Men’s boots that really make their mark

J FitzPatrick’s ready-to-wear boots stand out from the crowd

J FitzPatrick leather and suede Westlake button boots, £410
J FitzPatrick leather and suede Westlake button boots, £410 | Image: Peter Haynes

Innovation in classic men’s footwear is, for me, a question of subtleties – such as tweaks to toe shape or structure. Unfortunately, this is something only few shoemakers do, and Justin FitzPatrick is someone who I think not only gets those subtleties right, but also applies them to unusual models in interesting ways.

J FitzPatrick suede Ballard III chukka boots, £360
J FitzPatrick suede Ballard III chukka boots, £360 | Image: Peter Haynes

FitzPatrick is known for his popular blog The Shoe Snob and increasingly for his range of shoes called J FitzPatrick. It was his bespoke training with the late Florentine shoemaker Stefano Bemer that gave him the tools to implement such accomplished twists to classic designs – by altering the last shape or the leather.

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Take his version of the hiking boot, for example. While hiking boots have recently been adapted and updated by a range of designers, they often seem to have a chunkiness to both the sole and toe. The Snoqualmie (£410) is different, with a slim shape, a low toe and a straight rubber sole in place of the more usual commando. It is a city shoe that’s great for wet weather.

J FitzPatrick leather Snoqualmie hiking boots, £410
J FitzPatrick leather Snoqualmie hiking boots, £410 | Image: Peter Haynes

“A hiking boot’s key design point is its high, rounded toe, which is often reinforced or even has a steel cap underneath,” says FitzPatrick. “That’s the thing that makes it look most rugged; take it away and you immediately have a much slimmer line.”

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FitzPatrick also uses subtle tweaks to tone down more unusual and dandyish models. He offers an almond-shaped toe Westlake button boot (£410), for example, something that is almost impossible to find in ready-to-wear collections (his model comes with a complimentary button-hook). In a black leather and black suede combination, it is made quite conservative – so much so that it can even get away with white mother-of-pearl buttons.

Other pieces from the collection I’d highlight are the Aurora (£350), a shoe version of the button boot, the Corliss III monkstrap (£335), which adds a Scotchgrain finish to the strap, and the suede Ballard III chukka boot (£360).

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