Being a middle-youth male from Northern Britain, I’ve long loved a suede shoe despite…or is it because of…suede being the most impractical material for a male from Northern Britain to have shoes made from. Whatever the reasons…faded casuals and academics (one and the same?) are discussing it as we speak…there’s no doubting the impact suede has had on the footwear choices of generations of Northern males.
I’ve had numerous pairs of Clark’s over the decades, dabbled with Native Craftworks and over the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to have Veras on the scene but I’ve worn suede shoes from any number of brands and many of them can still bring a twinkle to my eye.
Unfortunately none of the top three suede shoes I’ve owned are available any more but I can recall them as if they were on my feet right now.
‘Wallabies’ from Faith in the Arndale Centre in Manchester: With typical Northern impracticality/disdain these were bought for raving in smelly warehouses and sweaty nightclubs in and around the North-West. They had a much thinner sole than Clark’s Wallabees, narrower shape and thinner stitching at the front and came in four different colours. This being 1989/90 I opted for a pastel green pair alongside a more sober sand colour. I can’t remember how either of them stood-up to the battering they must have taken. I had other things in my mind.
Desert boots from Stead & Simpson: Clark’s claim to make the classic Desert boot but they’re well wide of the mark. Whilst they’re undoubtedly iconic, reasonably well made and the official shoe of Reggae music and all that their classic[sic] Desert boot isn’t all that and they look a bit too thingy. They have a heel that’s too high, a seam that’s too wide and they’re too fat at the toe. Your actual classic Desert boot comes from Stead and Simpson. Low cut, two eyelet softer suede and less-rounded at the toe. And all for a tenner. They were a tenner in 1987 anyway. They also had the crucial element of the wormy sole. If they haven’t got that sole that looks like fossilised maggots then they aren’t proper Desert boots.
Moccasins from George at Asda: One of Asda’s buyers must have gone sourcing in Peru and necked a load of Ket but for about 6 weeks in 2003, George at Asda were selling the most perfect suede moccasins. They ‘looked’ hand-stitched, they were a great shape and had a lush natural colour. And they were twenty six quid a pair. I bought four pairs and wore them all until they fell-apart. I also had a couple of pairs of Clark’s Wallabees at the time but they couldn’t get a look-in. They were undoubtedly made in a sweatshop by malnourished child-workers and it’s probably a good thing they their appearance was so brief but they were fucking nice moccasins tbf.