaking.
I do not just hope but I'm also pretty sure that "the new Wildmsmith" will reach their aim to offer that same quality and attention to detail that gave the original Wildsmith shoes their esteemed acclaim back in days.
What about the range?
The new collection at this moment includes 12 different models (featuring chukka boot, single monks, brogue and cap-toe oxford, brogue and 2-eyelet plain toe derby and a saddle & penny loafer) in various leather and color choices. All of the shoes are goodyear-welted and made by using only the very best calf leathers and suedes; leathers that are mainly from Italy, although some Germany and France and suede from Steads in England. As said the shoes are made and leather soles all tanned in England. With the 350-450£ price range this collection will definitely challenge the players such as Crockett&Jones, Alfred Sargent and Carmina.
Overall it could be said that the new line is distinctly British and influenced by classic British tradition and heritage but at the same time updated in terms of designs if compared to the old ranges of Wildsmith footwear. Most of the shoes are made primarily to be used with more business oriented attires but there are also many designs that will fit perfectly also in more casual occasions.
Finally some of the most interesting models from the range. In addition to these I want to highlight the George chukka boot in oxblood pebble grain calf and the Piccadilly Oxford in fox suede that unfortunately weren't available during my visit.The Grosvenor single-monk in burnished midnight blue calf featured with midnight blue suede is definitely one of the top pieces of the collection. I might be biased in this a little as the model resembles a lot the mto-single monks I ordered from AS couple of years ago. I keep on believing that Chay kept the color and material combination in mind during designing this one. Another beuaty-piece of the collection is the Brunswick oxford featuring the exceptional diamond punch holes in the broguing.
Made on the sleek 283 last the St.James single monk is on place especially with a suit but can also be worn with more casual outfits such as tapered denim. I hope they will come up also with other color options than the black calf.
More detailed review of the Trinity saddle loafer coming up later. This caught my eye and mind in a way I couldn't let go.
Covent - the modified wingtip is a classic model not many companies are offering. Featuring a detailed perforated square vamp and a deep burnished mahogany finish.
Diffent lasts part I - 574, 216, 216
Different lasts part II - 574,283, 283
Shoecare products by Wildsmith to top off the selection - made in England.
Shoe trees from the old days of the company.
Today's shoe trees - made by using the exact replicas of the last used when making the shoes.
As mentioned before I'm really happy and excited to see this old and respectable brand coming alive again in the hands of skillful people. Through the years that I've known Chay and seen him doing his work I'm sure he is just the right man for this and considering the results that Ian & James have come up with Cad&The Dandy, I'm eager to see what these guys will come up with!