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Monday, September 15, 2014

The Spring Dutch Auction At Le Noeud Papillon Begins Today

As many of you who read this blog will attest, we do run good SALES. Some of your feedback is listed here in case you would like a refresher.

Spring has arrived in Australia and I have been hoarding too many silks. I am also on the cusp of having some new designs arrive into Sydney and I would like to clear down bow ties, pocket squares, ties and flowers to make way for new stock.

The rough synopsis of how the Dutch Auction works is that over 14 days we increase the sale code amount by 5 % per cent per day until we reach 70% OFF on the final day. The stock is set at the starting day of the sale so it is limited although from time to time we throw in some extra treats on the final day to keep you coming back until all the stock is sold down.

So you are pitted against whoever else out there wants that bow tie. Often the stock is limited to as little as 1 unit to a maximum of around 7-10 units of any one particular style or silk. 

We wish you the best of luck and please note that if you have any trouble entering the codes then the best way to solve this is to clear your browser cache and start the transaction again. Please note that you can only enter the code once so if you decide to add more to the cart after entering the code, these items will be charged at full price. To see the code for today, log onto

Friday, September 12, 2014

Introducing Talleyrand Discounted And Corporate Neckwear

For some time now I have been developing a range of corporate ties and bow ties as well as a series of less expensive silk and polyester bow ties for men who are on a budget.

The website is now up and running at with a selection of products that will be expanded in the weeks to come.

The bow tie above, for example, is priced at just $45.00 . It is a German 100% polyester garza fabric which to the naked eye looks like silk and for the most part feels very similar to silk. It is cut in a 6.5cm batwing shape with less intricate clips for attaching and detaching the bow tie.

These bow ties, at this price, are packed and sent very simply with the freight being just $6.00 across Australia.

The only catch is that the site is password protected. If you would like to take a look and shop the first range, please use the code CHARLES to log in.

We hope you enjoy what is a very exciting new way to add panache to your staff uniforms or to shop our archived silks at heavily discounted prices.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Pink Spring - After A Heavy Winter You Are Most Welcomed Back - Magnolias At Hopewood House, Bowral, Southern Highlands, New South Wales

It's hard to call Sydney a heavy winter but relative to the usual mild winters that we have, this one seemed a little wetter and colder. There were two days during August where I genuinely felt like wearing gloves but within about two minutes my hands were toasty and I realised I was just being pretentious.

Two weeks ago I went down to Bowral to have one night off to myself to have a long sleep and several shots of Jack Daniels in a hotel with a gas fire. I was tired from winter and feeling a little down and out.

Yesterday I had promised my time to a friend who needed to meet a musician that would be playing at the function room of his wedding. The trip was a very different experience to the one I took to the same area not three weeks earlier; not only did I receive some very good advice from my old friend about life, but it was also perfect timing as spring had arrived and from the depths and death of winter everything was beginning to renew again.

We managed to find our way to Hopewood House where we met up with Janet Storrier who is the other half to one of Australia's more prominent artists, Tim Storrier. Hopewood also serves as a studio for Storrier.

Whilst waiting for my friend I was meandering through the gallery adjacent to one of the function rooms when I immediately got excited at the dishevelled Sir Les Patterson that was standing in front of me as an oil on canvas. Sir Les, as was mentioned by Richard Carroll in a previous post, is one of those iconic Australian characters which Barry Humphries has made almost as famous as Dame Edna. Storrier's interpretation was no less amusing with half of Sir Les' last meal on his chest and trousers, a camelia or rose in his lapel, a lovely nonchalantly placed pocket square in pink with white polka dots, a gone troppo Darwin styled cream suit, a well worn shirt with no bones flicking the collar up and a tie that acts more like a bib. What's not to love?

Tim Storrier's Sir Les Patterson courtesy Twitter @ANZ_AU

During the course of our visit we were fortunate enough to be taken through the splendid gardens of Hopewood House where I was able to see that spring was certainly getting a grip over the landscape. Janet Storrier, our guide, pointed out a magnolia and I snapped a picture which I then used as inspiration when I returned to my Studio. I believe that Sir Les, that magnolia and the pink bow tie I that was on my desk when I returned were all lucky talismans that we need to give pink a chance this spring.

Spring 2014 - pink magnolias at Hopewood House, Bowral

Give pink a chance this spring -
Superfine SIC Tess shirting cloth custom made shirt in white diamond weave with 50 Oz silk twill bow tie and limited edition print LNP pocket square. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

From The Fat Of The Land Comes James B Young's Camel Dubbin

In the 1981 classic Australian film Gallipoli which was written by Australian playwright David Williamson and film maker Peter Weir, the protagonist, Archy Hamilton, explains to a camel driver that they meet along their way to Perth (if I recall correctly) that: "if we don't stop them there {Germans} , they could end up here".

The response given by the camel driver who is holding the reins to a camel is one of the most laconic, dry and quintessentially Australian moments of cinema. The camel driver surveys the forbidding desolate desert landscape and replies "And they're welcome to it" . This same temperament is repeated years later in the relaxed world view of Crocodile Mick Dundee and has since etched itself into the national psyche.

One hundred years after Gallipoli the Australian desert has not softened and the animal that seems to still thrive in these harsh conditions is the camel which brings me to a young shoe maker in Alice Springs who has created a shoe dubbin based on the very animal that can withstand this forbidding environment.

James B Young spends most of his week working on custom made shoes for people travelling through Alice Springs or via orders taken in Sydney and Melbourne. We will write about his craft later on but in the interim we wish to discuss his camel dubbin which he says has many properties from water resistance, effective nourishment of leather and an aesthetic which improves the deepness of grains in a leather.

The Fat Of The Land product is made entirely by hand. Young sources hump camel fat from local Alice Springs abattoirs and then renders the fat into a tallow using a cauldron. Eventually the render becomes white in colour and then it is mixed with other 100% naturally occurring substances such as bees wax and some oils which James would rather keep to himself.

This is a stark contrast to most dubbins which these days are usually based on petro chemicals and where only high end European brands use seal or mink fat in their dubbins and nourishing creams for leather. This completely naturally occurring product made by hand in Alice Springs is what James feels that people will come from far and wide to experience.

I have received a tin in the post and over the coming days I intend to try it out. James has instructed me that it's best put on sparingly and in multiple layers. Too much dubbin and he says the leather will become soft and lose it's strength. The dubbin is supposed to "give the leather a drink" but not too much of a drink. He also says that when applying the dubbin you should always consider placing the shoes next to a heat source to ensure that it soaks in well. James says that a fire place or in direct sun will help this along. In Young's opinion, using the dubbin will create a deepness to the leather which will improve the depth of the grain to the eye and in the case of older leathers will bring out a style of patina. In his opinion the leather is best applied with a clean worn rag of light cotton that does not produce lint.

At the moment he is selling the camel dubbin for $30 Australian per tin with formal production commencing in late 2014 at which point he will be looking for retailers in both the domestic and overseas markets.

I will follow James' instructions regarding the use of his product and hopefully over the coming weeks you will see the results of a camel dubbin on a pair of boots. Stay tuned!

Want the dubbin? Visit James B Young's website on

James B Young "Fat Of The Land" Camel Dubbin

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Good Deed Or A Great Gift Which Keeps On Giving - Restoring Someone's Favourite Shoes

Two men stood outside my Studio window one cold morning a week ago and they were reading out loud my sign which is a common practice amongst Sydneysiders who walk past my window. 

"Le Nooeyd Papp-illon - made to order shirts, jackets, bow ties, ties" said one, adding, "that's interesting".
"Look at those" said the other, "they look like RM Williams boots" .

I could not help myself so I opened the door and two middle-aged men from the local council who were working on the restoration of the precinct's pavements looked up at me with some surprise not realising that there was anyone home.

I invited them in and explained to them what they had seen in the window and that over time I had been exploring the art of patina and glacage and put the results in the window. As a throw away line I then added "and I'm happy to perform one on an old pair of yours if you have any but whatever comes of it is whatever comes of it". I did not expect to hear from them again after they left but lo and behold the next day a pair of extremely old cracked leather RM Williams boots was dropped up to the Studio with a request to make them young again.

As a cosmetic surgeon no doubt must tell some older women 'there's only so much I can do' - I too had to brace the recipient for what might come. Needless to say in the end I was pleasantly surprised with the results and it goes to show you that with a bit of tender loving care most boots will live on way beyond your wildest expectations.

The Process In Approximate Steps

1. The boots arrived and they were very old, very brown and very cracked at the side of the boots. (I will post an additional image of this boot). On assessment I realised that burgundy and oxblood would not show up well on these boots. Instead I thought about experimenting with blues and blacks.

2.The boots were stripped, sanded and bleached to try and bring as much colour out of the shoes so that new colour could go in.

3. The boots were soaked in Saphir Renovateur over night.

4. The boots were then brushed to bring them up ready to be dyed on which, in the end, I used both navy and black to bring out some unusual, deeper laid tonality which can only be seen by getting up close to the shoe.

5. Once dyeing was done, I then covered the shoes in a cognac pommade to try and get some other tones into the leather. 

6. Using maroon, tobacco and cognac waxes by Saphir I began buffing the shoes in wax which I then burnished on using a very fine scrap of super 200's 2 ply cotton shirting which worked magically and much better than any other rags I have used in the past. 

7. The waxing was done in layers moving from one boot to the other and then returning to the first boot again. Over and over the layers of wax went on and then were applied with a super fine rag and a small water dispenser. 

8. In the final stages I worked solely on the toe box and heel to get a more glazed effect as the wax could not help those parts of the leather that were cracked with age. In the final analysis, image 8, you can make out the tonality that is very subdued between deep browns and a burgundy/brown that evolved from the use of navy dye on the leather.

If you would like to purchase the products in this blog post please do not hesitate to contact us for more information or else you can try Double Monk in Melbourne or Exquisite Trimmings in London.

Click to enlarge this image which is almost 4000 pixels wide to see the details more clearly on this pair of restored RM Williams chelsea boots. 

Some of the leather cracks that were in the shoe meant that no amount of polishing or nourishing of the leather would allow the boots to be glazed.

Spare A Thought For The Diamond Point Bow Tie

Amongst bow tie enthusiasts I have seen lately a renewed interest for the diamond point shape. The diamond point shape is common enough amongst bow tie makers but few get it right. Some start with a skinny batwing (4cm)  and add a diamond tip at each end to this rectangular shape. The best reference I can think of for this style is the piano playing Sam from Casablanca. The other base shapes that diamond points are created from are wide batwings, mid-batwings and butterflies of various sizes depending on the maker. Each diamond point bow tie will therefore tie differently based on the pattern from which it was derived. It should come as no surprise therefore that the best diamond points are usually tied from the skinnier bow ties or the scalloped butterfly shapes whereas the more difficult ones to get right are the mid-batwing and wide batwing shapes. If you know how to knot a bow tie well and have worked with bows from many makers, most of what I write is academic. However, if you are not familiar with diamond points, perhaps consider taking a bit more time when you pick up your first one to make sure you tie it correctly. If you get it right, you will have a certain Sean Connery appeal, if you take a wrong turn you can head down Pee Wee Herman Alley.

Classic reference #1 : Casablanca's Sam wearing what appears to be a skinny batwing diamond point
Contemporary reference #1: A more contemporary look and most likely based on a butterfly shape rather than a batwing; James Bond (Daniel Craig) in a more robust diamond point bow tie. 

The Secret To Tying A Diamond Point Bow Tie

One of the things I most suggest about tying a diamond point is to marry up your tips correctly. The first arm of your bow tie that you fold under your chin will set both the length and the symmetry for the diamond tip on the other side. It is essential that when you fold the bow tie you consider the length of the opposing arm and how it will drop down through the centre. The second arm must drop down over the centre of the first folded arm until it approximately reaches the point that you would consider where the shape of the bow ends and the band of the bow tie begins.

See the diagram below for assistance.

The joys of a diamond point bow tie are not limited to black tie events - for more inspirational diamond points visit

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

In The Closet, Not In The Cloud

A lot will be said about the cache of images that has flooded the internet of young Hollywood girls over the coming days. Most of that dialogue will be over privacy. I feel very sorry for these women because until now people might have assumed that something like iCloud would be safe. However, any system designed by humans is usually open to be hacked by humans and to some extent I am shocked that the kinds of photos that these young women take of themselves, that they would wish to store them on an iCloud service.

You only need to look at the quantity of devices that are using the iCloud service from your iPad, iPhone, laptop and desktop to know that you can't possibly be synchronising that much data between devices and a server based technology without expecting that something might go wrong. Typically in the past anything that one might assume was sensitive was stored in a shoe box on negatives but with the times changing and technology moving so fast, I can see why these young women are getting caught up in the gap between progress and the surety of a new technology.

The greater implications, to my mind, are not whether Bar Rafaeli wishes to show her friend what she ate for breakfast but whether the photos of our children are safe or that our home lives are not compromised. These women are unfortunate martyrs to a new cause -  that the world should be analysing and assessing how we better safeguard data from those that could potentially do us harm. There is a reason why some extremist terrorist groups don't use mobile phones or computers or why Benny 'The Tractor' Provenzano, the ex-head of the Italian wing of the 'Cosa Nostra', only used paper messages rolled up to communicate with his chain of command - the fact is, if it's digital, it can be hacked. Since these clandestine groups use it to their advantage, perhaps we should do the same in some instances.

There may be still be some room for analogue in a digital world...

Friday, August 29, 2014

There Is A Lot Less To The English Look Than You Might Expect

One of the things I have never really understood is how a great deal of people who subscribe to the 'English' look tend to frown upon satin over twill and in many instances they opt for muted colours over bright ones as a general rule. People who subscribe to this style of dressing tend to also prefer Harris tweeds in earthy colours, a mix of wool and silk in their pocket square with rather subdued art if any; they talk about ancient madder dyes on forums and love vintage photos of men in wool bow ties. I am not trying to make a stereotype but this kind of gentleman does exist and sometimes they find portions of our collections far too bright and perky for their taste.

However, today I thought I should point out something about two materials that we have worked with and that although they seem very different on the website, when you are up close and personal, the difference is not so great. 

Silk Satin

In the top photo you will see a navy mogador satin silk which you will note the tightness of the satin weave. The satin weave, which merely is a technique by which the weft threads go over the warp once and then under for three, renders a brightness merely because there is less space between the threads for light to be lost. This means more light is reflected which is why the silk appears brighter.

Silk satin magnified to highlight the weave which is shown above in a diagram.

Silk Twill

By contrast, silk twill is woven by taking the weft threads over two warp threads and then under two warp threads. Then on the next row you start the same weave technique but one along in the sequence which in turn creates a a kind of groove on the bias. It's not that much of a difference when you see it in a diagram but the impact is quite high on the final outcome. It is merely this change in weave which allows less light to refract from the silk since it is more porous and more light gets lost within these spaces. The entire so called "English" look is merely a function of less light being refracted by the cloth owing to a change in the weave. The colours that are used to dye a silk don't much change between dye houses and although it is possible for finishing techniques to add or subtract lustre from a silk, the quintessential part of it all is owing to the fibre chosen (eg wool versus silk) and then the weaving technique on which it is woven. The great example below is a silk twill in 50 Oz which might lend itself to the so called "English" aesthetic because it was printed in England on silk twill and looks slightly more dusty and subdued than if it had been woven on a satin warp loom in Italy. 

Don't be fooled by those that suggest you don't understand menswear if you don't follow the English look, sometimes it's just a masquerade for the fact that there are more silk print houses in England than there are weavers of silk which is contrasted by the Italians that have more weavers than printers (to my current knowledge).

Silk twill which is woven slightly differently to silk satin but which has a huge effect on how the cloth looks and feels in the hand. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

To Collect Rather Than To Accumulate

One of the arguments some of my friends often make is that spending money on a custom made item of clothing is such a waste of money since you often change your wardrobe frequently. In actual fact since I started Le Noeud Papillon and since the time I have begun writing about menswear on the blog I have found a marked decrease in my annual consumption of clothes.

Part of this I attribute to the time it takes to assemble the right materials and the right craft in order to achieve a particular goal in a custom made project. Unlike a suit or tie off the rack, the process begins firstly with the hunt for the right cloth. Then you start to make a conjecture on what kind of cut or silhouette you are chasing. You might be searching for the right weight for the interlining for a tie to match the weight of the silk. You might investigate the materials you want to line your jacket or the canvas for your chest. Maybe the journey takes you to a button store or a haberdashery looking for thread. Maybe. When you begin the journey to make something you don't know the paths you might take in order to complete it or how someone else might help you along your journey.

So when it comes time to throw something out - well, you are more likely to hold onto it and term it 'collecting' rather than accumulating because throwing it away would be too emotional an experience.

When it comes to Le Noeud Papillon bow ties, we do ask, if you come to that bridge ever, whether it be by your own volition or under duress from your space obsessed partner, do the right thing and pass the bow tie on. There is sure to be someone in your sphere of influence who has not yet had the pleasure to learn how to tie one on.

The bow tie storage box, a limited number of these are available through the Studio. Order yours by contacting us on the web page.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Front Cover Of The Weekend Australian Magazine Featuring Martin Benn (Sepia) And Neil Perry (Rockpool)

This weekend just passed we were featured on the front cover of The Weekend Australian Magazine featuring Neil Perry, chef from Rockpool, and Martin Benn, chef from Sepia restaurant.

In the photo, which was styled by Viva Vayspap, Perry wears our 'Churchill' bow tie in modified butterfly and Benn wears  our 'Julian' bow tie. Ben also sports a black satin silk scarf from Le Noeud Papillon as well as a pocket square and our smoking jacket.

If you want to spice up your black tie, you can follow suit at

Neil Perry and Martin Benn styled by Viva Vayspap for The Weekend Australian Magazine wearing Le Noeud Papillon bow ties. 

There Are Few Better Staples Than A Baby Blue Twill Shirt

Of all the shirting fabrics I run my hands through there are few that compete against one particular baby blue twill I get from Canclini in Italy. Time and time again this particular cloth has stood the test of wearability and durability both for myself and my customers to the point that I always recommend it as the first shirt to make after the staple white has been made. It is the second most needed shirt in a man's wardrobe because it offers the greatest utility and versatility as a shirt both in business and in casual wear. It can be worn with jeans, it can be worn with trousers, it can be worn with a suit, it can be worn with shorts and it can be worn with just about any combination you throw at it. Think of summer time and a bright green field of grass and you are wearing white jeans and a mocha brown pair of chelsea boots. What shirt? The baby blue twill of course. Think of a bone coloured suit and a day at the races. What colour shirt? The baby blue twill of course. Think of the important meeting in the city and you are wearing your most powerful navy suit with a solid coloured tie. What shirt? The baby blue twill of course.

When you have had enough of your ginghams, your spots, your laser prints, your denim, your coupes and your woven jacquard designs, it's always nice to come home to the simple things in life and nothing quite does it for me that this said shirt. Pictured below with our "Trust" bow tie.

To order your own shirts:

A light blue baby twill, one of the most versatile shirting fabrics and to be considered as an absolute staple in any man's wardrobe.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Eccentricity Of Bill Masters Fits The "Contrarian" & "Renegade" Attributes Of The Bow Tie Wearer

Before Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson grappled the science behind sex many women went for years and sometimes a lifetime without experiencing an orgasm and many men knew very little about the clitoris or how to please their lover. That seems to be what I have taken from watching the current series of Masters Of Sex.

I write this not to get tongues wagging nor to be controversial but merely to note that this dynamic duo reshaped the way we looked at and talked about sex in the West and I am chuffed to note Masters was an avid bow tie wearer which has been held as a theme throughout the series. On scouring videos and images on the web for Bill Masters I was pleased to find that the real man was even more of a snappy dresser than his screen character played by Michael Sheen.

In fact, if you want to see someone who is considered not only as a renegade and pioneer in the field of sex but also a contrarian to the status quo in America at the time, look no further than Bill Masters. You can find visual references of Bill Masters wearing long peaked collar shirts with a disproportionate sized skinny bow tie in almost every television interview and photo that can be found on the web. The look is so idiosyncratic that he only just falls short of Winston Churchill or Walter Gropius in terms of iconic bow tie wearers.

If you have not already watched Masters Of Sex, my suggestion is to hop to it. There are few television series if any that can combine sex and science so that you never once feel grubby watching the show - because it's all in the name of science.

The real Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson circa 1960's . Masters wears consistently a skinny batwing bow tie of 4cm

Lizzy Kaplan and Martin Sheen in the current series of Masters Of Sex

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Christopher Schaerf From Double Monk Answers A Few Questions On Shoes

When Andrew Doyle from Timeless Man came to see our Studio and discuss silks and bow ties  I made the remark that I apologised for my fit-out as we were a Studio and not a retail store. I explained to him that I was more about creating new content for the blog in this space than I was about having a chesterfield sofa for my customers. Then I added, 'besides, most of us with a strong internet presence are more smokes screens and mirrors than the genuine retailers'. Andrew then said 'I agree with you about the tailors in general but if there is one business that's ethos and philosophy is backed up by a retail presence to boot, then the only one in Australia that I have met in my travels is Double Monk. They run a great blog and then when  you go to the store, you are even more impressed.' I thought this was the very highest compliment, so I embarked on an interview with one of the co-owners of Double Monk. Here are some interesting tid bits on shoes from Christopher Schaerf of Double Monk in Fitzroy.

The global footwear market is expected to reach $195 billlion dollars by 2015 – why do you think human beings are so consumed by what they put on their feet? What aspects of footwear are you most passionate about?

I would say that the amount of money involved in the footwear market is proportional to the global fashion market in general. If anything I would suggest that men especially are not concerned enough about what they are putting on their feet. Too many guys are happy to invest in their suits, coats and other clothes, but when it comes to their shoes they are more comfortable in the $200-300 bracket. Anyone investing $2000 dollars on a suit ought to be spending at least $1000 on their shoes. The most essential aspect of a good shoe is quality materials and construction (aesthetics are a given). When this is done properly a pair of shoes will reward their owner with decades of comfort. A poor, ill-fitting suit is not necessarily uncomfortable, but a poorly made or ill-fitting shoe causes continual discomfort and pain for its unfortunate owner. At Double Monk we like to say that you should spend as much as you can afford on your shoes and your bed, because if you’re not in one you are in the other.

Most connoisseurs of men’s footwear know the difference between a driving shoe, a loafer, a slipper, an evening pump, a brogue, a monk, a spectator, an Oxford, a Chelsea, a riding boot, a military boot and so on but the layman, and I consider myself a layman, usually can sight the difference but not describe it in words. Can you give us a brief description of the top 10 different shoes you sell at Double Monk and how you like to categorise shoes?

The most common dress shoe is the oxford. This is a shoe with what is called ‘closed’ lacing, which means that the throat of the shoe (where the laces are) completely closes over the tongue of the shoe. A derby, by comparison, has an open lacing where the laces are threaded between two separate pieces of leather. A monk shoe is a slip-on variety that fastens with a buckle; a single monk has one buckle while the double monk (obviously a favourite of ours) has two buckles. Loafers are slip-on shoes that come in two main styles: the penny loafer has a strap across the instep with a slit in it where guys used to store a penny for the phone box; the tassled loafer has tassels where the strap would be on a penny loafer. A chukka boot is an ankle-high derby boot often referred to as a desert boot when made with suede. A chelsea boot is simply an elastic-sided ankle boot. The term brogue refers to shoes where the seams have punched detailing. A quarter brogue only has punching along the toe-cap seam. A half brogue features punching along all or most of the seams as well as (usually) a medallion (or punched design) on the toe-cap itself. A full brogue, also known as a wingtip brogue, is similar to the half brogue, the only difference being that instead of a straight toe-cap it features a distinctive wingtip shaped toe-cap.

There are various different parts of a shoe from the quarters, the vamp, the sole, the heel, the welt, the wing tip, the toe cap and the facing – can you describe each to us and tell us what sort of shoe is defined by each of these aspects? For example, does an Oxford look more becoming with a certain style of vamp?

The upper is the main section of the shoe that covers the foot (apart from the sole). The quarter of the shoe is the rear section of the upper that stretches from the heel to the throat of the shoe; it is reinforced with in extra piece of leather called the counter, which gives the shoe better structural integrity. The vamp is the area between the bottom of the lacing and the toe-cap of the shoe. The toe-cap is the front section of the shoe; it is reinforced with an extra piece of material called the toe puff. The sole is the bottom of the shoe, which can be made of either leather or rubber. The heel of the shoe is at the rear of the sole and can be made of leather, rubber, or a combination of the two. The welt of a shoe is a feature of the Goodyear welting method that we strongly advocate. It is a strip of leather that is sewn to the upper of the shoe. The sole is then sewn onto the welt, rather than being directly sewn to the upper. This method of construction allows the shoe to be resoled again and again, a fact that means Goodyear welted shoes can last for decades.

(Double Monk says that reading our previous post on shoe parts is helpful but not entirely accurate in their opinion - proceed with caution before using it as a reference at your next dinner party .... click here to see that post. )

The subject of whole cuts and single cuts are becoming more and more interesting for those looking at undertaking a bespoke shoe – can you tell us why whole cuts are more expensive and more highly sought after?

The wholecut shoe is a beautiful and minimalist style of oxford that is perfect for formal attire. It requires a great amount of skill to stretch a single piece of leather across a last (the sculpted piece of wood upon which a shoe is shaped and constructed). Having said that, choosing a shoe style is a purely subjective decision and I would certainly not say that a wholecut is a ‘better’ style than a brogue for instance. For anyone considering a bespoke order my only advice would be to go with the style that appeals intuitively to you, rather than what you think is fashionable or sought after. A bespoke shoe should reflect the personal style of its owner.

Whole cut shoes with brogue detail on the toe box

When measuring a foot for a shoe, what aspects of the human foot are the most important to take into account? Can you recommend to our readers a way in which they might best measure themselves at home?

No pair of feet is the same and every style or make of shoe will fit slightly differently. When measuring someone up for a new pair of shoes there are three main areas I take into account. Firstly the length of the foot is key to establishing the general size of shoe required. Secondly, the width of the foot must be taken into account; for a particularly wide or narrow foot we may have to size up or down accordingly. The third aspect to take into account is the instep, which is covered by the tongue and throat of the shoe. Some people have particularly shallow instep, which may require an extra insole, or a high instep that requires a larger size. As you can see there is a great deal to take into account and it is still essential to try on a particular shoe in order to establish one’s ideal fit. This is why we strongly recommend trying on a pair of shoes before you buy them.

Double Monk is famous for it's comprehensive made to order (MTO) and bespoke programme with English shoe makers

The lasts of the rich and famous adorn the English shoe makers walls - from John Lobb to Edward Green and GJ Cleverley, these shoe makers have made for some of the biggest names in business and entertainment. 
So far in your history of trading what is the most unique and perhaps the most desirable shoe you have seen come through the store?

The wealth of options makes that a very difficult one to answer. What I would say is that the most extraordinary shoes that I have seen in the store have come as a result of the Made-to-Order service that we offer. We offer this service with Edward Green, John Lobb, GJ Cleverley and Carmina Shoemaker. The customer has a range of choices that includes leather, colour, style and sole: the combinations are practically infinite. The surcharge varies between $275-$300 for a pair of Made-to-Order shoes, however we consider it a small price to pay for the absolutely stunning results that frequently come through the store.

Are you planning on making any shoes for yourself soon and if so can you tell us about what you might be working on?

The master shoemakers from G.J. Cleverley have visited Double Monk twice thus far. Both Nick and I have commissioned a pair of beautiful double monk shoes in antique burgundy calf. The double monk is obviously a style that is close to our hearts and we eagerly await their completion.

How does someone get familiar with the types of shoes that you guys offer since you don't have a website?

Follow our blog where you can see our work in progress as custom pairs of shoes come in each week ( ) or follow us on Instagram using our handle @dblmnk .

A beautiful store to boot - the young and dynamic team of Double Monk delivers on all fronts both digitally and in a traditional retail space. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Burgundy Velvet Smoking Jacket With Black Quilted Satin Silk Shawl And Traditional Frogging

When a new smoking jacket arrives in from our workroom in Italy I have but an hour with it whilst I check everything off before I dispatch it onto it's final destination. This jacket was off to a customer in Los Angeles and I had but a small window to photograph it's rare beauty. I love to look at smoking jackets. I find I don't wear them that often but I could state at them for hours and I understand why Hollywood has used them to conjure up images of romance or sexuality or higher-living because even though their functional use (smoking) is now frowned upon, their symbolism lives on in people's hearts. 

We custom make these jackets and they take roughly six weeks to produce and are made to measurements supplied. If you would like something similar, don't hesitate to contact us on

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What Are The Different Names For Parts Of A Shoe - A Diagram Of The Anatomy Of A Shoe

Men's shoes are all made differently and, for example, there is a substantial difference in design and components between the shoe above, a wing tipped Oxford, and say a whole cut shoe which has no vamp, no quarter and no wingtip. Needless to say that when you are looking to buy a shoe, it helps to know what all the add ons are and to be able to describe a shoe adequately enough so that you don't go home with something you didn't go searching for. I certainly did not know all the elements of a shoe until recently and, quite frankly, I could tell you that very few staff in Sydney's shoe stores could tell you either. We should all thank our lucky stars for the internet.

Above you will find some common terms that are used to describe shoes. I will give a brief explanation of each.

Heel: Made of leather and sometimes rubber, the heel is a number of layers of leather glued together which forms a raised platform at the rear of the shoe on which the heel of the foot sits.

Vamp: The area of leather between the toe box and the quarters.

Tongue: The leather which protrudes from the throat of the shoe above the laces.

Throat: The area from the vamp to the tongue of the shoe which is concealed by the laces.

Eyelets: The perforated holes which feed the laces through and bind the shoe together.

Laces: Usually made of leather fibres and fed through the eyelets to close the shoes.

Waist: The area between the sole and the heel. In upmarket men's shoes the waist is sometimes bevelled for effect.

Brass nails: In some shoes you will see brass nails in the heel and sometimes in the sole. Sometimes they are used as a function bond the heel to the sole, other times they are used for decorative purposes such as inscribing the logo of the production house.

Wing Tip : A cured piece of leather which covers the toe box and is stitched to the vamp. Another variation of the wingtip is a toe cap which forms a dome at the end of the shoe.

Welt : I labelled this goodyear since this is the most popular way in which the welt is attached to the shoe. There is also another way which is common with the Europeans and this is called the Blake-Rapid method which is slightly more sleek as the sole is attached directly to the shoe.

Welt Stitches: On the sole of the shoe you will be able to see the stitch marks of the shoe where the sole has been attached to the welt.

Toe Box: This is the area where the leather is stretched most tightly across the shoe and where your toes will be sitting if you press down on the the leather. It is also where you get the best effects for mirror shine and some forms of patina.

Out Sole Channel: This is a groove in which the stitches are made between the welt and the sole. The channel protects the stitches from being eroded too quickly so that the shoe does not fall apart.

I hope this is a practical and helpful diagram and if you have any other questions please let me know. As my knowledge is still somewhat limited, I may not be able to answer specific construction questions but I will be able to point you in the right direction to an expert.

Oxford Versus Derby's - What's The Difference?

Coming into spring in Australia you might be tempted to step out and go to the race course during the spring carnival or perhaps you have a wedding to go to. Before you consider purchasing a new shoe, make sure you are getting the right one.

Above you will see two illustrations I made of the most common low cut shoes that you might purchase in a store. The top shoe is a Derby, generally worn for day wear and in the country. The Derby is usually defined by an extended heel in the rear of the shoe, often a greater pitch (the curvature of the concavity of the sole span) and a thicker sole. These shoes are generally worn in the country, for inclement weather and for more casual requirements.

By contrast the Oxford below the Derby is a shoe worn in more formal environments such as the office, out to dinner or to a black tie event. The Oxford is by far the most commonly worn shoe. It is usually defined by a closed heel, a slimmer sole which is lower to the ground and a more tapered toe box. It is also defined by the fact that when you tie up the laces of an Oxford shoe the facing joins together to hide the throat of the shoe.

In both Derby and Oxford shoes additional elements can be added or subtracted to change the look of the shoe which can confuse people. For example, a wing tip or toe cap can be sewn to the shoe with or without brogue detail to add additional dimensions and textures to the shoe as well as a heel cap in the rear.

Largely, in order to determine whether you are purchasing one or the other, it's best to a) ask the shop assistant or website and b) examine whether the throat is open or closed by the laces and c) examine the heel to see whether it is extended. Shoe companies can make Derby's look like Oxfords but generally speaking Oxfords will never look like Derby's.

For my tip in spring racing, look for  an Oxford whole cut in a brown or purple patina to pair with a less than suit but if this rain keeps up, consider a Derby to give yourself some distance between you and the mushy grass.

I hope this helps!

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