|Sid Mashburn via GQ|
I have always admired the simplicity and sophistication of the monk strap style shoe. As its namesake suggests, it was modeled after a centuries old tradition of buckled footwear worn by monks in Europe. According to legend, the first pairs were worn by friars in the Italian Alps during the fifteenth century. Upon visiting his fellow clergymen in Italy, an English friar, impressed with their simplicity, took home a pair, where they became an instant hit.
Touted for their comfort, as a result of a wider tongue than traditional lace-ups and buckle closure on the side, the monk is the perfect shoe for day and night. Made in both single and double strap, plain or cap-toe, brogued or burnished, I prefer the subtle flair of a double strap and capped toe in a versatile burnished brown. It strikes the right balance, worn either dressed-up or casual, and personally, I think they're just nice to look at.
|Image via JohnLobb|
When it comes to monks, John Lobb, the revered English bootmaker since 1849, makes the crème de la crème. When Hermès acquired the company back in 1976, it left the original John Lobb bespoke shoe shop intact on St. James St, London. The shop continues to produce bench-made shoes for discerning clients from around the world one shoe at a time. Thanks to Hermès, however, ready-made shoes by John Lobb can be found at any of their shops around the world.
|Image via SidMashburn|
While the John Lobb William II Monk leaves something to be desired, the price tag at $1275 is not as alluring. Enter Sid Mashburn, the Atlanta based clothier, who brings the same English bench-made appeal and killer styling at half the price. Pictured at top, these shoes are the Real McCoy of versatility and style. With the dedication of Mr. Mashburn to quality with respect to tradition, it is no wonder why these shoes are one of his most popular items. Check out his inspiration, and browse the site for many more goodies.