Choosing a shoe is a tough job in Bucharest. The visits to the mall can be terrifying – you find horrible shoes at shameless prices, the so-called handmade shoes with glued soles and so on. The “quality shoes” offer is quite limited, most of the retailers having on their shelves shoes that can “complete the outfits”, not ones who would provide the client with quality shoes. Many gentlemen forget that the value of a good shoe is sensitively equal to that of the suit. The shoes are not accessories but the basis on which the outfit of a man is based.
Although at first glance retailers are the bad boys in this story, we must keep in mind the fact that people invest in their business and they sell what the client asks for. The concept regarding the fact that the level of the costume’s education level of the buyer is low because the seller won’t educate the buyer respects the purely Romanian vision according to which it is always someone else’s fault. The Romanian client should educate himself, should know how to ask for quality from the seller, should pay attention to details and afterword should complain that there are no places to buy from. To throw the entire blame upon sellers is not fair, although they too have their sins (and not few). After all, they only sell what is asked for.
Going back to shoes, I was searching for a tassel loafer for the summer. The ideal model for me is Edward Green Belgravia. Since I never tested the 184 last though, I was afraid to buy it online, especially because it is quite pricey and because loafers must suit you perfectly, so that you won’t torture your feet while walking in them as if they were flip-flops. Generally, these are shoes that you wear often, so any small callus can be very painful, especially since, during summer, feet may swell due to the heat.
So here I was, in that annoying moment of uncertainty, when I saw a similar model from Loake on a British website. liked what I saw: the quality seemed to be good. Temple, because that is the model I’m talking about, is the top of the range from Loake – 1880, and the price is three times lower than the one of Edward Green. Edward Green obviously has advantages, when compared to Loake (better leather, better sole etc.) but I wasn’t searching for perfection. It seemed to be a good deal, so I decided to try out the last, considering that Loake has a representative in Romania, Matei Ladea (Sarto) to be more precise.
Knowing I was passionate about shoes and especially intrigued by the fact that I had never tried a Loake before, Matei challenged me to pick a pair from the entire Loake collection and to let him kow my impression. Since I knew exactly what I wanted, I picked Temple from the top range – Loake 1880. It is a goodyear welted – open channel loafer, built on a special loafer last. Since I knew how Loake dealt with the construction, I was mostly curious to see how the leather looked like. I had only seen the shoes in photos, but the path from photos to reality is a long one. The leather is very nice. The color is chestnut, with slightly burnished tips. The burnish is discreet, making the Temple a very elegant shoe. The braided lace and the fringes come to the scratch, and the shoe is well balanced as a whole. The leather gets a very nice colour after two-three polishes. The discreet burnish helps a lot with the relaxed aspect of this model. It fits very well my foot, does’t come loose in the back side, and the instep is fixed without being too tight. The shoe follows properly the line of the foot, supporting it very well. Loake did a very good job with the Temple loafer last. It is not a small thing to find in a RTW shoe a last that comes so well, especially considering the fact that we’re talking about a loafer – a shoe that demands an (almost) perfect last. Loake has other loafer lasts too, but I was very comfortable with this one.
To resume, I’d say that Loake Temple impresses through leather – a leather that gets a beautiful patina after a few polishes – and comfort – it doesn’t need time for accommodation and the support is good. It is not Edward Green Belgravia, but it doesn’t pretend to be. Temple is a shoe which you cannot reproach anything from the point of view of the quality/price ratio. To be honest, I do not know who could beat it on the Bucharest retail market. If there are counter candidates, let me know.