It’s 1974 somewhere in the east end of London not long after decimalisation. In a tiny shop, sandwiched between a butcher and poulterer and a wallpaper and paint emporium, you could buy quality men’s shoes at less than a tenner.
Fashion was in a transition between the old guard of the Teddy Boy and the modern tastes of the Bay City Rollers fans. I was never a BCR fan, in fact I found the tartan popsters quite insufferable. Living at the time in Provost Street, Hoxton, my stamping ground included the areas around Brick Lane, Shoreditch and Spitalfields. The West End was the place for the new wave of fashions, but the old shops of the East End had slowly moving stocks and bargains could be found. My favourite little shop had a range of full- and half-crepes with quilted ot latticed uppers – beautiful craftsmanship. I bought two pairs of ‘brothel creepers’ and regularly visited to drool at others in the window until the shop finally closed down. They were proper shoes, not the repro versions pumped out by imitator labels. The soles were solid crepe not a rubberised amalgam with a strip of darker stuff ironed on. My white leather pair just celebrated their 35th anniversary in a cupboard, but unfortunately, as I frequently rode my motorbike while wearing them, the soles of the navy suede pair disintegrated along the tarmac of Shoreditch High Street many years back.