Herring Shakespeare II vs. AE Mora
The Herring Shakespeares came in yesterday (wicked fast shipping - props to Herring) and since I had the AE Moras still lying around, I figured a side by side, Northampton vs. Wisconsin, comparison could be useful.
I’ve been looking forever for a pair of black double monks that wouldn’t break the bank, and I recently snagged a pair of Moras for a song. As was likely to be expected however (AEs generally don’t work for me), they did not fit my feet well and I was less than enamored with the quality. A bit discouraged, I couldn’t have predicted that the Shakespeares would re-surface out of nowhere, and when they did, I decided to buy a pair before they sold out. Very pleased with this decision, as I am much happier with the Brits versus their American cousins (as per usual - although I see you Alden).
The variance between the two is immediately discernible - the Herrings are built on a much more aggressive last (#619) than the Moras (#8). I generally favor a more chiseled shoe, so this suits me well. If you like the more typically American toe, than the Shakespeares are not for you. Their profile is much more streamlined and, in my opinion, elegant. The fit on the Moras was loose and clunky, while the Herrings fit snugly right out of the box. Again, the elongated toe is not for everyone and they take getting used to, but I am a fan. The respective leather quality seems pretty much on par.
Both shoes are Goodyear welted, which is generally preferable, but the difference in quality here, even to the untrained eye should be apparent. The Herrings have a slightly bevelled waist, a feature almost never seen at this price point, and one not included even on my C&J benchgrades. The channeling on the soles is also a bit cleaner on the Brits. Furthermore, as you can see, the stacked heels on the AEs are all rubber, while the Herrings are split leather/rubber tip. While this means little pragmatically (believe you can re-heel both easily), aesthetically the Shakespeares are much more pleasing. The Herrings are also stamped ‘Handcrafted’, which I am admittedly wary about, but it’s a nice touch (the bevelling would lead one to believe that at least some part of the shoe is handmade). The buckles on the Herrings are semi-antiqued, if that makes sense - a touch that I could do without, but not a major complaint. The AE buckles came polished and shiny. Both are squared off and not as refined as the ROTMs, for example.
Close-up of both waists…
Last comparison with the C&J Lowndes in the middle - the Herrings are the most aggressive of the bunch - not for everyone I’m sure, but perfect for me.
Since I purchased the Moras very slightly used, they did not come boxed and I have no idea what they are typically accompanied by. I can say however that the Herrings came wonderfully packaged with black polish, a polishing mat, shoe bags, and a shoehorn - always nice to get a few extra goodies. They also smelled pretty fucking awesome, if you’re into that sort of thing.
All in all, I can say with assurance that I prefer the Herrings to the Moras in terms of construction, last, fit, and overall quality. And at around $300 shipped versus $450+ retail, they represent much more value for the money (buy your (my) Moras on ebay though). Generally, I would size down a full size to find your UK fit - if you have any sizing questions though, definitely get in touch with the good people at Herring online.