One You Can Buy: Verginia Shoe Playboys – Japan via Portugal

This site is fast becoming an hommage to the Playboy rather than the Weejun it seems. But perhaps that can be forgiven when the Weejun is fairly ubiquitous and easy to find in comparison to decent playboys.

Well, thanks to a pseudonimous tip off yesterday morning from FNB contributor and fellow crepe sole enthusiast Tom, I was able to order a pair of these Portuguese made playboys from Japanese shoe label Verginia Shoe, (makers of some excellent suede and crepe reissue models such as Clarks Weaver for those so inclined).

The shape of these playboys is much closer to the Original Playboys models but with a touch lighter sole – the OPs I saw in Gothenburg a couple of years back were seriously heavy. Interestingly, the Verginia model retains the leather rolled welt that the crepe foxing is attached to.

Speaking with John Simons on Thursday about this very subject, where to get some rounder toed PBs made up, John said that one aspect of the Sanders models he liked was that they never had any returns for the crepe foxing coming away. That’s because the Sanders are made with pre-formed crepe units, clever, but forcing the toe shape to be only the almond one. Their rounder toe model (that Tom owns) which they make for Trickers to sell in Japan has IMO an uglier pre-formed sole, complete with faked rolled welt grooving.

Whether the Portuguese model will stand up to a lot of wear (to be fair none of the foxed models seem to) will be seen, but meanwhile they are a really nice shoe. Whole sizes only from Oi Polloi and the pair that arrived at 7.30 this morning from them are a tad big as a 10, but definitely a 9 would have been too small.

All in all I think a really nice alternative to the Sanders shoe (their boot still remains a favourite) and the Portuguese know how to make suede and crepe combos – they’ve been at it for decades. Coupled with the hand of the Japanese we have a pretty close replica of the classic Eaton Clubman shoe.

Usual excellent swift service from Oi Polloi by the way…

Verginia Playboy Gibsons from Oi Polloi


  1. Had a very similar George Cox pair for a long time (though 3eyelet). I got a lot of wear out of them but yes the crepe did start to come away. I daresay a bit of superglue may have been a short term fix but I ditched them. They were a bit wide on me and very heavy so I never found them all that comfortable. I still have a black pair which I’ve hardly worn. They seem a bit Teddy Boy in the black.Label says “Original Playboy Genuine Hand Lasted Made in England”

    1. Michael those black ones sound like they were made by White & Co of Earls Barton, the last UK manufacturer for the (now Danish) Original Playboys brand. They also sold into the US market under the name ‘Original Players’ and of course made the John Simons model for a number of years. When I was a kid working part time at Soho Shoes we used to buy all the rejects and samples. If only I’d kept some back, although the made for US ones then were often purple and orange patent brogues and the ilk, made for the ‘urban’ US market.
      These Portuguese ones are about 1/2 the weight of yours, more akin to a wallabee, but even then a bit less weight from the crepe and the foxing is stitched the upper as well which should give them some security.

  2. Thanks for the great Info.
    On the cover of today’s Observer Food Monthly Magazine there’s a picture of Prince Charles on the cover and he appears to be wearing a pair of tobacco coloured Playboys. It’s difficult to tell for sure, because he’s standing on uncut grass, but they don’t look like the stiffer dainite sole type chukka boot.
    Looking forward to more duffle coat info, having bought a deadstock Royal Navy one earlier in the summer.

    1. Michael I wonder if he’s wearing his ‘fell walking boots’? I haven’t seen this particular image, but I have seen photos of Charles before wearing the fell boots. These were a common type of dark brown suede chukka with a rubber sole and heel that included a mudguard, similar to the crepe on playboys. British originally, in the 70s and early 80s every cheap and nasty British Shoe Corporation store used to sell them outside in a basket or on a sale rack, but made in Poland by then. They usually had a fake fur lining as well. They were ubiquitous amongst unfashionable men in anoraks and polyester trousers in 70s/80s.
      Worn by our chemistry teacher at school if I remember correctly…

  3. Look forward to hearing how they wear Weejun, interesting to hear the pair of round toe Sanders are made for Trickers, didn’t know that. Actually bought a pair of the Weaver Moccasin Brown Suede Swan Boots, the quality of the shoe compared to the pair of Clark’s Weavers I owned years ago is far superior, hope the Playboy are likewise.

    1. I’ve actually ordered a 9 as well as I’m paranoid that the 10 is too big. It’s a pain when they don’t do have sizes! Those heavy Wallabee types are also really nicely made. The portuguese know about that kind of footwear and their quality these days is second to none. The PBs are not a sturdy as the Sanders or anything like as heavy as the White & Co John Simons, but then you wouldn’t expect them to be, and perhaps by being a tad lighter they may wear less. Anyway, these days I know the answer for peeling foxing – crepe cement!

  4. So fella, how are they holding up, my business partner fancies a pair instead of his usual Cox’s. Do they hold up ok, be interesting to hear your thoughts.

    1. I’d say pretty well, Tom. The fact that the foxing is stitched as well as glued is encouraging, first day out in pouring rain they brushed up perfectly once dry. The Portuguese have a long tradition of handsewing suede and crepe shoes. The fact that the heel is not part of the foxing edge also helps when driving – the one thing that usually pulls off the foxing. Of course, the caveat is that with over 60 pairs of shoes and boots they are not getting that much wear!
      I would jump at a two eyelet chukka version.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *