GJ Cleverley bespoke chasse made from restored Russian reindeer hides salvaged from the wreck of the Metta Catharina, a Danish brigantine that sank in Plymouth Sound in 1793. The salvage rights to this wreck belong to the Duke of Cornwall (who just so happens to be the Prince of Wales), and he issued a license to the divers who originally found the wreck in 1973. These divers have, in turn, given Cleverley the right of first refusal over the hides that they salvage, which means that Cleverley-made shoes are consistently made from the best hides.
And oh, what hides they are. Almost all leather used for the uppers of shoes today is aniline tanned, which means that chromium salts are the tanning agent. This leather was vegetable tanned in rye and oat flour and finished with birch oil. While it was still wet, the tanner applied a diamond cross-hatching pattern to it using coffer stamps. The birch oil, which was reapplied during the restoration process, is what gives this leather its distinctive pungent aroma. It was originally intended for bookbinding, but it works very well for shoes, too.
From the first time I read about this leather and saw samples of it, I knew that I had to have a pair of shoes made from it, and I knew that I would have to have them made by Cleverley. I also knew that these shoes would have to be chasses. It's a somewhat rustic pattern, which goes well with the grain of the leather; but because it's not particularly busy, it lets the leather speak for itself. They are bespoke, which means that they were made on my individual last to my specifications. Anything that I could imagine could have been done. These shoes are what I imagined. I like them better every time I wear them.
Gravati cap-toe bals with reversed seams in tobacco suede (16492, last 655). The overall effect is of a punch-cap shoe because of a leather lace running along the edge of the toe cap and at the throat. I like these shoes, but they would have been better on a less elongated last.