Tuesday, November 27, 2007

On Private Label Shoes

The shoes pictured above are sold by Brooks Brothers under the Peal & Co. label. That brand sounds like an old-line English manufacturer; and indeed, Peal & Co. was one of the oldest and best-reputed London bespoke makers. Alas, it is no longer, and Brooks Brothers purchased the name back in the 1950s. Now, it's only a name. Shoes bearing the Peal & Co. label today are made either Crockett & Jones or Alfred Sargent, both of which are major Northampton manufacturers. Are they equivalent to any shoes bearing the Crockett & Jones or Alfred Sargent label? Maybe yes, maybe no; and there's really no way for a consumer to be able to tell just by examining them on the shelf. Major shoe manufacturers can produce shoes to varying levels of quality; and when they are contracted to produce private-label merchandise for retailers, it is the retailer who determines the level of quality of the manufacture, not the manufacturer. If a retailer wants to cut the cost of the shoes by using lower-grade soles or synthetic counters instead of leather ones, he can do so. No only can he do so, but there is no way for you the consumer to be able he did it without cutting the shoe open or wearing it for months. So yes, that pattern on a Peal & Co. shoe may be identical to that of a Crockett & Jones-labeled shoe; and yes, everything about the two shoes may appear to be exactly the same. That's not necessarily the case. Don't assume that it is.

(And I'm just using Peal & Co. here as an example. I have no information in particular about their level of quality. The same could be said of Polo shoes or any other private-label shoes.)

1 comment:

Will said...

And just try to find the maker so you can have a private labelled shoe re-made!

It's a purchase that can come back to bite after a few years.