3rd Avenue of Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood is thick with the patina of a once-thriving, still kinda-thriving industrial zone: welding shops, lumber yards, sign-makers, the place that replaced the glass on my fireplace door after it shattered into a million and four pieces. There are also a few very good, very dark bars, and a shop that sells $42 pies that are absolutely worth it. And then there’s Crowley Vintage.
I must have walked by it dozens of times over the years; every pass represented a tragic mistake. Its owner Sean Crowley—a designer for Ralph Lauren for a decade-plus who worked on everything from Rugby to RRL—has been collecting vintage and antique everything, quite literally since he was seven years old.
Prior to entering Ralphworld, he augmented his already honed sensibilities while working for Bobby From Boston (of, well, Bobby From Boston—whom Sean refers to as “the best men’s vintage dealer on earth in my humble opinion.”). All the while, he was busy amassing a collection of some of the finest “decidedly traditional” vintage American and British tailored fashion you’ll ever be lucky enough see/buy—as well as and “more esoteric pieces that don’t necessarily make the approved list of ‘men’s vintage clothing’ items”.
He’s also got some shoes. Sean’s personal taste swings towards English shoes, “and again, very traditional. I like my soles thin and my waists trim. I’m very fussy about color too. I have a lot of old Church’s and C&J that I like. I’m definitely a laces guy. Loafers stress me out, but they look great on other people,” he told me while wearing something else pretty casual and comfortable: RRL’s copy of a WWII navy pilot’s deck shoe.
The provenance of some of the shoes for sale were obvious, while others’ marks from forgotten makers had worn away long ago. But I took pictures of them all. Enjoy.
Ralph Lauren slip-ons by Edward Green. Just a stunning shoe. Sean also had them in black.
Tremendous old woven Florsheims in essentially new condition.
More-sheims (I’m a dad now, they just flow out. Sorry.)
Don’t mind the shoe trees—these are most likely John Lobb bespoke tassels loafers. The leather on them is insane.
I’d never heard of this brand, but some research turns the above up as “W.T. Thrussell & Son, University Bootmakers, Cambridge.”
There’s almost nothing on them out there, but I did uncover this ad from the Cambridge review circa 1907, which establishes that the company was founded in 1850, and made everything from shooting boots to boat shoes. I also very much like that Jay Smith has a horse that will come pick up your dry cleaning.
I’ll fully admit that the lighting on this one didn’t come out up to my standards, but these old Ralphs simply had to be displayed. Unsure on who manufactured them.
Wonderful condition perforated cap toe oxfords from Walk Over, whose family shoemaking lineage dates back to 1758 and purports to be the “first men’s brand name footwear made in America.” I didn’t have a wealth of familiarity with the brand previously, but some research turns up an excellent range of bucks and saddles—I believe the below are also from Walk Over.
It seems that the brand thrived post-war, selling in 100 countries and counting 40+ retail stores, then became largely a department store brand, before fading from existence in the last couple years—possibly temporarily; I’m unsure. But their website now only lists this message: “Thank you for visiting the Walk-Over Shoes website. Currently we do not have any products available for purchase. We welcome you to visit us again in the future.”
Speaking of bucks, these dirty boys from Ralph are basically the perfect example. I remain confused as to how I didn’t leave with them.
Hand bespoke needlepointed wool slippers, mostly from 1930s-1950s England. Remarkable stuff.
Tremendous Scottish ghillie brogues. Maker indecipherable—but someone reading this must know that crest.
Some wonderful old Jodhpurs from the 1940s, made for Piccadilly’s Fortnum & Mason.
And finally, some very excellent military boots…
…complete with hobnails. Perfect for tiled floors!
Crowley Vintage is located at 546 3rd Ave in Brooklyn, between 13th and 14th streets. Open on weekends from 12-6; weekdays by appointment, just contact Sean