Friday, April 15, 2011
Today being the deadline for paying one's income taxes in the United States, the occasion is right for a post on a form of economy. Though I admit that the form in question will be questioned by some, having to do as it does with the useful life of a pair of hand-made bespoke shoes that when new lighten a man's wallet by some $3,400 (£2,100 ) a pair for calf or (much) more if the shoes in question are made from a hide taken from an alligator or other exotic creature.
Expensive though they may be, the best bespoke shoes have a value proposition of their own nonetheless, for the sewing and the materials are the best, and the shoes last for decades. The pair in the photo in fact were recently returned to George Cleverley by their owner, a man who wore them regularly for more than forty years after their construction in 1968 but has finally elected to order a replacement.
Now I will grant you that to American eyes it will appear as though these shoes reached the end of their useful life some time before this. A certain class of Englishman however, including the current Prince of Wales and others who can afford to wear essentially whatever they want, keeps their shoes until holes are worn in the uppers (a custom documented in 1983 in The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook), has them patched and then continues wearing them. But even if we reject that custom out of hand and declare shoes to be worn out when that first hole appears in the upper, the cost of reasonably rotated bespoke shoes is amortized over more than thirty years.
Despite allowing for the cost of two or three new soles during that time, less than $200 a year for a pair of the highest quality leather dress shoes does sound like a bargain of a sort.