Dress Shoes Are Death

On the most recent episode of Ted Lasso entitled ‘No Weddings and a Funeral’, the team of twenty-something players on the Richmond team struggle with the idea that they cannot wear trainers to a funeral.

One enlightened player asks how long they will need to wait in line to buy dress shoes – as they are only familiar with the modern process of cueing with hundreds of other shoppers outside popular sneaker-freak destinations like END. [in London’s Soho] for the latest cool drop by Nike, Adidas or New Balance.

The reply is that 'there are no lines for dress shoes...nobody wants them'.

The world of footwear has changed – and that has never been more apparent than it is today with the incredible domination of sneaker culture.

I think this scenario has probably been played out in many a family home over the years as a parent tries to rationalise the idea of ‘appropriate’ dress to a teenager with little sense of what appropriate dress actually means, especially when you barely even know how to wash your own clothes.

In the end, the player Dani Rojas caves into the pressure and wears his first (and probably last) pair of classic black leather sole dress shoes to the funeral – limping and wincing as he walks into the church. We’ve all been there – all dressed up for some event: a funeral, a wedding, a work party – and wincing in pain the entire time from the pain of a new pair of shoes that were purchased for looks rather than comfort.

The problem with the market is that very few designers understand that this demographic of young men that have grown up in ONLY trainers, will have never had the displeasure of breaking in a pair of classic dress shoes – and frankly why would they? Their world is casual, and the trainer has been elevated to luxury status for some years now by brands like Lanvin, Balenciaga and Vuitton. Most celebrities and musicians advance this idea by wearing designer trainers on the red carpet with formal attire all the time!

But…there are time when event dressing is done out of respect for others and not for paparazzi.

A funeral is the one place where I put my foot down (pun intended) and believe that classic, sombre attire is just the ways it’s done. No exceptions.

Wedding attire has always been considered an opportunity for personal sartorial creativity (unfortunately), but it never really ages well in photos. I must agree with most Bridezillas that getting your bridal party to all have the same dress, suit and shoe does make for a better ‘traditional’ picture – but spend the entire day on your feet in a bridal procession, hours of photos and then the inevitable dance floor shit-show and you will wish you were wearing slippers instead of the brand new black brogue.

But there are options…

As a guy that grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, my idea of a good shoe was a classic Adidas Rod Laver or a suede G. H. Bass boat shoe: I lived for casual comfort – but then I grew up. I entered the workforce wearing Doc Marten’s and then began working for a shoe company. I had to up my game. I spent the next 20 years wearing leather soled dress shoes from every designer label known to man and mangled my precious feet for fashion. I have now made it my life’s work to create a stylish, range of elevated classic footwear that looks cool, yet gives me the comfort of my favourite pair of trainers.

My current work at Martel+Ram is the culmination of almost 30 years of research, pain and pleasure. I. have sought to create a tailored ‘dress’ shoe collection that appeals not only to guys my age with serious wear & tear, but also a younger consumer who will not sacrifice comfort in their footwear.

Every man should have a classic black leather dress shoe in their wardrobe. Just like a black dinner suit, you will need it more than you realise.

My proposal: a classic black leather, plain-toe derby, softly hand-polished to a semi-matte finish by expert Italian shoemakers and featuring a lightweight Vibram Morflex rubber sole. This particular sole looks like a tailored leather sole from a distance, but feels like something very new. Morflex is an expanded EVA rubber compound that was developed for the sport shoe industry and has the same lightness and cushion of a trainer sole. This is not your dad’s old, heavy welted shoe from the back of the closet. This is modern footwear for the today’s trainer-loving consumer.

Give ‘appropriate’ dressing a try. There is a way forward... and there are options.

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