In the spotlight

The Henley

13 June 2023

With the Henley Royal Regatta due to take place at the end of this month, we thought we would turn our attention to its namesake. However, don’t be mistaken for thinking this rather fine shoe is only suitable for boating events; the Henley would be welcome at any sporting occasion or summer outing.

In fact, we have two Henleys in our summer portfolio. Both are rather splendid versions of the spectator shoe. In case you do not know, the spectator is the most common welted footwear design to use two different colours. This two-tone effect is created by using different leathers for the toe, vamp, facings and counters. The wingtip or full brogue pattern is the natural style for this effect because it already has different pieces of leather for these parts of the shoe.

Henley II

The term spectator derives from its roots as a shoe worn by sporting gentlemen that liked to indulge in a bit of golf or cricket. They became a hit with the men watching these sporting events too, so on-field footwear became off-field fashion…and the spectator was born.  

An alternative name for a two-tone shoe is the co-respondent. In the UK, they were considered ungentlemanly and were worn by the “wrong sort”. This perception was encouraged by the most notorious affair of the 1930s when King Edward VIII abdicated from the throne to marry Wallace Simpson. She was a divorcee and still married to her second husband when the King proposed marriage. A co-respondent in English law is the term for a person named in a divorce suit as the wrongdoer. To press the point, both Edward and Wallace were fond of a two-tone shoe. The co-respondent has since dropped its negative connotations and is happily worn by wrong and right sorts alike!

The first iteration of the Henley was made for us by Cheaney. It has been made using an elegant last shape. It features brogue detail on the vamp, facing, counters and toe.  The sweeping canvas areas make this shoe very flexible and breathable.

The Henley II was made by Barker. There is no detail on the toe, but the canvass is bisected by a leather trim. It had a full leather sole and is lined with leather too. It is made in tan leather with light-coloured stitching visible on top of the midsole to fully embrace the summer season.


Both are stunning examples of the spectator shoe, and both would be an ideal addition to an outfit worn to regattas, Wimbledon, The Ashes and any other sporting fixture. Sports events aside, they are perfect footwear for wedding guest attire, summer concerts and general gadding-about-in-style occasions.

Both Henleys have also been exquisitely made by these two renowned shoe manufacturers in Northamptonshire. They are quality, welted shoes, which means they can be repaired to last for many summers to come.  

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