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Monday, November 24, 2014

From Little Things Big Things Grow - Gaziano & Girling Taking Very Large Strides In These Custom Made Chelsea Boots For Le Noeud Papillon Of Sydney

The Australian singer/song-writer Paul Kelly who is in my opinion the closest thing to Bob Dylan that we have in this country of ours, once wrote a magnificent song which has been all over the airwaves this last month with the passing of former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. The song is dedicated to Vincent Lingiari, an indigenous Australian who fought to get his native land back from a landed English aristocrat named Lord Sam Vestey. The song is now one which will echo through our culture for many generations to come. It is a David and Goliath story.

Gaziano & Girling strike me as very similar in the way that they have gone from working from a small outfit against the grain of what must be an overall dying trade of shoe making in Northampton, against the tide of production that moves to wherever there is cheaper labour and, instead, they turned everything on its head and started an English shoe making renaissance and in the process have opened up the first shoe making facility in Northampton to open in more than 100 years.

If you read Gaziano & Girling marketing materials then one word often pops up frequently when they refer to the English shoe making industry as it was - somnolent. Somnolent, as I did not know until I looked it up, means to be sleepy, groggy or drowsy. And indeed, although many English shoe companies continue to make spectacular shoes in an age-old manner, somnolent does often describe some of the classic shoes that come out of Northampton. The movement of shoes away from this, such as is being done by Gaziano & Girling, is imperative to the survival of English shoe making. This same enthusiasm should be taken up by what remains of Australian shoe making, especially the likes of RM Williams who have been resting on one product for nearly 100 years now.

Today, after a considerable amount of time, I received and photographed the chelsea boots that I worked with Tony Gaziano to create, which were to challenge the idea of how a chelsea should look. I was tired of walking into our own retailers and seeing one of two to three lasts to choose from in one of four colours in stock.... Tony Gaziano completely understood what I was searching for and by the first iteration of photos I knew something quite different was going to appear at the end.

When I opened the box I was expecting to be disappointed. For waiting for these shoes was like a bride waiting for her long awaited wedding and all the work that goes behind it only to sink into post-wedding blues when the whole thing is over in 8 hours. That was my concern with these custom made Burnham boots - a lot of emails, a lot of talk and chatter and blog fodder - would I be content at the end?

Those that espouse Eastern philosophies often say "to journey is to arrive" and I am inclined to agree. Everything that I most enjoyed was, so I thought, up until it actually arrived. I beg to differ in this case. I opened the box to find an exquisite pair of chelsea boots with a beautiful toe box brogued in butterfly with the richest patina in burgundy with black accents on the heel and toe box. They were wholecuts - just like our famed Australian maker RM Williams with only one seam in the rear of the boot and they had such a sleek look about them that I felt they were due more for a museum than for my feet.

To finish off my climactic anti-climax I found on the sole that the team had made a small surprise and finished the boot with LNP nailed into the fiddle back waist.

All this I mention without telling you about how they felt on my feet. Well, as I type this I am seated and it's a sultry muggy day outside in Sydney and my air-conditioning unit is blowing a very cool wind, cool enough to make it bearable to wear these chelsea boots which went on a little tight but after half an hour I feel as snug as a bug in a rug.

I recommend Gaziano & Girling to you without hesitation and look forward to the day when I receive a letter from England with their work being commemorated on a stamp by UK Mail. And it will happen one day.

The design drawing I submitted to Tony Gaziano which worked off their Burnham model. Initially I was wanting to do black and greys on a patina until I saw a burgundy antiqued patina on their Instagram page.
Arriving in a lovely black box with silver stamped logo

The Gaziano & Girling difference - an explanation on the reasons one chooses their service.

The first hint of the great beauties that lay beneath

Sleek and stylish, the Gaziano & Girling Burnham boot with custom butterfly brogue and burgundy antiqued patina is a decided move away from traditional chelsea boots.

The depth of colour and tonality in these shoes means that you spend some time studying them on different angles in different lights revealing different tones. 
One of the few companies that are able to make a wholecut chelsea boot liked our famed RM Williams does in Australia. There are no side seams on this boot which is a stark contrast to most Italian chelsea boot makers who uniformly use a side seam underneath the sided elastic.

The beautiful english oak bark soles finished with the black fiddle-back waist that G&G are famed for. The addition of our companies initials was a wonderful additional surprise.


  1. Clifford please log onto the Gaziano Girling website and send an email to the team and ask them for their Burnham boot MTO with butterfly brogue from Le Noeud Papillon's collaboration and I am sure they will be able to organise it. Regards, Nicholas.