Allen-Edmonds is returning the Broadstreet “spectator shoe” to their lineup for a few weeks at an utterly astounding price. No, it’s not a golf shoe, and calling it a “golf shoe” is a sure sign of someone who is only indifferently aware of men’s style. These are spectators, also known as co-respondent shoes. I’ll explain why.
Supposedly invented by John Lobb for wear at gentlemanly sporting events, the two-tone brogue became “associated with cads and bounders”, eventually acquiring the sobriquet of “co-respondents”. Prior to our modern enlightened age, if an Englishman wanted to divorce his wife for adultery he was usually required to name the woman’s partner. This fellow would have to show up in court as well. Presumably he’d be wearing two-tone shoes, because the kind of guys who nailed other dudes’ wives in the early 1900s were all about the two-tone shoes. Or so we are meant to believe.
Ironically, the above link tells us that Edward, the Prince of Wales, favored spectators, as did the woman he loved, Wallis Simpson. As this fascinating article notes, in order for Edward to marry Wallis, who was already on her second marriage, it was critical for the courts to grant her both a divorce for cause against Ernest Simpson and permission to marry again. Some mild pressure was brought to bear against Mr. Simpson — this was still an era where it could be difficult, if not risky, to displease the Windsors — and he agreed to be “caught” with a woman in a hotel room. The whole thing was set up from beginning to end, witnesses were procured, the evidence was presented to the court, and Mrs. Simpson was free to marry the man who wanted her more than he wanted a crown.
Eleven years ago, the Broadstreet was a regular part of Allen-Edmonds’ lineup, but only in black and white. Inspired by various English-built spectators from John Lobb, Crockett&Jones, and Edward Green, I came up with a design for modified Broadstreets featuring chestnut leather and white nubuck vamps. I ordered a set, took photos, and put them up on the Ask Andy About Clothes forum. They became known as FlatSix spectators, since “FlatSix” was my forum name. Enough people ordered them for Allen-Edmonds to start offering them as a secret-sauce regular-production shoe in all of their stores. If you asked for them by name, you could get them for the same price as the black-and-white shoes.
The next ten years were tumultuous both for the Broadstreet and for me. I was more or less named as a co-respondent in two divorce cases. This being $THE_CURRENT_CENTURY, I didn’t have to show up in court. But I definitely had the shoes for the job, had such an appearance been required. Now the Broadstreet is back, at the amazing price of $279. The chestnut-and-white combination uses a leather vamp instead of the FlatSix-spec nubuck, but I think it’s pretty neat. You should consider adding them to your own adventure; my days of co-respondence are, thankfully, over and done. In fact, the last time I corresponded with the woman for whom I was a co-respondent, we had this conversation:
Still working on that, years later. Still working.