An Ape to Gentleman partnership with ECCO Shoes

From country footwear to casual or business occasions – the universal appeal of the brogue shoe is vast. Suitable for almost any occasion, the brogue is a footwear style essential suitable for any gentleman’s wardrobe. The love affair with the brogue wasn’t always so straight laced however with the brogue traditionally considered to be used solely as outdoor or country footwear, with those decorative perforations known as “broguing” detail utilised for function no decoration. This detail originally existed in the form of punched holes through the toe caps to allow the insides of the shoe or boot to drain and dry after being soaked by wet terrain. They were a working man’s shoe originating in Ireland, a sizeable step away from the casual or business shoe they eventually evolved into.

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Brogues today are crafted with imitation punchings, serving as decorative patterns only and are most commonly found in four toe cap styles: full or wingtip, semi, quarter and long-wing, and three closure styles Oxford, Derby and monk. And while the brogue evolved from working men’s footwear to more of a sporting shoe for the wealthy and fashionable, they have since matured into a shoe suitable for almost any occasion. They look equally at home worn casually with chinos or smart jeans in a Derby, as they do with a suit in an Oxford style. Team with heavier-textured fabrics such as flannel or tweed- best suited to the slightly bulky, less sleek and larger proportions of a sturdy wingtip brogue.

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It’s not a surprise then that every one of Northampton’s finest shoemakers- spiritual home of the bench-made shoe still craft and produce this omnipresent shoe. It’s not only Northampton who fell in love with the brogue, footwear brands across the planet craft brogues as a staple in their collections. And today, we turn our attention to ECCO – a Scandinavian brand that combines style and highest-levels of comfort. ECCO’s recipe follows great design, leather quality and innovative technology.

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We slotted into a pair of the brands’ new Vitrus I wingtips – crafted from super-soft calf crust leathers including a full leather lining and a crafted leather welt, alongside a moulded inlay sole providing exceptional comfort and support, while the forefoot is covered in a plush, self-customising cork layer for comfort. It’s worth noting here- that the quality of the leather in terms of look, feel and softness is superb. Pitched as a men’s dress shoe the perforations on this brogue are a nod to the shoes’ original purpose – proffering a robust, rugged aesthetic and masculine proportions, as well as versatility and classic style.

The Vitrus I is in fact a name for a new ECCO collection launching February 2018 which further evolves the history of the traditional Brogues –  such as minimising weight and maximising comfort, and the amount of time it takes to break in a shoe. A strong mix of innovative technology and artisanal traditions. Within the new collection are four different silhouettes: the Brogue Boot, the Brogue Shoe, Derby and Loafer. All are constructed with ECCO’s own pioneering FLUIDFORM™ Technology, which employs a direct-injection process, used to form a durable, integral bond between the dynamic comfort platform and the four different styles. ECCO’s key differential is comfort and fit right out the box, something we can attest to – attributes which are derived from the innovative VITRUS™ shank, suspended welt and strobel sock, with the SD.PU flowing into the footbed of the shoe to create an anatomically-shaped heel. There is also a moulded inlay sole and a fully anatomical last that complements the natural curvature of the foot, with the option of removing the leather inlay sole for additional width.

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Equally key to a wearable shoe is good grip – which is why the ECCO fitted the Vitrus I with a T.PU heel block. The hollow heel cups the foot and brings it closer to the ground, to improve stability and comfort. Meanwhile, the stacked leather heel enhances the traditional aesthetic. And finally, in keeping with artisanal traditions, a thin layer of natural, moisture-wicking cork that has been introduced into the forefoot, with the material adding memory compression that self-customises to the foot, and adds even more comfort. This is where ECCO really shine, comfort. And this combined with legitimate, classic style is destined to be a formidable combination and a positive step in the evolution of the brogue.

Vitrus I, from £135 at ECCO