The name is hard to get a handle on, being at once both monastic yet deeply cool. While the origin is hard to pinpoint, one thing that won't be is your sense of style when you step out in a pair of monk strap shoes.
The shoe is defined by its strap and buckle, or two straps and two buckles in the case of the charmingly named 'double monk', which replaces laces.
Worn with a sharp suit, it's about a suave a look as you can get, says William Church, joint managing director of esteemed English shoemaker Joseph Cheaney & Sons.
"We're definitely seeing a lot more now than we were two years ago, because it just became a fashion within a fashion," he says.
Church sees it as a 'graduation' style; that is, something men make the step up to when they're already fielding a pair of traditional Oxfords or brogues in the wardrobe.
"The double buckle monk offers that opportunity to just have a shoe that is still classic, but just a bit different from the run-of-the-mill look for a Goodyear-welted shoe," he says. For a pair in the classic English style, Cheaney's Holyrood double monks in bronzed espresso are undoubtedly a timeless classic.
Supply and demand
While the monk strap has always been a popular shoe, the huge spike in recent popularity can be put down to one retailer: Suitsupply.
In recent years, the Dutch company – which manufactures its own suits in China – has taken the menswear world by storm. And, like any successful business, a key part of its success has been its marketing.
A key pitch for any clothing brand is its imagery, and Suitsupply's are among the most influential in global menswear. Suitsupply models are regularly photographed wearing monk straps, and particularly double monks, typically from revered Italian shoemaker Antonio Maurizi.
Name of the game
Best known as quite a formal shoe, the monk strap's popularity has spurred some Italian labels to create more relaxed and eclectic versions, says Anthony Barbieri, the co-owner of Melbourne's 124 Shoes.
"Some of the Italian shoe makers such as Officine Creative and Lagoa are pushing the envelope with their left-field interpretations of a monk strap," Barbieri says.
"With Officine Creative, these include two-tone and buckle-less varieties, and Lagoa even make a stylish double monk espadrille, which has been very popular in this summer in the northern hemisphere."
If you're after a new pair of shoes, ask yourself if you really need another pair of Oxfords or Derbies. It might be time to leave them aside and go for the shoe with the best name in the game.
Scroll through the gallery above to see some of the best monk straps shoes around.
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