Herring Shoes, Shoe style guide

Benefits of Derby shoes and boots

10 April 2024

To work out if you would benefit from Derby footwear or not, we need to remind you of what they are. Shoe manufacturers and retailers often compare them to Oxfords to distinguish the difference.

While not considered as elegant as its Oxford counterpart, the Derby, also known as a Gibson or Blucher, is still steeped in history, favoured by the Earl of Derby back in the day and as a popular hunting and sporting shoe in the mid-19th century.

But why? It’s all about the quarters and the vamp. The quarters are sewn on top of the vamp with the eyelets then sewn on top of the quarters to achieve the Derby’s open lacing system.

Here is where the benefits lie. The construction of the Derby shoe means there is a slight gap even when the shoes are laced up to allow for wider feet. They are also more accommodating of higher insteps or orthotics. They offer more comfort, especially if your feet tend to swell.

But that does not mean they are clumpy and ugly or even less formal. It’s all about choosing the right type of Derby shoe or boot. Let’s take a look.

Formal Derby shoes and boots
In my opinion, the Carroll is the most elegant of our formal Derby shoes. It is unfussy with an elongated toe with the quarters, sporting just three eyelets, a real feature of the shoe. The Godwine has a split French toe with a hand-stitched butted apron and five eyelets. It’s a fine-looking shoe! If you prefer a tan shade, our Westport grain calf shoe will look good with navy or grey trousers.

If you prefer an elegant boot, then your wider feet do not have to miss out either. The Mawdsley in a rosewood calk is, frankly, stunning. Very sleek with a leather sole and a lacing system that incorporates both eyelets and hooks. I am a fan of the Brienz too. This has a rubber sole plus another hand-stitched butted apron made from a beautiful burgundy polished leather.

Casual Derby shoes and boots
Hopefully, I have convinced you that the Derby style has a place in a formal environment, but its roots were firmly embedded in countryside pursuits, hence why there are plenty of Derby brogues. While the leather-soled versions can still be elegant, the rubber soles make for a chunkier style. See the Chippenham in cedar calf for a man-about-town vibe or the Kirkoswold for a country squire look.

For boots, we have added tweed to brogue detail to create our favourite Exmoor style that has been a best-seller for years while the Corsham and Ambleside are more classic brogues.

New Derby shoes and boots

The Daniel and the Bernwood

We are always looking to reinvent traditional styles and we have most recently worked with the Northamptonshire-based craftsmen and women at Tricker’s to produce new limited edition Derby styles.

The Bernwood boot has been made from a fantastic waterproof suede, known as hydro nubuck, in whisky and dark brown. Tricker’s have also applied a lightweight Vibram sole to maintain the chunky look without being so heavy. This is an excellent weekender.

The Daniel is the shoe version, also made by Tricker’s. I think these would work well in a more casual office environment with chinos or jeans. These are limited edition too, so they are a little bit special.

While Derby footwear will undoubtedly be more comfortable for some, they look good too. You just need to choose the right style. Have a browse here.

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