The Isle of Arran

A Journey to the Isle of Arran for Our New Brogue

We approach every new style at HELM by examining its ideal environment. At a molecular level, in what spaces do these shoes fit? On a bigger scale, in what regions? And in those places, how is the local culture defined, and by whom? The best thing we can do is celebrate by thoughtful integration, and the worst thing is to co-opt, so it's important to us that each pair spends some time in its namesake's place.

Our new brogue shoe, The Arran, was named after an isle in Scotland, due to the shoe's origins, centuries ago.


In this story:

  • The origin of the brogue shoe

  • Why we chose The Isle of Arran

  • Adam York's journey from the mainland

The Arran is our latest style, a perfect event shoe . Learn more.

"The HELM Arran shoes are a fantastic mix of classic good looks paired with unparalleled cushioning for your feet. Formal shoes are typically aimed at style over comfort, yet HELM has turned this notion upside-down by creating footwear that look the part and is enjoyable to wear all day long and beyond."

- Adam York, of Your Average Guy Style

The Origin of The Brogue Shoe

In 19th century Scotland and Ireland, the brogue wasn't winning any style awards, as a shoe built purely for function. Brogues were the favorite shoe of farmers, not fashionistas. Punched holes on the toe allowed for proper drainage while enduring wetlands, and early brogues used untanned hides.

Over time, functional perforation grew into artistic expression through intricate patterning. Premium leather replaced basic materials. Centuries later, the brogue has earned its place as a stand-out at date nights, dinner parties, and weddings.

The term "brogue" is derived from the Gaelic word "brog" that translates to "rough" or "stout." Specifically, broguing refers to the holed patterns on the toe cap and pink trims you often see along the leather uppers. On The Arran, we've chosen a focused broguing, pronounced with our custom medallion design on the toe cap, an ornamental line toward the vamp, and another intricate patterning emerging from the heel of the shoe, wrapped slightly around both sides.

Why We Chose The Isle of Arran

The Isle of Arran

The Isle of Arran is off the southwest coast of Scotland, and is often regarded as a "miniature version of Scotland's mainland," because it is composed of Highlands and Lowlands, and in the same general areas as one another. We couldn't traverse the entire country, so we chose a small area that also represents the brogue's rich history.

Unlike other Scottish isles, the Isle of Arran is one of the more accessible treks from the mainland, with a ferry that takes under an hour to transport its passengers to and fro. The Isle itself is known for its castles, wildlife, mountains, and cairns, while also boasting one of Scotland's most popular whisky distilleries.

Every pair of The Arran comes with a shoe bag that is patterned after the tartan of The Isle of Arran.

A Journey to the Isle of Arran

The Isle of Arran

Since he's local to the United Kingdom and we enjoy his style, we teamed up with Adam York to send him to The Isle of Arran on our behalf, to put the brogues to the local test. We sent York to Arran on the tail end of rainy season, hopeful that the precipitation would hold off and provide pockets of sunshine in between overcast skies.

Adam packed several suit bags for wardrobe changes to go along with the Black, Burgundy, and Tan colorways we provided to him for the journey. Waiting to board the ferry was simple, according to Adam, and onboard the ship there was a shop with coffee and food. The voyage clocked in at 55 minutes, and so it doesn't take long for the enchanting isle views to come into focus, on deck.

Tips to perfect your footwear journey

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How to break in new boots

How to Care for The Arran Brogue Shoe

Each Black, Burgundy, and Tan pair of The Arran are made from premium Calfanil, full-grain leather. Our usual regimen of footwear care is recommended. When you first receive The Arran, we recommend de-lacing your shoes and applying Otter Wax Leather Sealant with a HELM Shop Rag along the Black Rapid Stitch seams where the upper meets the outsole, and also apply the wax along seams on the upper. Let the shoes sit for a day before re-lacing. If you want to accelerate your break-in period and soften the leather, we recommend applying Blackrock Leather 'n Rich either by hand or with a shop rag.

Brogue Shine and Color Restoration

Every pair of The Arran arrives to you hand-buffed as a last step in its craftsmanship, but as you continue to love your pair and bring out its patina, sometimes shine and color can wane. We recommend Pure Polish products to restore shine and color, listed above.

  • Black: use Black
  • Burgundy: use Burgundy
  • Tan: use Light Brown

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