Is Mr Hagueÿs new laddism a load of old cobblers?

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Indy Politics

So, William Hague. A true man of the people. Product of a comprehensive school education. Erstwhile downer of 14 pints of beer a day. And, er, purchaser of made-to-order shoes at £400 a pair.

So, William Hague. A true man of the people. Product of a comprehensive school education. Erstwhile downer of 14 pints of beer a day. And, er, purchaser of made-to-order shoes at £400 a pair.

Mr Hague, who tried to shed his nerdish Tory Boy image on Tuesday by confessing he drank heavily as a teenager (to snorts of derision from those who remembered him as a lad), also revealed that when it comes to matters sartorial he is anything but a man of the people.

Despite claiming to be "not overconscious" of fashion, Mr Hague's daily wardrobe of a bespoke suit, made-to-measure shirt and specially crafted shoes costs almost £3,000.

His footwear, he confided, comes from GJ Cleverley, purveyor of handmade shoes to the likes of Charlie Watts and Lennox Lewis as well as the fashion designers Georgio Armani and Ralph Lauren and the late Clark Gable, Lawrence Olivier and Humphrey Bogart.

The tiny shop, in the Royal Arcade off Bond Street, was deserted yesterday. Most people who can afford up to £2,500 on a pair of bespoke shoes, do not spend August in the capital, said the assistant loftily.

But Tony Gaziano, one of two designers at the store, confirmed Mr Hague was a customer: "He didn't order bespoke shoes but he has about seven pairs of made-to-order."

The difference, and it is a crucial one, is that bespoke shoes are entirely made by hand to the foot's precise measurements. Even the thread is hand-rolled from a ball of raw hemp and dipped in beeswax to help it grip the leather. They come with a six-month waiting list.

Mr Hague's shoes are simply made to his size, nine and a half, and he chooses the leather, the design and the finish. The shoes are sent to Northampton where they are stitched by machine and returned in a mere three months.

The Leader of the Oppostion restricted himself to a few classic styles - the monk (strap and buckle), the brogue and the semi-brogue, in shades of brown and black leather, but he could have ordered crocodile, pig or even 214-year-old Russian reindeer hide. Cleverley's bought a small of amout of this which was salvaged from a ship wrecked off Drake's Island, in the Plymouth Sound, in 1786, and there is still some available for the really discerning customer for £1,400.

"Bespoke shoes will last for about 30 years if not longer and the made to order can last for 20," said Mr Gaziano. "The real difference is the quality of leather and the perfect fit. We have some clients who save up for years and may only have one pair, or some multi-millionaires who come in and buy six pairs at once. Mr Hague started off with one pair and then came back and ordered five or six more in one go."

Cleverley's prides itself on its distinctive style: the shoes are long, slim and elegant with a square toe, which is regarded as being slightly trendier than their rivals. Prince Charles, who has had shoes from them, usually frequents Lobbs, which sticks to a more classic design.

As one city gentleman rushing past yesterday in a £300 pair of Church's, said: "Cleverley's is for people who are too cheap for Lobbs, which average about £1,500. It's a tad extravagant I think."

But it's not just Mr Hague's shoes that are expensive. His suits, of which he has about a dozen, are all made-to-measure by two tailors, Henry Poole in Savile Row and Timothy Everest, for around £2,000.

His shirts, nearly all blue because he is colour blind, come from Budd, of Piccadilly Arcade, at £112.50. His ties, nearly all spotted because he likes them that way, from Turnbull and Asser, on Jermyn Street, cost £49.

His cufflinks are usually presents from his wife, Ffion, who prefers the novelty variety - mini pound signs, maps of Britain, roulette wheels and playing cards.

And in a flash of that devilish humour for which he is known, Mr Hague said he even had a pair which spelled out "Up Yours Delors" but he doesn't wear them often.

Perhaps Mrs Hague has now commissioned some new cufflinks in the shape of beer glasses to remind the Tory leader of his misspent youth.