ITS name may sound as English as fish’n’chips, but JM Weston is one of France’s great luxury marques, producing hand-crafted shoes since 1891. It has just opened a fabulously chi-chi boutique – think super-sleek gents’ club – on Jermyn Street. City A.M. asked the company’s artistic director, Michel Perry, if there was room for Gallic va va voom in the heartland of British style.
It’s bold to bring a French shoe brand to Jermyn Street, the home of English shoes! What is it about Jermyn Street that suits JM Weston?
“Elegance has no geographical limits! England is renowned for its aristocratic yet nonchalant elegance. It’s a definition that I share and that I take pains to infuse into my designs. In my view, JM Weston shares the same vision of elegance as the English houses, but it interprets it in a very French, very Parisian way.”
How important are good shoes for a well-dressed man, and why?
“In order to be beautiful, a pair of shoes must be a little worn; they have to have begun to be part of their owner’s life. However, only good-quality shoes age well, because only fine leathers and beautiful lines can stand the test of time. Shoes must therefore have been crafted with the utmost professionalism.”
JM Weston is well known for its classic loafers. Do you think it’s okay to wear loafers with a business suit?
“It all depends on the cut of the suit. Above all, you must avoid wide trousers if you’re wearing loafers. If the suit has been cut by [Hedi Slimane, why not, it could look really good!”
How would you describe the style of shoes you design?
“J.M. Weston is halfway between Italian exuberance and English tradition. Its style is Parisian, restrained and contemporary – we don’t look to be fashionable but to enhance the style of the wearer.”
What is so special about the quality of the leather used in JM Weston shoes?
“The leathers for our soles come from our own tannery (the Bastin Tannery), just like the leathers for our uppers (which come from the Puy Tanneries). What is particularly important to note is the key role that the leather used for the sole plays in the durability of our shoes. It is this leather that makes the shoe comfortable, as well as maintaining its whole structure, and ensures the shoe will not lose its shape on wear.”
● 60 Jermyn Street, SW1 6LX