Nine years ago, I wrote a brief article about the Downfall of the Church’s shoe brand, as a classic brand. Several months after that post, I followed up with another post about them officially becoming a Fashion Company, fully stepping away from the classic company that built their name in the shoe world. It was entertaining to see the number of triggered people that commented on these posts, taking everything so personal, and for no reason. But yet, as of last Friday, there is no arguing it now. It’s officially official. They are a full-blown fashion company with some classic shoes. Let’s see if they continue to argue that point?
While the rich usually tend to stay rich, even during tough times, Prada made a calculated move to take the Church name to the next level of fashion status to hit those new, rich clients that buy for brand recognition and not for quality. And price doesn’t matter. Imagine all of those wearing $2000 Tom Ford shoes or Christian Louboutin ones. Complete garbage yet so popular with those that have money and want to flash it. Prada knows, as they are a part of that realm, that there is real money in that sector. They aren’t stupid. That was always the goal for those that naively thought otherwise. Sharks are born sharks. They do not slowly become them.
So how did they do this? They did so by raising prices around 40%-50%, overnight. This was immediately documented in an article by the Financial Times, who were so kind as to link me to their post. Thank you, guys! And from there the internet nearly exploded with articles on the subject. Hence, me chiming in after all these years.
So the classic Consul model in crappy bookbinder leather went from around $650 ish to a whopping $950. Not to mention, bookbinder sandals that sell for $925. Don’t believe me? Look below. And imagine that?! Open channel, welted shoes with coated leather selling for nearly $1000. Blake Stitched sandals for only $25 less (and maybe even cemented). That doesn’t even make logical sense. But that shows you now without any doubt, that they are officially a fashion brand and nothing more.
It’s impressive, to say the least. The balls on Prada are big. And just like that, they outpriced a massive amount of their classic clientele and are now reaching for the stars with those that look to buy Berluti, Tom Ford, Hermes, and the like. Crockett and Jones must be very pleased right now. I know I would be if my direct competitor did the same. I would love it if Allen Edmonds shoes started selling their Park Avenues for $600. That would be like an 8-year-old getting 100 presents for Christmas. Please, Allen Edmonds, do it!
And you know what? I finally praise Prada for doing it. At least, we really know where they stand. I don’t know what took them so long. Now all of those that were talking so much crap, telling me that I do not know anything about shoes (imagine that) can finally eat their words. Although I am sure that there will still be some triggered people making silly comments below. But I love it, more traffic to my site. Thanks in advance!
Enjoy your overpriced fashion shoes!
For those of you truly disappointed for losing a brand that you felt emotionally connected to, please go to Crockett & Jones and get some real footwear.
A friend of mine usually bought Brioni garments years ago. Then Brioni was sold and quality went down and prices up. My friend switched to other brands. If this happens with Church‘s it could be the beginning of the end.
Thanks for sharing Rolf
Church’s shoe’s were far too cheap!
Thanks Justin, I appreciate your historical insights. I have an emotional involvement with Church’s, so I was already disillusioned from when they sold to Prada. This is the straw that broke this camel’s back. When I was a kid, I remember looking into the men’s store windows on Saturdays while waiting for the bus to my music lesson. The Church’s were other worldly. At a whopping $300 per pair, theystood out against the other brands in understated style and refinement. I promised myself that one day … So fast forward to 2020. I had budget but read your post about the Prada acquisition. So instead, I searched for a pre-owned pair that fit me well. A pair of captoes, 45 years old, on the 87 last, I believe. They were a train wreck. So I sent them to Steve at Bedos and he rebuilt them from the ground up. New welts, new cork, soles and heels insole work, the works. I’ve been buying a lot of shoes lately, some very expensive. But my 45-year-old rebuilt Church’s are still my favorite pair. Nothing Prada will do can take that from me
Hey Peter, thank you for sharing this story, I do appreciate it. Unforfunately I never had the pleasure of owning a pair of PrePrada Church’s but I am sure they are magnificent. Still not sure why Church’s family sold the great brand only to move to another one. But hey ho, these things happen in retail all of the time
Hi Justin I look forward to every post you make . I am thirsting for knowledge in my sartorial journey and you are right there for me . Thank you for all of your thoughts and opinions
Thank you for your kind words Keith, I do appreciate and will do my best to continue dropping knowledge 🙂
It’s a shame that Alfred Sargent went under. They were a very good alternative, frequently at a better prices than C&J. I understand the family bought the equipment so they can eventually restart, but they never figured out modern marketing.
Yes it is a shame. Thanks for sharing Eugene.
I am a Church’s addict, I got about 10 pairs of different style, I have to admit the quality and price doesn’t match, I once received a pair of Tunbridge loafer, the heel block and the shoe body had a nearly 5mm gap. Had to send them back and got another pair, but the replacement was not a great improvement either. lately almost 70% of their shoes use bookbinder, according to some critics Church’s use “good” bookbinder, but I still find deep creases on my shoes that won’t go away even I use shoetrees to stretch them. The price up isn’t just applied to the US market, it’s world wide, in Japan they also raise the price by almost 40%. Don’t know what the strategic is? During this difficult time? What’s the logic?
Thank you for sharing your insights Louis, I do appreciate it. The logic is that they want to reach a new clientele and position themselves as a fashion brand of LV type status. A bold, risky move. Time will tell if it pans out for them, although I am not hopeful
The price raised wan’t so significant when you purchase from a tax free country like Hong Kong, I just make a purchase of a pair of latest Farsley loafer, Without tax it’s only 388GBP and I got a first timer discount of 10%, which the bill came to about 350GBP/HK$3600. This pair of shoes was on sale in Hong Kong retail for nearly HK$6000 which is about US$750.
I thought it was an smart movement from Prada, buying a centenary British company (they buy heritage, craftmanship with all the staff too) give financial support to the brand, and perhaps add some Italian point of view in lasts development, finishing, etc
Obviously Church’s wouldn’t seem Santoni or Moreschi from night to day, but i think that overprice a very famous brand without add quality in terms of leathers (Bookbinder leathers are from Picusa, Spain) or design, it’s bad idea, more in this pandemic times.
Thank you for sharing Rafael!
Wow, those Crown collection really are beautiful shoes.
I think those commenting on the original post were having fun with you because you had got a reputation of a blogger who bites easily. The fact that you are still talking about them shows that they wound you up good and tight. ♡♡♡
Wound me up good and tight? Ha. Not likely. What you might not understand is the more I comment, the more other people comment, the more views I get, the more traffic I make, the more ad revenue I get. So while you think that people wind me up and that continuing to write about Church’s, a brand that gets Googled a lot is an indication that I am sensitive to this topic and the silly commentators, you are unfortunately mistaken. The reality is that as they are such a huge name with such a blinded following that I get great traffic to my site with these posts, and the better my google strength and so on and so on. It’s all calculated. I don’t get wound up by people I could not care less about. I enjoy the banter when I have time for it. But nice assumption. On top of that, for the people that actually listen, they get good information from a non-bias source that knows shoes and hopefully save their time and money on a brand that is not giving them value for money.
Hehe. I think those commenting on the original post were having fun with you because you had got a reputation of a blogger who bites easily. The fact that you are still talking about them shows that they wound you up good and tight. ♡♡♡
You got a bite Wayne. Put the septic tank in your keep net
Keep those comments coming. More and more views for me
Last week in Italy I could not believe my eyes when I saw the price tag of the Church’s shoes on the shelves. I found this article and I totally agree. For me I will never again purchase a pair of Church’s. I only have two classic pairs in my collection that I bought on sale. In my opinion their shoes were overpriced even before this price increase. One reason more for me to stick to my favorite brands C&J, Cheaney and AE and try out some of the newer ones like TLB.
Thank you for sharing Martin. It is absurd and a shame.
Thank you for this post. I am one of those ‘emotionally attached’ to the Church’s brand. Nearly all of my dress-shoes have been Church’s, I must have owned over 15 pairs over the years, many of them before the Prada acquisition. Mostly ‘bespoke’ because I have narrow feet and a slight difference between my feet. I went to London to order another pair this weekend. I cannot describe my disappointment: the price of bespoke shoes had tripled compared with my last purchase about 4 years ago, and had gone from expensive but worth the quality to ridiculously overpriced. My love affair with Church’s has come to an end, I will have to find another brand
Thank you for sharing and sorry to hear about your experience. I suggest moving to Crockett & Jones.