Buying ‘blind’ is not a pursuit for the faint of heart. In online shopping terms, there are degrees of ‘blindness’ – varying levels of knowledge about the product to be purchased that assure the purchaser. The best situation to be in is to be purchasing a product, say a pair of shoes, that you have already seen ‘in the flesh’ as it were; you know what the product looks like to the naked eye, so the pictures online need not be pored over or the description re-read with any degree of concern – if you were happy with what you saw, you probably will be when the shoes are delivered.
If however you haven’t seen the product in the flesh, and are not particularly trusting of marketing photography, you are buying with a degree of blindness; I have experienced this horror and have ended up paying a hefty postage for the return of unwanted items that did not live up to expectations. Ever since, I have been rather uneasy with buying ‘blind.’ However, a recent experience with Herring Shoes provided me with a rather different ‘blind’ experience.
Herring have two retail stores, one down in Devon and one in Herefordshire; both are too far away from London to merit a visit from myself. Herring also have an online boutique that retails shoes from the likes of Church’s, Barker, Loake, Cheaney, Trickers and Sebago, in addition to their own lines. However, whereas I can toddle down both Bond and Jermyn Street and see many of the other brands that Herring offers for sale online, I cannot see any Herring shoes; London does not know Herring.
While pleased that such shoes are clearly lacking in mass market appeal, I was considerably disgruntled that I could only view a photographic representation and not touch one of their shoes before purchasing – a purchase which might lead to disappointment and the loss of a small sum on returns. Despite this disappointment, I simply could not be deterred from the appeals of the product; Herring shoes are classically designed, Goodyear welted and honestly priced. They might not be as grand as some of the bespoke names often mentioned on this site, but they cater for men on a certain budget very well indeed.
Herring Shoes are helpfully divided into six main categories; the Classic Collection, the Premier Collection, the Graduate Collection, the Country Collection and the Italian Collection. The other helpful point about this categorisation is that it makes sense; the names signify the standard and style of the shoes therein. Hence, in the Graduate Collection one finds classic ‘straight out of University’ shoes priced for young, loan-repaying graduates; the Country Collection has a lot of brown brogues and substantial soles and the Premier Collection offers shoes of a higher category of design and material for a little extra. The pair I selected, some tan tassel loafers, were selected from the Classic Collection. Payment is simple and delivery (within the UK only) is free.
The packaging, as you can see from the photos above, was faultless. The shoes were boxed inside a cardboard box and hand delivered. Inside the shoe box, aside from the shoes, you could find a travel size shoe horn, tin of polish and travel bags for each shoe. For a delivery that did not cost me a penny, it was highly satisfactory. The most worrying thing about the purchase was the fit as it has been my experience that some shoe manufacturers have very different ideas about what a correct size 8 actually is. Relieved with the fit, I examined the shoes and the leather carefully, checking for flaws. My beady eye satisfied, I settled down to polish the shoes for the first time, happy in the knowledge that my next Herring purchase will not be one so affected by concern; this ‘blind buy’ had been a lesson.