Part 2: „It is relatively easy to kindle men’s passion for shoes“
May 21, 2016
In the second part of the three-part interview series, Bernhard Roetzel told us about British shoes, different makings and shoes from Germany.
Mr. Roetzel, shoes are one of your dominant fields of interest. Someone of the Northampton shoe industry one said in a mixture of frustration and dismay to Men’s Individual Fashion: „In Germany you can sell shoes nobody would buy in the entire world.“
I am not sure, whether this is right. The crowd globally wears very cheap shoes of the lowest quality. The small group of shoe connaisseurs in Germany is informed very well, often better than the men in England. In Germany, however, there is a preference for wide and short shoe shapes. This is really something special. These shoes however rarely come from Northampton. There someone told me once about this topic, that in Germany there are always many trends, which are important simultaneously, for instance carré form and rounded off shoe points. By contrast, in France or Italy there is only one trend at a time.
In Germany, what is the matter in Germany with shoes? German men would not hesitate to spend thousands of euros on car equipment, but seem unwilling to spend 200 to 300 euros on a decent pair of shoes.
Most men love cars just as the shoe connaisseur loves his beloved shoes. It is very easy to express status and taste via the car. The car is still a symbol of freedom and independence. I believe the car’s importance will continue to grow, since there is increasing political insecurity. The car becomes a the driving stronghold, in which you can cut yourself off.
So German men do not know the advantages of good shoes?
Exactly. They do not know about the positive impact on walking, overall appearance and wellbeing. They are not interested out of ignorance. In fact, it is relatively easy to arouse a man’s interest in shoes or to even kindle passion in him. There are guys, who never wear a suit but do wear bespoke shoes. In 99 percent of the cases the salespersons are incapable of kindling a man’s passion for good shoes; only the small specialist boutiques are able to do that.
In 1999 the international well-known English shoe manufacturer Church’s was sold to the Italian fashion group Prada. How did the Church’s brand develop since then?
I admit, I never bought any shoes by Church’s after the acquisition by Prada. I do know, however, that the quality at Church’s is once again good. Recently a friend purchased the model „Sahara“ and he adores it. Back in the days, Prada chiefly narrowed the selection and the last variety. The shoe shops were horrified and many did not offer Church’s shoes for some time. The major profiteer was for sure Crockett & Jones, which suddently found itself being brand No.1. Many of the old Church’s customers missed the homey features of the brand. From an objective point of view the shoes today are probably not worse than before. But still they do not appeal me anymore. I would like to have the old range of models and the old fashioned design of the boxes and the means of advertisement.
Crockett & Jones delivered the shoes for the last two James Bond movies, Cheaney and Edward Green are on the advance. So the decent shoe is still British?
The British are still No. 1 when it comes to Goodyear-welted shoes. There is no one who can outperform them in this aspect. Not without reason, Italians still love the traditional British brands. There are some very good manufacturers in Italy, which often offer some other makings in their selection, too. In my judgement, Crockett & Jones is on top. Cheaney and Grenson are very good as well and Edward Green anyhow. But if you look at the whole range of Crockett & Jones and the quality offered by them, you will see that there is nobody, who can outperform this manufacturer these days.
Many Italian quality shoes are glued and a bit lighter than British shoes. Glued shoes are often deemed low quality, especially when they are made in Germany. Are there well and badly glued shoes?
Of course, after all the quality of the leather and the other materials plays a role as well. A glued pump for white tie occasions made of decent calf leather for sure is better than a sticked one offered at a discounter. And even for Goodyear welted shoes, adhesives are used and this is nothing bad at all. In Germany, we simply have the situation that the manufacturers already quitted producing decent shoes in the 1970s; an exception are, for example, double stitched walking boots. Here the Germans are still very good.
Do you have some names of shoe brands from Germany, that a fashion prone man can take a look at?
There are some acceptable shoes at different quality levels which are designed and calculated in Germany; the manufacturing is generally done somewhere else. In my opinion in the first league Eduard Maier from Munich is on top, otherweise there is of course Kuckelkorn. Dinkelacker has very special last shapes, which usually do not attract the fashion prone man. But many suit wearing men, who do not like the fit of British and Italian shoes, wear them. At a more affordable level the collections of Shoepassion, Prime Shoes or also Scarosso offer interesting models. Scarosso, however, does not offer Goodyear welted shoes. The Goodyear welted inhouse brand of Goertz is not bad as well. And then there are several smaller brands, some of which have a nearly cult-like image, such as John Crocket in Cologne. But mind you, all of these shoes are not manufactured in Germany.
What about German shoe manufacturers?
If you want an in his sense genuinely German shoe, you will have to take a look at Trabert or Meindl or at our bespoke shoemakers such as Vickermann & Stoya, Klemann or Harai. Maybe at Bertl as well; I believe his double stitched shoes are from Germany. Or you could buy at the most German manufacturer ever, Birkenstock. By the way, I own a pair of their „Boston“ model.
Part 1: „Maybe the beard might demonstrate that men want to be men“
The third and last part will be published on Saturday May 28, 2016 at 10 am, Berlin time.
Subscribers to the newsletter already get the interview via email Friday night at 8 pm.
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