Who ever believes sole searching is a women’s rite, has not met my Andy or his London friend Sam Anthony. Both men spent the better part of tea gabbing about the cuts of their favorite brogues and the varying undersurface treatments of desert and chukka boots (ie. spongy crepe versus hard leather). Why shouldn’t they, right? Still, observing it all gave me pause since, frankly, I don’t think I go on like this.
But there was good reason. Despite the snow the day before which shut down all of London, we’d finally made it to John Rushton. The old school shop is a secret gem among footwear-obsessed men. Sam introduced it to Andy on his last trip to London. And it was all Andy could talk about before and during our trip. He’d had his eye on a bespoke pair of the classics sold here as his birthday present.
John Rushton is an independent shop that has been specializing in better British-made footwear for three decades, 20 of them in its current spot at 93 Wimpole Street in the west end. It’s just off Oxford Street, on a less touristy traveled path towards Marylebone. There’s nothing at all glitzy about the place. The shoes are the main event here.
Well, count, too, the owner. Mr. John Rushton is a gregarious, sturdy figure, the kind of charming storyteller you could spend a late afternoon with, emptying a bottle of scotch and wanting more. He spent much of his life at the editing dock (not unlike Andy), mostly on film sets between England and Italy. And wherever his work took him, he cultivated a knack for the history, craft and customs of men’s wear–and style. That, and the ladies.
Andy ultimately strolled out with two pairs of lace-ups by Alfred Sargent, a company that goes back to 1899 and based, like all of the British lines sold here, in North Hamptonshire. In his bags were the chestnut burnished wing brogue oxfords he pined for since his first visit, and a tan suede set of chukka boots (hard sole) that we couldn’t resist. I tossed in three pairs of cashmere socks—in pink, wine and charcoal—for him. You just can’t score socks like that elsewhere. I’m a woman. I know.
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