Robert Clergerie French Derbies Review or: How I learned to stop worrying about MFA uniforms and start loving French casual wear

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    Robert Clergerie French Derbies Review or: How I learned to stop worrying about MFA uniforms and start loving French casual wear



    Jesus, you scooped these for $35? I’ll be damned.



    NOTE: Not a sponsored review. I bought these shoes with my own money. Posted a few days ago on /r/goodyearwelt. Check it out!


    Over the last two to three years, I dipped my toes into fashion and went deeper and deeper. I bought into the MFA meme of “quality basics for everyone” without considering the lifestyle implications that my clothing says about me, and that not everyone wants to dress like finance intern, or a generic corporate worker. I bought into the CBD, Common Projects, as shoes that are essential for everyone, and spent more money than I probably should have being a college student on mid-tier luxury brands like like Our Legacy, and even ordered my custom pair of boots from Winson Indonesia.

    Throughout the last few years, I have spent more and more time at second-hand stores like Beacon’s closet. I sometimes dream of wearing dark-avant garde clothes, bathed in Rick (okay, not really) and Julius.

    But I never really found myself the type to spend a huge chunk of money on a pair of luxury shoes new, probably due to my constantly changing style, which isn’t a great argument for having a pair of shoes that will last me through several decades.

    One pair of shoes that I decide that I wanted for a while was the casual black derby. Something that hopefully I can wear in all kinds of weather from wet to snow, that won’t look too had with its quality leather, and something that doesn’t say “my dad hooked me up with a job at my current finance firm.”

    By a stroke of luck and chance, I found, seemingly, just the right pair. See, living on /r/Goodyearwelt for the last two years has lend me the ability to discern differences in shoes much better than I would have might have. I know the advantages of each of the construction styles, relatively. I know that different toe boxes in the same makeup of shoes can have massive ramifications, whether its almond toed, or “bulbous,” dress shoe, chiseled, etc. I wanted something that was intentionally large for a casual look, like the famous [Tricker’s Robert Derby.](, something from Layer-0 maybe?

    I knew that french shoemakers had a certain style, and it was one which I liked.

    I had the chance to buy a pair of Robert Clergerie Dave Derbies from somebody who owned it for a while. And that pair would turn out to be possibly the highest quality pair of leather shoes I have owned.

    **First Glance:**

    At a first glance, The RC Dave Derbies were exactly what I was looking for, there’s luxurious materials like its natural latex soles, which also seemed good for foul weather conditions. They were Goodyearwelted, made in France. And seemingly had good leather. Most importantly, they were just the right shape, with a round, almost compass-like toebox shape that felt roomy for my size 12 feet even as they were too small for me with the heels digging in. It had the distinct character of being made from two separate pieces of leather, one for the eyelets and one for the vamp and toebox. It really had just the right amount of elegance and casualness for a person with dark-avant garde aesthetic. It’s for someone who would dress in a style that used [Paraboot]( or [Heschung’s]( derbies. Perfectly casual, yet still hinted at an expensive attention to detail.


    When I first go these out of the box, I was a bit surprised. The leather was [LUXURIOUS.]( I really didn’t know what about them said that, but I would say these are more on Viberg’s in terms of leather selection than something like Allen Edmonds or Beckett Simonon. The leather was fullgrain calf, yet didnt’ really feel dressy. It had a matte characteristic while feeling rugged. At first sight I had the intuition these would last me for a very long time, and wished I had gotten a pair of zip boots with that leather. Nothing too dressy, while being long-lasting. The leather felt supple to the touch, and the [creases] extremely attractive. They creased tightly to the point it’s almost made of micro-creases, reminiscent of some horsehide boots that I have seen

    The back is two pieces of leather stitched with a dog-tail style finish. It’s another detail I appreciated. It didn’t pretend to be one piece of stitched leather, but was rather linked together explicitly, though separate.

    **Soles and inside:**

    The soles were in an [unfamiliar pattern]( to me. I searched them up, and apparently they are a “country styled” pattern. Definitely slip-resistant. Most significantly, these were made from natural latex. That’s a material I don’t think I have seen on any other pair of shoes aside from FEIT’s sneakers.I’m pretty sure the advantages of them are that they’re biodegradable, but may have been phased out due to compounds made by companies like Vibram and Itshide simply being stronger and longer lasting.

    They weren’t worn much by the previous owner, but are already showing wears. They won’t disintegrate or anything, but natural latex is definitely a luxury material.

    in terms of feel, the insole of the shoes felt soft, and is lined with a [great gray calf]( FULLY (another uncommon characteristic, since some shoemakers will choose to only line partially), and felt comfortably contoured. These have mid to high arch support, and better than any pair I have had in the $200-300 range for sure (Facconable and Beckett Simonon comes to mind), with most pairs only having a relatively flat support in their insoles, these stand out once again. It has both a shapely feel, and also soft soft outsoles.

    The gray lining was honestly one of my favorite features, since it nicely contrasted with the black, but still was in the dark sphere, rather than using a generic veg tan vachetta lining as many shoemakers would have. Really shows attention to detail on the designer’s part.

    **Construction & Price**

    The RC Daves were made in France, and with a Goodyearwelt construction. As such, it has a premium for that, on top of all the luxury materials, being [$500]( at retail. For that price you get a pair, had it fit me, that I really had no complaints for. They also had storm welt, which seems perfect for the foul-weather applications I talked about earlier. Plus, it has that [made in France]( premium.

    **Closing remarks:**

    For my purposes, the Robert Clergerie Dave Derbies seemed almost perfect. It seems great for all kinds of weathers. It has great attentions to detail with its leather, construction, and outsole selections. It has a great casual last, and great support built into the shoes, a feature that is often underrated when making luxurious shoes.

    In the end, these size 44 EU shoes were around 28.5-29CM in their insoles, and that was a little too small for me, to the point the heels left me with blistes for my size Brannock 12D feet. I really hoped they would for me, but they just don’t. open to sales or trades for size 12 shoes via PM.

    And thus, the search for a pair of casual blackshoes for my small collection continues. I can see myself owning a pair of combat boots, a pair of Grant Stone style Diesel boots, a pair of zip boots sometime in the future. Maybe a pair of Tricker’s. Maybe a pair of Epaulets. Maybe a pair of Standard Fair. Maybe Viberg’s zip boot. Maybe FEIT.

    The Robert Clergerie is a pair of excellently designed, excellently made shoes that would be more than fair on sales pricing. I would recommend anyone interested in the avant-garde aesthetic to check them out. Who knows? You might find something you like.



    Question from someone who just bought a pair of Allen Edmonds black derbies on super sale – how do you feel about dressing them up / down? My circumstance will differ from yours because they have a cap toe but part of me feels they’d be find with my raw denim, the part of me that has never owned nice black leather footwear thinks it’s weird and clashes.

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