When comparing Florsheim’s Royal Imperial and Imperial lines, it’s evident that both lines represent high quality, but there are subtle differences to note, especially for enthusiasts looking for something specific in their footwear.
The Royal Imperial line, recognized for its double V-cleats, stands out due to its finer detailing and slightly higher quality materials. This line is seen as Florsheim’s custom grade, offering a premium option above the already excellent Imperial line. The Royal Imperial models, such as the Stratford 96609 (black) and 97606 (brown), introduced in 1966, are known for their thick scotch grain leather, described as “Coventry Calf,” and intricate stitching, showing the brand’s commitment to craftsmanship and luxury.
On the other hand, the Imperial line, which also boasts high quality, tends to focus more on durability and traditional styling. Both lines use high-quality leather, with the Royal Imperial line featuring a slightly softer texture known as Cashmere Calf. Despite the differences, both lines are highly regarded for their craftsmanship and style.
A distinct feature setting the Royal Imperials apart from the regular Imperial line is the higher heel cup and throat, designed to offer a finer level of fitting, enhancing comfort and support. While the Royal Imperials might fit differently due to subtle last variations, wider at the ball and narrower through the instep, the overall quality and craftsmanship remain consistent across both lines.
In terms of availability and pricing, both lines are sought after by collectors and vintage shoe enthusiasts. The Royal Imperial line, intended to compete with high-end shoe brands, might carry a slightly higher price tag due to its positioning as a more exclusive offering. However, quality-wise, as long as the shoes are U.S. made, both lines offer excellent value.
Ultimately, choosing between Florsheim’s Royal Imperial and Imperial lines comes down to personal preference regarding fit, style, and specific features like the double V-cleats and the texture of the leather. Both lines offer exceptional quality and classic styling, making them a worthy addition to any shoe collection.
For those interested in vintage styles or the nuances of high-quality footwear, the Royal Imperial and Imperial lines from Florsheim showcase the brand’s dedication to excellence and its ability to cater to a range of preferences within the realm of luxury shoes.