Crockett & Jones Highbury Derby In Black Calf Review | No Time To Die
A Long Overdue Review
After months of procrastinating and delays, I finally sat down to pen the Review of the Crockett & Jones Highbury.
Today I will showcase it to you and discuss how I feel about the design and overall quality. I can already tell you it is a great piece of footwear, but I always like to delve deeper.
Now that summer is in full swing, grab an ice latte and let’s talk shoes together!
The Name’s Bond: Delayed Bond
One of Covid-19’s most disruptive effects for me was the ability to watch movies in the cinema.
Most movies delayed their launch significantly while others released directly onto streaming platforms. Why do I mention this?
Because the Crockett & Jones Highbury is one of the shoes James Bond wears in the movie No Time To Die.
The original release of the film was November 2019, postponed to February, April, November 2020 and then January 2021.
Long story short, the film is not out yet and due release in September 2021. Incredible if you think about it isn’t it?
So in a funny coincidental way, it is only appropriate that I delayed my own review of the shoes.
In a last piece of trivia, the Highbury also appeared in Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015).
Tip: Read the Crockett & Jones Molton Review (also from No Time To Die).
Crockett & Jones | Iconic British Shoemaker
When a company has a history of 140 years old, you know they must be special.
Crockett & Jones is an iconic British Shoemaker that opened its first factory in 1879. Their shoes have a reputation for quality, finesse and being contemporary and classic.
Most importantly, they maintain a certain level of production to ensure quality over quantity. If I am not wrong, Charles Jones (grandson of the founder) is running the company now keeping it a family business.
I included Crockett & Jones in multiple lists of the Best Shoes for these reasons:
With 2 main ranges (Benchgrade and Handgrade) there is a plethora of styles to choose from. The Highbury is part of the Benchgrade Collection which in my opinion presents better value.
It took me a while to understand and love Crockett & Jones. Initially I felt that their shoes are too conservative and a sea of black and brown with round lasts.
However, the more I handled them I understood why people like them so much. Great build quality, fantastic leather with a lot of depth and a few gems when it comes to lasts.
If you are looking for a classic shoe that will last a long time and still look great, you cannot go wrong with Crockett & Jones.
Crockett & Jones Highbury | Specifications
When I looked at my wardrobe last year I realized something was missing.
I did not have a single Derby shoe in my collection but also no pair from Crockett & Jones. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone. More like 3 because I also had only 1 pair of Black Shoes.
A big fan of soft square lasts and with the added allure of the Bond Collection, the Highbury was an ideal candidate.
Here are the specifications:
- Brand: Crockett & Jones
- Model: Highbury
- Style: Plain Toe 3 Eyelet Derby
- Collection: Men’s Main Line – No Time To Die Special
- Leather: Full Grain Box Calf
- Color: Black
- Eyelets: 3 Blind
- Last: 348
- Sole: City Rubber
- Lining: Genuine Leather
- Construction: Goodyear Welted by Machine
- Origin: 100% England
- Price: $539.99 at The Noble Shoe
So a solid sheet of specifications, a good price and heritage and above everything good aesthetics.
The Highbury has all the right ingredients to be a great shoe for my (and your) collection.
Crockett & Jones Highbury | Design
During my shoe journey, I realized I am not a big fan of derbies and most plain toe shoes.
This meant I had to get one and understand why, or change my perspective. The reason of all this is because I felt something was lacking in such designs.
On top of that, while nobody can deny the popularity and versatility of black shoes I enjoy much more navy, brown and oxblood.
Nonetheless, this is a good looking shoe. The main reason this formula works in my opinion is the excellent choice of last.
The Crockett & Jones 348 (more on that later) has such an elegant form. Just the right blend of pointy and soft square.
It gives the shoe a nice elongated look which combined with the minimalism of a plain toe derby just works.
There is nothing too busy to distract you from the design but for those that dress more casually it might look too serious.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a dressier derby with heaps of versatility this is the one to go for.
It takes time to really judge the quality of the leather in a pair of shoes. Unless they are rubbish of course which shows up immediately.
The term Full Grain has become a marketing plot, since two shoes can be from the same hide quality but different parts of the animal.
But there are certain elements you can appreciate and understand with more experience. I suppose you can also get a certain feeling when you run your hands over the shoes.
The Crockett & Jones Highbury uses Black Box Calf which looks (and feels) great.
It surprised my how supple it was, how smooth and with a tiny, waxy layer on top. I spent a few minutes looking at how the light reflected all over it and noticing the small details.
Look closely and you will see all the individual pores of the leather as a tightly knit bunch.
Honestly I thought this might be a fluke or just a really good pair, but I had the exact same experience when I handled the Lingfield Chelsea Boots.
At the same time, while you should not expect perfection in the $500 range, you know that the leather is going to be good.
Stitching & Welt
Due to the nature of the plain toe derby, it is quite a minimalist design with little stitching.
The part at the middle between the quarters and the vamp is the only stitched part really. It begins with a double stitched row and changes to single as it moves towards the eyelets.
At the back you have a classic dog tail back seam that is nice and tidy.
My OCD is telling me that the stitching density of the uppers is not as high as other brands but it’s not something that would affect quality nor the aesthetics during wear.
The same applies to the welt, which is not so high SPI but is fairly consistent.
Don’t expect any decorative fudging or a really trimmed tight outsole. However it is not bulky either and fits the idea of a derby.
Flip the shoe around and the quality is evident there too with good stitching and not a single loose thread.
Overall the shoe feels very sturdy and robust when you hold it.
Interior & Lining
I always ask myself how can I improve my review of the interior components of shoes.
I spent a little more time looking at it this time with the Highbury.
To begin with, the interior is genuine leather and has a half insole with the Crockett & Jones logo and the details of the model on the side walls.
When feeling the front part of the insole it has a bit of a rougher nap. I assumed it can help a bit with your foot sliding forward and having a little bit of resistance.
Upon inspection, under the tongue there is a little tiny bulge that seems to be separation between the lining and the uppers.
It has no structural impact and nobody can see it, but it’s a neat little detail I noticed.
Trimming of the lining on the top is superb and tidy and the walls also have this slight waxy feel to them.
The shoe in general feels like a nice place to have your foot in. Like a good car interior if you understand me!
Demand for rubber soles surged over the past few years, but many requested a slimmer, less chunky profile than dainite.
So nowadays we see a lot of shift to the nicer, grippy city soles with probably the best in the market from TLB Artista.
Crockett & Jones is also catching up with a lot of models phasing out the dainite sole and coming back with City Soles.
It’s a good sole with a lot of ridges and rougher areas for grip but not as chunky as dainite.
I think they did a great job with these ones. If I may say so far I feel it is grippier than a polished leather sole but a little less than Vibram.
Crockett & Jones 348 Last
I am a huge fan of almond and chiseled soft square lasts.
Most of the Crockett & Jones Lasts belong in the rounder category, but Lasts such as the 337, 348 and 373 have a really sharp profile.
The 348, while not 100% square appears that way due to the way they trim the sole.
With a very structured side and a very slight bevel, it’s a good looking all-purpose last.
The plain toe gives the illusion of elongation and the drop at the toe has a nice curvy shape as well.
Sizing & Comfort
This is such a good fitting last for me.
Not joking, not exaggerating but it’s an absolute joy to wear. It is hard to explain in words how snug yet comfortable and spacious it feels.
Light on the foot too. The uppers barely touch my instep with no pressure at all and my little toe can wiggle without pain.
There’s a little space at the front and the shoe cups my heel just right.
If there is an area where I feel a little more pressure it’s at the middle of my foot.
For those that don’t read the blog or are new, I am usually a true to size UK 8 or US 9D. I size down half for wider lasts and half up for narrower ones.
My Crockett & Jones Highbury is also UK 8 (US 9D, EU 42) and this is the recommendation I would give you if you have a regular foot.
In other words, if you are an 8 in the Carmina Rain or Meermin Hiro, or US 9D in Allen Edmonds Park Avenue or Strands, this is the one to go for.
As always, if you are uncertain make sure to contact your retailer for further advice.
Availability & Price
So obviously, the easiest way to acquire the Crockett & Jones Highbury is through their official website.
Every official retailer they have should also have access to the model. If you want to support my efforts, you can of course buy it through my shop at The Noble Shoe for a very competitive price.
Choose your favorite retailer, or shop for the best price you can have.
In the end it has no impact as you are still supporting Crockett & Jones!
Who Is This For?
This is a question I had to think a lot about.
Because I can look at it from my perspective, or the perspective of someone that wouldn’t buy this.
With a more neutral stance, this is certainly a dressier looking shoe partly because of the shape, last and color.
At the same time, it is a derby which means that you can safely wear it with a suit, chinos or even denim.
But if you think about it, when you wear it with say jeans it probably is a way to dress them up rather than down.
So the reason you would not buy this shoe is if you are always dressing more casually, it’s out of your budget or you just don’t like derbies or prefer rounder toes.
Always think about the feeling the shoe gives you when you look at it.
Growing up, my mom bought me clothes and I didn’t want to wear them. “But it’s Tom Ford” she said or “Moschino” they are in fashion.
It did not matter, it was not how I wanted to look or feel.
The same applies to shoes. Do not buy shoes because they are expensive or everyone has them. Buy smart based on your aesthetics and your wardrobe.
Due to the higher price, if you are just starting your wardrobe consider beginning with a lower price tier to understand shoes better and the step up that comes with better ones.
For those that prefer Video, here is the Crockett & Jones Highbury Review on YouTube.
The Crockett & Jones Highbury is a great shoe and earns my recommendation.
At the same time, I am not entirely sure how much use it will have for me and how long I will keep it. I am still skeptical about derbies in general and how they look.
Maybe the upcoming derby from Norman Vilalta will change my mind, or maybe I just have to wear them more.
In any case, what do you think? Do you like derbies? Or maybe you want to share your experience with Crockett & Jones in general.
I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Remember to Subscribe and I will see you next week!
Thank you for reading,