Northampton’s Top Drawer
Welcome to my first ever Review of Edward Green Shoes.
In today’s article, I will Review the Edward Green Cardiff Derby in Dark Brown Mink Suede.
This will be a long (and possibly controversial read) so get some warm tea or coffee and keep an open mind.
Actually, there will be a massive discussion parallel to the in-depth review covering many topics such as quality and value.
Let us begin the dissection.
Setting The Premise
Edward Green and me always had a strange relationship.
Nobody can deny the quality of Edward Green shoes overall, but something always seemed off to me.
As I found my own personal taste within a shoe world with myriads of brands I stayed clear of British Brands.
Initially, it was because they were more expensive for me at the time.
As time went by though and my collection (and wallet) expanded, I still did not feel any specific attraction to them.
The whole classically British look with rounded lasts, no stylistic changes or daring choices or the overall country aesthetic were other reasons.
For a long time, I also refused to shell out that much money for machine made shoes. Do not be fooled, there are no real RTW handmade shoes in the UK right now outside of Gaziano & Girling Optimum.
However, just as I began to understand and appreciate other constructions, I also got my Norman Vilalta pair which is Goodyear Welted but one of the best shoes I own.
I also saw an excellent video by Kirby Allison where he tours the G&G Factory with Tony Gaziano. There you see how much human involvement is still important.
Speaking about Kirby, I found his Review of the iconic Edward Green Dover just a blatant scripted advert.
I wanted to dig deeper than that, but also be honest and critical.
This is after all a shoe that costs a colossal $1350 USD.
Unless you are a huge Edward Green fan, also ask yourselves: Do you know any model outside the Galway and Dover?
I hope this all makes sense, but typing it also helps me get in the right mindset and not just write a catastrophic, infernal review based on my first impressions.
Nonetheless, they still deserve their spot in the elite of shoe brands and that’s why I include them in my lists.
Let’s go now.
Edward Green 1890 Background
Like most of the Northampton Shoe Brands, Edward Green has a story spanning over 130 years.
They use the word 1890, because that’s when Edward Green himself established the brand.
Just like most iconic shoemakers, the story begins when he (as a 12 year old kid) became an apprentice due to his passion for shoes.
He started as a “clicker”, cutting the leather from the hide to create the shoe.
During research, I found multiple articles claiming he was the “largest manufacturer of officers’ boots for the British Army during the 1930s and began to boast a clientele that included the likes of American novelist Ernest Hemingway and King Edward VIII.”
However, there are no references and that is a straight copy from Wikipedia which is as reliable as the Greek public services.
Not that it sounds fake, as there is a military heritage. I just couldn’t find any sources.
Change Of Ownership & Production
After a few changes of ownership in the 70’s, 1972 and later in 2000 I think the current owner is still Hillary Freeman. Feel free to correct me on this.
“Excellence without Compromise”
Edward Green Motto
The quote above still stands today, with a limited production of shoes per year and a smaller workshop of skilled people.
The last source I found said that Edward Green produces around 350 pairs of shoes per week.
In numbers, that is just over 18000 pairs of shoes. Allen Edmonds in comparison, who would sell you a welted chewing gum in 2021 makes a million. Let that sink in.
Edward Green shoes are Goodyear Welted and only have a Ready To Wear and Made To Order offering.
If I recall right, the departure of Tony Gaziano during the end of the 00’s, led to the end of Edward Green’s Bespoke Program.
Edward Green remains a luxury brand, associated with bespoke tailoring, hunting, Saville Row and a classic, refined appearance.
A friend of mine was selling a few unworn Edward Green MTOs and I decided I would get one.
The options were an Edward Green Dover in Dark Brown Utah and the Cardiff in Mink Suede.
While the Dover is iconic and I liked it more, it had a dainite sole which I did not wish for.
And since I am expanding my collections of derbies and suede I thought why not do both?
Here are the specifications:
- Brand: Edward Green 1890
- Model: Cardiff
- Style: Semi-Brogue Derby
- Leather: Mink Suede
- Color: Dark Brown
- Details: Broguing & Medallion
- Last: 202
- Construction: Goodyear Welted
- Sole: Closed Channel Oak Barked Leather
- Eyelets: 5 Blind
- Shoe Trees: Lasted
- Origin: 100% Made In Northampton
- Price: $1350 (£985)
This model is not available anywhere in stock as far as I am aware. They do have an extensive MTO Program though so it’s available anytime.
I must admit the initial pictures did not look so appealing and I already had doubts about keeping them.
We shall see in the end! Regardless this is a really expensive shoe so it must perform.
Unboxing Edward Green Shoes
Edward Green Shoes come usually in a veraman green color.
For some reason my box lacked the brand logo on the top (not that it matters) and in a darker green shade.
The unboxing was also very spartan and I only got the shoes and a charming orange cloth to keep them safe.
There were no shoe bags or anything else but this could be because I received them via a third party person.
In other words, your unboxing might vary.
On the side sticker you get some handwritten info about the last, size, model and leather.
It’s up to you to decide how much you care about the unboxing experience but I don’t anymore.
The Edward Green Cardiff Design
So this is a rather classic derby with broguing details.
I suppose you could called it a semi-brogue with a punched medallion toe and perforations at the seams.
Five eyelets, a medium round shape and a versatile color.
My first thoughts were that it looks a little boring, but bear in mind I prefer aggressive shapes.
From a more neutral perspective, I can totally see this as an excellent 3 season addition to the man that wears anything from jeans all the way up to certain suits.
One of the reasons I actually chose this over the Dover was because I wanted an alternative to my Yeossal.
If you like classic, contemporary, British style you will like this.
Especially if you have shoes like Allen Edmonds, Cheaney, Crockett & Jones or Tricker’s.
Edward Green Construction
Now, It’s not like Edward Green will reinvent the wheel or something.
Strong stewards of the Goodyear Welted Method, they use machines to last, welt and sew the shoes.
However as you move to the upper tiers of shoe brands, the less people are involved in each step.
For example, only one worker makes an entire upper which helps with a homogenous result.
Imagine in comparison if the assembly included a different person for each part and another one to sew it together. There’s more room for error.
Unless I am wrong, the only other real handmade part of Edward Green Shoes is when they hand-sew the apron on certain models.
Now, other than some subtle differences nobody will understand or feel there is no “real” difference between Goodyear and Hand-welting.
For the average consumer at least.
So there’s no reason to just snub a pair of good shoes just because they use machines.
However when I spend $1350 I would prefer if some elements such as lasting or welting were by hand.
A more normal person that just wants high end quality shoes should look for a good fit and appealing design anyways.
In other words, don’t take this as a minus, but if you look around there are other better options.
Leather Quality | Mink Suede
Edward Green using anything but the best hides for their shoes would come off as a shock.
For their calf I heard they use Italian tanneries and have options such as natural burnishing calf or country calf.
Of course there are other options such as Shell Cordovan for example.
Honestly I was not sure what to expect from a suede hide that costs so much.
Initially, I felt some disappointment as the nap is extremely short and less velvety.
I questioned myself. Is this how high quality full grain suede feels like, or have I had better experiences with other brands?
I cannot answer that question until I finish shoe school next year and we will see how it ages.
In the meantime I will discuss some observations I made on the shoes.
The more time I spend with the suede, the more I appreciate it and I saw how the nap changed when I ran my finger across.
Some of the broguing holes were not punched in properly or there were some minor scratches.
At the back of the heel on the right shoe there was also a faded light spot.
Not sure if this happened during transport or someone sanded the back a bit more.
Am I right to expect a little more from an MTO?
What can I say, I am very happy with the suede Yeossal uses and cannot speak about the calf.
If you are a normal person, you will say the stitching is fine.
If you have OCD like I do however you will want to gouge your eyes with a pitchfork.
The reason for this is that the cap toe stitching is totally off and misaligned.
Spacing is not even and it is wavy, like the person sewing it was having a happy ending.
The medallion looks a bit off too but I will give it the benefit of the doubt. No, I checked and it’s misaligned.
All over the uppers there is a variety of single and double stitching rows.
On most of the shoe I appreciate the single stitching because it appears less busy.
If you look at the back however you see the backseam, which is a classic dog-tail.
That as well is a single stitch all the way up.
After discussing with some shoemakers they told me that suede is a more delicate material (and I do like the look).
They also mentioned that if something happens to the seam or the back of the shoe it’s ruined.
Now, I don’t expect something to happen to that part of the shoe (never heard of it at all actually) but I suppose it has some merit.
Solely by looks, I like the single row better on this model.
Lastly, I should mention that I don’t know how hard it is to sew the uppers yet.
But for a $1350 Made to Order, non-returnable shoe I would expect better.
Most people will not notice such things, then there are others that would bitch that their $200 Meermins are not perfect.
Disclaimer: My shoemaking friend also mentioned that because the suede is thin and delicate, it’s easier to have such issues. I don’t know yet myself.
The inside of the shoe is rarely something groundbreaking but I always talk about it a bit.
Trimming on the top is very good and the lining super smooth with a subtle waxy feeling.
It has a lovely chocolate color with a small elliptical space where they handwrite some details of the shoe.
On the half insole you get the embossed logo and this part of the shoe is actually really tidy.
Laces, the tongue and interior stitching is pretty good.
I approached the welt with a degree of caution after the closing of the uppers.
For the most part the welt is just fine as you would expect and very tidy.
Specifically, the welt joint is barely visible and well-executed.
They finish it with a fudge wheel and there was just one spot where they missed it a bit.
That is something that I would not care or notice anyways.
Nothing bad to report here honestly and the above thing was really nitpicking.
Before I return to the neutral perspective, I have to take a step back and talk about Kirby Allison’s video.
I struggled to go through it, but it really tilted me when I got to the sole part.
Having a closed channel outsole is not big news in 2021 as peg legged Pete can do it.
Luxire that retails shoes for $130 or so can do it, TLB Artista has one of the nicest entry level RTW soles too.
In other words, this is marketing lingo just like when Suitsupply talks about “Real Horn Buttons” or “AMF Stitching”.
He also mentioned how the sole has the stamp “Made in England” and that gives it provenance and status. I suppose I should tattoo “Made In England” on my penis too.
You get the idea. Now onto the actual shoe I have here.
The bottom has indeed a nice, very well-finished bottom and excellent hidden channel stitching.
Only at the tip of the toe could I really see part of the stitching remains.
Edward Green doesn’t do flamboyant fiddleback tight waists.
Instead you have a nice, smooth rounder waist with a slight bevel.
Small details continue with some markings here and there, brass nails on the heel block and a lovely stacked tight heel.
There’s nothing not to love about the soles and you will be happy with them.
Substantial when you feel them, smooth and expertly finished though they appear slippery!
Small Interruption: I met Kirby in real life and he is actually very friendly and a nice person. But indeed most of his YouTube persona makes things sound and appear like heavily scripted commercials.
Edward Green Shoe Trees
I don’t have much to say about the shoe trees, but I will show you a photo at least.
Last time I checked they are lasted, though I heard they can fit different sizes.
It appears to be true as the inscription on the tree says 7.5 while the shoes are 8.5.
In any case, not the fanciest but they are rather lightweight and work well.
Their price was £95 or about $130.
The Edward Green 202 Last
Edward Green describes the 202 Last as a perfectly balanced round toe.
Used on classic oxfords and derbies or casual boots, for what they call a relaxed yet elegant look.
I mean, they are not wrong.
This is indeed a round last and to my eye it hovers between medium round and round.
Not my usual cup of tea as you might remember from my Cobbler Union Review but it makes more sense on Edward Green when you think about their heritage and styling.
On the other hand I would totally slap a soft square last on this baby.
But what I like or dislike has nothing to do with this.
Looking at this from a neutral perspective, it is classic, safe and certainly easier for more conservative people.
The more time I spend with this the more I appreciate it.
Not my first choice, but also not like the flat, generic lasts and shapes you often see today.
Sizing & Fit
Lately I spend more time wearing and walking with my shoes before I talk about these things.
However since I am still debating selling them I will talk about my initial thoughts.
Credit where it’s due, the 202 fits me phenomenally.
I heard people talking often about wearing Edward Green just because they fit them well.
The minor steps I took here and there in the house felt lightweight and comfortable.
Good space in the instep, nice toe space and just the right amount of room between my heel and the lining.
Support also seems to be good and I felt no discomfort.
Actually one of the deciding factors if I will keep these is the fit which is so important.
Talking about sizing, these are a UK 8.5 (US 9.5D).
I am mostly a UK 8 (US 9D) on regular shoes and UK 7.5 (US 8.5D) on wider lasts.
Advice usually says to wear your regular size, but while I think I would fit in the size UK 8 it would most likely be too tight over a longer period.
It would also have a harsher break in and I don’t want that.
My advice is to take half a size up from your regular UK or size down only half from your usual US.
- Saint Crispin’s Classic UK 8: Take UK 8.5 on the Edward Green 202.
- Allen Edmonds Park Avenue US 9D: Take UK 8.5
Alternatively, take the same size as most soft square Antonio Meccariello lasts or Stefano Bemer.
Should I Buy Edward Green Or Not?
This is the first time this question is so interesting to me.
If you asked me right here, right now if I would ever shell out $1350 to buy Edward Green I would tell you no.
While this is one pair only and I am sure most of Edward Green Shoes are immaculate or better, I cannot pay that price for styles of shoes I don’t generally like or have so many mistakes.
Also, what I mentioned in the opening segments: Do you really know any other models other than the Dover and Galway?
When it comes to personal taste, I like aggressive shapes, modern design and Edward Green is a bit more “boring” to me.
I feel they are the same and will never change, which is totally find and good for some people.
Now, if you are more contemporary, conservative, like the style or the exceptional fit then this is a decent RTW Shoe.
If you ask me though, they are overpriced and I consider Norman Vilalta superior shoes.
For people in their later stages of life and a higher income, the difference between $1000 and $1400 becomes negligible.
If that is the case and you want endless customization or RTW high end welted footwear, then by all means check Edward Green.
For the first month after publishing this Review, if you wear this size and want unworn shoes I will accept $1000 for them.
You can mail me at [email protected].
As always here is the Edward Green Cardiff Review in Video format!
This is probably a Review that will upset a lot of Edward Green fans.
For me though, I do think they are overpriced by a lot (just like StC) and you cannot argue that my pair does not have the quality you would expect in certain areas.
The fit is really good though and that is a saving grace for now.
Be your own judges, remember that this might have been a rare case and if you have the budget and really like them go for it.
Make sure to comment with your thoughts and if you decide to Tattoo your penis with “Made in England” I commend you.
I will see you next week!
Thank you for reading,