Written by Anthony W. Madsen Sylvester
I can't remember the last time I wore a pair of lace up shoes. After this past year of lockdown and uncertainty, I have taken the path of least resistance when it comes to footwear, my priorities shifting into choosing shoes that are comfortable, hardwearing, easy to style, fit like an old friend, but still maintain an elegance and a certain decorum.
More often than not, I've been stepping in and out of my Brockton loafers when I leave the house, positioning them by the front door in preference to everything else gathering dust on my shoe racks. I've joked that the perfect outfits for the past few months have been two sets of indoor and outdoor robes and slippers, and certainly my Crown Northampton Brocktons have proved essential to this mandate.
Originally developed for the Japanese market and taking shape and styling reference from an old pair in their extensive century-old archive, the Brockton is Crown's refined take on the iconic "Belgian" loafer. Utilising Kudu suede, a soft, yet remarkably hardy choice for the upper, styled with a distinctive lozenged apron, the loafer is hand-lasted and placed on a leather and rubber sole using cement construction, rendering them suitable for English streets.
Unlike many shoes purported to be made in this same manner, however, the handmade nature of the process and tough durable materials used offer an opportunity for resoling, prolonging the life of your new favourite loafers way beyond expectation.
Over the summer, I started thinking about what would make for a more personal take on the model. Knowing that Crown Northampton primarily work on a made-to-order basis, I wondered if they would be interested in collaborating on an exclusive model bearing some of my design features. Playing to both brands' strengths, we have kept the DNA essentially the same but added a splash of decadent flair to proceedings with a series of animal print hair-on-hide aprons on the same handsome Kudu uppers and utile sole unit.
Animal print in menswear brings both a textural and a visual interest to outfits when employed in a tasteful manner. Less 'tuff guy" than camouflage, it radiates a sense of old school Hollywood glamour and subcultural kudos with nods to rockabilly and punk iconography. It felt like an unexpected, yet altogether logical partner to the Brockton's utility as both a formal and an informal shoe. The end result being equally at ease with a beaten up pair of jeans as a tuxedo.
Available on a made-to-order basis in sizes UK 3-13, the AWMS x Crown Northampton Brockton will open for ordering from today - Friday 1st October until the end of the 2021. All orders placed before Monday November 1st will be shipped in time for Christmas and all orders after that date will be delivered in January 2022.
The accompanying imagery is styled by, and features the man himself - Anthony W. Madsen Sylvester aka AWMS aka Toneloki aka Tony. Shot on location in Margate, evoking the spirit of the good old fashioned, Great British day trip from the big city to the seaside!
Photography: Alex Natt & Ben Lloyd
The full Crown Northampton x AWMS collection can be ordered here