Last time I bought a pair of black shoes was 2008. Nickelback wanted to be rockstars, Adele was chasing pavements and Take That ruled the world. As my grandad would say, a really good pair of shoes will last for years. He was in the navy, and grandma was a nurse theatre manager. Both precise people. One time she reported her operating room was one surgical swab short after an operation. The doctors all said no, the nurse must have miscounted. But she insisted. She was right, and you can guess where the swab was found (shudder).
It was at their house before school that we learned to make the best hot chocolate in the world, and how to polish your shoes the old fashioned way. Something I’ve always done since. Baden-Powell (king of the cubs) said you can judge a man by the backs of his shoes. Meaning of course that you can trust a man who doesn’t just take care of the things everyone sees, but does a proper job for it’s own sake. Because he’ll know, if no one else does.
Every now and then a man has to look the part, and weddings are an obvious example. I genuinely feel at my best looking smart, and it’s a nice way to show respect to your hosts. I always assumed everyone felt the same way. But a few times now the registrar has said how nice it is to see a photographer make an effort. I honestly couldn’t believe them when they told me it’s usually jeans and a t shirt. One of my brides last year thanked me for looking smart at her wedding. And a lovely vicar I know told me a photographer once stood right up at the front with her, wearing a hoodie with a big skull on the back. Now I don’t want to judge – if you couldn’t care less what your photographer wears then cool cool cool cool. But surely even if we’re not IN your wedding photos, we’re still AT your wedding. People will see us. You know, people…with eyes?
So my excellent pair of dress shoes finally gave it up this summer. They’ve had plenty of new soles and heels but it was at last time to replace them. I looked in all the shops in Solihull (yes including monkeyshu) and was on the train to Brum for more shops when I realised this was getting serious. That’s when one of my most fine and distinguished grooms came to the rescue (thanks Iain!) by recommending Loake.
As I walked into their store on Cathedral Square it felt like a world of difference. I couldn’t help thinking that this is exactly how I want my customers to see me when I meet them. Not pushy, not bored, but pleasant and genuinely helpful. This actually doesn’t take any special training or even much effort when you truly like getting to know and helping the people you work for. Christopher in the store was very knowledgeable and explained things about the leather to me. Didn’t explain things I obviously already knew. And basically made sure I left with the right pair of shoes.
Good shoes seem expensive as hell, until you discover they last five to ten times as long as bad ones which makes them a bargain. They also take a bit of wearing in (ouch!) but it’s worth it to have something good you’re proud of.