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PRODUCTION UPDATE #3: THE ART OF BROGUING


Hello there!

Welcome to our third update for the May campaign. I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July, barbecues and fireworks included :)

First of all, let me give you a small update about your products. Our production is underway and your shoes and accessories are now taking shape. We will soon start on the finishing touches to make your products look astonishing!

As you read this, the uppers and soles are being stitched together. It is also during this process when one of the most artistic moments of some of your shoes take place: The broguing.

So what’s broguing anyway, and how come shoemakers decided to make these little holes in footwear?

To find out about this, we’ll have to visit the wetlands (bogs) of Scotland and Ireland. So, get some good walking shoes and your rain jacket as this journey is about to get muddy.

Speak with a brogue

“Patrick Fitzmaurice, brogue and all, was an Irish gentleman without a flaw.” Stories of a Western Town, Octave Thanet.

Ireland and Scotland: Excellent whisky and green lands. Dramatic cliffs and medieval cities.

We’ve seen nature lovers and William Wallace crossing these jaw-dropping landscapes. While we walk through these highlands, we can feel the drizzle and wind messing with our hair.

Without noticing, we step in some muddy soil. It has graciously filled our shoes with brown, thick water. Yucky, but not very surprising, right? These extended areas of wetlands in both Ireland and Scotland are very common. They are called bogs.

For centuries, people have moved around this territory. Bogs have seen the epic battles from ancient times. Also, the daily routines of medieval peasants.

They would walk swampy waters on their way to their crops. And of course, they would also get their feet wet. How do you think these country men dealt with this issue?... Yes, it was the broguing in the shoes!

Punching holes in shoes would not only let the water out, but would allow the shoes to get dry for next day. Useful, huh?

Now, by broguing we can understand several things. It is a Gaelic word (bróg or bròg) meaning “shoe.” It was the sturdy, low-heeled leather shoe Irish and Scottish laborers wore.

By association, brogue became the technique of drilling holes in shoes to drain the water out.

Funny enough, it became a word to describe the accent of Irish and Scottish people.

Now, you can notice broguing was functional for farmers. But little by little, holes became an aesthetic detail and these shoes won a place in the cities. Brogues entered the lists of shoes for the modern man, along with plain shoes.

So, what’s the difference between Oxfords and Brogues? Actually...this is the wrong question to ask.

To make things clear, brogues are not a type of shoe. It simply describes the presence or absence of decorative punching and pinking (zig-zag details) in shoes. For instance, we can find Brogue Oxfords.

To brogue or not to brogue? That is the right question! In fact, there’s a bit of a style dispute here.

For a long time, shoes with broguing seemed to be unacceptable for the business Englishmen.

We can see this rivalry in the movie Kingsman (2014). Agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) tells his pupil a rule he should stick by: “Oxford, not Brogues.” He means shoes should never have any broguing.

But this seems a bit too harsh, don’t you think? We can say “Oxford with Brogues.” In fact, these types of shoes are not mutually exclusive: As we mentioned, there are Brogue Oxfords.

There are also different types of broguing that could go well with formal or casual attire. We can live by the example of Patrick Fitzmaurice, the character of our opening quote: A flawless gentleman with a brogue.

Now, let’s check our studio to find out how Orlando does the broguing on some of our shoes.

Broguing at Beckett Simonon

For more than 25 years Orlando has been nurturing the art of shoemaking. Shy in nature, he sits quietly in our studio, creating the most minimal details in shoes. With his sewing machine, he stitches the uppers and he also does the broguing.

He uses a steel brogue punch. It is a tool you can adapt with different tips sizes, for the various patterns of the broguing.

This process takes a lot of time, patience and precision. If you make a single mistake on one of the holes, you could end up ruining the whole piece. You also need to be careful not to hurt your fingers, as the tips of the tool are very sharp.

Check out the following video to see how Orlando creates the beautiful broguing. Notice how precise he is, and how he protects the tips of his fingers to avoid any wounds:

Are these perfectly symmetric patterns? I don’t think so. Just as in nature, the beauty of broguing lies in its approximate symmetry.

Have you ever folded a leaf in two? What have you noticed? The edges of the leaf with never line up, but this is exactly what makes it look perfect.

Same thing with your face. Imagine if both sides were exact. You would look quite awkward and unnatural.

We can agree slight differences are what makes nature truly perfect. Broguing is not the exception, and you will notice these slight accents and uniqueness when you receive your shoes.

It does take a great level of precision, patience and detail. Orlando barely blinks when he’s on the job of punching each of the holes. Little by little he builds a magical motive, that imitates natural perfection.

***
I hope you have enjoyed this stroll. Now, it’s time to get dry and get some rest after all the walking around Ireland, Scotland and our studio in Colombia.

I will talk to you in a couple of weeks to give you the last details of your products, before they come home to you.

We’re still on track for August delivery. Please make sure your email address and any contact information is correct for shipping. You can always update this information by:

- Sending an email to service@beckettsimonon.com,
-Using the live chat on our website,
-Calling us at 1-844-423-2538 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5:30pm EST). 

Remember I am here to help in any possible way! If you think there’s someone who might like to read about our updates, don’t hesitate to share.


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