*Note: this all depends on sales and where you buy ’em. If buying internationally, you’ll have to shell out some major cash for shipping. Meanwhile, catch a sale at a retailer w/ a U.S. site like Charles Trywhitt, and you might get real lucky. More on that later on in the post…
When it comes to the buy-less buy-better mantra, many invoke that strategy when it comes to highly versatile, classic pieces, and then go cheap on trendier experiments. These brown suede chukkas from the English shoemaker Loake are anything but trendy. They’re as classic & versatile as they are well-built. So while the price might seem steep at first, you’ll wear them a lot, with a lot, and they’ll be around for a long… long time.
It was one year ago I decided to treat myself by purchasing a pair of Loake Kempton boots. I had dark denim, I had chinos, I had grey flannel trousers… and I wanted a pair of boots to go with it all. Something that was casual, but not floppy or flimsy. Something that looked as durable as they felt.
Unlike a standard pair of desert boots, the Kemptons have a full leather lining that gives the boots structure. You can feel that extra support, but you can also see it. They look more formal than a basic, cheap desert boot, but they’re still casual. The silhouette is elegant and streamlined, and the dark brown suede and soft lines tone down the formality of the last. Wear them to work at an office, and then out to a date right after. They’ll look great in both circumstances.
Suede Kemptons are available in a number of different shades including blue, red, medium brown, and dark brown. Most Loake retailers carry the mid brown suede variation, and the others are less common. The pair shown here is a pair in a dark brown shade called “cigar” (and rebranded as the “Gosforth II”) purchased from Herring Shoes. The suede is a deep, dark, rich brown that’s soft to the touch and has an incredible texture.
Loake Shoemakers is one of the oldest shoe manufacturers in England. Most would view the craftsmanship and overall quality of these boots as a step up from a pair of Allen Edmonds at the same price point. That being said, I can say from personal experience that the quality of Loake’s 1880 range varies and most of Loake’s shoes are as nice as the Kemptons. These boots are exceptionally well made. Y’know how they say that cheap suede is better than cheap leather? Right. This is NOT cheap suede. And you can tell.
Contrary to popular belief, good suede is easy to maintain with minimal effort. All you’ll need is a suede eraser, a stiff brush, and either Saphir Medaille D’Or Super Invulner Stain Protector Spray or Saphir’s Tarragó Nano Protector spray. After a year of weekly wear in all weather conditions, my Kemptons look nearly flawless. Apart from slight wrinkles where my toes bend, there is little sign of wear on the boots.
The suede version of these boots comes with a Dainite rubber sole. Dainite is slim, hard-wearing, and long-lasting. They’re goodyear welted, so when that sole does finally wear out, it can be replaced.
The Fit & Feel
The Kemptons are built on Loake’s 026 last, a classic shape with a round toe. For comparison’s sake, Loake’s 026 last is wider throughout the body with more room in the toe than the last Allen Edmonds builds their Strands & Park Avenues on (that’d be their popular 5 (or 65) last). I usually wear a 10.5 D for the Allen Edmonds 5 last, but the 10 in the Loake 026 fits great.
The level of comfort is nothing short of outstanding. I have to stand for hours at a time while teaching, and a comfortable shoe is a must. The Suede uppers never feel stiff or constricting, and the leather insole is one of the softest I’ve come across. On the downside, some might find that the back of the boots cut into your heels during the first few wears. That problem disappeared for me, but it’s worth a mention.
I have worn the Kemptons on long walks through uneven European streets, sidewalks, grass, dirt, rain, snow, and ice and they have remained comfortable.
Where to get them (this gets complicated)
Loake Kemptons are sold directly by the manufacturer, but are also frequently rebranded and sold under menswear companies’ store brands. Due to their wide availability, it’s quite possible to find Kemptons on sale at high discounts. You might have to be patient, but it happens. Full retail for these boots is around £209/$350, but they can sometimes be found on sale for as little as £120/$200. And at that price, they’re a bargain. Here’s a few places to keep an eye on for sales & codes
- Herring Shoes: A UK-based shoe company that has the best customer service that I’ve experienced. Herring sells the mid brown suede Kemptons for £158/$266 (to non-EU customers). They also sell dark brown suede Kemptons, rebranded as Herring Gosforth II, for £154/$258. It’s well worth waiting for Herring’s seasonal sales when these prices can drop significantly.
- Charles Tyrwhitt U.S.: Yep, CT often carries the Kemptons during fall and winter (not in stock quite yet), and with their love of sales, they regularly drop in price by 25-40%.
- Pediwear is a well-known UK retailer that sells the Kempton for £158/$266 (to non-EU customers). They have significant sales at least twice a year.
- Brooks Brothers: Brooks Brothers frequently carries the Kemptons rebranded as Peal & Co.® “Ankle Boots” for $498 or $528. Yikes.
Loake’s Kempton suede chukkas are an elegant boot that can be stylishly worn in casual and business casual environments. They’re comfortable enough for those of us who remain on our feet throughout the day. The boots are exceptionally durable and easy to maintain. Acquire them on sale in the mid to low $200s, and you’ll end up with a hugely versatile, long lasting, great looking boot, that’ll feel like a steal every time you lace them up.
About the author: Chris (aka Bruschetta) is an America-born university researcher and teacher based in Glasgow, Scotland, as well as a moderator on Threads. His sense of style is inspired by a childhood dressed in Ivy league trad, and the fact that he is enormously well bred.