The English have traditionally been very much for wearing only black shoes "in town" ... ie, when wearing a suit to work. Brown shoes are reserved for the country ... ie, when wearing a suit to go to the local pub, shoot critters, mess about in boats, and so forth. (No doubt these attitudes were passed on to the Scots, Welsh, and Irish, but most of the information I have is about England and specifically London, so I will aim my comments there.)
Many "continentals", the Italians in the forefront, have been much more accepting of brown as an attractive "business suit" shoe colour.
I'm not even going to try to describe how those different approaches were or were not accepted in North America ... except to say that the English preference for black shoes has been fading in North America (and, it seems, just about everywhere other than the UK) of late.
Bottom line: you probably want to plan your shoe collection a bit differently depending on which side of the Chunnel you live on.
Be there or be square. Only I can do both!
I've got a cat named Beefeater and a dog named Beefeater, and two goldfish called Beefeater and Beefeater. There's Beefeater my hamster and Beefeater my horse, and my piglet, known as Beefeater of course.
Veteran of the Great Irisch Moos Campaign of 2008-09