With restrictions lifting and offices reopening, men are jumping into post-pandemic life with both feet. But after a year of WFH and Zoom-everything, will those feet be slipping into nothing but sneakers and sandals?
Paul Trible, the CEO of Richmond, Virginia-based shirtmaker Ledbury and its newly launched, shoe-centric subsidiary Tangier, doesn’t think so.
“Over the last decade, footwear, like clothing, has become all about casual comfort,” Trible tells Robb Report. “Sneakers have been the standout, followed by boots. The pandemic exacerbated this trend, but we can’t go back to the office in slippers, and, frankly, I am a bit weary of a lawyer in tennis shoes.”
Enter Tangier. The recently launched sub-label, which is available online and at Ledbury’s Richmond flagship, caters to the new normal with Italian-made footwear that wouldn’t look out of place in a boardroom or a bar—think lightweight calfskin penny loafers, suede flex loafers and streamlined Chelsea boots with durable Vibram outsoles. Taken as a whole, it’s a collection that can be easily imagined under tailored trousers or selvedge denim.
“As we reemerge from the pandemic, we need transitional shoes that can be worn to work, an event, a night out or a weekend away,” Trible says.
The shoes are made by hand in a small workshop north of Milan from leathers dyed at French and Italian tanneries and feature a Blake rapid stitch triple sole construction for greater durability and a cleaner look. And in the case of its Chambers Chelsea boot, the shoes are finished over an open flame to create a rich patina.
While Tangier’s inaugural assortment was designed with versatility in mind, the styles are anything but staid. The Kingstowne Chelsea boot, crafted from waxed kudu leather, is a particular standout, as is the Strickland derby boot made from a vegetable-tanned leather that’s been dyed to a soft, mossy shade using acorns and oak bark and treated with fish oil for water resistance. “There is not a boot like it on the market,” Trible says.
And there will be more to follow: New shoes will be introduced on a monthly basis, including more traditional styles like calfskin wingtips and cap-toes that are due for an autumn release. The next drop should see the launch of dress chukkas in dark cognac, and Trible hints that shell cordovan Chelsea boots are currently in development.
Rather than the Croc-filled future predicted by the most cynical of style forecasters, the state of footwear following Covid-19 is looking bright. And if Tangier’s debut collection is any indication, there’s good reason to stay optimistic.