Looking for a shoe cult? Try Marcus de

Marcus de fits nicely into a recurring theme of late: A very small company wanting to realise a very clear idea. In the case of Marcus De, the owner Miguel, comes from a family that made shoes. Miguel himself, London born and bred, is a cordwainer by trade, as was his father and grandfather. It wasn’t his first port of call when starting out working though, that was coffee. Since selling on his chain of coffee shops though, he is back with his true love: Quality men’s shoes.

It’s one thing having the knowledge and skill to actually make shoes from scratch, and an entirely different prospect to actually do so. A hand made custom shoe becomes a very expensive prospect and while there are people who will pay for the pleasure, it’s not going to be a lonely existence and while your brand may become known in the upper echelons of the #shoegazing community, for someone with ambitions it will be a sedentary life.

A better option is to look to somewhere that already has the skills and facilities to produce world class shoes, Northampton. It’s a legacy of olden times that industry of a certain type tended to end up in the same place. Sheffield was Steeltown, Lancashire was textiles, the Midlands were engineering and Northampton took care of shoes. They’re all there, all the famous British shoe factories. All still cutting, sewing and welting away, many since the 1850s.

Today though, they’re not all super duper, hands on deck busy. From what I hear even one of the most famous are working a three-day week due to lack orders. Others are trying their hardest to come up with ideas that might increase sales. What this does mean is that there is capacity going spare and this opens up opportunities for a company such as Marcus de. If you have an intimate knowledge of the factories, you’ll know who is best, or even best at specific types of shoe. And this means you can have small batches of shoes made to your exact requirements.

 

And this is what Miguel and Marcus de do. Design the exact shoe he required and has it made by the best factory in Northampton. Upholding the tradition of the great British gentleman’s shoe, and in a way also helping out an industry that is struggling these days. We live in a world where people are willing to pay hundreds of pounds for a pair of celebrity endorsed trainers made in a low cost country, but the number of gentlemen willing to pay a fair price for a pair of handcrafted shoes made in Britain is dwindling. Just another tiny hint that we live in crazy times.

When it came to making a selection though I had to rein myself in. If you have a good sense of what you like, it’s very easy to keep buying the same stuff again and again, be it jackets, shirts or shoes. Yes, I like brown leather brogues, and indeed I do have a few pairs. So this time I went out on a limb, a limb that I was uncertain would carry my weight. Miguel assured me though that all would be good, and he does have a following of delighted customers that look to him for advice. Naturally it would be brogues, but my first pair are the Miguel in oh so subtle purple suede with hot pink accents. Miguel assures me they work a treat with my denim style, and having met Miguel a couple of times face to face, I find myself trusting his judgement.

And they are indeed magnificent. While I can’t proclaim myself a true shoe specialist, it’s usually fairly obvious whether the shoes I’m handling are quality or not, and these are definitely a very finely made pair. The cut of the leather, the perfect stitches and the fine calf leather lining. I’d usually have gone for a sturdy rubber sole, but this time I’m giving a leather sole a try. Arguably, this makes sense on a pair of suede shoes, as I’ll not be skipping the light fandango in the rain in them in any case.

The shape is also very pleasing. I often look down on a pair or shoes and wonder what the designer was thinking when they were making the curves of the last, why that strange shape? Here both the curve of the sole and the silhoutte of the toe are perfect. Also note that these are longwing brogues, where the toe piece stretches all the way back to the heel. Uniquely for me, in fact, as all my other brouges are wingtips, where the brogues toe piece only goes a little of the way towards the heel.

And yet, what really is the proof of the pudding when it comes to a pair of shoes? What is it that has you nodding your head and gives you that feeling of having made a sound choice? How they feel on, of course. If you can put the shoes on, they feel right, you can go for a walk and all feels well, then you’re on to a good thing. I remember reading about a guy that bought a pair of Red Wing boots and spent a year of agony breaking them in, which to me shows an admirable yet scary persistence and a poor choice of boots. These shoes though feel right.

When I first showed these on Instagram I was very suprised at the response garnered. Both photos received a lot of comments from existing customers of Marcus de, and they were overwhelmingly positive. Not only positive, but it was also clear that Marcus de has something of a cult following and these guys appear to be collecting the shoes. To me this speaks volumes. Not about cult followings as such, but every brand strives to build customer loyalty and a good brand image. What is remarkable here is that Marcus de have managed to do so in such a subtle and organic way, by just carefully designing shoes and going about business. And I’m sure the fact that Miguel personally replies to all enquiries himself has a lot of do with this.

So there you have it. Marcus de shoes. And if I’m joining the cult and starting a collection, my next pair will be the Siglo 1 in bulls blood Horween leather.

2 Comments

  • wobbly-jelly 08/05/2017 at 17:35

    nice looking, but majority look to be size 7-10, 11 for suede so rules me out.

    Reply
    • nick 08/05/2017 at 21:02

      Probably temporarily sold out, looks like 7-11 is the standard size range.

      Reply

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