Tl;DR: Buy as many of these shoes as you can afford, in all colours. They are awesome.
I’m going to start this by talking a bit about customer service. It doesn’t matter if you are selling literally the best product in existence, at half the price of your competitors; if your customer service if crap, no one is going to buy from you. This is especially important with online stores; where your customers can’t physically hold or see your products, and tell for themselves how good it is. When I was doing my research on Herring before buying my last pair of shoes, the product reviews were decent; most thought that the shoes were more-or-less worth the price, but absolutely everyone commented on the amazing customer service. So, lets talk a little about Herring, the company.
Herring Shoes is a UK-based company that stocks a range of brands (Church’s, Loake, Barker, etc), as well as their own house brand; these shoes are made by other companies (Loake, Barker, and Cheaney), using their lasts* and construction techniques, with Herring providing the designs, and typically better quality leather. They provide a massive range of shoes from all the brands, at very competitive prices; better than most online stores, and infinitely better than anything found in Australia. Every pair of shoes they send comes with a complimentary travel sized shoe horn, and a tin of polish matching the shoes (which I will talk about in another article).
*The last is the foot-shaped structure that forms the shape of the shoe. It looks similar to a wooden shoe tree.
Now, for the shoes themselves. Made by Loake (on their 026 last), the Richmond model is a full brogue in calfskin leather, with a full leather lining, a Goodyear Welted leather sole (with a 1/4 rubber heel), and are handmade in a factory in Northampton, England. My pair is Burgundy, but they also come in Black, Tan, Brown, and Brown Suede. At £162.5 (~$315AUD), they are in the same price range as the Loake 1880s, which is considered by most to be their best range of shoes; most will compare Herring favorably to the Loakes, but having never owned the 1880s, all I can say is this: these are the best pair of shoes that I have ever owned.
As I’m writing this, I have just returned from a quick shopping trip, and my first time wearing these shoes. The first thing I have to say is that these are the most comfortable things that I have ever put on my feet; I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they are more comfortable than standing on a cloud made of marshmallows, but they must be close. Given that it’s the first time they have been used, the leather soles are still flat, and a little slippery, so I have to be careful walking down the stairs; and the leather upper is still relatively stiff (as all new leather is), but it will soften over time. Even if it doesn’t soften, it is still incredibly comfortable. The quality of the leather in these shoes is easily the best that I have ever owned; there is absolutely no comparison to the corrected grain leather in my other shoes.
The only flaw that I can find in the shoes is minor, and cosmetic; there is some overlapping in the decorative pattern around the welt on the sole of one of the shoes, where it has been done twice in the same spot; as far as I am concerned, this just adds character to the shoes, and the human error just proves they were done by hand. I’m going to stop now, and come back in about a weeks time, after the shoes have been worn in a bit.
Some Time Later
So I have worn these shoes all day for the last three days (to break them in, and really test them; in the long run I will obviously give them rest days), and given that I am on my feet for 9 hours straight each day, I can safely say that they have been well-tested. Fortunately, I can say that they have passed all my tests with flying colours; the leather insoles are comfortable, especially in the heel where there seems to be a soft (but firm) foam pad underneath the insole.
The minor cosmetic damage to the patterning on the sole has disappeared due to the general wear to the leather; an unfortunate side effect of actually walking on something other than carpet.