Who is the man behind the @torpacosaurus handle?
I am Tor Jonsson, 28 years old and Swedish. Basically, I started collecting shoes when I was younger. I liked sneakers especially – I had around 37 pairs. As I grew older I felt that as I was no longer a child, I needed to dress like a grown-up. My late fiancée teased me about always wearing sneakers.
Then I thought: Lets see what’s out there, what should I get? When I was 23, I acquired a pair of Church’s slippers. I thought they were really cool and that I should actually buy some more classic shoes. When I turned 25 I received a pair of black cap toes from my fiancée.
In the beginning, I was inspired by Justin FitzPatrick’s blog as well as the Shoegazing blog, then I started checking the Instagram accounts of Niklas Nordin, Rolle FC and Shoegazing. Then Shoegazing Friday became a thing and that’s when I got started on Instagram as well and decided to post my own shoes.
How is life as an Instagram personality?
We are like a small community, especially here in Gothenburg. A lot of the guys involved work in the menswear industry. We meet up, drink beer, and talk online. We support each other, come up with tips and advice on what type of shoes we should buy or particular shoe shine techniques. It’s a lot of fun.
Sometimes you get weirdos who send pictures, but then you just block and delete whatever they do. They always come around but it’s fun. They can send very explicit photos of themselves. It can be kind of obscene to be honest. Sometimes we troll them, take screenshots and say “look what this weirdo sent” and share it with each other.
How would you explain the increased interest in classic men’s shoes?
I think it’s all about access. Way back when you didn’t have Internet or social media, you could place an ad in the newspaper: “Shoe nerd looking for other shoe nerds,” and you might have gotten one reply. Today, you can find anything online. Especially with Instagram, it’s so direct. I take one picture, upload it, and I get a like from Japan or the US or somewhere else.
You have direct access to everything, which is a good thing. That’s why you can always influence each other and anybody who has a common interest can connect. All of us shoe nerds in Sweden follow each other and there are shoe nerds in Japan, the US, France, the UK or wherever. We can talk to each other and connect just like a small community – which is great.
Which are your favourite shoemakers?
Alfred Sargent. You get a lot of shoes for the money so they are fairly cheap in a sense – if you compare the quality to the price, it’s really good. Their lasts are very nice and they look great as well. The shoes I am wearing right now are also from Alfred Sargent. I also like Gaziano & Girling, and Edward Green. Especially the MH71 last from Gaziano & Girling. I think that’s the best ready to wear last for me.
Are you a fan of English shoes in particular?
Mostly yeah, you could say that. I think it’s mostly about access in that sense. In Sweden, you have retailers who carry Crockett & Jones, Alfred Sargent, Gaziano & Girling, and Edward Green. You can try them on. There are no Italian makers that you can compare to, that are as accessible.
Any advice for the newcomer in the world of classic men’s shoes?
I think it’s important to take your time. Be patient. Don’t rush like I did. I bought about ten pairs in two weeks and the fit was not that great. They were okay but I wish I took it slower and actually tried on different lasts so that I could have a chance to learn which last is best for me. Just take it easy. Wear whatever makes you happy. If you’re happy and if you’re comfortable then it’s all good. Be yourself and do whatever makes you happy. That would be my advice. And don’t forget to shine your shoes!