In relation to footwear, dear reader, I have a particular problem. I, in a truly Marcosian manner, have lost all concept of the ‘basic’ shoe and my concept of ‘need’ is as skewed as that of William Randolph Hearst. The issue is this; my shoes are well kept and they last a considerable amount of time. Many of you will raise eyebrows in approval, considering that this achievement deserves credit. Fortunately, I am conscious enough about my appearance to ensure the intended triumph of the former but the triumph of the latter is largely down to the fact that I have a peculiar dislike for wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row.
It’s a kindergarten comment, but the fact remains – the less you wear a pair of shoes, the longer they will last. I have never encountered a cobbler or shoe salesman who peddles a paradoxical and controversial theory that, in actual fact, shoes last longer the more they are worn. For that word, ‘worn’, is not used without reason. Those creations, so carefully and skilfully illuminated in the boutiques of St James’ and Mayfair, are virginal; untouched, unblemished, unwrinkled, unworn. All the care and love in the world will not return a pair of shoes to their pre-worn state; the great problem with shoes is that we need to wear them. A very good pair of shoes, worn every day, will last a good number of years, but how much longer would they last if they were only worn one day a week? For that reason I spread the burden across an ever-growing collection.
My collection is not to the taste of all. It’s a mish-mash, a mixture of Jermyn Street and the high street. The shoes are not of equal quality; some I foresee lasting a good deal longer than others, but there are some shoes that I am surprisingly pleased with. My three pairs of Dune shoes are among my favourites. Firstly, they are of a pleasing shape. The toe is slightly squared but the profile is rather classic which makes for a stylish design that is a cross between contemporary and traditional. Secondly, it is clear that the creative team at Dune for Men take risks with their shoes. I have a pair of their head-turning peanut-butter leather and black patent co-respondents that consistently receive compliments and enquiries.
The real value in Dune shoes is precisely that – the value. They are priced at £85. While not exactly a bargain-basement price, finding good leather shoes of decent construction and interesting design for less than £100 is notoriously difficult. I bought each pair of mine in the sale, at a 40% discount. For roughly £150 I have three pairs of shoes that I adore. There are certainly better shoes out there, but for that price?
Shoe purists certainly scoff at the ‘high street’ image of the brand, the fact that Dune is chiefly a manufacturer of women’s shoes and that the men’s section is, embarrassingly, a side show. They might even take issue with the quality of the leather (which, in my opinion, is satisfactory for the price), but there is no doubt that achieving this kind of footwear, in that price bracket, is only possible with Dune.
When I paid a visit to George Cleverley’s little boutique in the Royal Arcade, the interesting and kindly store keeper remarked on my canvas and tan co-respondents; “You’ve got a very nice pair of shoes on yourself sir, where are they from?” When I informed him they were from Dune he was understandably nonplussed; “Never heard of them, and I’ve been making shoes for 56 years!” I calmly informed him that it was unsurprising that he had never heard of Dune as they were scarcely in the league of distinguished bespoke shoemakers. The benevolent twinkle in his eye indicated, with that remark, I had been excessively disparaging.