*Vintage COLE-HAAN SHELL CORDOVAN Monk Strap, Circa 1970: 42D
Vintage Shell Cordovan Monk Strap
We are used to seeing Shell Cordovan Monks by the two present day preeminent American shoemakers of Cordovan, Allen Edmonds and Alden, but here is a truly fine vintage Monk by another American shoemaker from the period of its greatest importance, a time when its entire product line was still American-made. The monk strap shoe, in cordovan or calf, is one of the oldest models and has, for good reason, remained in style for over a century. It is a basic in the wardrobe and the present example of the shoe, with some miles and years upon it, has developed an aura and a warmth that no new shoe can duplicate, at least not for many years. It is true what they say, that nothing is as good as new cordovan….except old cordovan.
Cole-Haan shoes of the 1980’s and earlier are tremendously well made using painstaking traditional techniques and employing the best leathers money could buy, in this case, Shell Cordovan of supreme quality from Horween of Chicago, the best tanner of cordovan, then and now. With solid brass buckles and cleated and nailed heels.
Some history: Researching the Cole-Haan logo on the internet you will find endless palaver about the firms changing hands in the last 30 years and the various logos set forth by the various owners, each seeking to update and modernize the brand. What you will not find is the original Cole-Haan logo found in this shoe but impossible to photograph effectively.
As with many other American shoemakers, but for some periods where truly fine imports were included in their inventory, Cole-Haan’s trend has been inexorably downward since 1988 when the firm was devoured by the giant Nike, an acquisition emblematic of the general trend in America of consolidation of industries. The result, as in this case, is often that the individuality, the defining characteristics, in short, the fineness of the smaller establishment is submerged in the larger. Indeed it is often merely the name or the distribution network that the new owner is buying; the products, the quality, the American manufacturing facilities and the employees of the classic firm made redundant are of little interest to the new owners.
Cole-Haan was resold in 2012 to Apax Partners, an investment group with diverse interests. With a certain degree of independence now Cole-Haan may flourish again –one of the great old American shoemakers- the results are not yet conclusive.
Size Details:US 9.5D.…..UK 8.5E…..European 42D, for the medium width foot. Sold without trees.
Original soles and heels showing remarkably little wear for their age.