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Church’s Stylish Hybrid Footwear

William Kissel

They look like an old pair of shoes your grandfather might have worn and, in fact, that could very well have been the case.  That’s because Church’s new Shanghai footwear collection is inspired by those the historic British shoemaker initially produced back in 1929 for English and American colonists living in the Chinese city’s international settlement. Like all of Church’s footwear, the shoes are not identical like conventional footwear, but instead are mirror images of one another. The 137-year-old Northampton, England-based company actually pioneered the concept of “adaptable” footwear--meaning the shoe is made specifically for the individual and noticeable characteristics of both the right and left foot--back in 1880, when the idea was awarded the gold medal at the Great Exhibition in London.

In the case of the Shanghai shoes, each pair is distinctive for their well-worn vintage look but also their hybrid design. The perforated toes, raised heel, and kiltie and lace ornamentation are typical of formal shoes, but the rubber sole and weathered finish give them a more sporty image. The idea, according to the company, was to take inspiration from the past but infuse them with the comfort characteristics new technically advanced shoes have today. Shanghais, priced from $1,135, also carry a familiar Church’s trademark: The company name is artfully embedded in the soles. (212.758.5200, www.church-footwear.com)

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Photo by Ted Morrison