Perfect boots and a story of excellent customer service.
This review will be in two parts - one will deal with the boots themselves and one with how I got them as that is a testimony of the dedication of Solovair staff to their work.
The boots are the trusty old Derbies that Solovair fans love so much, only a little higher than your standard 8 eyelets. I have skinny ankles which is why I need them a little higher - so anyone who is in the same position, well, I recommend you give it a try.
Comfort, fit and finish is the usual Solovair standard, and anyone who knows the brand at all, knows how high they raised the bar. Solovairs are really beautifully crafted pieces of footwear of outstanding quality and workmanship.
Durable, comfy, good grip on most surfaces, a perfect all round companion. High quality leather, there is corrected leather... and there is the corrected leather used by Solovair. The difference is massive, take my word for it.
Burgundy-rub-off has a very unique shine and look, hard to describe, best to experience, but I think words like smart, elegant and interesting would fit the bill. Anyone who has a pair of 8 eyelets, do consider the 11s, you may never look back. And anyone who so far hasn't managed to be that little bolder and go for something else but black - burgundy rub-off is for you. You can get the red or the black more prominent depending on how you care for the boots, apply black polish to get them darker or keep them dark, or apply neutral polish to let the burgundy shine through a little more. It's all up to your taste.
Now - part II, my personal experience with Solovair customer service. I had ordered a pair of tassel loafers without having had the chance to try them on in any shop. Promptly, they were too big. I noticed that immediately and so immediately contacted customer service about a chance of returning them. They agreed, which was nice of them, seeing that the mistake had been made by me. They even agreed to part ex them for a pair of other boots instead of the usual 'We'll send you a pair of the same model in a different size'. I had agreed to pay the difference of course, but that is beside the point. They could have said 'no, it's either a different size or your money back'. Which they didn't do.
They asked me what I would want instead and I was a bit vague about which boots I wanted, hoping to give them the choice as I couldn't know what was in stock, so I said '11 eyelets, Derbies or Astronauts, rub-off or oxblood'. Once again, any of the two pairs would have been totally acceptable and if they had stopped there, sending me whichever they had more of or whichever was easier to get down from the shelf, I would have been happy. Especially as at that time their Facebook customer service channel was playing up making quick contact difficult.
But no, Solovair customer service just had to go the extra mile and spend money on overseas phone calls. They rang me and said: 'Look, we have got both boots in your size, so which ones do you want?'
Well, you see what I chose, but I also think that this is customer service at another level - and so I would like to send a very, very big thank you to the good people at Wollaston making such a fine product and looking after their customers. Am over the moon.