Dear PG Readers,
This limited edition, with a code reserved for our readers (PGCU10), may well be the deal of the year concerning luxury shoes at an affordable price, with shoe trees and free shipping included, no matter where you live.
“We know a good shoe when we see one”
At PG, we say these words after wading through massive shoe reviews (up to 80 brands), intense interviews with virtuosos like Stephane Jimenez (the shoemaker’s shoemaker), and film productions with the likes of shoemaker savant Pierre Corthay—endowed with the title of Maitre d’Art, a monumental distinction declaring an artisan a patrimony of France.
Europe may be a mecca for accessing the wondrous world of shoes without breaking the wallet—but cross the pond into America, and search for a formidable man’s shoe at an affordable price and you may feel as if you’re stranded in the Mojave Desert.
The Hunt for a Quality Shoe
To begin the great shoe-hunt, you should be able to spot a nice “upper”, or literally the upper part of the shoe, as well as an ugly upper—usually when the top part of the shoe is glued onto soles, with the upper sometimes made from the worst cut of the cow skin located around the belly area.
Today our eyes are keen to notice when inferior leather has been sanded, painted over and reworked to look better—sometimes with a price exceeding 700 dollars a pair, with cracks and severe creases in the leather revealing themselves after only a few wears.
We can also spot when a shoe is formed from a sloppy or malformed “last”—a reusable plastic mold-shaped-like-a-foot, which is used to wrap the leather and sole around it (the last) to give form to the shoe while putting all the pieces together.
We take notice of the “shoe waist” (the skinniest part of the shoe where the foot intersects with the heel) and understand how an enormous waist, or no waist at all, can mean a more easily built product.
We also can see when shoes laces are widely-splayed on top of the tongue which looks like ‘ladder steps’ climbing to the lacing point, that the ready-to-wear shoe have been made with no effort to emulate the look of a handmade shoe.
Like many of you reading this text, we know the definition of “Goodyear welting”, or sewing the upper to the sole—using a strip of leather called a welt, and eschewing glue—and also recognize another form of construction called “Blake”, with no sewing of a welt around the sole to connect the shoe together, which also can be comfortable and beautiful, even if the shoe will not be as sturdy as a Goodyear welted (and much more difficult, if not impossible to resole).
We could dig deeper and touch on even more technical details, but the point is that almost every man who likes to own numerous classic shoes, wants a well-built product which is affordable and will last many, many years if well-maintained.
A Recent Painful Shoe Purchasing-Experience in California
Stepping into the high streets of key cities in America, the devastation (pardon the drama) of shopping at the most famous men’s shoe department stores, can create a form of exhaustion.
Last week we tried to help a family member in California locate an affordable classic shoe. He’d received a magnificent suit he planned to wear to a wedding. Of course, being in his 20s he wanted a great pair of shoes which he could afford to complement his suit.
During his mall excursion, our phone in France began to “ding” several times a minute, leading us to think something serious must be happening. Grabbing the phone for a look, we saw a few dozen images of shoes from Bloomingdales and Barneys. Some shoes had the shape of a cantaloupe cut in half, others revealed cracked leather which had not even been sanded and painted to hide the damage. Even cow-belly stomach shoe images appeared, with deep curvy lines etched into the leather. Among the images we received, Goodyear welting was no where to be found at a cost of less than 750 dollars.
After an hour of explaining how to tell a good shoe from a bad shoe, it was decided every good shoe we could find was cost-prohibitive.
Eventually we recommended, “go home and order shoes online from Cobbler Union in Atlanta, Georgia”.
COBBLER UNION IN ATLANTA
This is not just another interview about a shoe-seller. This is a story about a man born in a far away village in South America who played tennis (very well) and had no clue about what he would be when he grew up.
Recently, Hugo and I conducted a three hour interview with Cobbler Union owner Daniel Porcelli to present in these columns, but it was only after the bad shoe-shopping experience described above, that the inspiration hit us on how to communicate the value of this rare, not to say unique, brand in the United States of America.
Most shoes at Cobbler Union retail for around 400 dollars and most every shoe meets the criteria played out in the introduction of the article. But there is another value unique to this company: a solid selection.
Every product in the store has been strictly conceived and selected by the “knowing eyes” of owners Daniel Porcelli and Santiago Pereiro. With such curation, every man who orders a shoe from CU, knows he is getting an excellent shoe. No need to call an erudite friend, or hire a personal shopper or consultant to help you along, because the buyers / curators at CU are doing the job to sell shoes which any elegant man should feel confident to wear.
As Hugo and I spoke at length with Daniel, though we’d known him for years, we didn’t realize he came to America from Patagonia as a high school graduate who couldn’t speak a lick of English, spent his first summer in the US in a shady part of New York City driving a delivery truck—with a desperate need to learn English fast. His knowledge of English had become mandatory, since, in only a few months after arriving in the U.S., he would be attending the University of North Carolina on Chapel Hill on a full sports scholarship, as he had been named among the Top 25 Tennis Players in Argentina!
Growing up in Patagonia, Daniel saw a chance to come to America when he accepted the scholarship to play tennis. He’d dreamed of leaving Patagonia for New York City for years, despite close friendships he had formed in South America—including a friendship with a hometown buddy named Norman Vilalta, whom Daniel credits for giving him the hankering to go into the shoe business. As over the years, Daniel watched Norman emerge from making shoes which couldn’t be worn, to crafting glorious creations, it was somewhere during this process that Daniel realized that he loved (really, really loved) beautiful shoes.
Daniel could have made a name for himself in almost any business. As a fair skinned freckle-faced kid, he felt exhilarated to be in America, he persevered to learn English, finished the University of NC, and went on to get his MBA at the prestigious Emory University in Atlanta—after which he landed a successful consulting job in the city.
Still, his love of shoes never left him and much of his salary from his consulting job was sunk into trying to figure out how to break into the shoe business.
“There were too many ups and downs to count, but I hung onto my dream, even at my lowest point, not knowing where to turn next, while looking at the last few dollars in my checking account.” Daniel told us that the three words that pushed him along and kept him from quitting were “intensity, passion, and obsession”.
A combination of Daniel’s Patagonian heritage and his arduous strict observations of shoe crafting proved to be the key to ignite the business known today as Cobbler Union. He toured ateliers across Spain and with a keen eye, at last pinpointed the best “bench-made” facility he could find.
Once he identified how the shoes would be constructed, the next question became a question of design. He’d seen thousands of shoes at this point, so he selected shoes based on his trained eye.
Within the next year, Daniel would finally roll out a first try at selling a very small selection of shoes including a Spectator Shoe in 2014. This is the exact Spectator Shoe Hugo became aware of and featured in his first massive shoe review of 2014.
Cobbler Union strikes me as the ideal sort of place to buy the best you can when you have an entire wardrobe ahead of you to build and develop. Located in Atlanta, Georgia, CU has won a few local awards, including Atlanta Magazine’s Best New Menswear Store in 2015. It is also located in a prime venue called Ponce City Market, making the location itself like a billboard for the brand.
Since that time, Cobbler Union has also been the place we chose to air three episodes of Sartorial Talks, featuring their Oxfords, Derbys, Monks, Chelsea and Chukkas, to name a few. Although the shoes in the store were used as props to tell stories about cobblers, designs and history, the beauty of the shoes themselves also resonated with aficionados. Soon after the episodes aired, an already successful Cobbler Union began to receive even more orders for shoes…
The thing we didn’t realize about the staff at CU is how much they value relationships (a lot!). To date, they have never refused a shoe-return, they attempt to offer the highest quality of shoe at the best price, and also installed a flagship store in Atlanta, Georgia, at Ponce City Market—of course to sell shoes, but also to be able to receive and meet customers in-person.
Not all of us are able to buy bespoke shoes, just as not all of us are able to buy bespoke suits; but, we can at least buy the best we can afford. As our dear friend G. Bruce Boyer likes to say “Sure, if you’re experimenting with a new look, go for affordability. But when it comes to your staples, the items you want to hang on for years, then buy the best you can.”
An exceptional and limited offer for PG Readers
As you can immediately notice on Cobbler Union’s online shop (COBBLER UNION), the value of these quality shoes is already absolutely remarkable : 400 dollars on average.
But in order to celebrate our long-lasting relationship with Daniel and his team, and to treat our readers, followers and friends with a unique opportunity, CU and PG are partnering to even go further by offering, for a limited time :
- A 10% discount on the price of ANY pair of CU shoes
- A free pair of shoe trees for every pair of shoes bought
- Free shipping, wherever you live on the planet.
Thus, to give you an idea of this exceptional opportunity, the magnificent Oxford Gilbert III (Goodyear welted) which has an original price of $395, is offered to PG readers at $355 (€305 or £269) including a pair of cedar shoe trees and free shipping wherever you live in the world. Unmissable !
Another example: the superb Chukka V, with an original prices of $425 is with this offer, $382, including a pair of shoe trees and free shipping whatever your country.
Do you find this “sartorial opportunity” as incredible as I do ? It may also be, for many of your friends who have never tasted the incredible feeling of wearing quality shoes, a formidable opportunity to buy their first pair of “real” shoes.
HOW TO ORDER ?
Follow the instructions below :
- Connect to Cobbler Union’s Online shop : www.cobbler-union.com (in case you live outside the USA and the website offers you to connect to the European e-shop, refuse because the PG Code only works with the US e-shop).
- Select your currency (on the top right part of the header).
- Browse the collection and select your pair(s). If you need guidance in terms of sizing go to the “size and fit” page (under the “about us” section) which precisely explains the fit of each model in order to help you selecting the right size.
- Upon checkout, use the code PGCU10 which will give you automatically access to the 10% discount, to the free shoe trees and to free shipping (and return if necessary). The code is usable for any order equal or above 395$ before discount (e.g. all the CU’s models except the sneakers if ordered alone).
- Attention : Do NOT add the shoe-trees when you use the PGCU10 code, because they are automatically added to your order when using the code upon checkout.
- For the rare models which are already on sale (and with which the code will not work), please send an e-mail to email@example.com in order to be granted your free shoe trees and free shipping.
For any question or request, don’t hesitate to send an e-mail to Cobbler Union’s (great) customer service at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also if you need our guidance in terms of which shoe to acquire or any other advice, don’t hesitate to drop us an note at email@example.com. We are always willing to help.
Let us attract your attention one last time to the fact that this collaboration between Cobbler Union and Parisian Gentleman is exceptional. Thus, may we advise you not to lose time to benefit, as even if we hope for subsequent stock for this campaign, it is possible that we may not be able to satisfy everyone.
So please treat yourself and spread the word !
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In summary :
E-shop : https://www.cobbler-union.com
Don’t use the European website, stay on the American e-shop.
Code : PGCU10 (to use upon check-out)
Customer service : firstname.lastname@example.org