crockett and jones highbury derby shoes

The best Derby shoes for men

14 Aug 2023 | |By Hitanshi Kamdar

Cut a timeless silhouette in a pair of Derby shoes you’ll wear for years

All products are chosen independently by our editors. Luxury London may earn commission on items purchased.

Menswear narratives are often centred around the idea of must-have wardrobe essentials – a navy suit, a dark overcoat, a crisp white shirt, the perfect pair of blue jeans – with the idea being that, with a few staple building blocks, evolving your style while looking polished couldn’t be simpler. These staples all have one thing in common: versatility. And, when it comes to wear-with-anything accessories, a pair of Derby shoes should be at the top of your list.

There is hardly a setting in which Derby shoes don’t look right. The menswear equivalent of a multi-hyphenate, they can smarten up your jeans and dress down your summer suits with equal ease, and they come with some serious men’s style heritage to boot. Here’s everything you need to know.

What are Derby shoes?

For those confused about the distinction between a Derby and an Oxford, it’s all in the laces. While Oxfords are defined by a ‘closed-lacing’ system, Derbies feature an ‘open lacing’ system. This means that the eyelet tabs are stitched on top of the vamp (the upper part of the shoe that covers the top of the foot). Derbies, therefore, provide more room to adjust your shoe compared to Oxfords, making them more casual and comfortable.

With more ease and wearability than Oxfords and more elegance than loafers, Derbies are the smartest and most versatile pair of shoes you’ll own (aside, perhaps, from your favourite white trainers). Here’s our pick of the best.

Church’s Brogue Derby Shoes

A classic full brogue Derby from reliable English shoemaker Church’s, this pair is perfect for a traditionally tailored touch. Crafted in an oaky brown calf leather, the shoes feature a round toe and longwing brogueing. The refined shoe has a sturdy rubber sole for added comfort and longevity and also comes in black and tan colourways.

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Russell & Bromley Spectrum Toe-Cap Derby Shoes

As with most versatile pieces, Russell & Bromley’s Spectrum Derbies are sleek and understated. Durable and stylish, the shoes are handcrafted in northern Portugal from black calf leather and feature a stitched toe-cap atop an elongated toe with four eyelet lacing and a sturdy leather sole.

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Cheaney Deal II Derby Shoes

An absolute classic, Cheaney’s iteration of the classic round toe Derby is finished in hand burnished mahogany grain calf leather. Featuring a full leather insole, the Deal II boasts all the hallmarks of a well-crafted shoe, including a double-weight Goodyear-welted studded rubber sole.

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Brunello Cucinelli Suede Derby Shoes

Who said Derby shoes had to be leather? Brunello Cucinelli switches things up with these coffee brown suede designs. The buttery-soft suede features a leather lining, a soft almond toe and a rubber sole. Pair with faded jeans to add an effortlessly dressed up appeal to your strolls around the city.

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George Cleverley Archie Leather Shoes

Decades of experience in exquisite shoemaking is reflected in George Cleverley’s classic Derbies. The sleek traditional construction is complemented by smooth leather in rich burgundy while the rubber soles feature a slight heel and are serrated for better grip.

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Crockett & Jones Pembroke Derby Shoes

While the brogue’s perforations are purely decorative now (they were originally designed to help uppers dry more quickly in damp country climes), the Pembroke is a classic full brogue country-style Derby shoe that deserves a prime spot in your wardrobe. With an elegant wing tip design, the shoes are made from beautifully textured dark brown Scotch grain leather. Wear to your next garden party to make a lasting impression.

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Prada Triangle-logo Derby Shoes

Make a subtle but powerful statement with Prada’s black leather derbies. The classic silhouette of the shoes is updated with a black-toned take on the house’s iconic triangle logo motif across the vamp. Pair with a monochrome black outfit for a look that exudes luxury.

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Charles Tyrwhitt Square-toe Derby Shoes

Charles Tyrwhitt cuts a contemporary silhouette with these square-toe derbies. Constructed in leather detailed with light brogueing, they are crafted to be easily repaired and resoled after years of weathering to increase longevity. The comfortable and sophisticated shoes are also finished with a slight heel.

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Christian Louboutin Chambeliss Derby Shoes

All it takes is one piece of signature embellishment to elevate these Derbies. Made with supple leather, they feature silver-tone bar-bells across the vamps while the soft rounded almond toe and smooth leather uppers are offset with grosgrain trims. Of course, they also feature Louboutin’s signature red sole.

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Yuketen Kiltie Derby Shoes

A slightly more casual iteration of the classic Derby shoe, these Yuketen Derbies borrow elements from moccasins. Crafted in brown textured leather, they’re detailed with a trimmed kiltie fringing. Perfectly at home at a summer barbeque or a sailing sojourn, they’re perfect for dressing up more casual outfits.

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Maison Margiela Tabi Derby Shoes

A more on-trend take, Maison Margiela’s iconic ‘Tabi’ silhouette lends itself beautifully to these chunky soled Derbies. Featuring the distinctive split-toe, these shoes are crafted in black brushed leather and polished to a high-shine finish.

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Etro Paisley-Print Derby Shoes

Smooth auburn calf leather uppers offset with a unique contrasting paisley-print lining make Etro’s designs the Derby version of fun socks to brighten up a boring suit. Perfectly suited to formal settings with their rounded toe and flat sole, they also feature a pull-tab at the heel for ease of wear.

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