For the longest time, I had wanted a pair of monk shoes. I recall creating a new sticky note on my laptop when I was first getting into the menswear game and listing off clothes and accessories I was to look out for when I had the time (and not the money). And monk strap shoes sat high on the list over oxford cloth button downs and a chunky cable knit cardigan. Whilst I’m still worried about how visible my nipples are in this freezing, very un-Sydney-like weather, I did finally get those monks. And whilst I’m broke, I’m grinning like an idiot.
The modern monk strap design was inspired by the sandals of what monks wore during pilgrimages of constant prowling and laborious survival. The buckles made it a simple task to fasten the sandals and of course, just as easy to unfasten, especially when entering temples where shoes were taken off as a form of courtesy and (let’s face it) hygiene. But in recent years, menswear aficionados and peacocks alike have been popularising double strapped monks (also simply known as double monks) on Florentine streets at Pitti Uomo. These two-timing buckled leatherworks have since plastered the walls of every well known menswear blog on tumblr.
But as an oft overlooked young lad myself, this Australian guy has a soft spot for the less-than-popular underdog behind the whole commotion: the single strapped monk shoe.
The sleek, elegant lines of the extended vamp, the noticeable elongation of the upper in monks, and the buckle sitting towards the lower ankle create a formal, clean shape – exciting me far beyond propriety. The sheer diversity of single monks also allow for variances in style such as the placement of the buckle at the centre of the vamp, towards the back and even the use of buckles which incorporate the whole vamp. I’m not too entirely sure that I am successfully convincing myself that this strange fetish is just a phase.
For my first monks I decided to go with a dark chocolate full-grain kip leather pair from Kazuna, which I thought was a good choice for a conservative yet versatile shoe. Being goodyear welted, the leather upper is stitched to both the insole and the welt which itself is folded outward to be stitiched the outsole, providing a solid resole-able foundation for good-quality shoes. The additional rubber Vibram sole attachments contributes to less of that slip-and-slide trip all leather-soled-shoe-wearing men and women have experienced at least once, usually accompanied by extreme embarrassment. But if there’s one thing I really have to commend these shoes for, it is the immaculate fit as with all Made-to-Measure. When I went to pick up my first pair, Kaz and I revelled at the sound of all the air escaping out of the shoe as my foot slid down the wooden shoehorn into a perfect enclosure. It was truly my Cinderella moment.
However, I’m not the only one who’s been enjoying these single monks. I’ve received more compliments on these shoes in the past week than I have ever gotten doing up my hair, so I’ve decided to buy less hair product and start investing in some Saphir shoe care products. And even though I’m still broke, at least I won’t look it.
I still insist that it’s all just a phase.
(Photos by: Tanjim Islam)