It went from being an underrated dress shoe to the darling of the menswear movement of the early 2010s, and now, back to relative obscurity once again. But the monk strap deserves your attention.
An ideal business-casual shoe – and one that’s far more comfortable than its Oxford and Derby counterparts – monk straps are sharp, sophisticated and surprisingly easy to wear. They’re perfect for finishing off a relaxed, Neapolitan unstructured suit, but find the right pair and they can be combined with denim and chinos, too.
So, from what defines the silhouette to the best monk strap brands around, here’s everything you need to know.
What Are Monk Strap Shoes?
Monk straps belong in their own category. Half way between a loafer and an Oxford, they’re ultimately defined by the way they fasten. Instead of laces or a regular vamp, they have one or more buckles that pull one side of the shoe over, connecting it to the other.
It’s an age-old design and one that was commonly worn by monks in the Middle Ages, hence the name. Today, the monk strap is considered a formal shoe, best reserved for wearing with classic tailoring. But a number of brands have taken to the familiar silhouette, beefing it up slightly and giving it a rougher, more durable edge that allows it to be combined with smart-casual attire.
No matter how you choose to wear yours, you won’t regret adding a monk strap shoe to your rotation.
The Best Monk Strap Shoe Brands For Men
Morjas specialises in timeless footwear that is designed made to the highest possible standards. Its family-run factory in Almansa, Spain, has been handcrafting shoes since the 1920s using traditional, time-tested production methods.
The brand’s Double Monkstrap takes eight weeks to make and involves over 128 steps from first cut to last finish. However, it’s well worth the wait. Coming it beautifully-soft calf leather or suede, it features a double-buckle fastening for a secure yet comfortable fit, is Goodyear-welted for easy resoling and sits atop a double leather sole that makes you stand a little taller and more confident.
Myrqvist is known for its exceptionally crafted leather footwear, which come in all the classic silhouettes. From Chelsea boots to sandals, the brand covers all bases and only makes use of the very best hides for its comprehensive range.
Its monk straps, then, are superb, as expected. The Skeppsholmen model is a particular highlight – featuring a grained calf leather upper, robust rubber sole and 360 storm welt, this is a smart, durable shoe that can be worn year-round.
Monk straps work particularly well as part of an Italian-inspired look consisting of chinos, a soft-collar shirt and an unstructured blazer. So it makes sense for Milanese brand Velasca to be somewhat of an expert on the style.
It produces a wide range of designs, from fringed single monks through to brogue double monks, meaning whatever you’re after you’ll be well catered for.
Crockett & Jones
As far as Northampton shoemakers go, Crockett & Jones is widely regarded as one of the best. It was even the choice of Daniel Craig’s Bond. With everything still made at its factory in England, a pair of C&J’s will last you a lifetime if looked after correctly.
The brand’s monk straps are as you would expect: traditionally made, classic styling, toe cap detailing, and available in a range of beautifully polished leathers and tactile suedes. If they’re good enough for 007…
To this day Tricker’s still boasts a Royal Warrant, by appointment of the (now former) Prince of Wales, attesting to the brand’s long-standing commitment to quality.
While it may be better known for its robust country boots and brogue shoes, Tricker’s monk straps are equally impressive. Their sharp sculpted last, chunky silhouette and burnished leather or suede uppers give them a slightly more relaxed feel, allowing them to be dressed up or down effortlessly.
Solovair might just be the most underrated British shoe brand of all. Founded in 1881, it has long produced sturdy work boots and shoes, and essentially helped Dr. Martens get off the ground, producing all of its footwear from the 1950s to the 1980s.
When the latter began sourcing cheaper factories overseas, Solovair stayed put, continuing to produce its ware from the same historic British factory. Its line of monk straps has more than a little of DM about them, with typically chunky cushioned rubber soles and polished black or burgundy uppers. Ideal for teaming with black jeans and a buffalo check shirt.
One of the more style-conscious Northamptonshire shoe brands, Grenson was arguably the first in the county to take a more fashion-forward approach to design, producing sneakers and chunky shoes way before its rivals cottoned on.
It has also long produced some of the finest monk strap shoes around. Look out for its signature Triple Welt versions, which feature a suitably robust sole.
When it comes to outright quality, nothing really beats Edward Green. The British brand has been around since 1890, and has always prided itself on using the very best leathers, the most elegant lasts and craftspeople with generations of experience.
Its range of monk strap shoes tend to fall on the more formal end of the spectrum, so if you’re after a pair to finish off a bespoke suit, there’s no finer option.
One of the most underrated names on this list, Herring is a great option if you’re not exactly sure what you’re after. The British brand offers all manner of monk strap designs, ranging from English-made double monk boots through to more affordable single monk strap Derbies, all made from exceptional quality calf leathers.
Reiss is top of our list when it comes to affordable tailoring, which is among the best available on the high street. So it makes sense that it also offers a fine selection of dress shoes, to perfectly finish off its suiting.
Try its sharp double monks finished in premium high-shine leather if you’re looking for a standout formal option that won’t break the bank.
Similar to Trickers, Cheaney is better known for its sturdy walking boots and shoes, which feature durable grained leathers and chunky, rubber commando soles. Yet regardless of what you’re after, the brand’s astute attention to detail and exceptionally high build quality will ensure you’ll be happy with your purchase.
Its monk strap collection includes a wealth of classically-styled, formal designs made from soft suede or rich calf leather. But our favourite model is the Emmett C, which features one of the brand’s signature commando soles and brogue detailing, referencing its countryside heritage.