England vs Italy by Guillaume Bo of Men Need More Style

England vs Italy.

No, it’s not a football game. This is about their very different styles. For decades, a gentlemen had to choose which he wanted to follow. The British school is all about rules and codes that are very established. The Italian school is more about freedom, seduction and comfort. This is also the case for shoes.

For example, nowadays we can see a lot of men wearing their loafers without socks or with invisible socks. This is a typically Italian look that, for a British gentleman, is highly unorthodox, and constitutes sacrilege! In the British view a gentleman must not show his hairy ankles and I agree. Wearing formal or business attire can inspire a “style saving” restraint. This helps you to appreciate that you do not only wear clothes and shoes for yourself, but in a large measure as a way to communicate about yourself, to help other people understand you.



So British is best? No.

It can be very “cool” to rock your nice tassels and even monk shoes with more casual combinations. It says to the world: “hey, I’m a gentleman but I’m not that obsessed by myself. I’m open, I’m alive, I’m dynamic”. Italian style takes the essence of British style, the best of it, then modifies and softens it. They learnt the rules so they could break them.


So Italian is best? No.

You can like both schools as I do. Elegance is all about balance, not rules. First and foremost it is about knowing what flatters you and how you feel about what you are wearing. Which style you find most suitable can vary depending on your emotions, your social life and your work.

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Thankfully our world is not as small as it used to be. Our tastes and inspirations have been evolving as influences from around the world inspire us. Good taste can be found in Asia, America, Africa, anywhere. But don’t forget gentlewomen and gentlemen, classic style is timeless, secure and understated but should never be boring at all.

So gentlemen, it is a draw, Italy 1- England 1 and we are all winners.

Shoes speak louder than words,

Guillaume Bo



What is a ‘last’ shape and why is it important?

Without doubt one of the biggest questions when buying a handmade, lasted shoe is, ‘will shoes made on this last shape fit me?’ Firstly I will try and explain exactly what a last is.

If you can picture a wooden shoe tree then you have a basic idea of what the last looks like. It is a piece of wood that is shaped a unique way, that will form the shape of the shoe when the leather is stretched over it.

Highly skilled craftsmen tack the leather onto the last to ensure it is evenly stretched. Excess leather is then pared away so the shoe-maker can start attaching the sole to the upper. The shoe will stay on the last shape until they are ready to be polished and boxed.

Individual bespoke lasts in one of the factories we use in Northampton


As you can imagine, there are many different last shapes from manufacturer to manufacturer. You will still find that last shapes cross over from style to style, for example the Herring Gosforth  is a Chukka boot made on the 026 last, as is the Herring Knightsbridge, an oxford toe cap shoe.  Although they are two different styles, the footbed and uppers will be the same and have the same overall shape and feel. On very rare occasions you get shoes made on the same last shape that can be a little different inside, this is down to the fact that one of the pairs was perhaps left on the last a little longer or shorter and so the leather may have stretched more or less than another pair. As these are handmade items, the subtle variations are to be expected and are part of the charm of a traditional crafted item, rather than a fault.

When looking at the last name or most commonly the number, unfortunately there is no recognised system or table to determine how each one will fit. There is no reliable relation between names and numbers so the 026 standard last is, for example, very different to the wide country 024 last.

The common mistake when looking at last shapes, is to think that a longer last is for a longer foot size. This is not the case. In theory the last is always sized to fit a standard foot size, meaning that a long last will fit the same foot as a standard last shape. The difference is in the appearance of the outline of the shoe.  A good example of this is the Herring Lewis which is made on the very sleek 486 last, but will fit just as well as any other lasted shoe.

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Herring Lewis in Brandy cobbler colour, made on the sleek 468 last


To summarise, the last is really more about the outline and style of the shoe, than how it will fit you. The key benefit of buying shoes from Herring is that we test all our shoes for size across all our manufacturers so you can be reasonably confident that any size shoe you find that fits will be similar to any other equivalent size. For the best results, you can just choose another style on the same last shape as this is virtually guaranteed to fit. You can search our website by last shape to make this easier. Just put the last name into the text search and all the styles on that last should appear. We have also added a shoe last comparison page which allows you to see the most popular herring lasts side by side.

If you do find that you have bought a pair of shoe on a last that is not quite right we are always happy to exchange or refund the shoes and we can always offer advice on what lasts would be best for you, based on your previous purchases and our extensive experience of helping customers for many years.

How to polish a calf and suede shoe:

We receive many calls from our customers asking us about polishing shoes, the best techniques and products to use. We have put a video showing basic polishing and bulling techniques on our youtube channel. But this blog post is aimed at the specific challenges of two-tone shoes. Due to the amount of superb two tone shoes we sell ( leather and suede ) we wanted to show you how easy it is to care for them and to show that suede is not as fragile as you may think.

Read on for a full tutorial (with images)

Feature on ‘Theshoemakerworld.com’ for our Spanish friends and also translated in English.


La historia de esta la marca que os presentamos hoy, es el perfecto ejemplo de cómo una firma de calzado con más de 50 años de tradición sabe adaptarse a los tiempos y conseguir hacer crecer su negocio por encima de las expectativas.

Herring Shoes fue fundado por Richard Herring en 1966 en la exclusiva zona de Montpellier, Cheltenham. Desde su tienda cercana a sus almacenes empezaron a vender zapatos ingleses de las principales marcas (Church´s, Loake o Barkeys).

The story of Herring shoe is one of adaptation. How do you adapt, change your business model when you have a history of 50 years in the making of shoes? This brand did it and shows us solutions to change and adapt to make your business grow.

Herring Shoes was founded by Richard Herring in 1966, in Montpellier, Chetentham. In this store Herring Shoes was selling top english brands such as Church’s Loake or Barkeys.


Con los años Herring Shoes construyo una estrecha relación con muchos de los fabricantes de Northampton trabajando en muchos casos directamente con el Sr. Andrew Loake, William Barker y Jonathan y William Church´s.

Adrian, el director general de la firma, trabajó en la fábrica de Barker durante varios años conociendo en detalle las construcciones y procesos artesanales a la hora de hacer un zapato ingles. A través de estos contactos se decidieron a lanzar su propia gama de calzado diseñado por ellos y fabricado por Barkers, Cheaney y Loake entre otros.

Al trabajar con estas fábricas tan prestigiosas de Northampton pueden servirse del conocimiento y maestría de cada fabricante para fabricar cada tipo de zapato sabiendo que será hecho por los mejores zapateros ingleses.

This business relationship grew into a friendship and that’s how this little store came to know personally Sr. Andrew Loake, William Barker and Jonathan and William Church.

Brand General Manager, Adrian, used to work in the Barker factory, learning how to build a typical english shoe, and learning about the craft of shoe making. Thanks to this experience and to their friendship with great shoemakers, they decided to make their own brand that would be built by Barkers, Cheaney and Loake.
Working with these Northampton maestros, they know they can use their knowledge to build absolutely any type of shoe they want as it will be made by the best craftsmen in England.

La gama de calzado Herring se hace a la medida de las necesidades de sus clientes. Al trabajar directamente con las fabricas son capaces de sobre modelos existentes mejorar determinadas especificaciones (mejor cuero, suelas, etc) logrando estilos únicos.

En otras ocasiones tienen la oportunidad de crear sus propios diseños y estilos distinguiéndose de la competencia y ofreciendo la máxima calidad a precios excepcionales. Un papel que desarrolla principalmente Adrian, el cual viaja a las fabricas, diseñando y eligiendo los estilos y modelos.

Según nos comentaba Adrian, intenta en la medida de lo posible ofrecer algo diferente a lo que podemos ver en Loake, Barker o Cheaney. Pero a veces, por supuesto, es imposible crear un zapato único como un oxford negro, así que tienen que fabricar un zapato idéntico a la gama del fabricante.

Herring’s is proposing handmade shoes that goes with the customer’s exigence. Working hand in hand with the factories, they can change anything you want (leather, soles, etc.) and get unique results every single time.
They also have their own brand in which they do their own designs and get exceptional results to very attractive prices. That’s Adrian role into the organization as he travels to the factory, designs and choses the looks of the whole collection.

As Adrian told us, they always try to propose original designs that differs from the Church’s, Loake or Barker ones, but of course, some basics are ultimately impossible to vary. That’s why their black Oxford design is the same you can find in this brands, and where their price politics is particularly relevant.
Herring tiene cuatro gamas o colecciones diferentes:

1. La colección 1966 la cual lleva el nombre de su año de fundación y representa la gama más lujosa y exclusiva.

2.Ligeramente por debajo de esta gama, tienen la colección Premier, la cual esta cortada a mano, cosida y fabricada en el Reino Unido.

3.Luego tienen la colección clásica que es principalmente de fabricación inglesa y que representa una combinación de calidad y precio justo.

4. Por último tienen su gama casual – estos son los mocasines, trainers, slippers y otros estilos que se hacen fuera del Reino Unido.

La mayor parte de su colección clásica está hecha por las fábricas de Loake y Barker, mientras que su gama Premier está hecha por las fabricas de Cheaney, Alfred Sargent, Trickers y Sanders. Siendo su gama más alta la colección 1966 que está fabricada por Alfred Sargent.

Herring proposes four different ranges:

1. The 1966: the luxury collection, the exclusive one that got its name from the founding year of Herring Shoes.

2. Slightly less expensive is the Premier collection, handmade and made in the UK.
3. Then is the Classic collection, which for the most of it made in the UK and that is a combination and good quality, and pricing that are studied to be best.

4.Last but not least, the casual collection – loafers, trainers, car shoes, slippers, and other styles made out the UK
Most of the shoes you can buy there are made in the Loake and Barker factories. The Premier collection is done in the Cheaney, Tricker and Alfred Sargent factories. Sargent is also in charge of making the 1966 collection.

Sin duda alguna su estilo para los zapatos Oxford, Derby, Monkstrap y las botas es ingles principalmente porque están fabricados en la zona de Northampton utilizando la prestigiosa construcción Goodyear.

Pero sus modelos de mocasines y náuticos son fabricados en España, debidos principalmente a que es en este país donde se hacen los mejores zapatos de este estilo.

Quizás la mayor diferencia respecto a otras marcas del sector, es su capacidad para producir pequeñas tiradas de nuevos diseños – únicamente 12 pares de zapatos- lo cual les permite arriesgar con diseños más “creativos” o novedosos.

Of course, the style for its Oxford, Derby, Monkstrap and the boots is resolutely english as it is made in the factories of Northampton following the Good Year craft.
But its loafers and boat shoes are made in Spain, as it’s in Spain that you can find the best makers for these types of shoes.

Maybe the biggest difference you can find with other brands is the capacity Herring has to produce small quantities of a single models – 12 pairs of the same model – and how it allows them to be more creative.
Desde el año 2000 iniciaron la venta de zapatos online aumentando el negocio exponencialmente. Actualmente venden más zapatos de su marca propia (Herring) que de Church´s, Loake o cualquier otra marca.

Su negocio online es actualmente el más importante – venden zapatos por todo el mundo y son capaces de llegar a clientes que nunca hubieran imaginado hace apenas unos años. Pero donde mas hacen hincapié es en su servicio de atención al cliente, siendo su prioridad que comprar en Herring sea toda una experiencia de satisfacción.

Actualmente siguen desarrollando su negocio online y este año quieren incluir varias líneas de ropa. Unas colecciones hechas en el Reino Unido siguiendo su filosofía.

In the 2000, they began with their own online store and their business grew a lot. They are now selling more shoes of their own brand than Church’s, Loake or any other brand.
Their online store is actually more important – they are selling shoes all over the world and have the capacity to get to customers that they wouldn’t have even imagines a few years ago. But what really defines them is their attention to customer as they want the buying to be an experience and a satisfactory one.
Right now they are developing their online store and this year they want to be able to offer various clothes collections. Collections that are to be made in the UK, following their philosophy.

Sus precios varían de 10 para un par de calcetines hasta los 425€ por un par de zapatos de la colección 1966.

Their price range varies from 10€ for a pair of socks to 425€ for a pair of shoes of the 1966 collection.

The two-tone

Herring Fencote two tone brogue

The Spectator is the most common welted footwear design to use two different colours. This two-tone effect is created by using different leathers for the toe, vamp, facings and counters. The wingtip or full-brogue brogue pattern is the natural style for this effect because it already has different pieces of leather for these parts of the shoe.

Spectator: the term spectator comes from outdoor, sporting gentlemen, taking to this style of shoe for golf and cricket. After a while the shoe became popular with the spectators at these events and the name was adopted. View all our spectator shoes.

Co-respondent: an alternative name for a two-tone shoe is the co-respondent. This name, particularly in the UK, came from a perception that they were ungentlemanly and were worn by the “wrong sort”. This perception was encouraged by the most notorious affair of the 1930’s when King Edward VIII abdicated from the throne to marry Wallace Simpson. She was a divorcee and still married to her second husband when the King proposed marriage.

A co-respondent in English law is the term for a person named in a divorce suit as the wrongdoer. Both Edward and Wallace were fond of two-tone shoes and so the association became stronger between the bright shoes and marital infidelity. Fortunately these original misgivings are now only of historical interest. Our two-tone men’s shoes are now almost as popular as the simple black oxfords. View all our co-respondent shoes.

Saddle: although most two-tone shoes are based upon the brogue, there is another variation that is also popular; the saddle shoe. A single piece of leather is placed over the top of the shoe, as if it was a saddle on a horse, usually in a darker colour than the main body of the shoe. View all our two-tone shoes.

The Monk Shoe

The Monk Shoe

The monk shoe or monk strap has been around for a long time. It has a history dating back to the footwear worn by monks, usually a sandal but fastened with a buckle. This design allows for the top of the shoe to have a simple buckle closing which some people prefer to having laces flapping around. The closed, smooth nature of the design give it a formal look, but with the fun statement of the buckle.

The main points of the Monk are the different types of buckle and the number of buckles. The single Monk with only one buckle is the most traditional and formal option. The double monk with two buckles is maybe a little more fashionable at the moment. The Monk is also a shoe that looks really good in suede because of its mix between formal and casual. View all our monk shoes.

The Derby

The Derby

There cannot be many shoe styles that have as many names as the simple Derby. In America it is the Blucher and in the UK it is the Derby or less often the Gibson.

A Derby is defined by the way the lacing and eyelets close the shoe. The closing panels are sewn on top of the vamp giving the shoe a more solid appearance and more room for the higher instep.

Because the facings are on top of the vamp, there is added height and bulk to the shoe, which makes it a good platform for a more rugged style. This is why we often team the derby with a country design, such as those worn for country pursuits or rambling walks. View all our Derby, Gibson, Blucher shoes.


The Oxford


In the UK the term Oxford is often used to mean a toe cap shoe but the term actually refers to the way the shoe closes. If a shoe has a simple slit in the top of the shoe, with eyelets either side that pull together with laces, then you can call it an Oxford. This means that you can have Oxford toe-caps, Oxford brogues and Oxford semi-brogues.

Due to the fact that the facings are flat to the top of the shoe, as if they are a continuation of the vamp (in the case of whole-cut shoe it is the same piece of leather) the shoe appears to be almost seamless. This allows the design of the shoe to be very sleek, so you will find most of the longer lasts and pointed shoe designs will be Oxfords.

The elegant profile of the shoe means that it has naturally been adopted as the most common shoe style to be worn on formal occasions. Many businessmen will wear a black oxford such as Herring Knightsbridge to go with their suit. Similarly weddings, christenings and funerals, job interviews and formal balls are also common occasion where such a formal shoe will be suitable. View all our oxford cap shoes.

The origin of the name Oxford is believed to be Oxford University. A slit opening boot became popular amongst students and this basic approach to the fastening evolved into the current style.

A Brogue

The Brogue

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be adding a series of articles to the Herring Shoes blog giving some information about the major styles of shoe, their history and (if you’ll forgive us a little marketing) a few examples you can find in our shop online.

We begin with…

The Brogue

A Brogue



The Brogue is one of the most iconic shoe designs for men. The term brogue refers to the punching of holes into leather: the more holes that are on the shoe the more brogueing it has.

Brogue: a shoe with punching on the toe, around the sides (wing-tip) and the rear counters is known as a brogue or full-brogue. View all our brogues.

Semi-brogue: a shoe where the punching is just on the toe cap and rear counters is a semi-brogue. View all our semi-brogues.

Quarter-brogue: a shoe that only has a single row of punching on the toe-cap is called a quarter-brogue.

The brogue style is the most flexible design because it is made from multiple pieces of leather. This allows different leather and fabric combinations – known as two-tone or spectator shoes – to be created. The most famous wearer and populariser of the brogue was the notorious Edward the Prince of Wales in the 1930s. It is now seen as an acceptable business shoe in black, or a relaxed but smart country shoe in brown.

At Herring we have made our own bespoke ranges for many years and the two-tone is the core of our in-house designs. Our Fencote is one of our most popular shoes, showing that two-tone can be very tasteful, rather than brash. Similarly our own Herring tweed brogues are easy to wear with many colours, incorporating greens, browns, reds and blues.

The unusual fact about the brogue is that far from starting as a formal shoe, their origins began in the muddy fields of Ireland. It is thought that the perforations were originally added to allow water to drain out of the shoes – maybe they were the forerunner of the modern Crocs?

We are always looking for the next interesting modification we can make to our brogues, because they are so flexible and yet so classic that we never get tired of them.

If this has piqued your curiosity, then you can view all our brogues here on the main Herring site.