I’ve recently purchased my first pair of whole-cut shoes. I’ve long been an admirer. If you have not come across them, whole-cuts are shoes made from a single piece of leather. They are really quite tricky to make.
Shoes are much more commonly made from a number of pieces of leather which are stitched together to form the shape of the vamp. In order to make whole-cuts shoemakers have to achieve the same end but with a single very carefully cut and shaped piece of leather.
The result is a wonderfully clean design, with no stitching at all, apart from at the rear of the shoe. Some shoemakers go for a very minimalist whole-cut, showing off the clean design to its full effect. Others replace the stitching with subtle brogueing to add some features.
Regular readers of my blog might recall that I was looking for a pair of shoes in grey as My Next Target to complete my 5YP last year. I ended up going with a great pair in grey suede from Ben Sherman, but they weren’t quite was I was looking for.
So I kept my eyes open and then came across this fabulous pair from Melvin & Hamilton in charcoal. I couldn’t resist these beauties. Even better I could kill two birds with one stone: a great pair of charcoal formal shoes and I get to scratch my whole-cut itch at the same time.
This particular example has a wonderful patina with a hand finished coloured finish so that no two pairs are identical. I anticipate that over time with some polish applied that patina will only become more rich and varied.
Melvin & Hamilton are shoemakers based in India who market themselves with a English brand name. M&V claim to follow traditional English shoe making standards and traditional craftsmanship techniques. They certainly are happy to broadcast their name by printing it on the rear of the shoe as well as on the sole.
My shoe collection already includes a pair from M&V with which I have been very pleased. So I have every expectation that these will be equally wonderful. I don’t imagine that they will necessarily be in quite the same category as a pair of Barker’s or Church’s but then they don’t cost anywhere nearly as much as either so that is a reasonable compromise.
For whole-cuts try Barker, Charles Tyrwhitt, or Melvin & Hamilton. The seriously well funded might try Gaziano & Girling or Leffot.