Steve Robinson - James Taylor & Son.
I don’t like exotic leather shoes. Most of the time I compare them to a beautiful woman wearing excessive make-up. They try somehow to make a splash and say “Look at me! Am I not beautiful?” Excessive preciosity can be annoying. I think that the shoe has a sine-qua-non beauty. Exotic leather distracts my attention from the beauty of the form. Less is more, in my opinion.
However, I have to admit that sometimes the match between the shoe and the leather can be seductive. I must admit that Koji Suzuky’s exotic leather shoes, or Cleverley shoes made of genuine Russian Leather (if we can count that as exotic leather) seriously shook my theory. Elegance is not excluded when we talk about exotic leather, and some models even have a conservative look.
Some time ago, when the opinions regarding exotic leather weren’t nuanced I saw a pair of Maftei derby shoes made of black ostrich leather. I was amazed. I looked like Richard Gere watching Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. What attracted me about that model? Where did its elegance come from? I still cannot answer to those questions. But it was love at first sight and since then I lived thinking about my Vivian Ward.
And since good things happen to people who wait, I have in my feet an identical pair of shoes, almost identical to the Maftei pair in my story. The name of the brand – Paul Parkman. The shoes (plain-toe handmade derby shoes) are made in Istanbul, Turkey, and honestly I was a bit skeptical at first, regarding their quality. Not often did I have problems with Turkish products. Istanbul is a huge market where you can buy anything starting with leather, linings or soles, but in 95% of the cases the quality leaves much to be desired.
Polat Sendir, the founder of Paul Parkman, assured me that things weren’t like that at Paul Parkman, and that each pair was given all the attention. He even connected me with the shoemaker Murat Erbas, who was dealing with my own pair of shoes, which was actually nice. Anyway, I have all the admiration for their client service. The ostrich leather is very soft, buttery and pleasant at touch. The squared last is pleasant and ensures a satisfactory comfort. The channels of the soles (Goodyear welted) are closed and overall the shoes are crafted with care. Time however will decide if the shoes will conduct properly. For the time being I am pleased with them.
One thing Polat could work on would be the quality of the materials used inside the shoe, and he should also change the provider of the glue used for gluing the insole. It smells rather loud. I had to keep them air for an entire day in order for the smell to go away. This can be an upsetting thing, when you open the box. As a grand result, if you ignore the details above (which can, however, become annoying) Polat does a good job. I cannot say anything about the quality/price ratio at Paul Parkman because I am not interested in the exotic leather shoes, but it’s worth to take a peek on their website (paulparkman.com/). Plus, Polat is willing to modify RTW models, so you can have actually some sort of a hidden MTO.