Guido Hand Made Calf Desert Boots

The first of my trilogy of Argentine posts concerns something all readers will know is dear to the heart of The Weejun – desert boots. I’ve been wearing suede chukkas with crepe soles in various forms from the lowly to the rarified since I was about 13 years old and styles and fashions have come and gone but I’ve never been without a couple of pairs in the cupboard. In the last couple of years however, there has been a real resurgance of choice in the marketplace from Clarks’ classic colours being reintroduced to Sanders Playboys and Church’s beautiful unstructured and unlined Sahara III.

Less than 3 hours after landing in Buenos Aires Mrs Weejun had me wandering the streets of the downtown area, ostensibly for ferry tickets to Montevideo but really on the look out for the famed leather goods of Argentina. This first day out was something of a disappointment for Mrs W, expecting to find handbags of classic design and leather jackets at fractional cost. Such things can be found around the pedestrianised areas of Avenida Florida but they are generally quite tacky and Oxford St in style.

We had a list of stores and names already so I was very quick to pull to a halt when I saw a tiny store called Guido Moccasines on Av. Florida. Guido was one of the hand made shoemakers that I was loooking out for, but I was a bit surprised to find that it was so small and in that area (albeit close to the now defunct Harrods department store – opened in the 1930s by the family of a friend of mine) which is where you’ll find illegal dollar changers and clip joint hustlers alongside downtown businessmen.

Now, I knew that I had to expect a certain latin touch when it came to shoes in Argentina. Much of this is to do with the obvious Italian heritage of the makers there but I also knew from my online research that there was a undercurrent of deep conservatism and classic style that Argentina retains based on its past culture from European immigrants as well as its heyday as a world player in the playboy stakes in the USA and equestrian activity in England.

It was this narrow seam that I had planned to mine if at all possible. The models that Guido had for men and women were exquisitely made. I tried to tempt Mrs W into buying some mid heeled Gucci style two tone moccasins that looked like something you’d find in Rome in 1968 but she wasn’t impressed. Amongst the rows of handsewn loafers and moccasins though I spotted a total anomaly – an suede desert boot with an obviously hand sewn welt and lovely yellowy natural crepe sole. Still jetlagged and with my nascent Spanish still stuck in my throat I managed to converse with the silver haired manager Luis and tried on a pair of size 10. They were super soft, unlined aniline calf – the kind of leather usually used leather side up on the most expensive shoes, rarely on desert boots.

Jetlagged and swollen ankled though as I was I foolishly didn’t try on other sizes so that as soon as I got back to our hotel I realised I’d made a mistake and would have to go back and explain. This involved three trips as we soon discovered the main Guido store in Recoleta, a world apart from the tiny one on Av Florida and designed like a huge lounge in a gentleman’s club. In trying to switch sizes I also discovered that they had a sand colour too, but only in size 9.5 and the managers of both stores insisted they were the same model but just variants in the leather. I ended up though with a size 9 in the coconut husk colour (similar to Clarks’ Cola). These set me back around £95 for handsewn calf boots.

Classic 1960s Chukka Style

Even the Box Lid is Pure Vintage...

Cut lower that Clarks in a very 1960s design these boots are quite similar to the old Barkers Lazy Bs and reminded me a lot of my 1971 Trickers playboys posted here in the past.

Many of the loafer styles made by Guido were really wearable – beefroll and tassel weejun styles, but like many latin makers their website is a horrible mix of flash and styles of no interest that they no longer sell.

Popular in Argentina is this Penny Strap Model - a vintage American design.

This Tassel Model from Guido website is cemented but much better welted models were in evidence. This butternut squash tan was everywhere.

The city was dotted with tiny retailers of classic loafers, sometimes also the makers. The best one I found was in a side street in Montserrat called Moccasines Quintana – no website – where they had beautiful chestnut calf saxone style loafers along with chunky weejun type tassels hand made for around £45, half the price of the Guido models.

Guido Moccasines Website – (Not easy to navigate and doesn’t show the more classic models!)

Sanders Playboy Chukkas in Loden Green (From John Rushton Shoes – Now In Stock)

Stop Press 31 May 2011 – John Rushton has a small number of the Loden green playboys now in stock with more to follow after the factory’s quaint Whitsun holiday shutdown is over. Be quick as it takes months for re-orders, Sanders being so busy these days…

I know this blog is becoming somewhat shoe-centric but what you can do when you come across shoes as nice as these?

Last year when John Rushton told me he was buying from Sanders I suggested he buy some of their playboy chukkas but not in the dull brown superbuck; in the wonderful Stead Tanneries Snuff Suede instead. He did and it’s been one of his most successful models in the store in the last 6 months.

Loden Green and Stead Snuff Suede Playboys

So when I found these mossy green beauties on a Japanese store’s blog last week my first port of call was to show them to John and see if he was interested in getting a few pairs made for me and some Ivy influenced friends. As it turns out, John also loved the idea of more colours and we thought that Loden Green and Dirty Buck would be great additions. Whilst we were chatting a customer came in and asked if John had the playboys in different colours. Straight off the bat, John told him they’d be in shortly.

Good news for those who want to expand their range of Playboy chukkas! Loden Green is a traditional Ivy League colour (Clarks Desert Boots were originally sold only in Sand and Loden in the USA) and of course Dirty Buck is a long US tradition and will look great in the playboys once their crepe foxing gets beaten up and goes a bit ‘fluffy’…

Sanders Dirty Buck Chukkas - Available Soon From John Rushton Shoes

Loden and Snuff Side By Side

Buy them from John Rushton Shoes – Tell him The Weejun sent you!

Seasonal Confusion! Ivy in the Argentine

I realise it’s been some time since I posted on The Weejun but this has mainly been due to an extended trip to Buenos Aires & Montevideo.

The seasons being upside down meant the search was on for classic leather and suede which led me to source some fantastic items that I will be posting on here as soon as I get some time. It’s weird though to go from nascent summer in London to autumn in BsAs. Despite it actually being warmer there this autumn than summer here (no surprise there then), it was definitely an autumn vibe in the air. That meant desert boots, oxford popovers, G4 buttoned to the neck against the sunny early morning chill and that supposdely British staple shetland jumpers.

Argentina (and to a lesser extent Uruguay) still has vestiges of the preppy/rugby/equestrian/collegiate look but unfortunately it only remains in the hands of men of a certain vintage. I mean old. Unlike Italy or Spain it’s extremely rare to see young people dressed in a classic style, even a latinized one. Like the UK most people of all ages there have absolutely zero taste or style. Although there is a huge Italian population it’s as if the distress back home in Italy that drew them to Argentina and Uruguay after the war was so great that they simply bypassed the Italian miracle of the 50s and 60s that led to Italy’s premier place in mens style. That Italian bastion of mens hairstyling in particular seems have been bypassed – most men sporting a home cut greasy shapeless footballer style. Mullets also abound but these tend to be on native Americans.

However, dotted around in the more upmarket corners of Buenos Aires and Montevideo can be found traditional gentlemen’s outfitters where Shetlands (with saddle shoulders!), Gloverall duffles, OCBDs and the ubiquitous Argentinean beef roll loafer (with or without tassels), may be still be spotted in immaculately dressed window displays in stores where you need to press a buzzer to enter their rarified atmosphere. Of course being South America there is a percentage of latinization of some of these classics, but the roots are there nevertheless.

Anyway, it’s supposedly summer in London despite the 17C so here’s a picture of shorts and loafers before we tackle the antipodean latin autumn collection…