A few months back, I was emailed by a gentleman who was wanting to introduce me to his new English shoe brand, Duggers of London. He told me a bit about it, sent me pictures and offered to send me a shoe for trial/testing. Considering the low price point and the fact that I have way too many shoes, I was a bit skeptical about going forward with it, as there really is no point for me to write about a shoe that I think that I might not like and there was nothing that really grabbed my attention when I looked at the site. However, we decided to meet for a coffee so that they could show me the shoes in person and to discuss a bit about the brand and how it came to be. As it is always my pleasure to meet people in the industry, I was happy to do so. When we met, they just so happened to have brought with them this tan full brogue, called the Dickie in a UK7 (not a coincidence as they did not know my size at that point – also something I managed to miss when looking at the site). I tried it on, felt its good fit and comfort and decided to take their offer up as it then became quite intriguing after understanding their feel/quality vs. retail price ratio.
So, Duggers of London is an English brand, in the sense that the gentlemen who founded the company are both English from just outside of London and the company was founded here. Their idea was to create well-made yet affordable footwear that had a cross between an English look and feel but that was made in Spain. Like me, they knew that if they wanted to create a good retail price in ratio for their quality they had to look outside of England because unfortunately the great land of shoemakers is just too costly for designers who don’t own the factory. That being they went to Spain and found a factory that churned out a good product. After sending me the pair, I went through the usual rounds of quality investigation, assessing the leather, the pattern, the fit and the feel. If I am going to be honest, at £140 I don’t really expect much out of a shoe as good materials cost money and to get a good margin means that one has to add to their cost price by 2.5. But for £140 this shoe was phenomenal. Granted you have your blemishes here and there, but one has to be practical. You cannot expect to get perfection. I am even learning that in my own shoes I cannot expect constant perfection as in reality it simply does not exist, even though I wish it did. But the blemishes in this shoe, i.e. leather spots, belly leather used on certain parts of the pattern and what looks to be non-veg. tanned lining etc. don’t take away from the value of the shoe, not at that price-point at least.
I wore the shoes out in about, got lots of compliments on them and felt great in them. If I was a person that chose his shoe purchases wisely, I can tell you that I would have been extremely pleased with this purchase, as I truly feel that at this price, I am getting at least a £200-£250 value (and they are currently on sale for a whopping £109, believe it or not!!). Now the only thing that concerns me is the idea of their price and you, the customers, not understanding that the way that they somehow got this price was through a partnership with the factory as well as the idea of never being able to wholesale the shoe as there simply is no margin for it. This is theoretically the price that the factory would sell it at if they had their own store and brand and to get that is a great deal for both the brand, Duggers, and you the end consumer. But don’t think that just because they are able to charge these prices for this quality that this is what all designers who use Spanish factories should be able to charge, because that would just be foolish thinking. Having said that, for all of you whom appreciate fine footwear but might not be able to venture into that +£300 pricepoint, let me tell you that I would recommend Duggers over all other English brands that retail sub £250.