The Johnston & Murphy handmade shoes

The Shooman

A Pretty Face
In perhaps the most glorious event in men's clothing forum history there was the infamous Bennies shoe sale in 2004. Several hundred pairs of Grenson were sold at rock bottom prices including the wonderful Grenson Masterpieces. For the lucky few forum folk there were also the stunning J&M Handmades.

The J&M Handmades were last made in about 1992 and the style and build quality hadn't changed since about the 1930's (that's my understanding). Bennies in Atlanta had a number of these shoes in the back room that had been stored away for 12 years. The legendary Mr Ken Pollock spilled the beans on the forums of AAAC and Style Forum, and igents and many other forum men swooped upon the marvelous shoo bargains like vultures eating their favourite carcass.

Why were the J&H handmades so special?
These shoes sold for $1,000 U.S back in 1992. These shoes blow away Edward Green, John Lobb, Gaziano & Girling, Stefano Bemer handmades and St Cripins handmades. Why? Many reasons.

1). The lasts are as classic and beautiful as it gets. They are a shapely spade type of look at the forefoot area that gracefully goes into a narrow waist and heel.
2). The stitching of the uppers are as fine as you will ever see.
3). The sole stitching to the welt are as fine as you will ever see.
4). The pattern of the upper is beautiful and perfect.
5). The leather is said to be of beautiful French calf. Indeed it is high quality and very unique.

The controversy - why were the shoes worth $1,000 almost 27 years ago.

I am going to go against conventional forum opinion and state why. Some respected opinions say they are not handmade, but l disagree. After careful examination this morning my conclusion is:

1). they are hand welted. Why? They have dimpled insoles where the inseaming is pulling against the feather of the under side of the insole. This is a clue. It is not a 100% definite clue but often it can be a telling clue, especially at this price.
2). they are hand lasted. Why? Lots of tack holes all along the edge of the insole.
3). they have hand stacked heels. Why? Because the leather stacks are slightly uneven and look handmade.

NOW NOW NOW...for the big statement that has never been made before.............

4). the close cut bevelled waists of the J&M handmades are fully done by handmade. This is immediately obvious. Why? Because the waist stitching has the classic wide clumsy uneven hand stitching around the waist which clearly indicates it's been done by hand while the rest of the shoe sole - welt stitching is done by machine because it is extremely small even stitching. The waist needed to be stitched by hand hand because it is a close cut bevelled waist with very little welt exposed.

In conclusion, the J&M Handmades contain a load of handwork (hand welted, hand lasted, hand stitched waist) and an extremely high level of craftsmanship (very fine sewing of the upper and very fine sewing of the sole to the welt) in the shoos. It can't be denied that the close cut bevelled waist is not done FULLY by hand, and it looks quite likely that the shoe is also inseamed/hand welted by hand. I don't care what people say and who they are, the conclusion l have come to is that this shoe has a lot of handwork in it. Nothing in ready-to-wear that l have seen comes close to the workmanship in this shoe, and it's only surpassed by the best bespoke. Those $1,000 J&H Handmades were worth every bit of that price back then.

Links to pics here:

The Shooman
Last edited:

The Shooman

A Pretty Face
Here is a sensible question l will ask you. Do you think J&M are going to do some of the finest stitching on the upper and soles ever seen along with a hand stitched waist and hand stacked heels and hand lasted and then decide to do goodyear welting to a gemmed feather, and charge $1,000??? I don't think so! That is so laughable considering all the amazing handwork they have done.
Top Bottom