Let’s start at the beginning. When did you both join Crockett & Jones?
Jonathan: I joined Crockett & Jones a little over five years ago, having moved across from Turnbull & Asser. It was tough figuring out all the footwear lingo at first – like anything new, it takes some time to adjust and learn, but the product is so amazing that it almost sells itself. I’ve been lucky enough to go to the factory a couple of times too, which helps.
René: I started with the company in 2007, but I’ve been selling shoes since I graduated from high school '84. In New York, there’s nothing else like Crockett & Jones shoes – and the culture in the company all starts with Mr Jones, he pops in to say hello whenever he’s in town. A lot of our clients are surprised to learn that the company is still family owned. It’s not like there are many family businesses left in Manhattan!
What have you enjoyed most about your time with the company?
J: Doing this job, you learn never to judge a book by its cover pretty quickly. Sure, we have a lot of wealthy customers, but we also have people come in who say ‘look, I’ve been saving up for a long time for these shoes’, and they’re really excited about shopping with us. I look forward to those customers because it’s such a special moment for them. We always try to make the experience of visiting our store as memorable as possible.
R: For the shoes you’re getting, you can’t beat the value. There’s nothing else that comes close. As a salesman, you can believe in the quality of the product – and that’s a special thing.
Any favourite moments?
J: There was a time when a gentleman came in straight from his hotel after breakfast, wearing his pyjamas and a silk robe. He bought a couple of pairs and then was chauffeured straight back to his room. Just a normal day in New York, I guess.
R: I love chatting to our customers. We have some clients on the other side of the country who’ve never been in, but they’ll phone up, have a chat, ask about your family and place orders over the phone. And we keep in touch with customers that way too; I’ll phone up clients when something comes in that I know they'll like, and they always appreciate being thought of and kept in the loop.
What’s it like working in the Big Apple?
J: New York really isn’t like anywhere else. A lot of it has to do with the people who live here, and the city’s different walks of life – it opens you up a little bit. Midtown, with all its prestigious hotels is the perfect place to meet interesting people.
R: You serve people from all over the world in this shop; we have a big Latin American customer base, we get lots of Japanese clients in, and even Australian customers. You name it, we’ve got it. It’s nice to have so many people visit us who know the brand too, because you can really help them to feel at home. We send a lot of customers right across the street to the King Cole bar too, because you can see the store from there!
Tell us about your personal style?
J: I have expensive tastes, I’m afraid. I’m a huge Turnbull & Asser fan and tend to favour English goods, whether clothes or shoes. Todd Synder’s another brand I like, obviously it’s New York based, but it does a great job of working with English makers, C&J included.
R: I’m really into my clothes; I prefer Italian suits, but everything else I wear is British. One of my favourite customers always says to me, ‘René, in business, you gotta dress British and speak Yiddish’. I love that.
If you could only wear one pair of C&J shoes ever again, what would they be?
J: I’m loyal to the Westbourne. It was my first pair of Crockett & Jones shoes and I have it in three different colours. It’s the ideal mix of classic and modern; a timeless cap-toe with subtle detailing on a modern last. It’s like getting everything in one.
R: I’m a Westbourne man too; the Westbourne in Chestnut calf was my first pair of shoes. I still have them today, and they’re 13-years-old. They look the part with a sports jacket and slacks. I have one rule for my shoes: I like lace-ups or monk straps with suits, loafers for the weekends.
Any highlights from the AW19 collection you’d care to share?
J: I’m excited about our new range of wing tips – particularly the Westgate 2. It’s been made on the 379 last in three different colours, and that last is a modernised version of our classic Oxford last, with a very English round toe. So, the Westgate 2 is a really elegant, timeless design.
R: I want to get my hands on a pair of Ross boots, with the green suede collar. They’ll be just the thing to wear into work in bad weather, before I change into dress shoes.
N.B. Unfortunately when visited our New York stores to photograph our staff, Rene had to change his days off to spend with his family. We promise to get Rene in front of the camera next time!