The word Brogue originates from the Gaelic bróg (Irish), bròg (Scottish) meaning shoe. Modern day brogues can trace their roots back to the late 16th century and were originally constructed as a form of outdoor country walking shoe, the perforations in the hide allowed water to drain from the shoes when crossing wet terrain such a bogs.
It wasn't until much later that the brogue was deemed appropriate for other occasion such as social or business and these days are seen all over.
Brogues most commonly have 4 toe cap styles;
1. Full Brogues or Wingtips.
When viewed head on the distinctive 'W' or birds 'Wingtips'(commonly used in the USA) are visible.
Most commonly seen in fashion as a single colour piece of hide. However the 'Spectator' brogue uses a different coloured leather for the toe cap and heel and were the height of fashion in the swinging 1920's and 30's, although was considered too flamboyant for a gentleman to wear.
Characterised by a high decorated and perforated toe cap, usually separated by a straight line rather than the "W". The semi brogue was designed and introduced in Oxford in 1937 by John Lobb ltd as a stylish alternative to the oxford yet not as bold as a wingtip. Lobb has a plethora of celebrity customers ranging from Queen Victoria to Frank Sinatra.
3. Quarter Brogues
As the name suggests, very similar in style, with the exception of perforations being limited the along the top cap and not the main body.
4. Ghillie Brogues.
Those of you with Scottish ancestry may have worn a pair of these before, this Oxford has no tongue and long laces that wrap around the leg tieing below the calf. Although they originally had no tongue to facilitate drying, these days are worn primarily in formal Scottish dress for social occasions.
We currently have a superb collection of Sanders brogues in store and online. Sanders was established in Northamptonshire in 1873 and have continued to produce high quality classical styles ever since. Below is a fascinating video from their workroom.