5 things you never knew about the derby shoe

October 07, 2018

The men’s leather Derby shoe is one of the hardest working all-rounders in your wardrobe. While not quite as smart as the classic Oxford they offer a great midway option between true casual wear and relaxed formal. You can wear the Derby to the office, to Sunday lunch or even for running errands around the city. They are a must-have for the well-groomed man about town.



The Derby is defined by eyelet tabs which are stitched on top of the shoe’s vamp. This is called open lacing and is in direct opposition to the closed style of the Oxford. Derby designs also tend to be chunkier and a little more robust than true dress shoes.

We wanted to dig deeper into this fashion classic and find out more about one of our most worn shoes.

Discover 5 things you never knew about the Derby, below.


mens brown leather derby shoes


1. They were the original Victorian sports shoe

The Derby started to become popular in the mid-1800s when it was used as a sporting or hunting boot for gentlemen. Think of it as a sneaker for the early Victorians! It took a while for the Derby to evolve into acceptable town footwear but by the end of the century it had taken off in a big way. The Derby had become the perfect everyday shoe.

2. The design was inspired by an army officer

Like many shoe designs, there is debate over the true origin of the men’s black leather Derby shoe. Many point to Prussian Officer, Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher as creating the open lacing system that led to the Derby. He led troops in the Napoleonic wars and became frustrated with heavy boots which his troops found difficult to take on and off. He implemented an open lacing system which made boots much more manageable. Some say this was the key inspiration point for the Derby. 

3. They may have been named after an Earl with big feet

The 14th Earl of Derby was a man who was known for his (ahem) impressive width and he found it hard to find shoes to fit his larger than average feet. It’s said that his pioneering shoemaker designed an open laced boot that helped him get his shoes on and off more easily. No one knows for certain the true beginnings of the Derby but it’s likely to have evolved from the ideas of several influencers.


mens black leather derby shoes


4. They have a confusing number of names

The Derby. The Blucher. The Gibson. These are all names that are used to describe Derby style shoes. And that’s before we tackle the many, many instances of people using Derby to describe shoes that just aren’t Derbys at all. Remember that a true Derby has an open lacing system, an exposed ankle and is made up of 3 distinct pieces – 2 quarters and one vamp with a tongue.

5. They are the most comfortable formal footwear  

Do you have high arches? Or wide feet? The Derby could be the answer. The open lacing system makes the Derby less confining than other formal footwear and much less likely to cause your feet a headache!

Pair the Derby with chinos, jeans or a two-piece suit and add a shot of urbane cool to your daytime look.

mens black leather derby shoes

Explore the Derby and other classic shoe styles in Cobb London’s online store at www.cobblondon.com today.



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Size Guide

Cobb Shoes are a standard / regular fitting. sizes shown on the product pages are uk sizes. please see the table below for your local size conversion.

Conversion Table

6 40 7 255 25.5
7 41 8 260 26
8 42 9 265 26.5
9 43 10 275 27.5
10 44 11 280 28
11 45 12 285 28.5
12 46 13 295 29.5
13 47 14 300 30