Chatham - Made In Britain: A Spring/Summer Essential

   I've previously discussed the potential folly of making a "patriotic" British shoe here at The Totality. Yet, almost on cue, I've been forced to eat my own words when presented with the Made In Britain range from heritage brand Chatham. These are classy, debonair and as close to a crucial necessity as is possible for any one item to be for a man's Spring/Summer wardrobe.

   So, whilst I previously speculated on how to get a British design wrong - how to make a spectacularly tacky pair of shoes - how exactly did Chatham manage to create a design of such winning qualities?

   The answer, rather simply, is that instead adorning each example of their footwear with all-encompassing Union Jacks, these are shoes which have taken the typically admired features of the British character and amplified them in the design process - elegance, understatement and wry charm are all present in abundance. A subtlety and restraint found in Albion's fabled nature imbibes each of the brand's new range and, as such, it is easy to understand how the disposition of these isles influenced, and permeates from, this collection. Indeed, as Philip Marsh, Managing Director of Chatham, says: "Chatham is a British brand, a British family business, designing, sourcing and now developing here in Great Britain."


   Designed at the brand's HQ in Exeter, Chatham's Made In Britain collection - consisting of four different nautical-based deck shoe designs - each took influence and inspiration from some of the most heroic figures in the history of our nation: Prime Ministers Churchill, Peel, Pitt and Balfour.

   The selection of these men who, according to legend, put the "Great" in Britain, has allowed Chatham to wisely steered clear of overly politicising their range as more contemporary choices may have. I can only speculate on what a Tony Blair-inspired shoes could look like and, indeed, it is likely that one day I will procrastinate at length about this in a separate post. Ditto, if any of this site's American readers are aware of any footwear (or other clothes) influenced by Richard Nixon, I would be beyond ecstatic to hear about them.

   Returning to the topic at hand, the footwear which illustrates this article are Chatham's Pitt Made In Britain Lace Up Boat Shoes (retailing at £119). As one can see from the images which adorn this post, the design is both sophisticated yet boasting a youthful pizzazz - qualities which I will speculate helped William Pitt the Younger become Prime Minister at the tender age of just 24 years old. At this same period in our lives, most of us dedicated our spare time to watching Sunday morning repeats of Hollyoaks episodes we'd already seen whilst debating whether or not Harry Potter constituted adult reading if we bought an alternative hard-back cover. Clearly Pitt was doing something right.


   The Pitts, then, are a triumph of sophisticated design and combine traditional elements with contemporary zeal and appeal; something perfectly evidenced by the contrasting upper and sole colour blocks. The nautical apparel boast a wealth of fine, high-end materials too (including premium Horween leather) and are each hand-stitched also. Delightfully, the shoe additionally contains memory foam in the sole for extra comfort which it provides in spades - as with all quality footwear, the leather is tough at first (as it should be) but becomes increasingly comfortable with more wears.

   For those who appreciate such fine craftsmanship, the brand provide a rather delightful blog-post on the assembly and packaging of the new Made in Britain range which you can read here.




   Overall, I find it hard to speak too highly of the Pitts from Chatham and would particularly recommend you to seek out their Balfour Loafers too. Whilst we're still in the early days of spring, these are a shoe which are sure to establish themselves in your day-to-day wear as the sun begins to shine more on our Isles of moderately temperate disposition.

   Adding the shoe to one's day-to-day attire is an easy ask - they're a fantastic mix of elegant enough to sport to formal events and casual enough to wear throughout the week too. For someone such as myself - a gentleman who aspires to a permanent look at the more cosmopolitan end of smart-casual - these are a dream shoe. Versatile and suave, cultured and refined, these Pitts are set to not just stand out in the SS2016 crowd but also be a shoe which I return to each and every March to enliven my spring and summer wardrobe. Chatham's deck shoes manage to be both retro and timeless in the most splendid of ways.

   For those looking for examples of how to style the footwear with other items, this writer has added some images below for inspiration. You can see how I've teamed the shoes with a similarly nautical pea coat and, equally, that I sport a pair of ankles whiter than the Oscars. Whilst I've mainly aimed for subdued colours, with the tan shoes adding an anchor to the ensemble, I've illustrated how its possible to add a splash of colour in the midst of the outfit too.

   To keep up to date with Chatham (aka Chatham Marine), you can follow the brand on Facebook here and Twitter here. Be sure to use the hash-tag #ChathamMiB to let them know your thoughts on the new range too!


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