Going With the English Classics
Church’s Monk Strap Shoe Review
I have always an interest in trying out new brands and learning about the differences between products. For footwear its never been any different, especially with handmade shoes. When everyone hears handcrafted shoes, the thoughts are usually Italy and their production of premium footwear. Portugal and Spain are spoken of as well. Then England is usually brought in for the very iconic styles. The Monk Strap is an iconic shoe within the men’s footwear world and I was on the hunt for a new pair. Interestingly enough, a pair of Church’s Monk Strap shoes popped up online for sale. Having heard about the history of the Church brand and the longevity of English-made shoes, I decided I would take a step into my first pair of English shoes. This particular style was called the Cowes.
Looking at this Church’s Monk Strap shoe, there was nothing really too special to make it a difference maker from other Monk Strap shoes online. For me it was more of testing out a new brand and seeing what a “Made In the UK” shoe felt like. I’ve dabbled with Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and American footwear in the past. Was there really anything that different with English made? A curiosity into a historical footwear brand and cultural background were the initial thoughts of purchasing this next shoe.
Vintage, Craftsmanship, and Iconic
Upon receiving the box these were the initial words that came to mind. A dirt-brown colored box with a texturized surface and Church label on the top. Nothing too fashion forward or grand that would make it that memorable. It definitely had a vintage feel to it and the shoes were wrapped in a faded-orange wrapping paper. However, upon de-tissuing the Church’s Monk Strap shoe I could definitely sense that these shoes had quality written over them.
The Church’s Monk Strap shoe is heavy. I wouldn’t say that it instantly equates to quality with every shoe, but I would say I could feel the leather was premium. The shoe also portrayed an English flair to it. The shoes are Goodyear-welted and showcase many of the quality-control checks done through the process of making the shoe. The very English-looking Church emblem is also emblazoned on a couple areas of the shoe and has a custom-grade engraving on the mid-bottom part of the sole. All these small details definitely gave a feeling of the handcrafted history and process behind the shoe. Once again, the Church’s Monk Strap shoe gave off the initial thoughts of a long-term shoe staple of my wardrobe.
What Does a Church Shoe Fit Like?
I’m writing this review having owned the shoe for around two months now. As mentioned, the leather feels top-notch, but also extremely stiff. I’ve heard that many English made shoes usually take a while to break in. That tale is very true indeed. My first forays of wearing this shoe to work really made me think of how comfortable sneakers truly are. These shoes are not an instant comfort nor comfortable to begin with.
My first few hours walking in these shoes were manageable, but after that it’s a completely different story. There is definitely a break-in process with these shoes as I have really tried to break them in with a full days wear. I was hoping I could expedite the break-in process, but at this point am waving the white-flag. It has gotten to the point where I have left them on the stretchers for a few days, each day cranking the stretcher out a tad. I’m going to continue wearing them, but it will only be for a few hours. My feet have learned the lesson with these guys.
Did I order the right size? I believe I did and I believe that Church shoes just use a really narrow last as well. I’ve ended up with callouses on the sides of my bigger toes from walking in these guys uncomfortable for a day. I probably shouldn’t have done this for the amount of times I did, but was really hoping they would break in soon.
How has the Shoe Worn?
The Church Monk Strap shoe is a quality shoe indeed. I can see why Church shoes have had a good reputation even with the Prada ownership takeover. The shoe is extremely well-made and hardly showcases the wear-n-tear I’ve put it through. None of the stitching has come undone and the creasing of the leather has broken in very well visually. This is probably in part to how tough the leather is. Surprisingly, the toe cap hardly shows any wear for the amount of bending my foot was doing to get comfortable near the later parts of the work day.
One of the distinguishable features of this shoe is how soft the leather lining inside is. It feels very plush and has held up super well. I really appreciate how the insole has designed even with the two separate insole parts. Many brands usually cut the leather insole right at the widest part of the foot. This usually ends up with the edging coming undone and furling up, causing a huge annoyance. In this case, Church’s split the insole in the middle of the arch where it hasn’t become an issue. At least they added somewhat more padding to the back heel area too.
I also liked the buckles for the monk strap design. The silver buckles have an almost oval-squarish shape to them and that does make them more unique than the standard rectangle-square design. Maybe that’s some of that English flair twisted in with the design? The monk strap also thoughtfully includes a stretch-band with the buckle to give it some much needed flexibility.
Would I Buy More Church’s Shoes?
At this given point, for the amount of pain my feet have had to endure just to break them in I would say no. The Church’s Monk Strap shoe are and feel like a premium made shoe. However, the break-in period is uncomfortably long and I’m still crossing my fingers that they will break in with my feet. There are a lot of details to appreciate about the shoe, but from a comfort standpoint are unbearable. At this point with my first pair of English made Dress shoes, I would say to try another English brand or stick to some of the other designer brands out there.
If you haven’t had a chance, check out the review of the Jared Lang Monk Strap shoes I also reviewed.