Review: The Asquith Monk Strap from Herring Shoes
After we recently reported on the Royal Wedding, today we will remain in England a little longer, and present to you a beautiful Monk Strap shoe from Herring Shoes.
Herring Shoes – The Company
Herring Shoes was founded in 1966 by Richard Herring as a shoe retail shop in Devon, Kingsbridge England. Today, Herring Shoes still owns two retail stores but they also sell shoes online. As an independent retailer, they offer shoes from a number of Northampton shoe manufacturers like Church’s, Cheaney, Loake, Barker and Tricker’s.
The company is run by Adrian Herring, an extraordinarily competent shoe retailer who worked for Barker at one point in time. There, he was able to get first hand insight into the English shoe industry, as well as connect with many people from the trade. And so, it hardly surprises that Herring maintains close relationships with many of the shoemakers.
While Herring always sold other brands in their store, Adrian wanted to sell his own line of shoes and through his connections he was able to have different lines made with Barker, Cheaney, Loake & Alfred Sargent.
Herring Premier Collection
About two months ago, Herring Shoes kindly offered to let us select a pair of their shoes for review. First, we explored the website, which offers seven different collections ranging from the premier collection, over to the classic range, and on to country, casual and Italian shoes. We decided to pick a shoe from their premier collection, which ranges in price from £175 for a patent leather shoe to £325 for sturdy boots made by Tricker’s. However, most shoes are made by Cheaney and cost £225. According to Herring, only the best leathers are used for the uppers and the linings.
Herring Asquith Monk Strap Shoe
We picked the Herring Asquith shoe in size 10.5 UK after consulting with Herring. As far as I can tell the sizes run rather big. Usually, I wear a size 10.5 UK / 11 US on medium width. The Asquith seemed a little big in the heel as well as the forefoot. After adding a vegetable tanned leather insole, the shoe fits much better. Of course, it does not make the heel area tighter but large heels are something you find pretty much at any English shoe manufacturer nowadays – not just at Herring.
The shoe was made on the 11028 last, which was designed by Herring and is quite long yet elegant. In my opinion, it looks quite beautiful. The only thing I would change is the heel. When standing with my entire weight on my heel, the sole does not touch the floor although, ideally, it should touch the sole where the foot’s front arch is located. Again, this is something that I have seen on many English Ready-To-Wear Shoes like Church’s, Edward Green, Crockett & Jones etc. and is hence not an issue specific to Herring. Austrian shoes or Allen Edmonds seem to get this right, however.
The advantage of the correct heel is a more comfortable walk as well as diminished wrinkles and creases on the upper leather.
As promised, the leather seems to be of very high quality all around. On the inside, you can see vegetable tanned calf leather. On the outside, we have a beautifully burnished calf leather which was aniline dyed and shows the pores of the leather.
Construction – Goodyear Welt
The shoe was Goodyear welted and the heel is attached with brass nails. Traditionally, a Goodyear welted shoe had a lip that was cut out from the underside of the leather insole in order to unite the insole, the upper and the welt. If done properly, this is a very sturdy method since the lip will not come off the insole.
Today, most manufacturers do not work out the lip anymore, but much rather glue it on. This is much quicker and less cost intensive; at the same time, it might come off eventually after a long period of time. However, I personally never had an issue with that and I have a few shoes which were stitched together in the modern way.
In the middle of the shoe, we have a metal shank which provides stability. In between the insole and the outsole, we find a cork filling.
The straps have three holes and a brass buckle which works just fine. This pair of shoes weighs in at 34 oz., which is a little on the heavy side but still acceptable.
Overall, the construction seems to be very good and solid. In order to learn more about the Goodyear Welt, please watch our video about how to make shoes.
All the seams are straight and very neat. The edges of the shoe are beveled very uniformly and the sole and the heel look immaculate. Also, the inside lining is absolutely top notch. The straps of the two shoes are cut slightly differently. One is a little wider than the other one and the end is cut a little different than the end on the other shoe. However, you will only notice that when you compare the two shoes next to each other. Now, one could argue that the lack of exact symmetry is erroneous, however one could also argue that it provides the best evidence for the claim that the shoes are made by hand.
Altogether, the workmanship is on a very high level, especially considering the price of £225.
Regarding the presentation of the shoes, I must say that Herring really exceeded my expectations. The shoe box in which the shoes arrived was navy blue on the outside with a gold Herring Shoes Logo. On the inside, it was lined with attractive paper. Not only did I find my pair of shoes, but also a navy shoe polishing cloth, two navy blue shoe bags, a navy blue shoe horn as well as a little tin of tan shoe polish for my shoes. Moreover, it came with a 2011 catalog of Herring Shoes. This is absolutely remarkable and way better than anything that you would receive from most other shoe manufacturers. Of course, a matching pair of shoe trees would be nothing short of perfection, but bear in mind that other companies may charge almost as much for their shoe trees as Herring charges for the entire shoe.
Overall, Herring Shoes are elegant, very well made and provide a lot of Made-in-England-Shoe for the pound. So in case you look for a new, affordable shoe or boot, you should definitely take a look at the Herring Premier Collection.