Friday, 20 January 2012
How great things age: Tod's driving shoes
For the next in my series on How Great Things Age, here are my beloved gommino driving shoes from Tod's.
I've had them for three years and wear them almost every day. They are my default shoe when I come home from work and usually for any time around the house at the weekend. Given this intensive wear, they have worn very well. No stitches loose, no cracks in the leather and they have become more and more comfortable over time.
Of course I look after them pretty well in other respects. They get a coat of shoe cream every month or two that refreshes the skin and prevents any chance of drying out. The difference is particularly marked on the sole, which can start to crack otherwise. You see them here just before they get another coat of cream.
I do occasionally wear them outside - when popping across the road to get milk for instance (with two kids under four this is a frequent errand) - but try to keep this to a minimum as the detrimental effects on the leather around the heel are obvious.
Tod's driving shoes are handmade in most respects, but then then there isn't much to the construction really. A layer of rubber nubbins (the gommini) is inserted through the leather body of the shoe, an internal rubber layer added on top and then a leather insole. The vamp is sewn by hand around the front; all other sewing around the tongue and collar is by hand-guided machine.
The quality is in the materials and the quality control, as with many luxury products (socks being a recent example cited here on the blog). They are all made in Italy's Cassette d'Ete, the town were Tod's head Diego Della Valle was born and both his grandfather and father worked (the former a cobbler). Tod's talks a lot about the more than 100 steps involved in making a pair; a good portion of this is management and quality control.
Let's close with a rather pertinent quote from Della Valle: "If you examine the iconic products around the world, whether a watch, a pair of sunglasses or a pair of shoes, there is a simple test to their authenticity. Do they become more charming as they get older? I love to see a man wearing a very old Rolex that he got when he was young and made his first money. To see how it has aged with him, how it has shaped his experiences - that is real elegance."
And that is the reason that, so far, I have resisted buying a second pair of Tod's driving shoes.
For more in this series on How Great Things Age see:
Globe Trotter luggage
Edward Green shoes