Thursday, 1 October 2015

Stepping into James Bond's shoes

The shoemakers Crockett & Jones recently announced that they have been responsible for keeping James Bond appropriately shod in the upcoming film, Spectre. The Northampton-based company has supplied several models of 'Goodyear-welted' footwear, among them three styles of boots (Camberley and Radnor in black calf leather, and Northcote in black wax calf), and three styles of shoes (Alex in black calf, Norwich in black calf, and Swansea in brown suede).

As attractive as this footwear is (and, yes, I have entered the company's Spectre competition for the chance to win a collection of Bond's shoes worth over £200), there is at least one style of shoe missing: the slip-on. The literary Bond “abhorred shoe-laces” (OHMSS, chapter 2) and, when not sporting sandals or golf shoes, wears black casual shoes or well-polished black moccasins (for example in Moonraker, chapter 3). Admittedly the Camberley boot has no laces, but it is fastened by straps, which might still cause Bond to think twice before putting them on.

Then again, Daniel Craig's Bond is pretty used to lace-ups. In Casino Royale (2006), we see him crouch down to fix his shoelaces (or pretend to) in front of a Bahamian hotel.

Curiously, it was another Northampton-based company (at least for correspondence; the company was founded in Norwich) that was among the earliest shoemakers to use James Bond to promote their range. In March 1965, the Norvic Shoe Company ran an advert alongside the first part of the serialisation in the Daily Express of The Man with the Golden Gun. The advert (“Norvic 007 shoes show the kind of man you are”) featured a style of shoe (M11) within the 'Norvic 007' range, which comprised ten styles, all branded with the 'James Bond signature' and '007 golden tag of quality'. It's difficult to tell from the picture, but to me the M11 style is a slip-on. The literary Bond would be pleased.
Advert for Norvic 007 shoes, Daily Express, March 1965
Norvic's advert reminds us that companies have been eager to associate their products with the perceived traits or memes of James Bond – in this case a man-of-the-world character and an appreciation of quality and style – for the past 50 years (longer, in fact, when one considers the 1961 adverts for a range of Bond-inspired clothing by Courtelle). The Norvic advert also reveals that the publication of the latest Ian Fleming novel was greeted with something of the fanfare that accompanies the release of every Bond film.

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