July 30, 2018 by Ville Raivio
Edward&James is the new in-house selection of Goodyear-welted shoes only available at Pediwear. Made in the U.K., Spain or India, depending on the range, E&J aims to shod all situations. Mike Small, one of the owners of Pediwear, tells me that the lineup is “a result of over fifty years of family involvement in men’s fashion together with the foot and shoe world.” His father started his working life in mens’ tailoring, later became a podiatrist and then helped to develop Pediwear’s reputation as a specialist Goodyear welted mens’ shoe retailer.
Mike continues, “I have enthusiasm and passion for traditionally made mens’ shoes and a keen interest in footwear fashion. My background as a General Medical Practitioner means that my knowledge of the anatomy and movements of the foot must be taken into consideration in the designing of footwear. So, too, is the importance of the quality of materials and construction. These qualities are ensuring the brand is built with authenticity and flair.”
The E&J models are a collaboration between the retailer and the manufacturers. Pediwear has its own lasts which offer a fit and look not available elsewhere, and these are combined with the know-how of the manufacturers. In-house shoe ranges have become more common during the last decade and, at best, are able to distinguish themselves from so many others thanks to unique designs, great price-quality deals, or eccentric detailing. I asked Mr Small what’s his take on Edward&James’s strategy. “We consider that our strong working relationships within the industry allow us access to established manufacturers with whom we have build up excellent relationships. From this strong position we are able to commission unique styles made to the highest of standards. Our own extensive experience with Goodyear-welted footwear sales also helps steer the design process.”
Lastly, I asked why Keikari’s readers should try out the new lineup. “We enthusiastically assert that there is something for everyone who seeks Goodyear-welted footwear within our ranges. In our Principal range – which is the core of Edward and James – we have representations of every popular shoe style, with our own unique flavour. We could not expect our range to compete if we were not offering good value for money shoes, well made, which fit and offer contemporary style where required.” Apart from the models on the webstore, this autumn will bring new additions made at the Carlos Santos factory in Portugal, new models made in the U.K., and hand-painted shoes from Spain.
Pediwear sent over a pair of boots from their new range for Keikari’s anatomical series. The Rushton cap-toe boots are made by Cheaney and feature durable Dainite rubber soles as well as shell cordovan uppers. Instead of the usual rump tanned by Horween in America, Pediwear uses English shell cordovan, a novelty that’s been offered for just a few years.
I asked Mike Small why they decided to try out the new hides instead of sticking to an industry standard. “Horween is, of course, very highly regarded. However, the Clayton tannery in Chesterfield has a very long heritage, and when we discovered that they were going to start producing cordovan we were very keen to be involved. We met with the tannery salesman and viewed samples of the cordovan and were impressed with the quality, so we began commissioning styles – initially with Barker and later also with Cheaney. The results are impressive – and it makes for quite a unique English story – with English-tanned cordovan being made into footwear in a Northamptonshire factory.”
I have owned many pairs of shell cordovan shoes made from Horween’s famed horse’s ass, so I was keen to see and feel the English take on equine leather. I’d say the Clayton hide looks and feels the same. There is the similar matte shine, oily finish, vegetal smell, eggplant colour. Likely the differences will only reveal themselves with longer wear, and a few slings and arrows life throws on the way.
As for the last, which shall always be the first, it feels like an average British boot last. Spacious enough for thicker socks, a standard round toe. Apart from the leather and last, the rest of the boots are what Cheaney regularly offers. The welt is medium-wide, with a long stitch and no wheeling, the upper stitching straight and regular. The heel cut is narrow, with a tiny pull tab at the top. Apart from most boots, I feel that the Rushton-model has a close-fitting shaft, a great thing as most have loose tops that shake around irritably.
The leather lining is beige, though it feels coarser than usual. The brass pull tabs have a dark finish and regular spacing. The waist of the soles seems to be trimmed slimmer than on most boots. The heel stiffeners feel strong while the toe stiffeners are surprisingly soft. The pair arrives in an Edward&James shoe box along with a Cheaney leaflet, Pediwear cotton flannel shining rags, as well as E&J leaflet, shoe bags and shoehorn. All things considered, the Rushton is a solid British boot with the exception of the in-house last and rare English shell cordovan. The former either fits well or doesn’t, depending on the foot, while the latter is an offer not widely available. It should serve well any man accustomed to British shoemaking.