The Downfall Of Church’s Shoes

The Downfall Of Church's Shoes

Ever since the Prada group purchased English footwear brand, Church’s, there continuously seems to be a steady decline in quality, integrity and style, almost as if Prada is turning Church’s into a fashion company, much like Prada itself. I don’t understand this, as the old saying goes, “don’t fix something that isn’t broken,” and Church’s were not broken, at least not in integrity….They used to make a lovely shoe, one that used good leather, could last you nearly a lifetime, and held it’s classic yet fundamental values of making a great English-made shoe. These days, I just can’t seem to say that I feel that this is still the motto. Now, it’s like, ‘what trend can we tackle next?’ Sometimes it works, like this SS2012 collection with all of their colored suede loafers. That was a brilliant idea. Classic with a subtle twist. But camouflage on the soles? Really? That’s so in style with the fashion houses right now, but not something that I would expect to see being done by +100 year old classic shoe company. They are meant to live out style….not follow trends that won’t last. As stupid as it may sound, sometimes I actually feel sad that a company with such a great heritage, seems to be loosing all of its history, through bad decisions by people who don’t actually care about what it took to create this name, a name that was synonymous with good shoes, but only seem intent on tearing it down. What a shame….

Pictures Courtesy Of: The Shoe Buff

The Downfall Of Church's Shoes

The Downfall Of Church's Shoes

The Downfall Of Church's Shoes

The Downfall Of Church's Shoes

The Downfall Of Church's Shoes

160 thoughts on “The Downfall Of Church’s Shoes”

  1. Hi all,
    Strangely enough, since Prada took over Church I haven’t read a single sentence about the old English shoemaker that sounds reassuring. No matter what it is thought about Prada. More strangely, the guys out there seem not to bother at all. Adamantly, they stay their course! Presumably, they must have new customers who are found of their new products.

  2. Justin,

    This is along the lines of A&F ruining Savile Row. Another nail in the coffin of ” Great Britain”

    Regards,
    Snapper

  3. Justin,

    I concur, there is some good, but mostly bad. I believe the proper term for a few of the pictured shoes (camo soles and the multi color chunky ‘thing’) would be ‘rock bottom’…

  4. Anon – You are right…but then again, most men aren’t that educated when it comes to shoes and will to continue to buy a brand because of the heritage no matter how much their quality declines…I have seen this in other industries as well…this is the power of branding…and the stupidity of people…

    Snapper – Too true…even as an American, I cringe at the thought of A&F on the Row and any other brand that could possibly tarnish such a great history and a street full of people that grafted for years to become who they are… such a shame….

    Justin – indeed….

    -Justin

  5. Justin, i understand what you’re saying but i don’t see the problem. Church’s are attempting to attract the ‘fashion’ crowd with their new designs.

    As long as they continue to produce classics along with the new ‘fashion’ shoes then what’s wrong with that?

    Can you qualify your statement about the decline in quality any further? I’m assuming you haven’t bought a pair of the ‘fashion’ shoes so isn’t that quite a broad stroke to make on them?

    @Snapper – i think you’re a tad over the top. If one store can nail the coffin in Great Britain then surely it wasn’t that great to begin with.

    Ari

  6. Ari – I don’t know how much exposure you have to their shoes, but I see them almost everyday. Their classics are no longer what they used to be. They try to keep the design classic, but I have seen the shape of their new lasts, and they are trendy, using book binder (cheap & glossy) leather and are doing more than trying to attract the fashion crowd. They are turning it into a fashion brand. In the window of one of their stores here they have a full brogue that has spikes in each brogue….that’s excessive (and something that Prada does), and not something a “classic” brand would ever do. Also you forget that I am shining other peoples shoes all of the time, and yes while I have not purchased any of their shoes as of current, I am constantly being exposed to them, and the decline in quality that I see and touch…. I say these things because I used to be a big fan, as they made one of the nicest full brogues of all time (that they don’t do anymore) and i find it a shame to see where it has gone. I don’t take stabs just for the sake of it, and don’t say that someone’s brand has declined in quality unless i have seen it, felt it and experienced it.

    -Justin

  7. Just wondering, what exactly is the drop in quality?
    I’m looking into buying a quality shoe and those with the extended toes just don’t do me well. Church’s is just so classic and functional.

  8. Victorpo – mainly the excessive use of that glossy leather that in my humble opinion is just not good for high quality dress shoes….it cheapens them and does not age well. Also, the lasts….they have become increasingly unshaped and disproportionate….don’t get me wrong, they still make some nice classic shoes, but they are not focusing on those anymore…since Prada has taken over, for me it looks as if they are trying to fashion-ize the Church’s brand….

    -Justin

  9. If old cheap idiots like the less than gentleman who wrote this ridiculous series of paragraphs actually purchase more than a few pairs of shoes expecting them to last their ancient lifetimes, houses such as Church could remain in the black. Prada rescued this house from almost certain annihilation. I for one am very happy they did.

  10. Anon – less than gentleman huh?

    That very well may be, but I hope that you know that with this comment left here, you fall into the same category….

    and even if what you said about Prada helping Church’s financially, it does not change the fact that they have started to change the integrity of the company by creating cheaper products that are higher in price, than is justifiable, as well as create shoes that I am positive that don’t fall into the category of classic shoes, as they were so known for…..

    Just because you seem to be a fan of Church’s, as I was too, doesn’t mean you have to take offense to what I write about with regards to the takeover….opinions my friend…we all have them

    -Justin

  11. I remember seing my best friend wearing his father’s Church’s Chelsea boots back when I was still going to College in the late eighties in Paris. Church’s was for me a symbol of quality, craftmanship and timeless style, last winter I finally purchased my first pair of Chelsea boots at the Madison Store in New York City, I was convinced that they would last me a lifetime.
    After four months of wearing them a couple of times a week to go to work, I noticed the heel of the left shoe starting to crack, all along the sole I noticed similar little crevices, after inspection the leather seemed to me really thin and I noticed two little rips on the front of one shoe. I deciced to put them away until I had time to take them to the Store, when I did a few months later they looked at the shoes and then simply told me “well looks like you worn them out”. The manager came out and confirmed their diagnostic. I would never get the chance to lend them one day to my childen, all it took was one New York winter!

  12. Looks like it is Alden or Allen Edmonds for business shoes now. I have had Testoni but they do not wear as well. I had had a pair of Church’s wingtips for 14 years but they finally wore out last year. Sad to see a classic British shoe bite the dust under the Prada stewardship.

  13. Hi Justin,

    It is just another brand living on reputation. This will work for a while but as others have found (Mercedes being a good example) once the drop in quality becomes well known, customers will go elsewhere.
    Had my first visit to Jermyn Street last summer and almost didn’t go into Church’s due to the poor display in the window. Nothing but heavy, clumpy and old-fashioned looking shoes (not the same as ‘classic’) on show. Further down the street, it was a different story at Crockett & Jones. Lovely window display and incredible shoes inside. Half an hour later, walked out with a pair of chestnut Finsbury brogues.
    Cheers
    Tony

  14. my reply to Churchs topic.
    It is true that ever since prada took over, things havent been looking to good.
    I work with churchs on a daily basis, and one thing i have learned is, that if you buy classic models, last 173, Consul, Chetwynd, Ryder etc. you will have no problems.
    I have 10 pairs and only the ones with the 173 Last, lasts.

    1. I have just come across 5 pairs of pre Prada new in box Churchs shoes and I have to say they are pure quality, they are size 5 however and too small for me anyone got any suggestions on a purchaser for these beauties?

    2. anon1 – I would say that that is quite accurate.. thanks for your input…

      Anon2 – what a find, just too bad they are so small!! EBAY!!! you will sell them mostly likely to a japanese guy quickly! or maybe Style Forum’s buying and selling thread

    3. I still have 5 pair of the Consul model (and 2 pair of the Fighting Seal) that I bought during the 70’s/80’s and am slowly “Lexoling” and stretching them (they were stored with shoe trees) so that they will re-fit my now older feet. The only visual difference between the then and now is that the very fine brogue is no longer applied to the seam where the cap-toe meets the upper; what other changes might be below the surface?

      Regards.

  15. the logic of the system that is in place now is : buy a company with good reputation and good products–> pay a high price to acquire. once you have it look how you can squeeze more money out of this good old company, obvious while saying the contrary lower quality, extend of choice and so on.
    result for the consumer , higher price and a low quality product.
    victory for the system it worked again.

    1. I could not have said it better…it’s happening everywhere too…especially on Savile Row…such a shame….a good name & company history, built by people of integrity who worked hard to get there destroyed by the signing of a paper in an acquisition….

  16. Hi ShoeSnob, I understand your point on your disagreement on turning a classic into fashion. But can you talk a little bit more in detail how the “decline in quality” means? Is Church using an inferior type of leather or skip some steps in the making? Thank you.

    1. yes, inferior leather but higher retail prices…does not add up….more bulbous and less shapely lasts as well…

  17. I have a pair of Church’s wingtips. I’ve had them since 1988 and still wear them. Prada makes the ugliest men’s shoes I have ever seen.

    1. I am sure that those ones that you have are of fantastic quality, as is evident if you are still wearing them 25 years later…

  18. I wish I knew about that earlier…. I bought a pair of shoes 2 months ago and after wearing ~8-10 in City the soles were worn off!!! I took them there and it took 1 month to replace them after some hard talking. I have to admit that the Regent St shop manager was very helpful and professional but the factory director answer “There is nothing wrong with the sole” (it was down by 1mm and the stitching had almost disappeared) just made furious and wondering about their product quality standards… I haven’t worn the new pair yet but I hope it won’t have the same ending.

  19. I bought a new pair 3 month ago. I was suprised the blue shoe bags we were used to have been replaced by some ugly paper bags. I through them away ! I will carry them in the old ones. I hope the quality of the shoes is not the same !

  20. I wish I had read this before buying a pair of boots that wore through the sole in 3 months, which isn’t abnormal, but now has holes in the sides where they crease when I walk. I can put my finger through the hole! The leather is two layers of leather glued together, each layer only 1mm thick. I never seen such shoddy material in such an expensive shoe! Am now battling with customer “service” who have basically told me to sod off.

    1. wow, the upper has holes in it after 3 months…that’s quite a bit premature….sorry to hear for your troubles, especially as they won’t even assist you in good old fashioned customer service!

  21. I am not overly surprised at the comments to be found here regarding the decline post-Prada.

    While shoes are not exactly my fetish, in other areas I have found similar. An amerikan company buys up a well respected british brand and runs it downhill. It has reached the point whereby, when I see a classic usually good quality product decline, I ask if some amerikan corporation has recently bought the company.

    The only things that amerika seems to have given the world is war and star trek!

    Bert.

    1. That’s a bit of limited thinking if I have ever seen it. I am sure that within your day that are many things you enjoy was either created or founded by an AmeriCan…and dont forget that Britain gave a lot of war to the world long before America ever did…there is always a superpower that creates chaos

    2. Prada is an Italian company, not American. America did give the world two great men’s dress shoe companies, Alden and Allen Edmonds.

      Speaking of war, we saved you guys across the pond a couple of times when the Germans had their sights set on controlling the world. And yes, we also gave you star trek, and a few million other inventions including the computer and software in front of you.

      By the way, you should learn how to spell America.

    3. try Alden shoes in New England. really good. did US “give” the world WWI or WWII?” Who backed Norks when they invaded Sork? Who backed NViet when they attacked SViet? Who ran Hussein out of Kuwait when he decided to add them to his collection? Did the US give us the Cold War… or did we do the lion’s share to win it? Oh, and I think American contributions to TV/movie entertainment go a bit further than Star Trek. It’s called Hollywood from about 1920 onward.

  22. I once spent 250 quid on a pair of Church’s brogues. Solid as lead, and felt like clumping around in lead too. Soon afterwards I bought a pair of Barker’s…. rather not a timid difference: better quality, lightweight, and much more style in the latter. I don’t know what all the fuss is about; William Church now operates Cheaney’s…….. yet Barker are a much better brand of today, having greater class and longevity, and style!

  23. Hi Shoesnob,

    very interesting points. I am a longtime C&J customer for over 10 years. However, I got a bit interested in Church’s after reading a James Bond blog. I went into a store but somehow found the shoes weird, not that classic, strange “fashion-like” models and colours, basically not that heritage I was looking for. And then I learnt it got acquired by Prada, so there you go.

    I heard Prada is actually quite bad at managing their company acquisitions. They bought Germany’s Jill Sander like 10 years ago and got into several fights with the Jill Sander herself, kicking her out, ,bringing her in again, kicking her out again…I think that says a lot about what level of respect those dudes have towards a previously independently running brand and the value of that previous management-team.

    Bottom-line, I think the shoes look rubbish and I will stick with C&J or upgrade to GG or EG or so.

  24. I have 4 pairs of Church’s triple sole shoes… 2 Graftons, 1 Shannon and 1 Lancaster. The quality (leather and build) is still exceptional on their conventional shoes. I also have a couple pair of the more fashion oriented styles. They are not the same in terms of quality… or price for that matter. It is like comparing apples to oranges.

    1. I don’t think that all Church wearers would agree with you but I am happy to hear that your shoes have been holding up well.

        1. Because you work for them doesn’t mean you know anything about shoes and secondly it makes you biased. And clearly I am not the only person who thinks these things so there is that.

  25. 30 pair?!? Seriously?

    Then why do you need to buy anymore pairs? Serious question. I assume you can’t have worn them all out.

    P.S. Yes, I currently own 12 pairs of shoes, but across several brands, so I kinda get it. But all from the same maker? And 30 of them?

  26. I agree, english traditional footwear are the core and soul of this brand. The camouflage pair belongs elsewhere, not that I dislike them but they don´t follow the brand values. I think traditional with a SMALL twist works, it could be a coloured seam or just a slight change in the pattern making. They don`t need to reposition the brand.

  27. I have a pair of Church’s shoes that I purchased in NYC 23 years ago. I had the soles changed twice and they are still wearable shoes. I just decided to check the Internet to locate a store that I could buy Church’s shoes from, and happened upon this information. Too bad! I suppose I won’t buy Church’s shoes again.

  28. My Father bought me my first pair of Church’s shoes in 1956. I think they were “Brummell” at £8.80! I must have bought around 50 pairs since then but sending them back to Church to be rebuilt on the original last, most of them are as new. I like the “bookbinder” finish and “Keats” and “Dorchester” seem to be my most popular styles in several colours and different leathers including buckskin. Because they last so long I don’t need to buy any these days but do buy Barker moccasins, as after Prada bought Church they seemed to drop these (soles made in England, uppers imported from Italy). When I see them today most of the styles look poor to me and the thickness and quality of the leather seems inferior.

  29. I also worked for Churchs and they used to be a great company to work for until Prada took over. Even some of the church family have left and run Cheaney. The shoes now are over priced and the heritage of the company is being eroded.
    Shame on you Prada.

    1. I understand that. My whole life I used Church’s, untill I bought the first after the Prada deal. Different quality, they even smell different.
      Than I tried Cheaney for once…that’s my brand now.

  30. Hey folks, I have 3 pairs of the pre-Prada Church’s mens shoes, bought in 1984, never worn, made on last # 73. Size 81/2 D/41-42 Euro/ 8 UK/ 10.125″/25.7 cm. Two pairs are black, Consul IV style, one pair is brown, same style. Also a 1984 pair of Church’s black Mandarin slippers, size 9M, made on last # 64 with leather upper and sole. Available now an eBay. Sept 29, 2015.

  31. I managed a Church’s in Minneapolis during the late 80’s to early 90’s and honestly, no other men’s shoe store in the area could compare to the quality and statement. Having been in the shoe industry for several years, wearing a pair of Church’s was a statement. Another fine test of their true quality was what a shoe repair person had to say. I trusted just one cobbler to recommend for a re-sole, and he would often comment how well made Church’s were, as shown in the number of re-soles he was able to do on one pair. Working for Church’s was a pleasure, although it took time to get them in stock. Dominick from New York, or Cary in Chicago, where always top-notch. I have a few pairs that I still take pride in wearing, 25+ years later. I had heard of Prada taking over Church’s, and while Prada had their own niche in the shoe industry, it is sad to here they messed with something that worked. Church’s shoes where classic, never in or out of style……

  32. Am I the only one? I bought a pair of Churches shoes in Bentalls, Kingston upon Thames on the 18th November 2015. It is now 16th March 2016 and I was mortified to find this morning that one of the soles has worn through and there is a 1 cm diameter hole in it. Not very good for a £350 pair of shoes

    1. Nightmare! Bought mine (brogues) last April GBP400 from their shop on Brompton Road. Just taken them in now for them to repair a hole/gash/split about 1cm long on the sole.
      Very strange shape and place for a hole. Let’s see what they say. Repair estimated at GBP125.
      Not happy at all.

    2. This is why all leather shoes are called rich mans shoes. A lot of buyers have a stick on rubber sole fitted when new.
      Back in the day these were resoled on a near monthly basis.

  33. Biggest rip-off are Loake through limiting sale to overseas addresses. In light of Brexit I wish Loake a big fail.

  34. I always remember that church’s were making some models to be destined for sales, the classic models are the best. The value for money is not there any longer unfortunately…

  35. I have a pair of Cordovan Crup Church’s Grafton shoes which I bought in 1993. I’ve had them resoled twice at Church’s, and they still look brand new. I think I paid about 350 pounds sterling for them back then. I’d imagine they’d be about $1000 if I could still buy them, but apparently not!

    How sad that such classic shoes are no longer available.

  36. After 3 weeks of trying the new pair of Church’s, I could only wish I saw this page sooner.
    The quality of leather is utterly undesirable: the outsole wears out fast on city roads; the leather on the cap ended up with a cut on a fairly gentle rub against the door (yes, a blo*ody cut on the cap’s leather, that’s a pair of shoes wasted); the leather on vamp and tongue wrinkled too fast and too easily.

    Simply cannot believe how bad the quality of the leather is. Utterly disappointed with Church’s.
    Never again. Crockett&Jones or Cheaney next.

    Would welcome any suggestions on how to take care of the 1cm cut on the cap leather. Thanks.

    1. The leather outsoles on your Crockett & Jones and Cheaney will wear out just as easily. Trust me, I know. It’s the way you walk. What you need to toe taps and avoid walking in puddles. Then you will be fine. Which model did you purchase? Probably your best bet would be to fill the cut with polish and blend it out. Then resole with rubber sole – dainite or diamond for dress shoes; dainite or ridgeway for more casual models.

  37. Church’s shoes stand out for their durability and traditional fit. However they have not kept up with technology. When shoes are made lighter with state of the art materials to cushion the feet Church’s has stubbornly kept to the old ways. The shoes provide little cushion from impact unless you happen to walk on parquet floors all the time. Try walking on concrete with that pair of vaunted dress shoes and your feet will be hurting.

    1. spengler, All quality shoes are like this. If you have an issue, you have to take steps to remedy the problem. Perhaps consider rubber soles and/or some kind of cushion insert. Then you will be fine.

  38. Still much better than Grenson, Sanders, and Loake etc. Some of the leathers used for church shoes are not good value, such as the highly polished look, bookbinder leather which crease like a &**$% but many others are on a par with C&J. Prada may not be an established traditional shoemakers but have always made high end, very high quality leather goods such as bags and are by no means ‘just a fashion house’. Times move on, that high quality leather previously available and affordable to all good shoemakers is now only affordable to the likes of John lobb and Edward Green

  39. I made the mistake buying five pairs from Church’s 15 years ago after having read a book by Berhard Roetzel. I was novis by that time. I went to Ström’s in Stockholm – a respected gentlemen’s shop. They did however fool me even more by telling me that the “bookbinder” was the very best. I bought shoes for several thousand dollars – and I thought that I had the best one could get – but I was so fooled, that I still feel ashamed. I will never ever buy anything from Church’s. Nor visit a lokal store – nor trust a german “expert”.

    1. Henrik, It is the best the best bookbinder. If you have five pairs of the better models from Church’s and haven’t sold them on in disgust then I am pretty sure you would have got your monies worth by now. They will look very good. Church’s classic models Consul, Chetwynd, Shannon, Ryder are some of the best available at that price point. You were so close to getting it right. It seems to me that your main issue was getting a little too carried away.

  40. I own 8 pairs of Church’s. Two are pre-Prada. There categorically is NO decline in quality. My pre Prada pairs are both on the 73 last. Discontinuing this last is the only bad thing Prada have done to this brand. I also own Crockett and Jones and Cheaney and the leather on my recent Church’s purchases are better than the other two bands. The Cheaney Pennine II R I have let in water along the welt and the Crockett and Jones Coniston have visible veins even through the scotch grain. I totally agree that some of the designs are not that of a classic English shoe and I don’t care for them at all but to state that quality has declined is just outright libel. I’m surprised you haven’t found yourself on the end of a lawsuit.

    1. Hamilton, your findings line up with mine. I made a point of buying classic models from the much touted Crockett & Jones and Church’s and compared the two. I bought the Connaught by C&J and the Consul by Church’s, the quintessential cap-toe from both brands. The Consul wins in every department – finishing, style, aesthetics, quality and comfort. Needless to say, the Consul is sitting pretty in my possession and the Connaught has been rehomed. I bought the Chiltern by Crockett & Jones and the Ryder III by Church’s, both of which are the quintessential chukka boot from both brands. The Ryder absolutely smokes the Chiltern in the comfort department. One big complaint about the C&J model, even amongst enthusiasts of the brand, is that there is heel slippage when wearing the boot. No such complaints about the Ryder. One thing in the Chiltern’s favour is that some find it more stylish that the Ryder – though I think there isn’t much in it. C&J like to tell the customer that they are getting excellent value for money; a superior quality leather for less than Church’s, etc.. Absolute nonsense. Their finishing is very good in a lot of cases, and some of their boot models are exceptional (for example, Snowdon, Radnor and Skye), but their dress shoe have a lot to be desired. Their ‘Hand Grade’ do nothing for me. Elongated garbage. Give me a Consul any day of the week before anything from their Hand Grade collection.

      1. Your comments about C&J seem to come down to fit rather than construction.

        I was a longtime Church’s Consul wearer, and even at their best, they were not comparable to C&J Hand Grade. The leather is a lower quality (yes, even in “Custom Grade Aniline”), and Church’s lines the forefoot with canvas rather than leather. Now, post Prada? Forget it, not even close.

  41. Rupert Henry MAXIM

    I’ve been wearing Church’s brogues since my early 20’s… I’m now 67.
    So I’ve had a few pairs, black, brown and brown suede brogues.

    Unfortunately, the time has come to replace the suede brogues and
    I was hoping to go to New Bond St and come away with a replacement
    pair which will see me out when I fall off my perch.

    The Prada story is disappointing and I’ve never experienced a change
    of this sought to have ever ended with a better product or one of the same quality.

    I will however, still go to New Bond St and see what they have to offer,
    but I will take my old suede brogues with me and ask to see a like for
    like comparison. If I don’t like what I’m offered I will walk away.

    I have a plan ‘B’ …. and that is to go on eBay and keep buying second hand
    Church’s shoes. Yes, disgusting I agree, at least I’ll get the old school quality
    I’m after and not have to buy what Prada think I should have. So my advice
    is don’t throw away any Church’s (Pre-Prada) shoes, they will be gold dust.

    Anyone remember what happened to the price of 2nd hand VW Beetles in the
    70’s when they stopped making the full range. I sold my VW Beetle after
    4years for the same £amount as when I bought it new. Unheard of !!

    Anyone or all, prepared to nominate a shoemaker (preferably Northampton)
    who is best in class after Church’s ? … I’m willing to give anyone one a try
    rather than wear brogues with a ‘DP’ commando pattern. Just won’t happen.

    Posted by myself (Victor Meldrew) 31Mar 2019.

  42. My 2 pairs of classic Church shoes, Chetwyn & Burwood both have quality issues. They are badly put together There is not the attention to detail anymore. It is such a shame that such a highly respected “icon”like Church shoes is going down the pan. I now buy Joseph Cheaney shoes and their quality is simply superb!!

  43. I bought 2 pairs of Church shoes about 3 years ago and the quality is poor on both. Bad attention to detail. One shoe on each pair has the lace opening all twisted and well off centre making them look really odd when they are on your feet! In the past 6 months I have bought a lot of pairs by Cheaney. All are superb, beautifully crafted, comfortable and look 10 times better than the Church’s.
    Dave Sheppard.

  44. Well, I took a pair of Consul and a pair of tassel loafers to the shoe cobbler yesterday in Melbourne (Australia) for some ongoing repairs (soles). Both pairs bought in the NYC Madison Ave store in the early 90’s. Have 2 other pairs of Church’s Diplomat and Consul from the same era, same store.

    The shoe cobbler’s wife told me “they don’t make Church’s shoes like they used to when these were made”. Says it all….. Seems to agree with much of the comment on this blog. But gee, they made superb shoes 25 years ago ! Still have many pairs of Gucci loafers from the 1990’s too but I always treated them gent;y.

    Nowadays, here in Australia, I just buy R M Williams Chelsea boots. Still very well crafted, from a single piece of leather here, and not made offshore !

    1. Hi Tony,

      Yes, I just buy Cheaney shoes now and they are superbly made and very comfortable. Obviously owned by the Church family and taken on when Prada stepped in. I have read posts from ex-Church workers who say its bad and that’s why the Church relatives left. I also have had great shoes from Herring shoes here in England. Adrian Herring designs them and they are made up by the likes of Cheaney, Alfred Sargent and Barkers.

      Cheers,
      Dave.

  45. Hi! I have a chance to buy a pair of used Church’s Diplomat, 9.5 D 73. It seems like Church’s changed their width designations. The new shoes are now labeled F for regular width. If these ones were made prior — they do show “custom grade” stamp— can anyone here tell me about the fit? Is D regular width and how does the 73 last fit? My husband has pretty average American feet, and sometimes he’s a bit tight in some brands. Thanks.

    1. Hi,

      I would imagine that a “D” fitting would be narrow. I am English and wear a standard “F” fitting. Are American feet different to English ones?? (LOL). I have two pairs of church’s that are about 3 years old and the quality is poor. I now wear shoes by Joseph Cheaney & Sons and these are simply superb. They feel great right out of the box whereas my Church’s are still not broken in well.

      Best wishes,
      Dave Sheppard.

  46. I find a lot of the comments towards Church’s way too harsh and unreasonable. People in the comment section saying ‘they don’t make Church’s like they used to,’ and hold the brand to that old standard. But let’s be frank, what other ‘mid tier’ brand is making shoes ‘like the old days’? (For that you would have to go to Edward Green, and even then you may not be safe.) Crockett & Jones and Tricker’s make shoes using the same construction methods. Both of these brands have utilised ‘polished binder’ leather and whatever else. They also have made some horrendous models, though admittedly not as extensively as (the much larger brand) Church’s.

    I made a point of buying classic models from the much touted Crockett & Jones and Church’s and compared them. I bought the Connaught by C&J and the Consul by Church’s, the quintessential cap-toe from both brands. The Consul wins in every department – finishing, style, aesthetics, quality and comfort. Needless to say, the Consul is sitting pretty in my possession and the Connaught has been promptly rehomed.

    I bought the Chiltern by Crockett & Jones and the Ryder III by Church’s, both of which are the quintessential chukka boot from both brands. The Ryder absolutely smokes the Chiltern in the comfort department. One big complaint about the C&J model, even amongst enthusiasts of the brand, is that there is heel slippage when wearing the boot. No such complaints about the Ryder. One thing in the Chiltern’s favour is that some find it more stylish than the Ryder – though I think there isn’t much in it.

    C&J like to tell the customer that they are getting excellent value for money; a superior quality leather for less than Church’s, etc.. Absolute nonsense. Their finishing is very good in a lot of cases, and some of their boot models are exceptional (for example, Snowdon, Radnor and Skye), but their dress shoes have a lot to be desired. Their ‘Hand Grade’ do nothing for me. Elongated garbage. Give me a Consul any day of the week before anything from their Hand Grade collection.

    Finally, I purchased the ‘Woodstock’ by Tricker’s and the ‘Shannon’ by Church’s, both of which are the quintessential plain derby from each brand. I managed to find a pair of Shannon in calf leather and dainite sole, which was very exciting as I am not a fan of the bookbinder stuff. Comparing the two models, both of which I like and enjoy, it’s not rocket science to figure out which is the most aesthetically pleasing – Shannon. The best finishing – Shannon. The best in terms of quality – Shannon. The best for comfort – Shannon.

    The Mirfield trainer is very nice also. I own one pair and would happily own several. (I would prefer Church’s to make this model in England before I purchase another.)

    So much for Church’s being a degenerate mess, not fit for purpose – to be avoided at all cost! Nonsense. Church’s makes really good shoes. The only arguments that hold water against the company is that they probably charge a little too much for their better models and their worse models are gaudy, unrefined garbage, much of which is not made in England. The latter argument I will not defend; the former argument I will say that, yes, they are too expensive – much like all the other brands – but it is expected that a more prestigious brand would charge more for their goods. If you can get your Church’s VAT free or at a reduced price via an Outlet or eBay, good on you. You won’t be disappointed as long as you stick with the classic models – Consul, Chetwynd, Shannon, Ryder, etc. – and make sure you get the FIT right.

    1. Hi James,

      I think we all have to speak as we find. My two pairs of Church’s shoes are really badly made. Chetynd & Burwood. Both have lace openings on one shoe way over to one side. Plus, they are both uncomfortable to wear. Now Cheaney on the other hand fit beautifully. I have just recently received a pair of Cheaney Tweed C boots which are beautiful, but the tongue on the left boot is stitched in badly and sits way over to the left!!!

      Ho Hum!!

      Dave.

      1. Dave, Why not simply complain about the faults when you found them? We would have to know more about how you purchased the shoes and how long before you realised the faults. Every pair of Church’s I have owned looked good, were made well and were comfortable. I almost find myself on a crusade against the hate. It simply isn’t justified. As for tongues slipping to the side, tell me about it. You might want to consider having the tongue stitched in place so it doesn’t move. See your local shoe repair and ask what can be done.

        1. Hi James,

          I complained straight away to Herring shoes (Who are superb by the way) who took it up with Church’s. Church’s said it was within their 10% allowed for these things. Herring shoes were not happy and sold me my second pair at a large discount. Well done Herring shoes!! Boo to Church’s. Before I bought Church’s shoes I always held them in high regard and sang their praises! Now I get cheaper and much better quality shoes/boots from Cheaney. I have 11 pairs now and they are all superb apart from the one pair. This issue is being dealt with by a high up in Cheaney who is personally sending me a replacement pair of boots.

          Dave.

          1. Justin FitzPatrick

            Funny thing is that the previous owners of Churchs (before they sold to Prada) now own Cheaney!

          2. Yes James very true….but my Church’s are after the Church boys took over Cheaney. My Church’s are only 3 years old. BUT!!! whatever our differences of opinion are, I would like to wish you much joy in the future when buying and wearing your quality boots and shoes….I think I’m a little addicted!!

            Best wishes,
            Dave.

          3. Justin FitzPatrick

            Dave that was me Justin (blog owner), responding to you, not James. And it was backing up your statement that you went to Cheaney to get a better product and its no coincidence that the owners of Cheaney are the family members of “Church”

          4. My apologies Justin.
            I had always wanted a pair of Church shoes. At the age of 54 I was able to afford them but was hugely disappointed when they arrived by the quality of workmanship. The same too can be said of the 2nd pair I bought. I was recently going to give them another chance and buy another pair of Chetwynd’s but decided in the end to go for Cheaney Arthur III’s which are virtually identical. Well! the quality of the Arthur’s was outstanding! almost too nice to wear. I have found the quality of my 11 pairs of Cheaneys superb apart from the last pair which had the crooked tongue. So that’s 1 out of 11 pairs slightly bad compared to 2 out of 2 bad from Church’s. I have no wish to berate Church shoes, I’m just telling it as it is!
            Kind regards,
            Dave.

          5. Further to my previous comments, I certainly don’t have any hate campaign against Church shoes! I spent my hard earned money on supposed top quality shoes, both pairs were badly made and are still uncomfortable 3 years later. I got no help whatsoever from Church shoes, but a great deal of help from Herring shoes who came to my rescue. I am however not going to shout the praises of Church shoes when they sent me two pairs of awful shoes and gave no customer care at all. Who in their right mind would? Congratulations to all who own quality Church shoes, I am afraid that I am not one of these people.
            Dave.

          6. Dave, It is good to see you are happy with the offerings from Cheaney. I’m not a fan of their models or lasts myself, but have little experience to comment on the brand. My point is that I believe the hate directed at Church’s isn’t entirely justified. As I pointed out, many of their models are fashion forward tat. But I feel that amongst all that rubble, there are a few nuggets that are great quality. This is my experience. (By the way, I read this article a couple of years back and it one of the reasons I was put off Church’s. I learned the truth through my own enquiries, as described above.) What I find odd is that hate spewed forth by Justin. It almost seems personal. When I search his blog for ‘Church’s,’ I find posts in which he criticises the brands classic (and best) models as ‘boring’. But praises some mediocre blue navy shoes, waxes lyrical about a pair of horrible spectators and then swoons over a women’s collection that had all the tacky trinkets and gaudy colours that the brand has become notorious for. So where is this all coming from? Why not lambaste Tricker’s for some of their flamboyant offerings? Take a look at the Cheaney website. Some weird stuff there. But for some reason, Church’s gets the ’they aren’t made like they used to be’ and ’they have gone to hell’ treatment. It would be good if he addressed this double standard. All I will say is that I am convinced that some of the better models by Church’s have a place in any well dressed man’s wardrobe. What I tend to say to a person who is looking into buying their first pair of quality shoes is to get whatever they like from Tricker’s, Crockett or Church’s (all my quality shoes are from these brands, so I have the experience to comment). As a fourth option I would point to Cheaney. All the best. 🙂

          7. Hi James,

            The thing that really bothered me was the fact that I bought two pairs of classic Church shoes, Chetwynd and Burwood and both were of poor quality. I can understand Church’s branching out and aiming at other markets to remain affluent in these difficult times but not allow the quality of their existing shoes to drop. I was thrilled at the time of ordering as I was finally able to own a pair of Church’s shoes and awaiting delivery I was like a five year old at Christmas. A few people at work had heard that I had forked out a load of cash on top grade shoes and they were keen to see them when they arrived. When people eventually saw them I got really irritated by them saying “oh! their different, the lace opening on that one is all twisted to one side”. That was my pair of Chetwynd’s. Then a while later the Burwood’s turned up and they were odd too!! plus the brogue toe cap was also crooked! I was crestfallen and when I got no help from Church’s at all apart from them saying that it had happened through me wearing the shoes…..which I hadn’t yet! This is when I cautiously changed to Cheaney. I have only had one issue with Cheaney boots and that was a tongue stitched in wrong. Chris Clark from Herring shoes got on to them and Cheaney couldn’t have been more helpful. One of the higher-ups in Cheaney personally selected a pair for me and they are on their way to Herring shoes to be closely inspected by Chris. They will then be forwarded to me. I think Herring shoes are the finest designers and sellers of shoes I have come across. Simply fantastic, old fashioned quality service!!

            Best wishes,
            Dave.

          8. James Costello

            Hello again Dave. Your story does sound a little bizarre if you don’t mind me saying. It is rather strange that a group of people at work would ‘get wind’ of the fact that you paid a few quid for shoes. Normally people just buy shoes and wear them. To this day, I don’t think a person I work with is aware of the shoe brands I wear and certainly don’t know the price I paid. I just wear them and get on with my day. As for how your colleagues responded, once again, I have never experienced such people. Usually it would be a case of a quick compliment and hear no more of it. I have never known ordinary people to go analysing shoes and picking faults. Very strange colleagues you have.

            As for the people at Herring shoes, I have heard much about their customer service. Almost always positive. My only experience with the company was when I discovered my Dad had paid around £200, full retail, for a pair of Barker brogues. I was not happy. (I was also surprised he was a fan of brogues!) I persuaded him to return the shoes and replace them with a pair of seconds from the Church’s Outlet at Cheshire Oaks. I urged him to go for the Chetwynd, as they are the classic full brogue and I am aware they have lower quality options. In the end he went for a pair of the more ‘fashion forward’ Berlin brogues, of which I’m not a fan. However, he is happy with them and paid roughly the same amount as he would have paid for the Barker’s mentioned previously.

            Anyway, going back to Herring, if they really are a company that pride themselves on great customer service, I am surprised they didn’t press Church’s to deal with your issue. If Church’s have such little regard for customer satisfaction, one would think the people at Herring would simply boycott the brand. Oh well. Take care.

  47. I have worn Church’s shoes since buying my first pair (a single buckle Monk’s strap) in the Burlington Arcade in 1970. As an American diplomat I considered the Consul model to be the pinnacle of good professional taste, and still have 3 pair — black, brown and cordovan. Now retired, having bought my last pair in the mid-1990s, I am saddened to read of their decline since the Prada takeover in 1999. Sic transit gloria mundi.

  48. To be honest, I believe the clothing company should stay with making clothes and etc in my opinion. The current situation is that all the fashion houses are creating an atmosphere that they represent the standard no matter what to the young generation. Everything they produced is cool and in trend or at least they want you to think that way. If you have a doubt, you are not “fashion political correct” and you will look like a farm boy if you do not wear those brands. They wish you do not have an independent thought or disagree to them at least. For example, I visited one of the Brunello Cucinelli outlet stores in town recently and I was looking for a pair of loafers. All the loafers were on sale with a still high price tag but I did not see anything I like because they are too colorful if you know what I mean. The salesperson gave me a feeling that he felt sorry for me because they are BC and on sale. It seems like I should buy no matter what because it is BC. I personally own a few piece of theirs but I just do not feel it is the same brand as before. Too bad!

  49. This stupid article is based on the fact that an independant company is now owned by a bigger company. You clearly know next to nothing about either company as phrases like “..seems to be..” illustrate.

    You know next to nothing about shoes or the industry – your blog is pointless and useless. You’re a disgrace.

      1. Justin FitzPatrick

        Must all be tools the people that agree with this post, then?. And my brand didn’t exist yet when I wrote this. Douche Bag.

        1. You have found a handful of people who agree with you. It has taken years for you to amass that tiny number. Church’s produce 250,000 pairs of shoes every year. 99.999% of Church’s customers are very happy with their shoes.You are an imbecile.

          1. Justin FitzPatrick

            Clearly you know nothing about shoes and show that you are the imbecile. Love this fictitious figure of 99.99%. I know the Church family and bet that they would agree with this post. Church’ is no longer Church’s. Its Prada. And since that acquisition quality went down, style went to shit and prices went up. Educate yourself before making stupid comments. And the people that agree with this post, which are substantial, are customers that see that as they use common sense to deduce things and are not easily tricked by brand heritage which is for imbeciles.

  50. Thank you!!! for such a resourceful article. I want to add one bright shining star company Rieker Shoe Canada Ltd. It is one of the most comfortable and reliable boots.
    So please visit:- Boots store Montreal

  51. I love the Church classic designs but had to read ”bookbinder” leather a few times to see I was reading it right. On a pair of shoes that cost £530?! Quality aside it plain looks wrong, like that painted leather you see in supermarket own brand shoes and the like.

    I have a pair of Chetwyn Oxford brogues in calf though that are excellent shoes and never had an issue with them. Seems to be a case of shop carefully when it comes to Church’s offering. The power of name branding will seal the deal for some, clearly why Prada would want to acquire such a strong brand.

  52. You guys need to read the StyleForum threads on this topic. There are people on there that actually know what they’re talking about. This is one man’s personal rant. Please read the thread on the StyleForum and follow the links to the thread on leather quality. This crass garbage is old now but pops up in a Church’s search. I own lots of shoes by most of the Northampton brands and can honestly say Church’s are one of the best.

  53. Well…….I bought two pairs of custom grade Church’s shoes. Both were badly made. I now use Cheaney which I find superb and much more comfortable. If you bought two pairs of high quality shoes and they were badly made and Church’s weren’t interested what would your opinion be? Would you still say they are good? I say two bad pairs out of two is dreadful!!!

  54. In the last couple of years, most of my shoe purchases have been from Church’s. They are very good quality shoes. They look great and they are comfortable. Simply purchase the model you like and you can’t go wrong. It is THAT simple.

  55. Hi James,
    Yes…..I only bought the two pairs of Church’s and that experience was enough for me! I’m very pleased though that you are happy with them and getting good service. At the moment I don’t need any more shoes as I have about 15 brand new pairs I haven’t worn yet. I truly hope that my two badly made pairs was just a hiccup for Church’s as I have always held them in high esteem.
    Take care James, Happy Christmas and stay safe!!
    Dave.

    1. David, 15 brand new pairs? Never been worn? Wow. I thought I was going too far by having 15 pairs in total. Best of luck figuring out where you are going to store them. lol Merry Christmas.

  56. Er……Storing is not a problem. It’s wearing them I have trouble with!! . I am still on Furlough since March apart from a brief 5 week return. I never go anywhere! It seems a bit silly just wearing them around the house. I try and console myself by thinking I won’t have to have them resolved for ages! . Take care.

  57. Yes, but those handful of people will probably never buy Church shoes again. I have had no good experiences with Church shoes, hence the the reason I now buy from Cheaney. Run by the Church family. The fact that they left Church’s to run the Cheaney outfit speaks volumes to me. Perhaps Church’s should make a few less pairs each year and concentrate on the quality of their finished product.
    Dave.

    1. Justin FitzPatrick

      The people that speak out against me really don’t know shoes. Thats why it doesnt phase me. Its funny actually. These people are so blind by heritage they dont care nor consider the quality, or lack thereof, compared to what Chruch’s used to be, which WAS a great brand (20 or so years ago). Thanks for sharing Dave.

      1. I speak as someone who has owned and worn good shoes for over 25 years. I have C&J, Trickers, Cheaney, Church’s and even a pair of John Lobb that were half price. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Some people know shoes through wearing them and caring for them with hours of polishing. Other people get their knowledge from misinformed articles on bad blogs.

        1. Justin FitzPatrick

          Did you even read the article? If you know shoes then you should agree with me. If you are just offended by my style of writing, grow up and get over it. If you think you know more than me about shoes, well, I suggest you start reading more of the blog. I have handled/owned/shined more shoes (variety) than most. If you call the biggest shoe blog in the world a bad blog spreading misinformation, just goes to show you are nothing more than a bitter hater. No time for that. Be well Henry. Enjoy yoru Church shoes. I hope they serve you well.

  58. No problem Justin. I can’t understand the people who say we are wrong in our thinking. If I spend nearly £500 on a pair of shoes, I expect the quality to reflect the price. Through personal experience Church’s shoes have failed in the quality line on both occasions that I have bought them. The reply from Church’s was that they came within the 10% error allowed. I would have said that my pairs were at least 30% as they were very clearly noticeable as being different. I feel I would be foolish to continue to buy from a company that was happy with sending out sub-standard shoes. Wouldn’t anyone? So like a normal thinking person I changed brands to where the quality of the shoes reflect the price.
    Dave.

    1. Justin FitzPatrick

      Whats even funnier is people getting offended because a blogger says their favorite shoe brand is no longer what it once was. People are too much.

  59. Cheaney are just cheap Church's.

    Your Cheaney shoes are cheaper. That is the only good thing. If you was so interested in quality. You would buy hand stitched, hand lasted shoes

  60. I hope people who want to really gain knowledge about shoes read the threads on the Styleforum. Very knowledgeable people there who don’t write like a child. People that don’t say “grow up” or “douche bag”. I’m guessing your level of education was quite low.

    1. Justin FitzPatrick

      You mistake education for respect. I never attack people. They attack me. And I bite back. Good luck at StyleForum Henry. Bye.

  61. Which are your favourites Henry? I tend to stick with Cheaney now though I have a couple of pairs of Loakes, Church’s and Trickers.
    Dave.

  62. Yes my Cheaney shoes are cheaper……better made and more comfortable than my Church’s. Why would I change? If I could afford it I would buy bespoke John lobb’s.

    1. Hi Justin,

      Could you explain how to tell the leather is inferior to other brands like Cheaney. Also, which lasts would you consider less shapely?

      Regards,

      Ian.

      1. Justin FitzPatrick

        Hey Ian, I never actually said those things. That was another commentor. Church will use good calfskin. But not all shoes are made with calfskin. Many of them are made with bookbinder or “polished binder” and charged the same as the calfskin. Which is a trick. I also think they are overcharging for their calfskin compared to the quality. They charge €555 for a common cap toe oxford with open channel sole. Crockett charges £445 and for me. Church’s shoe is not better so why is it more expensive? The materials will not he more costly. Its that since being taken over by Prada, that Prada makes you pay for it being associated.

        As per shapes, none of the Church’s shoes lasts are very shapely IMHO. They all look very generic.

        1. You never actually said those things? Liar!

          “yes, inferior leather but higher retail prices…does not add up….more bulbous and less shapely lasts as well…”

          1. Justin FitzPatrick

            I never said it in contrast to Cheaney. He asked against Cheaney. Stop trolling Henry. Inferior leather refers to the bookbinder, as found on Loake.

      1. As Farmer Permer said, you must be joking. You do realise that most of the lasts pre-date the Prada buyout? Also, tell us what you think of the lasts by Cheaney and Trickers. Are they also bulbous?

  63. My Church’s were botched before they were put on the lasts. After skiving the leather pieces and overlaying them they were stitched together crooked and the vamp was odd. I had for years wanted a pair of Church’s shoes so was extremely disappointed when the two pairs I bought were substandard. I have bought 15 pairs of Cheaney shoes/boots and I have only had an issue with the tongue on one boot. After reporting this to Cheaney’s two new pairs were sent for me to choose boots I was completely happy with. This to me is the service I expect when I buy £425.00 boots.
    Dave.

  64. Dave,

    Did you buy your shoes from a shop or over the internet? If you bought then in a shop, why did you walk out with them?
    If you you bought them over the internet, you were protected by the distance selling law which allows you to reject the goods within 14 days. You don’t even need to give a reason.

  65. I got them online from Herring shoes who dealt with the problem for me. They took photos from me and presented them to Church’s. The people at Herring agreed that they weren’t right. Church’s said they were in the 10% for accuracy which Herring disagreed with. Church’s did nothing but Herring gave me £200 off a pair of Church’s of my choice. I chose the Burwood and was happy until I gave them close scrutiny a few months on. They were badly made too though not as bad as the first pair which were Chetwynds. Herring shoes are simply superb. I get all my shoes from them mainly Cheaney or Herring which are designed by Adrian Herring and made up by Cheaney or other Northampton makers.
    Dave.

    1. I have bought two pairs of shoes from Herring and have found them to be good service but you could have rejected them outright and had a full refund. You don’t need a reason.

  66. I have bought two pairs of shoes from Herring and have found them to be good service but you could have rejected them outright and had a full refund. You don’t need a reason.

  67. Good god, the shoes this man is peddling on this site really are vulgar tat and yet he has the audacity to call Church’s for their designs.

  68. I have a pair of Balmoral (look the same as the consul) that were my late uncles.

    I would like to auction them and give proceeds to Macmillan

    They are in excellent lightly used condition – just wondering what they are worth and a fair starting bid would be?

    Many thanks in advance

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Welcome to The Shoe Snob Blog! 

This blog was created to not only show the journey of one man who wanted to make the shoe industry the best it could be but also the share all of the knowledge gained along the way. 

Ultimately this blog is about seeing men wearing better shoes through education and sharing what is out there that deserves recognition. 

Click the link to read more about me and my journey to make this all happen!