Grenson Shoes are  famous for their Goodyear welted soles.
Grenson Shoes are famous for their Goodyear welted soles.

Sole awakening



"Let's say that it really has made a massive difference between sleeping at night and not," says Tim Little of his decision not only to run Grenson Shoes, but to spend millions buying it. "I could see that we had turned a corner and I was terrified of walking away and someone else seeing it all take off. Or of someone else messing it all up. But that's the arrogance of being certain that your way is the right way."

In Little's defence, so far it has been. The company, a classic men's shoemaker for 20th-century style icons such as Fred Astaire, Cary Grant and David Niven, has recently undergone an overhaul that has given it a modern appeal without throwing out the traditions of hand-crafting that give English men's shoes a world-class reputation. Grenson shoes may still be made using thread, hammers, nails and clackety Victorian machinery by artisans whose skills are often still passed down through family generations, but now they have a fashion edge to rival those made in Italy - and with a solidity of construction that, in many a shoe buff's opinion, outclasses most continental shoes.

Indeed, when Grenson opens its second London store next year, launches its e-commerce site - which will make finding a pair of dependable, chic but understated shoes in the UAE considerably easier than it is now - and pushes on with collaborations it has built with a number of up-and-coming menswear brands, including Albam and Rag & Bone, Little's case for taking the hallowed traditions of a company established in 1866 down new avenues might well be proven.

That the likes of Oasis' Noel Gallagher and movie icon Jack Nicholson wear Grenson shoes too now just adds to the brand's new cool status.

It was five years ago that financier Christian Purslow's father retired and he inherited Grenson. But shoes were not Purslow's thing and he began to look around for a suitable boss to move the company forward. He found Little, an ex-advertising man who, with pioneering foresight, had set up his own eponymous shoe brand in 1997, taking the best of British shoemaking but updating the style and presentation for a younger, more fashion-savvy audience.

The temptation to take the job was there. Little is a shoe fiend and Grenson is a star name in elite English shoemaking, alongside the likes of Church's, Crockett & Jones and Tricker's. And the need was there too: Grenson was at the same crisis point facing most of the 10 remaining men's shoe manufacturers in the UK. But it would be a huge challenge.

"It was clear there just wasn't demand for Grenson's products," says Little, who has also acted as design adviser to the likes of Dunhill, Tod's and Gieves & Hawkes. "They just weren't modern enough, while the company had come to rely on sales of a moccasin shoe that not only didn't fit with the brand but was sold to an older customer that was dying off. It wasn't alone - much of English shoe manufacturing is stuck on an old-fashioned, stuffy presentation, banging on about quality and nothing else. They understand manufacturing but not the market, because they have grown out of a time when that wasn't required - not marketing in the sense of putting an average product in a fancy box but making the product fit the market. And as far as I was concerned, the moccasin was dead from day one."

Killing the moccasin was not an all-round popular decision. Little faced a barrage of livid callers telling him he was killing an august institution. "They were telling me I was taking the company to the dogs. They felt like they had ownership of the Grenson name," Little explains, "while I felt like I was taking over a beloved football club, given the reaction I got."

He ploughed on with radical changes regardless. Branding and packaging were overhauled. Aware that, as Little puts it, "there are not that many men willing to pay £300 or more for a pair of shoes", he introduced a more accessibly-priced range made in India from designs and materials provided by Grenson, and returned the domestic factory to making only top-flight Goodyear-welted classics, strong on the claim of being 100 per cent genuinely British-made, rather than merely finished in the UK. Customers of the Indian products are now aspiring to trade up. He opened a shop in London's financial heartlands and began to work on making shoes for younger fashion brands that would help win Grenson a new credibility.

And a new emphasis has been placed on the company's apprentice scheme - the lack of sons following fathers in donning the shoemaker's leather apron and learning the 200-plus intricate steps required to assemble a pair of bench-made English shoes are the greatest single threat to the continuation of a centuries-old tradition, Little says.

Little has also taken a new approach to the very way the shoes were made, seeking to maintain the benefits of Goodyear welting. The specialist process by which a sole is affixed to the main body of a shoe allows it to mould to the foot shape for comfort and can be re-soled for longer life, without its associations of weight and stiffness. Lightweight soles and less structured, unlined uppers "suit the more casual way of dressing we have now and are wearable in warmer climates, yet tend to offend traditional shoemakers," says Little. "There is the idea that a Goodyear-welted shoe should be very solid and shiny, an idea that came out of more formal times of dressing and one that has been passed down through generations of shoemakers. It has been easy for me to say 'let's do it this other way' because I'm from outside the industry."

It has been a creative move that Little remains convinced must eventually be made by all English men's shoemakers using Goodyear welting, if use of the process is to survive. The process may remain valid, but the results expensive. "There are a tiny number of aficionados who understand why Goodyear welted shoes are worth the money, but most men don't get that until they have experienced wearing them, and see that a pair of shoes can still look great after years of wear," says Little. "The fact is that the shoes have to look like they are worth the money. That's what gets men wearing the shoes in the first place."

It is a lesson not lost on the new Grenson, with collections that speak of English shoemaking craftsmanship, but with a lightness of touch, literally and figuratively, to bring it up to date. For example, the new spring/summer range includes unlined calf suede boots with crepe wedge soles, or what Little is calling a "summer brogue", not just with a less heavyweight construction but visually lighter too, with the brogueing underlaid with white leather and the sole hand-painted white as well. And there are suede and leather correspondent shoes in homage to the The Great Gatsby, which is soon to see a new movie version; Grenson made the shoes for Robert Redford in the original.

"The new approach has been possible because we were lucky in that Grenson was hardly selling any shoes, so the brand had not been ruined, so much as just left to die," says Little. "But I had this moment about four months into the job when I thought it was all too much to fix and Grenson was too far gone. You start with the idea that it's 80 per cent OK and you just need to correct 20 per cent of the way things are done. Then you find it's the other way around. It was when I showed our plans to some of the big fashion footwear buyers and they said, 'That's exactly what we've been looking for', that I was persuaded to keep going."

All the way, as it has turned out. During a break from Grenson early this year to allow Little to refocus on his own label, when he served as an adviser to Grenson, Purslow asked him an unexpected question: would Little help him find a buyer for the business?

Little decided he liked the product so much, he would buy the company, with help from the bank and a few investors. With Little now the sole owner, and decision-maker, it offered the opportunity for Grenson to develop further still, even perhaps to provide something of a template for just how other English shoe manufacturers might consider their own futures.

"English shoes are well known to be among the best in the world, and it is a craft that is in danger of being lost," says Little. "But it's all about having a product that's relevant. English shoe manufacturers need to understand design and most don't even have a designer. It's just bizarre.

"I hope Grenson might be an example of the need to have someone who understands design. That doesn't mean making wacky or weird shoes. It does mean realising that, although English shoes may be fashionable at the moment, that is not a trend that can be relied on indefinitely. When fashion changes, the tills will stop ringing unless we're doing something new."

SPEC SHEET: SAMSUNG GALAXY Z FOLD 4

Main display: 7.6" QXGA+ Dynamic Amoled 2X, 2176 x 1812, 21.6:18, 374ppi, HDR10+, up to 120Hz

Cover display: 6.2" HD+ Dynamic Amoled 2X, 2316 x 904, 23.1:9, 402ppi, up to 120Hz

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, 4nm, octa-core; Adreno 730 GPU

Memory: 12GB

Capacity: 256/512GB / 1TB

Platform: Android 12, One UI 4.1.1

Main camera: Triple 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 50MP wide (f/1.8) + 10MP telephoto (f/2.4), dual OIS, 3x optical zoom, 30x Space Zoom, portrait, super slo-mo

Video: 8K@24fps, 4K@30/60fps, full-HD@30/60fps, HD@30fps; slo-mo@60/240/960fps; HDR10+

Cover camera: 10MP (f/2.2)

Inner front camera: Under-display 4MP (f/1.8)

Battery: 4400mAh, 25W fast charging, 15W wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, 'all-day' life

Connectivity: 5G; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC (Samsung Pay)

I/O: USB-C

Cards: Nano-SIM + eSIM; 2 nano-SIMs + eSIM; 2 nano-SIMs

Colours: Graygreen, phantom black, beige, burgundy (online exclusive)

In the box: Fold 4, USB-C-to-USB-C cable

Price: Dh6,799 / Dh7,249 / Dh8,149

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg

Barcelona v Liverpool, Wednesday, 11pm (UAE).

Second leg

Liverpool v Barcelona, Tuesday, May 7, 11pm

Games on BeIN Sports

MATCH INFO

Qalandars 109-3 (10ovs)

Salt 30, Malan 24, Trego 23, Jayasuriya 2-14

Bangla Tigers (9.4ovs)

Fletcher 52, Rossouw 31

Bangla Tigers win by six wickets

Meydan race card

6.30pm: Maiden; Dh165,000; (Dirt) 1,200m
7.05pm: Handicap; Dh170,000; (D) 1,200m​​​​​​​
7.40pm: Maiden; Dh165,000; (D) 1,900m​​​​​​​
8.15pm: Handicap; Dh185,000; (D) 2,000m​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
8.50pm: Handicap; Dh185,000; (D) 1,600m​​​​​​​
9.25pm: Handicap; Dh165,000; (D) 2,000m

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

WHAT ARE NFTs?

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are tokens that represent ownership of unique items. They allow the tokenisation of things such as art, collectibles and even real estate.

An NFT can have only one official owner at one time. And since they're minted and secured on the Ethereum blockchain, no one can modify the record of ownership, not even copy-paste it into a new one.

This means NFTs are not interchangeable and cannot be exchanged with other items. In contrast, fungible items, such as fiat currencies, can be exchanged because their value defines them rather than their unique properties.

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat

 

 

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

Volunteers offer workers a lifeline

Community volunteers have swung into action delivering food packages and toiletries to the men.

When provisions are distributed, the men line up in long queues for packets of rice, flour, sugar, salt, pulses, milk, biscuits, shaving kits, soap and telecom cards.

Volunteers from St Mary’s Catholic Church said some workers came to the church to pray for their families and ask for assistance.

Boxes packed with essential food items were distributed to workers in the Dubai Investments Park and Ras Al Khaimah camps last week. Workers at the Sonapur camp asked for Dh1,600 towards their gas bill.

“Especially in this year of tolerance we consider ourselves privileged to be able to lend a helping hand to our needy brothers in the Actco camp," Father Lennie Connully, parish priest of St Mary’s.

Workers spoke of their helplessness, seeing children’s marriages cancelled because of lack of money going home. Others told of their misery of being unable to return home when a parent died.

“More than daily food, they are worried about not sending money home for their family,” said Kusum Dutta, a volunteer who works with the Indian consulate.

Tips for travelling while needing dialysis
  • Inform your doctor about your plans. 
  • Ask about your treatment so you know how it works. 
  • Pay attention to your health if you travel to a hot destination. 
  • Plan your trip well. 
ESSENTIALS

The flights 
Emirates, Etihad and Swiss fly direct from the UAE to Zurich from Dh2,855 return, including taxes.
 

The chalet
Chalet N is currently open in winter only, between now and April 21. During the ski season, starting on December 11, a week’s rental costs from €210,000 (Dh898,431) per week for the whole property, which has 22 beds in total, across six suites, three double rooms and a children’s suite. The price includes all scheduled meals, a week’s ski pass, Wi-Fi, parking, transfers between Munich, Innsbruck or Zurich airports and one 50-minute massage per person. Private ski lessons cost from €360 (Dh1,541) per day. Halal food is available on request.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

The specs

Engine: 2.3-litre 4cyl turbo
Power: 299hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 420Nm at 2,750rpm
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 12.4L/100km
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh157,395 (XLS); Dh199,395 (Limited)

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 2 to 5
Rating: 5/5

The biog

First Job: Abu Dhabi Department of Petroleum in 1974  
Current role: Chairperson of Al Maskari Holding since 2008
Career high: Regularly cited on Forbes list of 100 most powerful Arab Businesswomen
Achievement: Helped establish Al Maskari Medical Centre in 1969 in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region
Future plan: Will now concentrate on her charitable work

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat 

SPECS

Engine: Supercharged 3.5-litre V6
Power: 400hp
Torque: 430Nm
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh450,000

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

Last five meetings

2013: South Korea 0-2 Brazil

2002: South Korea 2-3 Brazil

1999: South Korea 1-0 Brazil

1997: South Korea 1-2 Brazil

1995: South Korea 0-1 Brazil

Note: All friendlies

The 12 breakaway clubs

England

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur

Italy
AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus

Spain
Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid

DUBAI BLING: EPISODE 1

Creator: Netflix

Stars: Kris Fade, Ebraheem Al Samadi, Zeina Khoury

Rating: 2/5

Jewel of the Expo 2020

252 projectors installed on Al Wasl dome

13.6km of steel used in the structure that makes it equal in length to 16 Burj Khalifas

550 tonnes of moulded steel were raised last year to cap the dome

724,000 cubic metres is the space it encloses

Stands taller than the leaning tower of Pisa

Steel trellis dome is one of the largest single structures on site

The size of 16 tennis courts and weighs as much as 500 elephants

Al Wasl means connection in Arabic

World’s largest 360-degree projection surface

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

Keep it fun and engaging

Stuart Ritchie, director of wealth advice at AES International, says children cannot learn something overnight, so it helps to have a fun routine that keeps them engaged and interested.

“I explain to my daughter that the money I draw from an ATM or the money on my bank card doesn’t just magically appear – it’s money I have earned from my job. I show her how this works by giving her little chores around the house so she can earn pocket money,” says Mr Ritchie.

His daughter is allowed to spend half of her pocket money, while the other half goes into a bank account. When this money hits a certain milestone, Mr Ritchie rewards his daughter with a small lump sum.

He also recommends books that teach the importance of money management for children, such as The Squirrel Manifesto by Ric Edelman and Jean Edelman.

Museum of the Future in numbers
  • 78 metres is the height of the museum
  • 30,000 square metres is its total area
  • 17,000 square metres is the length of the stainless steel facade
  • 14 kilometres is the length of LED lights used on the facade
  • 1,024 individual pieces make up the exterior 
  • 7 floors in all, with one for administrative offices
  • 2,400 diagonally intersecting steel members frame the torus shape
  • 100 species of trees and plants dot the gardens
  • Dh145 is the price of a ticket
The specs

Powertrain: Single electric motor
Power: 201hp
Torque: 310Nm
Transmission: Single-speed auto
Battery: 53kWh lithium-ion battery pack (GS base model); 70kWh battery pack (GF)
Touring range: 350km (GS); 480km (GF)
Price: From Dh129,900 (GS); Dh149,000 (GF)
On sale: Now

Abramovich London

A Kensington Palace Gardens house with 15 bedrooms is valued at more than £150 million.

A three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront bought for £22 million.

Steel company Evraz drops more than 10 per cent in trading after UK officials said it was potentially supplying the Russian military.

Sale of Chelsea Football Club is now impossible.

The specs: 2018 Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE

Price, base / as tested: Dh263,235 / Dh420,000

Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6

Power 375hp @ 6,500rpm

Torque: 450Nm @ 3,500rpm

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Fuel consumption, combined: 9.4L / 100kms