Over the years, men's shoes have taken a walk on the wild side in terms of colour and design. And although blue suede brogues with white soles might be all the rage this year, most men, whatever their age, would (wisely) steer clear. Fortunately when it comes to updating your footwear collection, there's no need to step out of your comfort zone to follow the latest trends.
This season, a lot of brands, young and old, are sticking to traditional designs and investing more in the construction, and less in making a colourful statement. Adopting either the tried-and-tested methods or engineering their own technically-advanced procedures, our new arrivals have a well-thought-out blueprint for their designs.
Young but wise
New to us this season is Oliver Sweeney - a brand that compared with a lot of British formal footwear companies is a relative newcomer. Founded in 1989, the company has manufactured its shoes in the same family-run factory in Italy since the first day of production. The patterns and detailing of each shoe and boot is cut by hand and skilfully sewn together. The uppers are then attached to the brand's unique Anatomical Last, designed to mimic the natural contours of a foot, resulting in a first-rate final product that looks meticulous and feels comfortable.
Yet when it comes to comfortable smart shoes, the Italian brand Geox has pretty much cornered the market. Christening itself with the tagline - the shoe that breathes - it aims to ensure your feet feel fresh all day long. Opt for a style like the Chelsea boot that can take you from the office to an evening out. Its cool, contemporary styling works just as well when married with a slim-fit suit as it does when teamed with jeans, a gingham shirt and a heavy-knit cardigan.
A classic collaboration
Another exciting development for AW12 is our Barker for John Lewis collection. Each style has a Goodyear-Welted construction. Just in case you've not sure what this is, I'll explain: Goodyear Welt involves stitching an extra strip of leather, known as the welt, between the upper and the insole. A cavity is formed, which is filled with cork for breathable insulation. Besides making the shoes more comfortable, this process also means they can easily be resoled to extend their life.
A genuine expert when it comes to this century-old technique, Barker goes through over 160 operations, many of which are carried out by hand and take 6 weeks to complete. Available with a hi-shine or standard finish, these timeless beauties are lightly burnished with cutting wax and polished off using antique creams to accentuate the rich colour of the leather.
So, as many people believe that shoes say a lot about a person, now's the perfect time (thanks to a huge choice of styles) to invest in some new footwear.