The most popular timeless men’s shoe styles are the Oxford and Derby but how do you tell them apart and more importantly which style will suit you best. The Oxford shoe is a timeless classic that every gentleman should own in his wardrobe as it’s the most formal style of men’s shoes.
Dating back over two centuries the Oxford shoe originates from a half boot called the ‘Oxonian’ worn by students attending the famous Oxford University as the boot featured narrow slits on the sides making it more comfortable to wear around campus than the fashionable high boots at the time.
An Oxford is a lace-up shoe that has the bottom of the lacing section sewn closed and has the eyelet facings stitched underneath the vamp. Characterised by a closed lacing system and a low heel, all men’s Oxford shoes have a similar silhouette except for the Wholecut. There are several variations of the Oxford shoe with the toe cap and plain designs being most popular, especially as a formal dress shoe.
The Oxford shoes true counterpart is the Derby shoe, also a lace-up but has an open lacing system (lacing section is not sewn closed at the bottom) and the eyelet facings are also sewn on top of the vamp. A Derby shoe is also known as a Gibson or Blucher shoe. The understated Derby can be seen as an evolution of the Oxford in terms of comfort as Derby shoes are generally associated as being more comfortable. Previously seen as a Country shoe, the Derby has become a menswear classic that sits on the edge of formal dress shoes and casual workwear.
Choosing between investing in an Oxford or Derby means taking several factors into account including design, fitting and purpose. While the black Oxford shoe is renowned as the ideal formal/dress shoe, the Derby can also be worn formally but will never have the elegance of an Oxford shoe especially when it comes to being worn with suiting. The shape of your feet can also play a key role in deciding which shoe style to go for as those of us with wide feet or high in-step may find the Derby style more comfortable and therefore practical.
The Barker collection of Oxford shoes feature in the Handcrafted, London, Professional and BarkerTech ranges and are made on various last shapes from several materials and soles. Traditional Barker Oxford shoes include the Albert, Falsgrave, Lerwick and Winsford styles.
For a classic toe cap Oxford shoe the Barker Arnold, Bank, Malvern and Winsford styles continue to be the most popular and for practical Oxford, the Burford style from the Professional collection is made on the 469 last from premium calf leather and a durable Dainite rubber sole.
Several Oxford brogues feature mainly in the Handcrafted, Professional and London collections that include the Albert, Chancery, Covent Garden and Malton.
A classic Derby shoe that features in the Barker Icon Series is the Nairn, Goodyear-welted and made on the 29 last, the Nairn features a British Dainite rubber sole and is available in black calf leather but for more Country casual options there is cedar and cherry grain.
Additional Derby shoes by Barker include Skye, similar to Nairn as it’s from the Country collection but made on the 464 last and Ellon, a comfortable Derby shoe that features BarkerTech technology.
While there are many Oxford and Derby shoes to choose from its important to find the ideal fitting and width for your feet to ensure your Barker shoes last as long as possible, both in terms of wear and tear as well as not falling out of favour in the shoe rack stakes.