Casual Connoisseur on Shoes
Established in the summer of 2006, the Connoisseur brand is a now a permanent fixture on football terraces up and down the country. Their instantly recognisable range of Weir bobble hats are still able to sell out in double quick time whenever a new one is released to an expectant public.
The eclectic label, founded by twin brothers Dan and Tom and based in North West England, is inspired by various aspects of cult and popular culture.
“We buzz off the finer things in life. Art, film, music, football, the great outdoors, cask ales and everything that fills the gaps in between.
We reckon we’ve got a keen eye for detail we try to exercise that eye on the garms we put together. Our aim is …to breathe fresh air into timeless style. We hook into the traditional working class values we were brought up with and give them a coat of contemporary cool. We are big fans of coats, shoes and hats.”Never ones to follow the well travelled path, when we asked the lads to contribute to our popular Classic Trainers article, rather than a few hundred words on their all-time favourite pair of trainers, what we actually got was a list of Dan’s top five shoes instead. Here is the list, along with Dan’s thoughts on each shoe, in all its well-shodden splendour.
Clarks Wallabee (Nanamica Goretex)The Wallabee is an absolute classic, it’s never really been tinkered with since it was first released, it is the comfiest shoe in the world if you wear it all the time. The simple suede and crepe mix just really works. I wouldn’t even want to guess how many I’ve got now; old ones, new ones, trendy collab ones, the list goes on. However, I’ve selected these Goretex ones made in collaboration with Japanese brand Nanamica. They are pure luxury and just look absolutely spot on. The crepe sole is normally what makes this shoe but the contrast Vibram sole makes these look fucking ace. I’m not one for buying a ‘back up’ pair but got a Bottle Green pair customised to look similar with a nice Minty Vibram sole after passing their shop on Old Street loads of times.
Finn Comfort BadenI’m a sucker for weird looking European comfort shoes. These definitely divide opinion: ‘old man’ shoes to some, special’ shoes to others, but I love them. Yes, they’re like something your Grandad might have bought from a Sunday newspaper supplement, the quintessential Geography teacher shoe, but that’s all part of their appeal. I first saw these in the old Oi Polloi in Manchester and had to have them. The leather panel looked like it was made from wood, they reminded me of the family truckster Chevy Chase drives in Vacation. The best endorsement I can give them is that they’re comfy as fuck, they even come with a weird bobbly extra sole that apparently helps bad backs and migraines. The White pair are another level on the Marmite scale; you can only love them or hate them. They look like hospital shoes and that’s a great look, no? I once attempted to walk 12 miles home from Macclesfield in these after I couldn’t get a taxi after a heavy night, I jibbed over a golf course which had just been mowed at about 6am, the soles have a slightly green tint to them now. I’ve got one of them Sneakers ER pens for them.
Noël sportAgain, these were brought to the fore in the original Oi Polloi shop. An obscure French-made shoe, or is it a trainer? It’s that ambiguity that makes them cool. You don’t see these very often, which is always a good thing. I found a pair of their colourful trainers in Hotdogs vintage in Hamburg, but they weren’t my size. The strap over pair are exactly the sort of thing I’d expect someone in a pair of generic adidas Samba to laugh at me for wearing and I’m really not arsed. They have great names like ‘Ganga’ and ‘Garry’. I love the tobacco suede colour and the gold branding on the tongue, they could be straight from the Seventies. They seemed to disappear for years, but I recently got a couple of pairs from Parisian boutique Isakin. These ended up in my posession via a Swedish lad I know from a post-club brawl in Stockholm…it’s a long story.
Jacoform 332, 333I’ve got quite a few pairs of these, all slightly different, but these nubuck ones are still the bees knees. Once again they’re obscure, European, expensive, an old Tib street Oi Polloi staple and something a hippy teacher would wear. They work with everything, they make you walk like Shaggy from Scooby Doo, they’re just dead comfortable. They are literally orthopedic shoes designed by a Danish professor, if that’s not cool then I don’t know what is. I’ve been going on about these for years, I must get out more. I’m just waiting for this really slim jeans epidemic to fuck off so I can wear them a lot more.
Veras x Connoisseur Cord shoesA shameless plug I know but I love these. We’ve teamed up with Port Talbot’s famous cobbler, Nelly from Veras, quite a few times and it’s either these or the monkey boots which are my faves from the collabs we’ve done. Cord shoes were always a bit of a Manchester/North West thing. They are an acquired taste for sure, something not too many brands have produced. Made just for us in a small Spanish factory, a one off run in smallish numbers. You don’t get much of that these days. This was the second cord shoe we did and they came in four colours, just don’t wear them with cords.
Check out more from the lads here and here.