For a while in the nineties Grenson seemed to be a bit lost. However the new millennium brought new management, new confidence and a return to being one of the best quality shoemakers in the world. They have returned to producing some of the best traditional bench-made shoes.
Grenson were founded by William Green in 1874. Green was a skilled shoemaker who built one of the first brands (Grenson was a contraction of Green and Sons).
Grenson have almost achieved the holy grail of shoes, a synthesis of English and Italian shoes. English shoes are beautifully made but generally the leathers (especially the soles) make them much heavier than Italian shoes. Grenson’s shoes are lighter and more supple (and incredibly comfortable) than many other benchmade English shoes. The soles are lighter and the uppers slightly softer than those of Church or Crockett and Jones. However they have lost none of their superb craftsmanship in doing this, the shoes are still well-structured benchmade English shoes
The shoe designs have more than a nod to Italy. Shoes are slimmer than those of their rivals, the vamp of the shoe is longer (though not as long as the vamp on Jeffrey West shoes) and the shape of the toe is sharp, even on their plain Oxfords. Like John Lobb they have updated classics with some very colourful and distinctive leathers. They are particularly good at tans, deep browns and off-brown shades. These are business shoes but are also playful enough to be night-time fun-time wear.
I once had a conversation with a Church’s salesman who told me, “We have got the best blacks but Grenson have some really good browns”. Unsolicited compliments are the best.
Grenson have two ranges. The Rushden range are their entry level shoes, classic shoes with modern designs. These retail around £140 making them (along with Loake and Barkers) the lowest priced quality English shoes and a good place to start. The Rose collection are their premium brand, costing around £220. These are beautifully made shoes, using very supple, high quality leathers.
Visit the Bradshaw and Lloyd website: www.bradshawandlloyd.com to view the latestrange of shoes from:
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