Herring Shoes

Choose classic rounded toe shoes for style and comfort

13 February 2024
Oxford shoes in tan calf leather
Knightsbridge in chestnut burnished calf

Footwear is made in four classic shapes, depending on the last they are made on. We have already explored the elegance of the almond toe but for this journal article, we are going to consider the rounded toe, possibly the most classic of them all.

A shoe last is one of the most essential of the shoemaker’s tools. The word ‘last’ originates from the old English word ‘læste’ that means ‘to follow’. The leather is stretched on the last until the shoe or boot upper holds the desire shape. The last is designed to replicate the anatomical form of a foot in different sizes and widths, plus right and left configurations, but also in different shapes.

The most traditional shoe shape is the rounded toe. This allows for more space for the toes and is therefore very comfortable, especially if you have broad or wider feet.

But just because the shape is simple, a rounded toe shoe can be overlooked as rather unexciting, but we think these shoes and boots have their place in a gentleman’s wardrobe…and there is nothing boring about comfort!

A rounded toe often suits a heavier shoe or boots. Think brogues, monk shoes or sneakers, but also, traditional dress shoes, such as the Oxford. They may look more oval to the untrained eye but are still considered a round toe. These styles tend to be more traditional and are footwear staples.

Lasts are given numbers or names to clearly identify them. Among the rounded toe lasts that have produced our styles are the 026, 125, 3625 and 12508. Here are some of the examples of shoes made on these lasts. You are bound to recognise some of these as they are absolute classics!

026 last
You cannot go wrong with the Knightsbridge as a very fine black Oxford. Barker makes these for Herring and use the finest calf leathers for the upper. With a full leather lining, leather insoles and Goodyear-welted sole it has everything you expect from a classic English shoe worn by professionals and at formal events.

125 last
The Canning II is a chunkier brogue and is an evolution of the original iteration using the 125 last shape. It fits just as well but has slightly more width and a more contemporary toe shape. It is a full or wingtip brogue shoe with a Goodyear-welted Dainite rubber sole and storm welt.

Canning II

3625 last
We have two examples of this last shape with the Newcastle and the Cardiff. The Newcastle is another classic Goodyear welted Oxford toe-cap shoe while the Cardiff is a lovely single monk shoe that works well as both a formal and a causal shoe, especially in brown suede.

12508/country last
Another brace of examples! The Burford is a country gent style and is made by Cheaney from the exquisite Chromexel calf from the Horween tannery to create a full grain leather shoe of beauty. With a Dainite rubber sole, this brogue will see off any challenge and looks better and better as it ages. The Birchwood is the quintessential British brogue, sitting on a sturdy double thickness sole.

The rounded toe has its place. It is undoubtedly a classic shape that enables its wearers to enjoy some comfort while they are on their feet.

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