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Hiro Yanagimachi
Hiro Yanagimachi bespoke oxfords

***Figures have changed since post was originally written***

In the safe world we live in, the black cap toe rules as the ultimate shoe for business wear. It’s usually the first shoe you get when you are a teenager, the one that your parents buy you as your first pair of smart shoes that you will have for special occasions (and then probably never wear). Then again it will most likely be the shoe that you just might buy for yourself when you finally get your first proper job or possibly for your graduation of university (thus leading to your first job). And with that, it will forever remain the “safe” shoe to buy for all intensive business purposes. While I don’t necessarily think that it should be, who am I to argue with the rest of the world? That being, I concede on this one and will therefore list for all of you, all of your Goodyear welted options that you can ponder upon needing your first (or maybe second after a nice promotion) pair of proper shoes.

*all prices shown below are assuming VAT included and with today’s current exchange rates (which are not favorable for the US/EU at the present moment). These can vary after VAT is deducted to become a lower amount is USD – providing you don’t get hit with high customs fees*

Meermin €160

Meermin – 130 = €160 = $215

Welted shoes for this price? What more do I need to say? Your perfect “first shoe”!

SL €245

Septieme Largeur – 200 = €245 = $335

At 200, SL represents a great value for a solid GY welted shoe. And even better is the fact that they possess that French sleekness, that makes them even more expensive looking. If you can afford the bump up from the entry level Meermin, I would go for this.

allenedmonds_shoes_park-avenue_black_l $365Allen Edmonds – 220 = €270 = $365

While not being a personal fan of this particular model, AE shoes have been known to stand the test of time, so compared to all of the other shoes in the American Marketplace, this one appeals strictly on a good value for money that will do the job and last you for years.



Cheaney – 275 = €340 = $460

A quintessential English brand, Cheaney will be your work-horse shoe that will be good for a bit of pounding, but will also take a nice shine a look the part. Even better is the fact that the Church’s family now owns Cheaney and have since been doing some great things for the company, like the addition of the Imperial Line.


J.FitzPatrick – 325 = €427 = $480

J.FitzPatrick shoes stand in the middle of the benchgrade price scale but pride themselves in the offering of handgrade features within that price. And while a cap toe will always be just a cap toe, you will find injections of details in JF shoes that subtly set them apart such as the triple-row stitching.

Carmina (skoak) €400
Carmina – 295 = €385 = $435

Probably the most famous of the Spanish shoemakers, Carmina offers amazing value for money, making shoes at very reasonable prices for the quality of the product in return. They offer all of the same handgrade features that the shoes 200 more do and have very good attention to detail.

Crockett & Jones 375

Crockett & Jones – 375 = €465 = $630

C&J is the brand that you can trust to give you a solid shoe that is complemented by a tasteful, modern look associated to an array of classic models. And that’s why it’s the go-to English brand for a good part of the men of the world!

George Cleverley ~500


George Cleverley – circa 500-600 = €620-€745 = $840-$1000

One of the most famous names in English shoemaking, George Cleverley has been the company that pioneered many of the quintessential English shoe models that you see today. Although the cap toe model itself is quite a bit older than this company is, GC do it well and they look the part!

JM Weston 600

JM Weston – 600 = €745 = $1000

JM Weston is easily the most respected of the big French shoemakers having been in the business for over 100 years now and making exceptional shoes during that entire period. It is said that it is nearly impossible to destroy a JM Weston sole, so you can rest assured knowing that your money is definitely being well spent when purchasing a pair oftheir shoes.

Edward Green ~800


Edward Green – circa 750-800 = €930-€995 = $1260-$1345

The Chelsea model by EG is probably one of my favorite black cap toe oxfords simply for the stitching on the facing line (on the sides of the laces). Little details like that really set apart such a mundane shoe (IMHO) and make it that much more interesting. When you buy an EG shoe, you know that you are getting quality.

gaziano and girling 924

Gaziano & Girling – 924 = €1150 = $1555

The new kids on the block that have taken the industry by storm, it goes without saying that when you buy a G&G shoe, you get a piece of art in return. Having taken English shoemaking to a new level with their signature fiddleback waist and curvaceous lasts, you never go wrong when getting a pair of these beauties.

John Lobb ~900


John Lobb – Depending on the line, they run anywhere from 700-950 = €870-€1180 = $1175-$1600

“Lobb,” as you would say purposely excluding the ‘John,’ has been synonymous with fine shoemaking since practically forever. Having made for the likes of the Royal family and ever actor and famous person under the sun, there is no disputing their level of greatness. But many of us would have to aspire to ever dream of affording one!


Saint Crispins x Drakes 1200

Saint Crispins (this model being exclusive to Drakes) – 1200 = €1500 = $2000

A cut above your average GY welted shoe, SC takes it one step further and creates their shoes near enough entirely by hand. On top of that, they offer you a complete customization package that in return offers you something that would be considered semi-bespoke. Many people don’t go back after purchasing on of these.

23 thoughts on “The Black Cap Toe Oxford – Your Safe Bet”

  1. Are Barker not a reasonable GY welted option at the lower end of the price scale? I’ve got a few pairs of shoes from them and they seem decent enough to me…

    1. sure they are, i could not put every maker on the list or it would have taken me 10 hours to write the piece

        1. you would not unfortunately find them in the UK in a brick & mortar shop. You would have to enquire online at their website

  2. I have a pair of Edward Green
    Chelseas and they are most definitely my go to every day pair of shoes. I have fancier
    G&G pairs and even a couple of C&J but if I need to look smart and
    respectable for a meeting you cant beat the EG

    1. because I could not feature every brand there is and to be more honest, because I don’t rate highly of them

  3. My first pair of black cap toes were Bostonian, a reasonably popular brand in the USA. They were not Goodyear welted and not expensive. Then I stepped up to the Allen Edmonds version, my first pair of “better” shoes, Goodyear welted. I think I got almost 15 years out of those shoes, which were worn very frequently. Had them re-soled twice, one by AE, once by a local shoe repair man who I have used a few times since. I currently have a pair of Brooks Brothers cap toe derby shoes that I purchased at a BB outlet store. They’re Goodyear welted, but the leather does not seem as nice as the AE shoes I had before. That is not surprising, the BB shoes were made in China for the BB Outlet stores — which means the price was reasonable. I think I paid around $225.00.
    A classic style. I’ll probably always have a pair. Saw the Edward Greene version, along with some of their other models in NYC recently (my first trip to the big Apple). Very nice. They were even on sale – 30% off. Still a little out of my price range.
    Those G&G shoes look stunning!

  4. The black captoe Oxford will always be THE foundational pair for formal business wear. For my pair, I chose Vass.

  5. Hello Justin,

    Firstly thank you for providing such an informative site. It is incredible the amount that I have learnt in such a short space of time from reading your posts. I am just starting out on a graduate job and I ended up getting a pair of the Cheaney shoes above.

    I just wanted some advice on what care should be given to the shoes prior to wearing them for the first time (if anything).

    Also, would you recommend the following shoe trees?

    They seem a reasonable price but as an amateur it is hard to tell their quality (I realise you stress the motto of you get what you pay for). If you feel there is a better alternative please feel free to let me know.

    Thank you in advance.

    1. thanks for writing Terrence. I am happy that you find the blog informative and I appreciate your support in reading it. As a pre-treatment, one can always lightly condition and wax shine his shoes. But not a heavy shine, just a nice base layer to protect the leather a bit. Once wearing a few times, then you can really go to town on the polishing. And yes, those shoe trees look fine. I hope that you enjoy your new shoes!

  6. Sébastien Masterton-Smith

    I’ve been buying rubbish high street tat up until recently because I didn’t know any better, my first pair of “proper” shoes were the Meermin whole cut burgundy, which I wear Shoe Snob purple wax laces in ;-). My second pair were the Meermin Black cap toe listed above, I have polished them in a mirror shine and worn with satin laces for a black tie event. Really good quality shoes for the price. I had a very thin rubber sole applied to stop the rocks in the car park tearing up the leather sole.

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