Brown for Town

The debate rages on…

Apparently, there was a study done in 2016 by the UK governments social mobility commission that found that investment banks were less likely to hire men who wear brown shoes to an interview. Now…I am a traditionalist by nature and love the nuance of classic menswear codes, but I also firmly believe rules are meant to be challenged and broken when they no longer vibe with the current social climate.

My own informal, biased and highly unscientific study of men’s buying habits (which I conduct daily in my shop) is showing a very clear trend towards the casualisation of men’s work attire and a very strong tendency to a softer palette for footwear colours and materials: mainly the brown calfskin and brown suede derby.

One major factor since the government’s pointless social study of 2016 is the new work-from-home lifestyle brought on by covid. Since 2020, I have listened to countless customers express their need for a more ‘relaxed’, ‘comfortable’, yet ‘tailored’ footwear option for their new work habits and lifestyle.

Some would argue that the No Brown in Town phrase is a class thing – another British social convention made to distinguish between the upper and working classes. This is definitely where the ‘No White After Labour Day’ phrase came into the American social blabber. It was a not-so-veiled way of reminding others that you were on holiday all summer and therefore were afforded the luxury of a fragile all-white wardrobe while watching your ungrateful heirs frolic on the beach in Nantucket.

Black is always going to be a safe, albeit more formal choice for the office as it takes finesse to pull off a ‘casual’ black work look without looking like a goth. Black is just naturally a more strict colour (or to be art-school colour theory specific – a lack of light and colour…). But I beg anyone to visit Milan during the weekday and doubt the prowess of an Italian banker in his razor sharp tailored navy blue suit and a brown calfskin derby or loafer polished within an inch of it’s life. That...is style.

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