Alfred Sargent – Hannover boots review

Here in Australia, English shoes still reign supreme. Personally I think British country shoes can look nice with denim too; in fact, half of my shoes are English!

Alfred Sargent (AS), in particular, was a brand which has always interested me, though in my early days of shoe collecting they had been going through a difficult period. By the time AS had re-structured and relaunched their brand & line-up, my focus had shifted away from matters of clothing and this blog went on hiatus.

So it is with much excitement that I can show you a pair of Alfred Sargent’s Hannover boots on the blog today!

Overview

As a shoemaker, AS has a long and distinguished history, handcrafting footwear out of Northamptonshire since 1899. When I first started wearing English boots, their burgundy zug grain Veldtschoen boots was near the top of my wish-list, though I had mostly stuck with Tricker’s at that time.

During the early 2010s, AS relaunched their line-up, focusing on the higher-end market with corresponding upgrades to their shoes. Certainly the styling had been improved significantly, with suggestions that perhaps this was in some way related to having G&G sharing the same factory space for a few years.

The boots that caught my eye were their brogue derby boots; the Hannover boots that we have here is their brogue derby boot made with a walnut pebble/scotch grain calf leather.

Although not quite as rugged as true field shoes – think William Lennon – the Hannover is nevertheless ‘country’ enough to be part of my work boot collection.

Shape & Fit

The Hannover boots utilises AS’s 87 last, made on a standard width of F. It is 6″ tall from the midsole.

A wider G fitting is available through customisation.

The toe profile is relatively low and sloped compared with American shoes. The flattened curve is common among British and Australian boots, and is a fair bit dressier in appearance compared with round, bulbous workboot toes.

The heel is also quite closely fitted despite the 360 degree Goodyear construct. The back end of the shoe runs very straight.

The instep is a little bit tighter, compared with, say, Tricker’s Stow, but the Hannover is by no means uncomfortable.

The F width is a little narrower compared with most work boots, but is not uncomfortable. I would suggest a G width for people with wider feet.

In terms of the length, the Hannover fits true to British/Australian size. Simply minus 1 from your usual US Brannock’s size. You may want to size half up for wearing with thicker boot socks.

Leather

This walnut scotch grain calf leather is oilier than most other scotch/pebble grain leathers I’ve come across on British boots. This is a good thing, I think; I had found the scotch grain leathers on Tricker’s boots to be too dry, and from other Northampton makers to be too plastic-y.

Scotch grain leather is a type of embossed leather, rather than a pure shrunken grain leather. However, this walnut scotch calf is by no means low quality. It has a nice temper, good oiliness and consistent colour.

The leather is 1.5 mm thick, ~ 4 oz.

The lining and insoles are made out of tan and natural leathers of good quality. The lining leather, in particular, is soft and comfortable with a nice grain to boot.

Construction

The Hannover is nicely detailed and well put together. It is a full brogue (a.k.a. wing-tip), and as such features broguing and pinking throughout, which has been done neatly. I especially like the “M” shaped broguing on the upper/shaft.

Additionally, the toe caps are burnished.

The full Goodyear welt construct is nicely executed in the Storm welt variant.

The tonal stitching throughout, even on the mid-sole, further lends to the Hannover’s elegant appearance, as does the darker-than-natural staining of the natural mid-sole leathers.

At the mid-sole, you will additionally find that what started as a double mid-sole at the front is skivved down from just before the midpoint along the length of the boot, terminating into a single mid-sole at the midpoint. This creates somewhat of an arch, though the Hannover does not feature the extensive and built-in arch support on some work boots.

I really like the construct of the tongue, being one-piece with a smaller secondary piece at the front. Seven antique eyelets are present – nicely spaced and secured.

The top is cut, no rolled edges or collaring. The edge is not burnished – a feature you may find on higher end Japanese and Korean work boots.

The back-stay is layered beneath the one-piece counter, with a pull-tab at the top which features a subtly embossed AS logo. Another interesting feature is that the counter terminates with the upper, where they meet the vamp.

The inside is fully and very nicely lined with a soft, tan calf. Each boot also features an internal panel on which pertinent information are written by hand!

All in all, the Hannover has a very layered design, yet is not too chunky with the 4 oz leather.

There was only one cosmetic flaw I could find on these Hannover boots – apart from some uneven staining of the soles/welt – and that is the line of discolouration near the front of each boot, where the leather meets the storm welt. You can see this in many of the photos shown so far, and I’m guessing this was due to the lasting process. To my relief, the leather grain was not cut or damaged, and I was able to resolve this problem with some Saphir polish.

Sole Unit & Misc.

The Hannover boots here feature full Commando soles and heels.

A double leather option is available through customisation.

The stitching sits in a channel, and is neatly sewn.

Opinion

The Alfred Sargent Hannover boots is certainly a very recent but fine example of the English country brogue derby boot.

Apart from the discolouration lines near the welt – which I easily fixed – there is nothing I can complain about with the Hannover. This is a very detailed boot, containing many small features mentioned previously that really demonstrate AS’s attention to minutiae.

At £288 excluding VATS (£345 for EU folks), the Hannover is priced similarly to its most direct competition, Tricker’s Stow. Certainly not a cheap boot as far as ready-to-wear country/work shoes go, although the Hannover is more competitively priced compared with most higher-end, similarly bench-made North American boots.

Let’s do a few comparisons:

The Hannover is a much nicer boot compared with full brogue boots offered by many of AS’s Northampton rivals – better constructed, with a nicer leather, than boots from Grenson, Loake, etc. AS’s offering is a little more expensive, but not by too much – there is a wide enough gap in quality that I would not consider buying another brogue boot, except perhaps Tricker’s Stow, at this time.

Compared with Tricker’s Stow? The overall level of construct is of similar merit. I do like how the tongue is made on the Hannover better than that on the Stow. Further, I think the Hannover is more elegant compared to most of the Stow boots I’ve seen, and has a more comfortable lining leather. The Stow, however, comes in an almost infinite number of colour and material configurations – there is something for everybody! Between the Hannover & the Stow, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend one over the other, depending on the exact configuration of the Stow of course.

In terms of comparing Alfred Sargent’s Hannover to American boots? Tricky discussion right here, and I suppose my opinions come from the perspective of someone who is interested in leather and workwear goods:

The Hannover is more elegant & refined in design, more neatly constructed, with fewer cosmetic flaws compared with higher end or more fashionable American makes. It is a lighter boot, made with thinner leather and a more compact insole. I believe the Hannover, similar to the Stow, represents better value compared with sleeker American “service toe” boots or any of Alden’s offerings, being at least 20% cheaper. Ultimately though, English country boots and Pacific North-Western American boots are different enough that both styles can exist in the same shoe cabinet. (Of course, my many American readers of this blog might consider buying local to be a virtue, but that’s an entirely different discussion.)

To conclude, I’m very impressed with my first pair of Alfred Sargent boots. Over the past few days, they’ve really grown on me and I find a lot of joy in wearing these Hannover boots. If it wasn’t for the leather discolouration at the front of the boots, I would have been completely satisfied by this purchase – which is a rare occurrence indeed.

Alfred Sargent boots are easily available through the major English online retailers. Definitely check them out!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s