52.2405° N, 0.9027° W – The World’s Finest Shoemakers
Driving on the freeway towards Stockholm after a long day at work I was discussing shoes with Marc. Marc is an experienced colleague of mine who happens to be from the UK.
“Britain’s most famous shoes come from Northampton. In fact, I am pretty sure that their football team is still known as the cobblers because of that.”, he said.
The cogwheels in my head started spinning and I realised that my best shoes are made around those strange coordinates you noticed in the heading.
With over 900 years of documented history, Northamptonshire houses some of the world’s most renown and famous shoemakers. John Lobb, Crockett & Jones, luxurious classic Edward Green shoes and of course, today’s spotlight brand: Loake Shoemakers.
This is my review of the Loake 1880 Oxford Aldwych Brown dress shoes but first we need a short history lesson.
Loake Shoemakers – 138 Years Of History
Back in 1880 three brothers – Thomas, John and William – started making shoes at 62 King Street in Kettering. In 1894 they opened up a factory and since then, Loake Shoemakers has created its own legend. Five generations later Andrew Loake continues his ancestor’s tradition of quality shoemaking.
Our aim is to uphold this tradition and continue making the most handsome, comfortable and durable shoes we can.Andrew E. Loake
Loake shoes use the Goodyear welt construction method which dates back to the 17th century. More than 50 million shoes have been sold to date. Isn’t that incredible?
Prices are very competitive and well placed for the person that wants a higher quality shoe. Loake offers 3 main series of shoes that you should focus on:
- The normal Loake Shoemakers line.
- The Loake 1880 range, which is their premium line and today’s review product.
- The Loake 1880 Export Grade range, a more expensive hand-polished line of shoes limited to fewer markets.
In addition, you can also buy some leather accessories such as bags and belts.
With that out of the way, let us move on to the good stuff.
Loake 1880 Oxford – Specifications
Line: Loake 1880
Type: Oxford Captoe
Last: Capital F
Size: 42.5 (UK 8 – US 9)
Construction: Goodyear Welt
Origin: Made in England
Price: 2995 SEK (290 Euros – 335 $ – 260 £)
Bought from: Bäckmans Skoservice
Unboxing – 9/10
People love to unbox things and this is a fact. What is even more perplexing is why people like to watch other people unbox things.
The excitement of unboxing your Loake 1880 Oxford shoes comes from the shoes itself and not the actual unpacking. That does not mean however that the packaging is not good. The shoes come in a blue sturdy box that is spacious enough to accommodate them. A pair of blue cloth bags is included which is perfect for transport and keeping your shoes dust free.
Finally you will get a small booklet with some information about Loake which is a nice small addition to the package.
As it was mentioned, when weighting the price and the quality what you get in the box is good enough to earn it a good grade. A functional sturdy box, cloth bags (which not all companies offer) and some information earn it a good grade all things considered. It is not luxurious by any means but it does everything it needs to do.
Pro Tip: Always use shoe trees after every use. You need to go to the toilet? Put the shoe trees in first and then you have my permission soldier.
Style – First Impressions Matter – 8/10
The Loake 1880 Oxford is not going to reinvent the wheel. It is a part of the classic Northampton shoe-making history and the tradition that runs in the Loake family.
This does not mean that the shoes are not elegant or beautiful. In fact the contrary is probably true. If you are looking for a pair of good looking formal shoes you cannot go wrong with the Loake 1880 Oxford. This particular model is the Aldwych and comes in 4 different colours:
- Dark Brown
Today’s review product is the Mahogany version and unless you are looking for a black formal dress shoe I would suggest getting this one as it is very versatile, can be worn formally and more casually and will develop character over time.
I could understand some people saying it looks boring or simple but you need to understand that this is the oxford shoe. It is supposed to be simple yet elegant for the most formal occasions.
There are not many shoes that can compete with the Loake brand at this price level so if it is your first shoe you should not go for something flamboyant or different. For you the Loake 1880 Oxford will probably be closer to a 10.
Sizing & Fit – 8/10
I usually wear EU 42.5 for most shoes and this one was no different. There is a decent amount of room for my toes to move and no pressure on my achilles or around my ankles. After the initial discomfort (explained in the next section) it has been a very comfortable shoe to wear but I feel obliged to dock off a few points for that.
A comparison with the Carlos Santos 397 last can show the difference that each last has and how important the fit is. For reference I had a 6.5 UK size on the Carlos Santos shoes and a 8.5 on the Loake 1880 Oxford.
Weight: 7.78 kg
Heel Height: 1 Inch/24 mm
Comfort – 8/10
This one was a weird one. The first time I put on the shoes and went to work I felt excruciating pain on the top of my left foot from the leather. This continued with diminishing returns for the next 3-4 wears and then stopped completely.
Remember of course that this can be the case with leather goods as they take some time to form to your feet. Right now the shoes fit perfect and I am comfortable walking longer distances with them.
They are a good companion for all business environments and my current go-to shoes when I need to show confidence and style.
Quality – 9/10
The look and feel of the leather is very good. I have worn the shoes regularly and apart from the slight expected creasing in the vamp the shoes have remained in mint condition after 3 months.
In fact, I was walking on my lunch break with my colleague Nick and he said to me:
“Nice shoes! Are they new?”
“No I have them for 3 months!”, I responded.
“Wow, they really look new!”, Nick said.
I am taking good care of them but it is also a testament to the shoes’ quality and craftsmanship in addition to the materials used.
You can notice the leather soles have substantial wear but in Sweden the roads are full of small rocks and uneven pavements.
Finally, when you take a closer look at the details and the stitching you will be satisfied. Everything is consistent, there have been no malfunctions and the leather insoles have been great. The same applies to the provided shoe laces which keep the look tidy and formal.
Update 17/01/2019: The shoes have aged fantastically with minimal creasing which is a testament to their quality.
Price – 9/10
For the price of 2995 SEK (290 Euros – 335 $ – 260 £) the Loake 1880 Oxford is a great buy and there is no counter argument to that. In that price range for me personally there are only 2 competitors. The very well received Meermin which is the value king for price-quality in the Goodyear Welt range and Carlos Santos. Carlos Santos retail for approximately the same price in Sweden and I have to say that I cannot wait to get my hands on their wholecut shoes. Incredibly elegant and will give your Loake a run for their money.
That being said, if you are in the market to step your shoe game up and look for a great Goodyear Welted shoe pair, try the Aldwych. It will accompany you for years to come. These types of shoes are timeless and will last you probably a lifetime.
Availability – 10/10 (In Europe)
Loake has a very strong presence in Sweden and Stockholm. Here you can find their shoes in their own shop at Humlegårdsgatan 4 in Östermalm, at Bäckmans Skoservice or even at Åhlens City.
I bought my pair from Bäckmans Skoservice since they have great customer service and a very personal feeling. Additionally, you get FREE shoe trees with all pairs of Loake shoes and they offer frequent discounts.
Retailers exist in Poland, the Netherlands, Ireland and even Chile. You can find the full list of retailers here.
Should I Buy Them Misiu Academy?
Ask yourself this question:
“Am I looking for a classic, elegant entry British shoe that is Goodyear Welted and not sacrifice quality? Is my budget around 300$?”
If the answer is yes, then the Loake 1880 Oxford Aldwych is a very safe option. Classic British hand-crafted style with very limited competition at it’s price point. You will not be excited by the design and the leather will not feel as amazing as the incredible (and more expensive) R.M. Williams boots but what they lack in creativity they make up in consistency. Quality control is excellent and my pair has been in amazing shape after 3 months of frequent wear.
The fact that I had some discomfort during the first couple of weeks should not deter you since every foot is different. If you can find a local retailer you should definitely try them on and check how they feel.
To sum up the Loake 1880 Oxford presents an excellent pair of shoes for the money and I wholeheartedly recommend them. For more information on dress shoes you can check out my complete guide to dress shoes.
Do you have any comments or suggestions for this review? Are you too a proud owner of a pair of Loake 1880? I would love to hear your opinion in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe for your weekly dose of Misiu Academy.
Thank you for reading,