The Journal is an online collection of articles and essays written and curated by writer & photographer Thomas W Coombs, published bi-annually.

Once you have read the issue, see the Curated Articles of Note section for some great words from elsewhere on the sartorial web.

Sign Up to the Mailing List Here and receive an exclusive article to your inbox with each issue along with an email only issue in the summer.

You can follow Thomas W Coombs on Instagram

Issue 41; The Service

The clatter and shake as I push the door open, the smell of fresh leather hitting my senses, the softness of the mat as I wipe my feet.  The rattle as I close the door behind me and look up to be greeted by the retail assistant with a smile and a good morning.
I browse with some direction from my assistant, pointing in the direction of a certain style, as I ponder and nod politely they tell me of the leather, the sole, the last, the style and the fit.  I clearly look distracted by the task at hand, too many choices.  With a reassured smile and expertise that comes with true retail knowledge, I am shown a seat and another option, the slip on loafer in suede, the soft touch as it is placed in my hand, an espresso placed in my other.

I decide to try them all, my assistant is delighted and heads off to get them all returning moments later pulling up their stall and requesting my left foot, removing my older worn style and re-shoeing me like an expert farrier.  The “lift” “push” commands followed by Sir making you feel welcome but not in charge.

The soft touch of the assistant putting on and doing up any laces is an experience like no other, the jokes made of having them put my shoes on every morning to save my back, that I am sure they have heard a million times but laugh just the same.  The warm glowing feeling of the espresso as the show is tested to your foot, then they agree it fits and the other foot is summoned to be fitted the same.  Then you are advised to stand the finished espresso cup taken from me before I leave it on the upholstered chair beside me like the Neanderthal I clearly can be.  I drag myself to my feet, the snug but soft fit hugging my feet like any well shoe should.

With a smile and nod you are asked for your opinion, the look on my face says it all I am sure but I ‘um’ and ‘Argh’ nonetheless so seem that I have not made my mind up, a very English trait.  They give their thoughts on the show and how it looks, truthful to a point, they do like to make a sale too, but with a care that you trust them.  Decision made, shoes boxed and packaged they talk to you about your day, continue with the Sirs, once up on their screen the Mister comes followed by your surname like you are now a friend to the shop, one that will return.  

And after paying you head for the door with your thanks sent back to them knowing that you will of course be back because now they know your name.