CP Slippers Tan Leather Slipper Review – $31.50

It’s always enjoyable to review an item a bit off the beaten path of leather products, so I jumped at the chance to review CP Slippers Tan Leather Slippers. Simple yet well done in both design and construction, this fine leather footwear is great for cold winter nights around the home.

About CP Slippers

Having lived in Japan for two years and come to love the country and culture, I was thrilled to discover that CP Slipper’s inspiration originated there. During a trip to Japan in 1981, CP Slipper’s founder (grandfather of current owner Oscar) discovered the Japanese tradition of removing shoes at the front entrance and replacing them with slippers. He then began making simple slippers from a single piece of premium leather, and that tradition continues today, over 30 years later.

Construction

While incredibly simple, construction of the Tan Leather Slipper is solid. The single piece of soft, Napa calfskin is cut and shaped around a mold before being stitched. Stitching is thick and uniform, well navigated around the somewhat tricky edge created from the mold. Edges aren’t burnished, but are well cut and smooth.

Function

Using nothing but leather for slippers is certainly a unique idea, and it’s both novel and functional in practice. The soft, smooth feeling of the leather on your feet is delightful. Since it’s just a single piece of leather, it molds with your feet quite nicely, and only provides minimal cushion, allowing you to mostly walk naturally with just a hint of added padding. I noticed a slight adjustment in my gait as I adjusted to having them on my feet, but I got used to this. My favorite part is that it keeps your toes warm. It can be too warm, but since it’s just the front of your feet it isn’t too bad.

One thing to expect is that dirt or spills on the floor will absorb and stick pretty easily to the soft leather. If you mostly walk on carpet this likely won’t be as big of an issue. Remember that natural leathers need to be protected from water and cared for.

Aesthetic

Like the construction, the look of CP Slipper’s products is very simple. Truthfully, I’ve gotten some funny reactions when others have seen these! I’ve been asked what they are and heard comments about how overly-simple the design is. Personally, as a leather lover, I think they look great. While not a typical design, I know these will mold to my use and develop a great patina. CP Slippers offers several other dyed colors as well.

Conclusion

If you’re a fan of both slippers and leather, you’ll like what CP Slippers has to offer. Your toes will stay warm as you enjoy the soft leather gently protecting your feet. The simple design and construction leaves little to be desired, the price is very reasonable, and the leather should last a good while if well cared for.

Viberg Color 8 Chromexcel Service Boots

Hello everyone! I’m new here to the BestLeather crew but I’m a leather enthusiast the same as everyone else with a special place in my heart for footwear.

Many companies have their take on the service boot, but the Canadian company Viberg is widely known for their impeccable interpretation of it. Viberg has many different models of the service boot and this particular pair that I’m going to be reviewing is from Blue Button Shop.

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About Viberg

Viberg was founded in 1931 by Ed Viberg and has been family owned and operated into the present day by 3rd generation family members. Viberg is based in Victoria Canada and in the last 5 years has expanded their work boot line into the fashion market. They use top of the line materials from leather sourced from Italy and US tanneries, Swiss hobnails, and Vibram soles.

Construction

Viberg’s fashion line of service boots are mainly constructed using a stitch down method of manufacturing. While they do use a Goodyear Welt on some of their footwear they are known for their use of the slightly more unique stitch down method.

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This particular pair is built on their sleek 2030 service boot last using Horween color 8 chromexcel leather, structured perforated cap toe, 8 antique brass eyelets, and British Dainite out soles.

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For anyone unfamiliar with Horween’s chromexcel it is an excellent oily pull up leather that ages and develops a patina that is hard to match. It can be prone to loose grain at times but my pair appears to be free of that entirely and is creasing beautifully. Scuffs and scratches wipe away with your finger or light brushing of a horsehair brush.

Outside of nit picking minor scuffs from shipping the boots are immaculate. The Horween leather uppers are thick and substantial, stitching is immaculate, and the presentation from Blue Button Shop is excellent.

Fit and Sizing

As is the case with most boots, Viberg’s on the 2030 last run a half size larger than Brannock sizing and possibly an entire size larger than what one would wear in sneakers. My feet are a slightly wide 8D on a Brannock device but not quite an 8E and this pair in a 7.5 fit great with thin to medium weight socks. If I wanted to wear really thick socks I would likely have to size up to an 8. For reference I wear a 7.5 in Red Wing Iron Rangers, a 7.5 in the Alden Barrie last, and an 8.5 in most sneakers unless they provide wide sizes.

Look and Feel

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The color 8 Horween chromexcel is an elegant deep eggplant color with red undertones that comes through in sunlight. The Dainite sole keeps the silhouette lean while providing a suitable amount of traction while being hard wearing and make the boots wearable in inclement weather.

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This particular pair of boots pair well with both denim and chinos. They work well for me both on the weekends and in my business casual setting at work. These are not my first pair of Vibergs so I knew what to expect, but everything about these boots checked all the boxes I wanted. They came with a pair of black and brown waxed round laces and I’m not sure which I like more at this point.

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The price tag for Vibergs is a large step up from other service boots like Red Wing but there is an aesthetic they provide that can’t be found easily elsewhere. They are much sleeker and slim than other boots in the fashion work boot space and that’s a large part of the cost. Viberg’s pattern and high quality combined create a truly awesome product.

Conclusion

If you can tolerate the price or are a footwear fanatic like myself, you can’t go wrong with Viberg. They make boots and shoes in an astounding number of leathers and construction methods so there is bound to be a makeup that you’ll fall in love with, either from Viberg directly or one of the many stockists.

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Soft Star Hawthorne Chukka Boots Review — $190

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Soft Star Hawthorne Chukka Boots Review $190 BestLeather.org IMG_20160718_110540784

The name chukka comes from the Hindi word chukker, meaning a circle or turn. This word was used in polo to mark periods of play. But polo players wear riding boots, right? Yes. The fact is, it’s unclear how this style of boot got its name, but some speculate that off-duty polo players might’ve worn something comfortable like the chukka boot while strolling town (which happens to be another connotation of the word chukker—e.g., to walk a casual loop).

But I was on the lookout for an unconventional style of chukka boot. I wanted a zero-drop version, the kind that doesn’t have any rise beneath the heel. I won’t get into the why here (there’s plenty already published if you’re the curious sort), but I will tell you what I found: Soft Star’s Hawthorne Chukka Boots.

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About Soft Star

Tim and Jeanie Oliver founded Soft Star 30 years ago. The company made shoes with a soft structure for kids, to allow for more natural foot development and growth. As they had success with those initial products, they began to expand into adult footwear. They attribute a spike in their success to the publishing of Born to Run in 2009—when so many people started looking for a minimalist running shoe. Their latest product is an adult fashion boot, which I’ll tell you about.

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Soft Star Hawthorne Chukka Boots Review $190 BestLeather.org IMG_20160718_111449466

Construction

The structure is like that of a traditional chukka boot. It’s ankle high, and open laced (which means the vamp, the part that covers the toe, is underneath the quarters, which the laces are attached to). This open lacing creates a distinct shape: a straight line comes to a point at the bottom of the laces and then curves back toward the heel and down. This simple structure gives the boot lot of character.

And speaking of simple, this is an unlined shoe, meaning there’s only one thin layer of leather over your feet, with no extra padding or lining. This adds to the comfort factor and reduces the weight and bulk. But it also means the boots don’t have the typical body and form of other shoes. This boils down to a simple functional fact: you can’t wear them unlaced. (They’re about my only shoes that I lace up.) But even laced, they feel great. They’re made of a soft, flexible leather, almost like a slipper.

The laces have no metal eyelets, just three holes punched in the leather. Again, an exceptionally simple style that impacts form and function.

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Function

They’re way comfortable—this is one aspect I’m particularly excited to talk about.

The insole has a rubber bottom to keep it from slipping, and it’s suede on top, which is soft against your foot.

The soles are fairly thick and give you great padding when walking on concrete and other unforgiving surfaces. They’re not bad for just standing in either, almost like you’re on a firm yoga mat.

The leather upper stretches slightly, so you might end up wanting a size smaller than you’d otherwise expect. I, however, actually fit my foot into a pair two sizes down from what I settled on in the end. So it’s a matter of whether you can stand a tight feel while the boots stretch to fit your foot. I do sometimes wish I’d gone a size smaller.

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Soft Star Hawthorne Chukka Boots Review $190 BestLeather.org IMG_20160718_111134110

Aesthetic

The name of these Hawthorne chukka boots got me excited—it suggests an American classic, something rugged and vintage. It made me want to wear them while milling around some dark, New England forest haunted by the ghosts of dead authors. The color and finish of the leather reinforce this aspect, and I like the simple black laces against the brown.

I have to be honest, though: parts of the look took a little getting used to, and my opinion has gone back and forth a few times since they arrived. (Maybe I’m just not quite hipster enough.) Some days I feel like they’re a tad too primitive. Mostly it’s the flat toe that gets me. I wish it had a little more body at the end, like a curled fist (which would’ve given my toes more room in the smaller size). Other days, I love the look and the funky hipster vibe they give off. On those days, I think of them as rudimentary urban moccasins, and I like the look a lot. In the end, it’s your call—the photos are frank about the unconventional style.

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Soft Star Hawthorne Chukka Boots Review $190 BestLeather.org IMG_20160718_110843039

BestLeather Conclusion

If you decide to order, I recommend this method for getting your shoe size right: Put your heel against a wall, and put a thick book at your toes to mark the distance. Then move your foot and measure. I discovered this method late in the game, which meant I should’ve had a major headache doing several exchanges. But Soft Star’s customer service is a wonder—so quick to help. They sent a prepaid label for the returns, and the new pair arrived right away, saving me time, money, and stress. I’m sure you’ll have a similar experience.

Soft Star’s Hawthorne Chukka Boots are lightweight, soft, and flexible. They have a unique visual style that makes a statement. They’re also zero-drop shoes, which means they have all the accompanying benefits. Most of all, they’re exceptionally comfortable.

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Grant Stone Longwing Crimson Review – $335

The wingtip brogue is a staple in many men’s wardrobes today, but the longwing brogue is still making it’s way back from the 1970s. We’ve had the chance to try out this style in Grant Stone’s Longwing Crimson. These standout shoes feature a Goodyear welt over a thick, stacked leather sole, a pull-up leather upper, and have a great vintage sense of style.

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ABOUT GRANT STONE

Grant Stone‘s small team is directed by Wyatt Gilmore, a third generation member of his family to be in the shoe business. Wyatt has spent years living near their factory in Xiamen, China, drawing from the decades of experience in his family as well as their factory to design their shoes. Grant Stone seeks to add their own touch to classic styles, making shoes that would be hard to find copies of elsewhere, with well fitting designs and high end materials.

Grant Stone’s leathers are sourced from the USA and Europe. Each pair of shoes is shipped with a pair of single-shoe dustbags.

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CONSTRUCTION

The Longwing Crimson is a longwing brogue derby. Surrounding a steel shank, cork fill, and rubber heel is nothing but leather. The upper is a lovely, heavy weight aniline pull-up leather dyed in-house.

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The sole is Goodyear welt construction, with an impressively thick stacked leather sole and open channel stitching. The heel has a small rubber insert for longer wear and traction, but the sole is otherwise leather, and can be replaced by a cobbler when it finally wears through. Between this and the quality, thick upper, you’re looking at a shoe with a long lifetime.

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Overall construction across the shoe is done very well. It gives the appearance and function of a high-end shoe. There’s a few minor inconsistencies, but they’re cosmetic and only visible at very close inspection.

From a construction standpoint, Grant Stone seems to have taken a fair amount of inspiration from Alden. The steel shank first made me feel this way. Alden is known for using them, in comparison to companies such as Allen Edmonds, who have chosen to forego the durability of a shank in favor of a lighter and more flexible shoe. The rubber heel portion, overall design of the sole, and quality of materials used enforce the Alden comparison as well.

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FUNCTION

The first thought you’ll have upon putting on the Longwing Crimson for the first time will almost certainly be that this is a heavy, thick soled shoe. Fears about a long, painful wear-in period definitely come up, but I was surprised to discover that this wasn’t an issue. The comfort wasn’t as instant as a thinner, lighter shoe, but for how thick and stiff the sole is, the wear in was pleasant. Over time the midsole molded to my feet and the shoe softened up. A nice vamp crease has developed, and scuffs in the leather can easily be rubbed out or given some treatment and brushing.

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The Longwing Crimson is such a tough shoe that it may take a little time, but they’ll eventually become like an old friend who sticks with you year in and year out.

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Fit

Like many formal shoes, Grant Stone’s tend to run a bit large, in part due to the Leo last used to form them. I’m typically a US 9 for tennis shoes and a US 8 for formal shoes, and a size 8 Longwing Crimson was right for me.

AESTHETIC

A longwing brogue is a unique style that stands out amongst similar shoes, though in a subtle way. The brogue pattern extends to the back of the heel, rather than ending around the ball of the foot with a typical wingtip. In addition, Grant Stone’s Leo last makes the shape stand out–it gives the toe area a bit more roundness and space than many similar shoes.

While the highly fashionable amongst us will pull these off with cuffed jeans (as a longwing or wingtip shoe is technically less formal than a quarter- or half-brogue), I personally favored pairing the Longwing Crimson with a suit and tie. Whatever setting you like them in, one thing is for sure: this is a beautiful shoe, and you’re going to get compliments.

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The crimson color tends to range visually from brown to a deep red/orange color depending on the light. The aniline finish of the pull-up leather shines well and really catches the eye. The whole effect is a savory high-end shoe with a bit of a vintage flair, thanks to the longwing brogue and thick edging.

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CONCLUSION

The Grant Stone Longwing Crimson is a very tough and stylish shoe. The longwing brogue design and more rounded toe area give it a subtle uniqueness. The quality leathers will make it stand out in whatever setting you choose to wear them in. There is a wear in period, but it’s surprisingly comfortable even in this phase. I made the comparison to Alden’s construction style, but thankfully, the price doesn’t even approach that of the more famous brand, and this could be a a great economic alternative. With proper care and resoling, the Longwing Crimson will last for many, many years, and I highly recommend them to those wanting to add a bit of flair to their shoe collection.

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OluKai Men’s Moloa Kohana II – $130

If you live in a temperate area summer probably isn’t such a big deal to you. It’s just a notable demarcation on the calendar. However, for those of us who live in areas that are definitely marked by four distinct seasons, summer time is always something that’s anticipated and greeted…warmly. It’s time for shorts, short sleeves, shoes without socks, a visual inspection of how pathetic your tan is, and it’s time to get outside and soak up some much needed sunshine!

With that being said, it was great to receive a pair of shoes from OluKai. After visiting their booth during Fashion Week in Las Vegas in February of this year, I was excited to have spring and summer get here so I could begin wearing the Olukai Moloa Kohana II shoes.

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ABOUT OLUKAI

OluKai is a footwear company that takes its inspiration from the beaches of Hawaii. Their motto is that “everybody, no matter where they are, can live Aloha.” They offer footwear for men, women, and children, all inspired by the feeling of bare feet in wet sand.

“It started as a different approach to a footwear company. We wanted to create footwear that combines durability for the waterman, ocean lifestyle, and a brand that has strong values and roots with style, comfort, and craftsmanship.”

We have had the privilege of reviewing for Olukai in the past too. If you’d like, you can check out that review here.

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CONSTRUCTION & FUNCTION

The Men’s Moloa Kohana II is a beachy slip-on, made with laser cut full grain leather. The outsole is a combination of leather and rubber for traction and durability. It’s stitched with contrasting nylon thread with the flexes at the ankle via embedded elastic.

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The insoles are a contoured polyurethane gel covered with cork. The footbeds are totally removable and washable, which is great since I tend to wear these barefoot most of the time. The contoured insoles are made to imitate the feeling of bare feet in wet sand, I must say they have achieved their goal. The shoes are incredibly soft and the insoles make the shoes comfortable to wear without socks in most casual environments.

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One of the most unique aspects of this shoe is what OluKai calls the “Drop-In Heel”, an angled seam at the back of the heel that allows the wearer to slide into the shoe with ease. This is a great function for beachgoers and I’ve found it to be incredibly useful…in spite of the fact that I don’t live anywhere near a beach. It’s just a nice feature to have…slip ’em on, slip ’em off with ease.

I have experienced a few stray “threads” popping out here and there…but nothing that has compromised the integrity of the shoe or the aesthetic. I’ve simply trimmed it back and moved on. Sizing seems to be pretty spot on. I’m always on the border between sizes with an 11 or 12. I received a size 11, which was a little snug at first. But, they have stretched a little bit and are now extremely comfortable.

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AESTHETIC

The Moloa Kohana has a very relaxed, beachy look, which is a natural given the overall Olukai vibe. The shoe elicits a sort of huarache style with geometric cutouts on the vamp that add ventilation and visual interest. It’s the perfect go-to summer shoe and is at home in any low-key environment. It comes in two colors, rum and khaki. My khaki pair is a nice sandy brown color that wears well with any casual outfit.

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CONCLUSION

The OluKai Moloa Kohana II is a great option for summer footwear, with thoughtful details and a sturdy construction. Competitively priced at $130, you will get several comfortable summers out of these unique shoes.

Taft Clothing The Mack Boot Review – $260

When Kory, founder and owner of Taft Clothing, handed me The Mack Boot, he told me to “wear them hard.” For the last several weeks I’ve done just that, nearly every day, in a wide range of situations. These boots have taken all the beatings I’ve handed them with no problems, and drawn in a lot of compliments along the way. The Mack Boot is a high quality, stylish, and surprisingly affordable leather boot.

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ABOUT TAFT CLOTHING

Taft Clothing began in Provo, UT in 2014 with a Kickstarter project…for no-show socks! After high initial success with socks, they’ve since transitioned to a focus on their line of luxury, European (mostly very unique) shoes. This family-run business aims to disrupt the typical notion that you have to pay outrageous prices in order to get high quality. By completely cutting out the middle man, refusing to sell wholesale, and only providing products direct to consumer, Taft is able to provide shoes you may see on a store shelf for $600 for less than $300. There are, however, no compromises in quality – some of the finest materials and construction methods out there are used in Taft Clothing’s line.

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Taft Clothing enhances the direct-to-consumer personal touch with a few inserts in their packaging, including a personal thank you, short bios on some of the Spanish artisans, care tips, a Taft shoe horn, and dust bag.

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CONSTRUCTION

The Mack Boot is handcrafted in Almansa, Spain. Taft’s team of experienced leather artisans have made shoes for numerous high end shoe brands around the world.

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Both the brogue pattern upper and lining is made with Vachetta natural (read: untreated vegetable tanned) leather; cowhide for the upper and calfskin for the liner. The leather is hand cut, stitched with Gutermann polyester thread, and hand painted. These steps are clearly done with expert hands – each edge and stitch is immaculate, and the rich cognac coloring is gorgeous. Speed hooks are made of cast iron.

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The Mack Boot’s stacked leather outsole is Blake stitched to the upper for flexibility and comfort, and can be resoled. All leather is sourced from Italy’s Artigiano Del Cuoio tannery. Rubber inserts in the outsole provide traction and comfort in all conditions, combining the advantages of leather and rubber.

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FUNCTION

It’s only been several weeks since The Mack Boot and I were acquainted, but they already feel like old friends. On day one they felt fantastic, and after dozens of wears and plenty of abuse, things have just gotten better. The Vachetta upper and lining is soft enough to form to you, but sturdy enough to provide support. They’ve slowly molded to my feet and ankles and now fit like a glove. The reinforced heel and toe provide additional protection.

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I’m a huge fan of the speed hooks. They allow me to leave the shoes tied in most circumstances, just pulling the laces off the hooks to get in and out of the shoe. The tabs on the back of the heel make putting them on quicker yet (though they do occasionally catch my pants, too).

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I’m excited to see how well The Mack Boot continues to handle time, use, and all the situations I throw at them. So far, I’ve worn these boots to work, school, church, athletic events, camping, DJing, and more, and they’ve taken it all like a champ. Outside of exercise, I think the only thing that prevents me from wearing them is when the weather gets too warm – as would be expected for any boot, they’re best matched with pants and cooler weather.

Taft-Clothing-The-Mack-Boot-Review-260-13 Some well-worn outsoles

FIT

My 10”/25cm long and 4”/10cm wide (at the ball) feet typically end up in an American size 8 or 9 formal shoe or EU size 41, and Taft’s shoes run true to this as a 41 was the right fit for me. They’re a bit more snug on my toes than on my narrow heel.

CARE

After some intense jumping and lifting while DJing, a small amount of color bleed ended up on my socks. Taft suggests the use of shoe horns to keep shoes dry. A small insert included in the box has a few other care tips, as well.

AESTHETIC

The Mack Boot is incredibly versatile. In formal settings they’re brogue wingtips, in rugged situations they’re combat boots, and everywhere in-between they’re right in-between. In none of the situations I introduced them to did they feel out of place or fail to function well, nor did they fail to draw compliments!

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The hand painted cognac color is stunning, with hints of brown, red, and orange, depending on the light. As you can see, I couldn’t stop taking photos of The Mack Boot!

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CONCLUSION

Taft Clothing’s The Mack Boot is a fashionable, rugged, competitively priced shoe. Materials and construction are top notch, and the style shines in nearly any situation. Not only are you getting a phenomenal value product from a company that cares about its customers, but you’ll get a shoe that will last for years to come. I love my pair more each time I wear them, and highly recommend The Mack Boot.

Be sure to drop by Taft Clothing’s web store to see The Mack Boot and the rest of their unique shoe collection.

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Taft-Clothing-The-Mack-Boot-Review-260-16 Jack recommends The Mack Boot, too

A Comprehensive List of American-Made Footwear

There are many reasons to buy American-made – from creating jobs to reducing your carbon footprint to enjoying safer, higher-quality products. We’ve compiled a list of footwear brands that are manufactured right here in the US of A. Several of the companies below do not manufacture their entire product lines in the U.S., but we’ve linked to their American-made lines.

Made in America Cover

Alden – Men’s dress and casual shoes made in Middleborough, Massachusetts.

Allen Edmonds – Men’s dress and casual shoes made in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

Anbu Safety  – one professional leather safety shoes manufacturer and supplier, mainly produce leather work shoes and work boots.

Aurora Shoe Company – Men’s and women’s casual shoes made in Aurora, New York.

Bates Footwear – Men’s and women’s military and uniform shoes and boots. Select styles made in Big Rapids, Michigan.

Beck – Men’s and women’s cowboy and work boots. Made in Amarillo, Texas.

Belleville Boot – Men’s and women’s military and law enforcement boots and shoes. Made in Arkansas.

Broken Homme – Men’s casual boots and shoes, made in Los Angeles, California.

Brooklyn Boot Company – Men’s casual boots and shoes, made in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania.

Chippewa – Men’s and women’s casual and work boots, made in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

Cobra Rock – Men’s and women’s casual boots, made in Marfa, Texas.

Cord Boots & Shoes – Men’s and women’s shoes and boots made in Atlanta, Georgia.

Cordoba – Men’s and women’s sandals handmade in Lebanon, Ohio.

Crary Shoes – Men’s and women’s boots and shoes, custom made in Portland. Oregon.

Danner – Men’s and women’s work and outdoor boots, made in Portland, Oregon.

Double H Boots – Men’s and women’s western boots. Select styles made in Martinsburg, PA.

Eastland – Men’s and women’s casual boots and shoe, made in Freeport, Maine.

Frye – Men’s and women’s casual boots and shoes, made in Marlboro, Massachusetts.

G.H. Bass – Men’s and women’s casual and dress shoes, made in Wilton, Maine.

Helm – Men’s and women’s casual boots, made in Maine and Arkansas.

Johansen – Men’s and women’s casual and dress shoes made in Gretna, Virginia.

Johnston & Murphy – Men’s and women’s dress and casual shoes. Select models made in Nashville, Tennessee.

Justin Boots – Men’s and women’s western boots. Select styles made in Spanish Fort, Texas.

Julian Boots – Men’s casual boots, made in Los Angeles, California.

Keen – Men’s and women’s work, casual, and outdoor shoes. Select styles made in Portland, Oregon.

LL Bean – Men’s and women’s casual and outdoor boots and shoes. Select boot models made in Freeport, Maine.

Luchesse – Men’s and women’s western boots, made in El Paso, Texas.

Hoffman’s – Men’s work boots made in Kellogg, Idaho.

Mara and Mine – Men’s and women’s casual shoes, made in California.

Munro – Women’s casual shoes and sandals made in Clarksville, Arkansas.

New England Outerwear Company – Men’s and women’s casual boots and shoes made in Rockport, Massachusetts.

Nicks Boots – Men’s work and casual boots manufactured and custom made in Spokane, Washington.

Oakstreet Bootmakers – Men’s casual boots and shoes made in Chicago, Illinois.

Onex Shoes – Women’s casual shoes made in Southern California.

PS Kaufman – Men’s and women’s casual boots and shoes, made in Los Angeles, California.

Ranch Road – Men’s and women’s western and casual boots. Select styles made in Texas.

Rancourt & Co. – Men’s and women’s casual boots and shoes made in Lewiston, Maine.

Red Wing – Men’s work and casual boots and shoes, made in Red Wing, Minnesota.

Rider Boots – Men’s casual and dress shoes and boots, made in Richmond, Virginia.

Rios of Mercedes – Western boots made in Mercedes, Texas.

Russell Moccasin – Men’s casual and outdoor boots and shoes, made in Berlin, Wisconsin.

San Antonio Shoes – Men’s and women’s work and casual shoes made in San Antonio, Texas.

Sbicca – Women’s casual boots and shoes, made in Los Angeles, California.

Schnee’s – Men’s outdoor boots made in Bozeman, Montana.

Sofft – Women’s casual boots and shoes, made in Pennsylvania.

The Brothers Crisp – Men’s casual boots and shoes, made in Hartford, Connecticut.

Thorogood – Also known as Weinbrenner Shoe Company. Men’s work and casual boots. Made in Merill, Wisconsin

Tony Lama – Men’s and women’s western boots. Select styles made in Texas.

Truman Boot Co. – Men’s casual boots made in Northeast Pennsylvania.

Walkover – Men’s and women’s casual boots and shoes, made in Pennsylvania.

Wesco – Men’s and women’s work and casual boots, manufactured and custom made in Scappoose, Oregon.

White’s Boots – Men’s work and casual boots, made in Spokane, Washington.

Wolverine – Men’s and women’s work and casual boots, made in Big Rapids, Michigan.

Yuketen – Men’s dress and casual boots and shoes. Select styles made in Los Angeles, California.

Zuriick – Men’s casual boots made in Spokane, Washington.

*Did we miss someone? Please contact us or leave a comment below and let us know. 

Paul Evans Caine Bit Loafer Review – $349

We all know that shoes don’t make the man…but they certainly make the man feel more suave, debonair, and stylish that’s for sure! But, when searching for a pair of shoes to wear to the office or those more upscale events, the choices are vast. Classic dress shoes rarely go out of style. So when you’re ready to purchase, do so wisely as a well-informed consumer. We encourage you to read about Leather Shoe Construction and Leather Types Used in Shoe Construction – we hope you’ll find those informative and helpful articles as you begin your decision on which brand and style of dress shoes to purchase. And, speaking of brands, we hold Paul Evans in high regard, so let’s take a look at their Caine Bit Loafer.

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ABOUT

Paul Evans is a small operation based in New York City, where the shoes are designed. Each pair of Paul Evans shoes is manufactured in a family-owned factory in Naples, Italy. They’re e-commerce only, meaning there are no middleman markups.

“When we set out on this venture, we knew we wanted quality, but we weren’t interested in creating a pair of thousand dollar shoes. We never understood why beautiful, timeless shoes were still monopolized by the traditional brands while other parts of the fashion world were being disrupted by the powers of technology.”

In January of 2014 we featured a guest post from Paul Evans entitled, “Why My Leather Shoes Are Made in Italy”, which is a great piece on (you guessed it) why Paul Evans’ shoes are made in Italy.

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CONSTRUCTION

Each pair of Paul Evans shoes is made of Italian calfskin leather. The upper is made entirely of full grain Italian leather, in a beautiful black with a classy sheen. The soles are also leather, handpainted black to match the uppers. The inside is lined with soft, light brown leather that adds comfort as well a smart contrasting look.Paul Evans Caine Bit Loafer 6

 

The sole is Blake-stitched, which means the upper is wrapped around the insole and attached between it and the outsole. This gives the shoe a bit more flexibility, as well as a sleeker sole, and the ability to be re-soled in the future. The Caine is expertly constructed, with its subtle curves and perfect stitching.

AESTHETIC

The Caine Bit Loafers have a dressy loafer shape to them, with a bold horsebit crosspiece further embellished with a signature Paul Evans fleur-de-lis. With a high-polish leather, a pronounced heel (about 3/4 inch), and bold hardware, these shoes definitely stand out. The impression from my office mates has been extremely positive with lots of questions about them and positive comments about the color and overall style. They are not as modern of a style as most of Paul Evans’ line, but is still a versatile shoe with broad appeal.Paul Evans Caine Bit Loafer 5

 

The vamp is of medium depth, so the shoe can be worn with or without socks. The shoe definitely has Italian influences to it with the horsebit hardware and a somewhat elongated and elevated toe. The Caine comes in three colors: black, oxblood, and marronne (a medium brown). The black is of course the dressiest of the three.

FIT

Paul Evans warns that that their shoes run a full size and a half large, and they aren’t kidding. Be sure to order smaller than you’re used to. Paul Evans’ customer service has been very helpful in our experience, so don’t feel worried or afraid to ask questions. Once you’ve determined the correct size, ordered and received them, it’s time to get them on your feet. Holding a quality dress shoe in your hands is great…but walking in them is just awesome and such is the case with the Caine Bit Loafers. They break in quickly and all day comfort isn’t really considered – it just happens. The Cain Bit Loafers are a versatile style that can be worn in colder weather and then easily worn sock-less on warmer spring and summer days.

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THE VERDICT

So far I’ve been very happy with the Paul Evans Caine Bit Loafer. They are definitely a shoe that I’ll wear for many years to come. Dress shoes can be ridiculously expensive, but these come in at $349. Yes, that’s still a decent sum of money. But, you are getting an Italian made shoe with high quality components, and when taken care of properly will last most of your working career. That makes them a great deal. The Paul Evans business model has so far been very impressive (direct to consumer with no middle man); their shoes’ quality and design could easily pass for brands twice the price. You can even save $25 when you join their newsletter or create a member account. So, go get ya some!

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Timberland Women’s Savin Hill Tall Boots Review – $240

Well, the cold weather has come around, which means it’s time to break out the sweaters, jackets, scarves, and other wonderful wintry apparel. Of course, the best footwear to pair with these outfits is the beloved boot. I firmly believe that a nice pair of riding boots are an important staple for a woman’s wardrobe, especially if you live in a colder climate. Today we’ll be looking at Timberland Women’s Savin Hill Tall Boots.

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ABOUT TIMBERLAND

Timberland can trace its roots all the way back to 1920s Boston, where Nathan Schwartz began his career as an apprentice stitcher. Schwartz and his family grew the company and, in the 1950s introduced an innovative injection-molding technique that allowed them to waterproof their boots. In 1973, they introduced the “Timberland” brand, and the rest is history. Timberland is now a huge clothing and footwear brand that operates stores worldwide. Their company headquarters are in Stratham, New Hampshire.

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CONSTRUCTION & FIT

The Savin Hill’s uppers are made with full-grain leather. It’s thick enough to feel substantial yet supple enough to wear comfortably. It has a nice waxy sheen that looks great and adds a waterproofing element. The inside is lined with a cute mesh fabric and zipped up with a hefty brass colored zipper.

The calf circumference is 14.25 inches and is adjustable with a pegged gusset at the top. The boots fit true to size and fit comfortably with thick wool socks. The shaft height is 14″ which makes them slightly taller than similarly styled riding boots. I’m quite tall at 5’10” and these boots fall comfortably above mid-calf. I’ve tried on other riding boots that have looked too short for me, so the height is a big plus in my book.

Timberland Savin Hill Tall Boots 6These boots take a little bit of time to break in, so I’d recommend wearing them for short periods of time at first. The front of the ankle is a bit tough and takes some time to soften as well. After that, they are quite comfortable, with a removable padded footbed made from recycled plastic. **Side note: Timberland has a pretty impressive commitment to sustainable and climate-friendly manufacturing. You’ll notice a lot of their shipping and manufacturing materials are recycled or biodegradable. You can read more about that here.**

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AESTHETIC

The Savin Hill boots have the classic riding boot look with a few extra details to make them unique. The lighter colored stitching and the threaded detailing on the back give them a distinct look. The 1-inch leather wrapped heel and rubber outsole match nicely, and the big brass buckle gives it that iconic riding boot look. The rubber outsole provides decent grip.

The Savin Hills come in three colors: Tobacco Forty, Black Forty, and Wheat Woodlands, a light tan color. My Tobacco Forty color is a nice, rich cognac color. It has a bit of a distressed, marbled look, which I prefer because it hides scuffs well.

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CONCLUSION

Timberland Women’s Savin Hill Tall Boots are a great choice if you’re looking for unique looking riding boots that will last. Over the years I’ve had several similar pairs of boots from this price range and the quality of the leather on the Savin Hills is my favorite. These have a timeless riding boot look that won’t go out of style, and their sturdy construction mean you will get your money’s worth.Timberland Savin Hill Tall Boots 3

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Thorogood Boots Dodgeville Boots Review – $349.95

Boots are best in the footwear department. Yes, that’s a strong statement to make…but, it’s my opinion – take it or leave it. When Thorogood Boots (also known as Weinbrenner) approached us about reviewing another popular pair of boots for them, I jumped at the chance. This time around we’re checking out their Dodgeville line.

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About Weinbrenner Shoe Company

Iconic American success stories are awesome and the story of Albert Weinbrenner, son of a German immigrant and cobbler, holds true to form. Albert began his apprenticeship at age 13 working for his father. By his early 20s, in his spare time, Albert was designing work boots specifically for the trade jobs his friends had around Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1892, at the age of 27, Albert started his own cobbler business with partner Joseph Pfeifer.

Weinbrenner and Pfeifer enjoyed immediate success – becoming well known for their “jobber” boot. Today Weinbrenner Shoe Company is still based in Wisconsin and employs over three hundred people in the local area.

As alluded to in the opening, this is the second pair of Thorogood Boots we’ve reviewed. The first pair, the Portage CXL Roofer Boots, were very impressive and chosen as the “Best Boot for 2014”. We’ll be issuing an update on those boots soon – but, don’t worry…they’re performing admirably and still look fantastic.

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Construction & Function

The Dodgeville Boots are part of Thorogood’s 1892 Collection, which was introduced as a throwback to some of the original work boots designed for the hardworking outdoorsmen of turn-of-the-century Wisconsin. The line reintroduces the beloved No. 60 last, which has become an icon in men’s footwear.

Each boot from the 1892 Collection is made with Horween’s Chromexcel Leather, constructed with a goodyear welt and nitrile cork sole. Each series is inspired by a different “jobber”: farmers, roofers, trappers, and more. The Dodgeville line is inspired by the Wisconsin miners who needed the toughest boots around to stake their claim and make their fortune.

The outsole is padded with a leather and a partial Vibram lug. This makes the shoes quite comfortable for long-term wear and ensures a good long life. The Goodyear welt construction also means that this boot can be resoled and repaired for years to come.

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As with the Portage CXL Roofer, the Dodgeville Boots require a noticeable break in period. As my friend Richard Martens – International Sales Manager for Weinbrenner cautioned in the past, “you earn the right to wear a pair of Weinbrenner’s” and it’s a completely true statement. But, don’t be dismayed or turned off by that statement. The process is well worth the reward. Be prepared when you purchase these boots. Initially you won’t wear them for very long. Take your time…increase wear time from day to day. And then, “the day” will occur – it’s the day when you notice that your Dodgeville boots feel fantastic on your feet. In fact, you will probably go about your day’s work and kind of forget about them (until someone comments or asks about them) and then you’ll realize that your break in period is complete. From that point forward, the Dodgeville Boots will easily be regarded as your ‘go to’ footwear of choice.

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Aesthetic

The subtle cap toe design really sets the Dodgeville apart and makes it a very unique looking boot. All of the 1982 Collection uses the classic No. 60 last, which is a very iconic silhouette in men’s footwear.

The Chromexcel leather, as usual, looks beautiful with its waxy sheen. With Chromexcel leather boots, you can sometimes get what’s called “bloom,” a whitish waxy substance that rises to the surface of Chromexcel leather due to its high oil content. This is normal and easily resolved with a quick wipe from a horsehair brush. So, we’d recommend investing in a horsehair brush when you pick up the Dodgevilles. Be sure to read up on Chromexcel leather here.

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The Dodgevilles come in three classic colors: Black, Brown, and Cognac, all versatile and attractive colors. I’ve found that my cognac pair is a quite flexible and timeless color, with brass colored eyelets that give it a great vintage look. Each boot color comes with matching flat waxed laces. Not only does the style catch people’s eye, but they always comment appreciatively on the color too.

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Conclusion

Weinbrenner’s Thorogood Dodgeville Boots will truly last you a lifetime. With each component made and assembled in the United States, you know you are getting tip-top quality when you purchase a pair of Thorogood Boots. The Thorogood name has been trusted and respected by hardworking men and women since 1892, and their time-tested techniques result in a sturdy, attractive product that is well worth the price tag. The only issue you’ll have is choosing which color to purchase…

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Dr. Martens Women’s Pascal Boots Review – $135

In 1960 the first pair of Dr. Martens boots left their Northamptonshire factory in the English Midlands. In the time since then, Dr. Martens have become an icon, embraced by rebellious British youth championing working-class style. Today we’ll be taking a look at the Dr. Marten Women’s Pascal Boots.

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ABOUT

This is the third pair of Dr. Martens footwear that we’ve reviewed here. Read our review of their 1460 ForLife Boots here, and the Made in England Weaver Shoes here.

Based in England, Dr. Martens’ impact on youth culture and beyond can be seen around the globe. They’re innovative, yet steeped in tradition – cutting edge but always paying tribute to their past. Dr. Martens is a brand that seems to cross multiple generations these days. You’re just as likely to see a 40 year old dude sporting a pair of Docs as you are an angst filled teen in one of their latest boot styles.

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CONSTRUCTION & FUNCTION

The Pascals are Goodyear-welted, with a chain-stitched and heat-sealed upper and sole. The welt itself is also chain stitched to the upper and insole. This construction makes the boots quite sturdy and able to stand up to the elements. The leather is a tight grain, soft Nappa leather. It is stitched in single, double, and triple rows with a matching thread to create a nice, smooth look and allows the main focus to be on the signature AirWair sole and contrast stitching Dr Martens in known for.

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Dr. Marten shoes are well-known for their AirWair soles, which was born out of a partnership with a German duo in the late 1950s. The AirWair sole is an air-cushioned, extremely comfortable to wear sole that is oil resistant, offers excellent long term wear, and great traction. My mom – the lucky recipient of these shoes – is a Registered Nurse  who specializes in home health care. She is on her feet for hours at a time, and is able to wear these shoes all day long with no issues.

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AESTHETIC

These boots have the classic DM aesthetic, with the thick, yellow thread used for the contrast stitching and the hefty, tan AirWair sole. They are a bit slimmer and tighter than some of the industrial boot styles, which works perfectly for a ladies’ boot. The front part of the sole is also a bit thinner, which makes for a slightly less imposing boot with a smaller silhouette. The Dress Blues color is versatile and matte, making it easy to pair with plenty of outfits.

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THE ORIGINAL LINE vs THE VINTAGE LINE

When it comes to Dr. Martens, there is some debate about the quality of the Original Line, which is made in Vietnam. DM offers a “Vintage” Line (Made in England series), which is still made in England. In my experience, boots from the Vintage line have higher quality leather and more solid construction. The Vintage Pascal comes in a shiny black brush-off leather, with a matching black sole. And usually, the debate ends with the ultimate question of economics. How much do you want to spend? The answer is purely up to you and your budget.

If you have the money, I’d suggest spending the extra $100 and upgrading to the Vintage Pascals, which will last quite a bit longer with a more custom fit. (The Vintage 1460s are a unisex boot in a similar style.) However, if you are mostly concerned with getting the Dr. Marten aesthetic, the Original Line will suit you perfectly. Both lines are very sturdy, well built, and feature the hefty sole and classic heel loop that are so iconic to the brand.

CONCLUSION

The Dr. Marten Women’s Pascal Boots are a great choice for ladies looking for that iconic Dr. Martens look at an affordable price of $135. With their slimmer silhouette, the Pascals are a great asset to any ladies’ wardrobe. They are comfortable for all-day wear right out of the box and stand up to the elements like a champ.

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Steve Madden Romah Wingtip Oxford Review – $120

I have been a lover of shoes since I was a child. I always wanted to have the newest and coolest styles, and was never really content with the shoes I had. Unfortunately, I haven’t changed much in that regard. I have enough shoes in my closet for many women to be envious. Shoes are still one of my favorite things to own and Steve Madden has impressed me with their Romah Wingtip Oxford.

Steve Madden #1

About

Steve Madden has been an iconic footwear name for many years in the women’s fashion scene. After such a successful 10-year stint there, Steve Madden Men’s line was launched. Starting as a primarily casual offering, Steve Madden Men’s has evolved into a funky lifestyle brand that guys of all ages should include in to their wardrobe. Their purpose is to offer men as many different styles as possible, all at a high-quality, wallet-friendly price.

Steve Madden #2

Construction

The Steve Madden Romah is constructed with a full leather upper, synthetic sole, and an extremely comfortable fabric inner lining. The shoes are assembled in China, and brought back into the United States. The leather on this shoe is a very soft, polished leather that has age beautifully after several months of use. While some people like their dress shoes to develop a patina and worn-in look, the Romah Wingtip Oxford was not constructed to do so. The leather is very scratch resistant and will maintain the clean, sophisticated tan color.

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Function

This shoe is designed to be worn with anything from summer wear and bright colors to chinos and muted colors for the colder weather. Because it is lace less, it really functions as a casual yet dressy Oxford. Steve Madden is famous for the spunky, funky, do-what-you-want look, and these shoes are a perfect example of the lifestyle brand they have successfully created. I have used these shoes many times for casual summer evenings and even a little more dressy outings such as business meetings. Each time, I had numerous friends and family members ask about the shoes. The Romah is a funky shoe for the independent man that has functioned flawlessly and become my go-to casual shoe.

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Aesthetic

Steve Madden has done a wonderful job designing this shoe. Because of the unique brogueing trim and perforated medallion toe, the Roma is truly a do it all Oxford. The sleek tan color and no-nonsense shine of the Roma is perfect for a stylish, do it all shoe that most men should have in their closet. The lace less aspect of the Roma is the most important. Because the shoe does not have any laces, it exudes the casual, classy look. But the beautiful brogueing and sleek lines strengthen the dressy, modern side of the shoe. This feature is really what sold me on the quality and overall desirability. I do not own any other shoes like this, and Steve Madden has done an excellent job and will keep me coming back.

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Conclusion

The Romah Wingtip Oxford has proved to be a staple in my ever-growing wardrobe. The beautiful tan color, perfect brogueing, and lace less feature really turn this shoe into a perfect example of Steve Madden design. If you are looking for a funky, do-it al shoe, check them out. To purchase the Romah, use the Steve Madden Amazon store. The store has the Romah Wingtip Oxfords on sale for $63.00. This is a deal you shouldn’t pass up.

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Rossi Boots 343 Musk Boots for Women Review – USD $118

There may be a contender in my family as far as who ends up with the most boots. While I still enjoy a fairly healthy lead, my wife is coming on strong with her own collection. Recently she added a new style of boots to her ‘fashion arsenal’ from Australia’s Rossi Boots. This new addition is the Rossi 343 Musk Boots.

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About

This is the second review we’ve done for Rossi Boots. Our first featured a pair of their men’s boots (which are awesome and will be featured in a follow up review shortly). Based in Adelaide, Australia Rossi Boots knows a thing or two about footwear design. They’ve been in the business since 1910. They’re well-known and extremely popular down under…and we’re trying to help people around our parts discover the awesomeness of their footwear.

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Construction

The Musk Boots are made with full grain kip leather. Kip leather is a soft, luxurious cowhide. It’s often used in high-end baseball gloves because it offers superior flexibility while still retaining high tensile strength and durability. The color is claret (a deep brown with hints of red mixed in there). Designed as a work boot, they have also become a popular all day, fashionable boot. The V-cut design features a leopard print elastic fabric. The boot features Rossi’s signature air cushioned sole with a molded heel. A lighter, contrasting heavy duty thread is double stitched and provides a nice detail to the overall design.

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Aesthetic

The Musk Boots are a completely new design for my wife. She’s never had a pull on boot in this style. When they came out of the box, she was immediately pleased with the color and style. While this is a traditional style of boots in Australia and many other areas around the world, it’s not a routinely seen boot here in the US. Her reaction after wearing them a few times is, “it’s a great style, works extremely well in just about any casual setting and with almost any pant style”. While they’re billed as a “work boot”, she uses them as a daily boot. And, they look great on her. She’s received lots of compliments from those at her office and the patients that she sees routinely. The style is not gaudy or over the top, even with the playful leopard print accent. In fact, it’s understated and the boots just exude a look of confidence, comfort, and a relaxed style.

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Functionality

Comfort is king when it comes to any kind of footwear that is billed as having “all day comfort”. The Rossi Musk Boots certainly meet that claim. The air cushioned sole and soft leather definitely provide all day comfort. The elastic V-cut provides flexibility and proper “snug-ness” in fit. Sizing is spot on. Just remember, that it is UK based sizing, so be sure to refer to their sizing chart.

The finger loops on the front and back of the boots make them easy to slip on and off. The over ankle height is perfect and provides good stability when walking over any type of terrain. The sole is provides great grip and isn’t too ‘chunky’ in appearance. Probably one of the best features that she’s noted is the overall weight of the boots. They’re nice and light, which is a huge plus when you’re wearing boots in an all day situation.

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Conclusion

My wife’s recommendation? “If you can find these in the US, get a pair.” All of the online retailers I’ve found that sell the 343 Musk Boots are located within Australia. When ordering, you may find the boots for much lower prices than the retail price listed here in the review – but, be prepared for some hefty shipping charges too. So, do your homework and find the best deal possible. At the USD $118 price, the 343 Musk Boots are definitely worth every penny. The leather quality, construction process, comfort, and durability will make you a Rossi Boots customer for life.

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Dr Martens Made in England Weaver Shoes Review – $350

It’s always fun to find a shoe that can easily pull double duty. With the new Dr. Martens Weaver Made in England shoe, you get just that dual feature. The Weaver can easily be worn as a casual shoe. In fact, it is a great warm weather shoe due to the woven style and you’re encouraged to wear them sans socks. But, for those times when you need to up your fashion game slightly above ‘casual’, the Weavers are an excellent choice.

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About

This is the second pair of Dr. Martens footwear that we’ve reviewed here. Read our review of their 1460 ForLife Boots here.

Dr. Martens is a cultural icon. They’ve been producing leather footwear for decades. Based in England, their impact on youth culture and beyond can be seen around the globe. They’re innovative, yet steeped in tradition – cutting edge but always paying tribute to their past. Dr. Martens is a brand that seems to cross multiple generations these days. You’re just as likely to see a 40 year old dude sporting a pair of Docs as you are an angst filled teen in one of their latest boot styles.

Dr-Martens-Weaver-Shoes-5

 

Construction

This pair of Dr. Martens is part of their Made In England series of footwear, which is crafted in their original Northhamptonshire factory. It’s made with what they call “Beaumont” analine calfskin leather on the upper. It’s soft and supple. The upper and sole are sewn together, not merely glued. Combined with their unique Z welt-stitch and heat-sealing process, makes it a unique process to Dr. Martens. This is the only construction that is stitched on the outside and helps footwear take the shape to the foot. The Goodyear welt is chain stitched to the upper and insole. The outsole is then sewn to the welt around the edge and then heat sealed to create a very sturdy, long wearing shoe. The sole is the original Dr. Martens air-cushioned sole, providing underfoot comfort and durability since 1960. It is oil- and fat-resistant, tough, and offers good abrasion and slip resistance.

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Aesthetic

The Dr. Martens Weaver is a great looking shoe. The brogue inspired woven lacing is what really makes it a stand out shoe. It’s an attention getter and elicits comments and questions every time I step out in public with them.

The waxy black leather feels great to the touch. They feel great when wearing these barefoot too.

The contrast between the deep black color of the upper and the natural color of the welt sets the shoes off very nicely. Thin, waxed laces stay out of the way so as not to distract the eye from the unique laced/woven brogue patterns.

Not only is the lace pattern a nice feature on the top and sides of the shoe, but it does an excellent job of ventilation for your feet on those warmer days.

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Function

These shoes are comfortable. That should go without saying since they’re Dr. Martens. Their legendary air-cushioned sole provides a cushy, comfortable experience for your feet. It’s a long lasting sole too so don’t be concerned there.

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The only apparent drawback I can see with these shoes is they are limited to three seasons for me. Due to the lacing on the shoe, they will not perform well in cold, wet weather. If you live in Florida or California, you’ve got the ideal climate for year round usability with the Weavers.

I only point that out not to necessarily be a negative…just to say I won’t be wearing these again until next spring. And, that is unfortunate because these are some cool, stylish, comfortable shoes that give true all day comfort. But, I’ll be super excited to get them out when the seasons change again!

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Conclusion

At $350 the Weavers are somewhat expensive. But, they certainly meet the “you get what you pay for” adage. Attention to detail on these shoes is fantastic. The build quality is excellent. The styling and versatility make them unique standouts. You’ll wear them for many, many seasons. So, they’re definitely worth the initial investment. Your feet will be happy…and you’ll be happy because you’re going to like the way you look with the Weavers on your feet.

 

Timberland Men’s 6-inch Premium Waterproof Boots Review – $190

Timberland boots are one of those menswear items that have become an icon. Whether you’re a construction worker or Kanye, Timberland boots will probably fit into your aesthetic. From ladies’ footwear to accessories to luggage, Timberland has it all, but their Men’s 6-inch Premium Waterproof Boots are by far their most recognizable product.

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ABOUT TIMBERLAND

Timberland can trace its roots all the way back to 1920s Boston, where Nathan Schwartz began his career as an apprentice stitcher. Schwartz and his family grew the company and, in the 1950s introduced an innovative injection-molding technique that allowed them to waterproof their boots. In 1973, they introduced the “Timberland” brand, and the rest is history. Timberland is now a huge clothing and footwear brand that operates stores worldwide. Their company headquarters are in Stratham, New Hampshire.

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CONSTRUCTION & FUNCTION

Whether you’re wearing these for work or play, you’re going to want your boots to be durable and waterproof, especially considering the fact that they’re pretty heavy. The leather uppers are directly attached and are sealed at the seam so they stay waterproof. The hefty rubber sole is the most important part of these boots, giving you great traction and the knowledge that you’ll never wear through the sole. The only issue I’ve noticed is that the rubber soles can be a little squeaky!

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These boots are surprisingly comfortable, with thick padding on the midsoles and heel, as well as a padded collar for a pleasant ankle fit and mobility. They’ll also keep your feet warm, thanks to their built-in Primaloft ECO insulation, made from 50% recycled plastic. **Side note: Timberland has a pretty impressive commitment to sustainable and climate-friendly manufacturing. You’ll notice a lot of their shipping and manufacturing materials are recycled or biodegradable. You can read more about that here.**

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AESTHETIC

The Wheat Nubuck is of course the classic yellow color associated with Timberlands, but this Rust Nubuck comes pretty close, and has a richer color and texture. They look great and go with nearly everything, especially denim. The downside of this color is that they stain pretty easily, especially if you wear them as actual workboots. You can pick up a suede & nubuck cleaner pretty much anywhere, and I’d recommend doing so if you like your boots to look pristine.

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There are also quite a few other options if you’re looking for a darker color. Smooth Black, Black Nubuck, Dark Chocolate Nubuck, Black/Olive Hainsworth, and Chestnut/Navy Hainsworth, some with different color soles.

The laces are made of 100% recycled nylon. If you want to be really cool, you can leave them untied and flip the tongue out, but you have to be pretty stylish to pull that off. Either way, these are going to look great.

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CONCLUSION

So far, the Timberland Men’s 6-inch Premium Waterproof Boots have proven to be a great choice for boots on the lower end of the price range. If you’re looking for a non-imported boot that can be resoled and last 5+ years, save up for a different boot in the $375+ price range. The Timberlands are a good price at $190, and you can often find them on sale. Casually, you’ll probably get a solid three or four years out of these boots, and their timeless look won’t go out of style any time soon. And if you’re not totally convinced on the more classic Wheat or Rust Nubuck style, the other leather and sole colors differentiate themselves enough to look like a separate boot altogether. They’ll stand up to the elements and look good doing it.

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Cordoba Leather Ladies Hudson Sandal & Mens Holiday Sandal Review – $177 & $179

If I were to count up all the pairs of flip-flops and sandals I’ve worn through over the years, I wouldn’t be surprised if it numbered over fifty. I swear I go through at least two pairs of cheap flip flops each summer. So when I got the chance to review a pair of Cordoba Leather’s handmade leather sandals, I was interested to see if they would stand the test. I received a pair of Ladies’ Hudsons, and my husband received a pair of Men’s Holidays.

ABOUT CORDOBA

Cordoba Leather is a one-man operation out of Lebanon, Ohio. David Somers, the owner, handcrafts each pair of sandals using high end materials and a keen eye for design. Here is a bit of his story, from the Cordoba Leather website:

On a vacation to Florida in September 2011 I met Dan Holiday, an adventurous man who has been making a diverse and impressive amount of leather items for 50 years. Mr. Holiday was very kind in taking me on as an apprentice. I feel very privileged to be able to say I have apprenticed under him. Mr Holiday is by far, most popular for his leather sandals, they are works of beauty. Sandals are what I learned from him first and sandal making is a unique art that I want to be a part of and carry on through the ages. I enjoy making a variety of different leather products but the prize of them all is leather sandals. The leather is thick and challenging to work with but the end result in a pair of sandals is splendiferous. Making something custom for someone that will last is kind of rare, but I enjoy making it a little less rare.

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THE PROCESS

These sandals aren’t just something you stick in your “Shopping Cart” and buy on a whim. No, these are handcrafted and molded to each foot’s precise specifications, so you have to provide David with tracings of both feet. First you trace the outline of your feet, marking the space between your big toe and second toe. Then you trace underneath your inner arch so he can mold the sandals with the proper curvature. You then trace a quarter on the page as a size guide for when you scan and upload the tracings to the Cordoba Leather website. All in all, the process takes about five minutes from start to finish, and there’s even an instructional video. It’s not a hassle at all, especially once you feel the sandals on your feet. There’s also the option to remove the arch support, if you have fallen arches or prefer a flat sandal.

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My lovely foot tracings. You can see where I traced under my arch and in between my toes. The circle in the middle is a quarter for scale.

CONSTRUCTION

The sandals are made entirely with full-grain, vegetable tanned leather, sourced from the USA and Mexico. The sole is made of thick shoe leather, topped with a layer of flexible saddle leather. The arch is molded to the specifications sent in the foot tracing each customer uploads with their order. The loops for the straps are cut into the sole and fastened with solid brass rivets. The two pieces of the sole are glued together, then hammered with solid brass clinching nails. You can see pictures and explanations of the entire construction process here.

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After the sandals are finished, they’re dipped in neatsfoot oil to help condition and preserve the leather. Neatsfoot oil is a yellowish oil that’s made by boiling the feet and lower leg bones of cattle. The oil is then skimmed off, pressed, and purified. Neatsfoot oil is great for conditioning, softening, and preserving leather. Now you don’t need to buy yourself a tub of neatsfoot oil, but I’d definitely recommend investing in a good leather conditioner for these sandals. They arrive soft and conditioned with the neatsfoot oil, but wearing them day after day will definitely dry them out, and you don’t want the leather to crack or become brittle. We’ve reviewed quite a few leather conditioners here at BestLeather, so be sure to browse through our Leather Care tag to see some of our recommendations, because you’ll want to keep these sandals beautiful for years to come.

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FUNCTION

When you receive the sandals, which came in a nice linen bag with a note from David, they’re still not quite ready to wear out the door. The strap still needs to be adjusted, tied, and cut to your size. He includes some instructions for doing so, which you can see below. This a simple process and easy to do with kitchen shears.

The straps before I cut them and after I tied them
The straps before I cut them and after I tied them

One I finished cutting the straps and walked around a bit in the sandals, I was absolutely amazed by how comfortable they were. They molded to my feet perfectly and the soft, perfectly-placed straps don’t rub anywhere. The toe strap curls comfortably around my big toe and keeps the sandal feeling snug. They don’t flop around or feel like they’re going to fall off. I’ve actually found that I can slip the ankle strap on and off without having to tie and untie it every time, which is nice for those who are lazy like me. All it takes is a little tightening now and then. I’ve walked long distances in these shoes and they’ve only gotten more comfortable as they form to my feet. Cordoba recommends getting them wet right off the bat to help them mold to your feet even faster.

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The Men’s Holiday sandals don’t have a toe loop, and have a flip-flop style instead.My husband calls them his “Jesus Shoes” and  raves about how comfortable they are.  His sandals are in the “Vintage Brown” color, a beautiful deep brown. They also come in a slightly brighter “Brick Red” like my Ladies’ Hudsons.

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If you’ve never worn shoes with a leather sole before, be prepared to slip around for a bit until the soles scuff up enough to provide traction. I’d recommend NOT wearing them for the first time on a slippery vinyl dock like I did! Just take a walk, scuff them up on the pavement a little, and you’ll be good to go!

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The soles with clinching nails

CONCLUSION

I was extremely impressed with Cordoba Leather, from start to finish. David guided us through the selection and tracing process and ultimately created us two pairs of gorgeous sandals. For $177, you are getting all leather, handmade sandals made in the USA precisely to your foot’s specifications. It’s not often that you get to be so involved in the creation of a product. I think $177 is a steal for these sandals, especially considering how comfortable and sturdy they are. You and your Ladies’ Hudsons or Men’s Holidays will be taking long walks on the beach for years to come.

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Waltzing Matilda NICA Sandals – $148

Summer is officially here, so it’s time to make sure you’ve got all your supplies together for a relaxing day at the beach. If you’re like me, you’ll pack a nice picnic, obsessively slather on 70+ SPF sunscreen, and grab your favorite shorts and sandals. The sandals part, however, is a little complicated. I’ve been checking out a few sandal options, so stay tuned for a couple of upcoming sandal reviews.

Today I’ll be looking at the Waltzing Matilda NICA Sandals, in Men’s Brown and Women’s Moc.

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About Waltzing Matilda

“Everything we make is handcrafted in the USA in small micro-factories and meant to last forever. We make a strong effort to use repurposed and recycled materials found during our travels. We don’t compromise. We are creative, adventurous, and humble, and sincerely want to stimulate the senses with our pieces. Every hide is handpicked and has unique features and marks that add to the character and beauty of each product. We hope you love your new piece of art, and that it travels with you for a long time. Please let it age gracefully.” – Waltzing Matilda website

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Waltzing Matilda actually got its start making this very sandal, born out of necessity during a surf trip in Nicaragua. After Mike, the founder, lost his shoes in a torrential rain storm, he crafted a pair of sandals out of an extra travel bag, and thus, the NICA sandal was born. Now, Waltzing Matilda is a full-fledged leather outfitter, making everything from shoes to bags to laptop cases to wine carriers.

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CONSTRUCTION

Like all Waltzing Matilda products, the NICA sandal is made by hand in Maine. Featuring Horween leather, the body of the sandal is hand-tacked to a rubber Birkenstock EVA sole. The straps are anchored into the leather at the top and bottom with tacks and the two sections of strap are joined with polyester thread. I’m not entirely sure that this is the best decision when it comes to construction, but it does give the NICA sandal that stitched-together bohemian look that Waltzing Matilda has become famous for. After several months of use, however, I haven’t noticed any give or weakness in that area of the sandal, so take that with a grain of salt.

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AESTHETIC

I love the way these sandals look. With the hand-tacked nails and unburnished edges, the NICA sandals have a unique look that sets them apart from other leather sandals. They aren’t pretentious or overdone, but definitely look like they are a quality item.

I wasn’t completely sold on the white Birkenstock sole on the Women’s Mocs, but after quite a bit of use, they don’t look as dirty as I expected, and they match well with the lighter leather. The Men’s Brown sandals are a beautiful, rich brown that goes well with any outfit.

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FUNCTION

These take some breaking in before they get comfortable. When you first try them on, it feels a bit like wearing a two-by-four on your feet. The piece that goes between your toes is thicker than most sandals and takes some getting used to. But after a couple of wears, the leather breaks in and forms to your feet, making them extremely comfortable for daily wear. These are by far the most comfortable leather flip flops I’ve owned. My husband regularly steals them even though they’re not his size. I think I’ll have to get him his own pair!

The Men’s Brown pair has a leather sole, which can be somewhat slippery if you’re not used to leather soles. It’s probably a good idea to avoid a wipeout by scuffing the soles up a bit before you head outside.

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CONCLUSION

At $148, the NICA sandals aren’t cheap, but you will get a LOT of use out of them. They’re perfect for a day at the beach, and look nice enough to wear for a casual dinner. They’re light and pack flat so you can take them anywhere. Waltzing Matilda also has several other sandal designs that I’d recommend taking a look at if simple flip flops don’t cut it. There are Roman sandals, Greek Sandals, and a third design they call “My Sandals.” Check ’em out!

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Steve Madden Nathen Boots Review – $140

I like boots. They’re my preferred footwear for just about any occasion. My wife says I have a problem. Obviously, I disagree. Boots are awesome. Need something casual? Boots. Need to dress up? Boots. Need to go do some work? Boots. Need something waterproof? Boots. Going hunting? Boots. Going hiking? Boots. Get the idea? In my latest boot review episode, we’re going to be taking a look at the Nathen Boots from Steve Madden.

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About Steve Madden

Steve Madden has been an iconic footwear name for many years in the women’s fashion line. After such a successful 10 year stint there, Steve Madden Men’s line was launched. Starting as a primarily casual line, Steve Madden Men’s has evolved into a lifestyle brand. The desire is to give guys many options to wear their products for different aspects of his week – day to evening, work to weekend.

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Construction

The Nathen Boots are made in Asia will full leather uppers, cemented construction, a split suede lining, and synthetic sole. I’m not sure where the leather is sourced. The leather is soft and supple, stitching is even and nicely done, and the zipper and eyelets feature an antique brass finish.

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Function

Upon opening the box, several of my senses were very pleased. Initially, I was greeted by a delicious smell. If you’re a long time reader here, you’ve heard a few of us comment on the awesome aroma associated with certain brands and these boots totally remind me of that same, rich, aromatic leather scent. Upon holding these boots, I was immediately impressed with the leather. It’s very flexible and soft to the touch. Then visually, I was pleased with the build quality and styling of these boots. This is the first pair of boots I’ve had with side zippers and now, they won’t be the last pair I have. They are easy on and easy off. In fact, you can leave them laced up and just “slip, zip, and go”. Awesome.

Sizing (for me) is spot on. I usually wear an 11.5 and these are perfect. The low heel and traditional lug sole are all day long comfortable. And, there is no break in period at all.

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Aesthetic

As mentioned earlier, I almost always wear boots. When I get a pair in for review, I tend to get comments at client meetings, at church, and lots of other locations. However, to date these Steve Madden Nathen Boots have generated more comments and questions than any other pair of boots I’ve reviewed. Their eye-catching color, along with the brogue styling combines well to draw people’s eye to them. And, people like them…a lot.

The Nathen Boots do a superb job of allowing you to either dress up or go casual with this boot. They look great with dress pants, yet will also look fantastic with a pair of jeans.

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Conclusion

The Steve Madden Nathen Boots are a great deal for the money. Will they last for years and years? Depends on how often you wear them and how well you treat them. They’re certainly not a custom or high-end handmade boot. But, they’re also only $140…a price that most people can afford. And for that price you get a great looking pair of boots that give you lots of options on how you’re going to wear them. These boots are available in tan (color featured here), brown, and black. As a fashion footwear brand, Steve Madden Men’s has hit a ‘homerun’ with the Nathen boots. They incorporate good quality leather in a desirable style at a decent price point. The Nathen Boots are available from many different retailers such as Dillards, Macys, Zappos, and Amazon.

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Johnston & Murphy Copeland Chukka Review – $145

 

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Johnston & Murphy is one of four domestic men’s shoes manufacturers left in the United States. Making it to this iconic status demanded products that can endure many different lifestyles. Whether that is on Capitol Hill, your local credit union, or anywhere worldwide, Johnston and Murphy customers will always have a classy, stylish reputation. Today we will be taking a look at the Johnston & Murphy Copeland Chukka.

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About

Johnston & Murphy has an especially rich history. The company originated in 1850 from “The William J. Dudley Shoe Company” founded in Newark, New Jersey. By 1886, James Johnston and William A. Murphy had taken over the company and began the legacy we see today. The shoe company made shoes for decades before relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, where the company still manufactures several shoe lines today. Self described as a modern tastemaker, Johnston and Murphy had the honor of outfitting numerous Presidents with their footwear. From Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama, their shoes are a top choice among our nations leaders. No matter which style of Johnston and Murphy shoes or boots you buy, comfort, class, and quality are core features.

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Construction

The Copeland Chukka is constructed using tan-oiled full grain leather. The leather is an intensely rich brown color that offers sophisticated durability. Using a bond welt construction, the leather is attached to an exceptionally comfortable natural latex crepe sole. The chukka provides a very solid construction that is consistently comfortable, supportive, and ergonomic. The inner lining consists of soft goatskin and mesh insole, which is paired with a memory-foam heel cushion. The stitching is a light tan color that contrasts nicely with the leather. The Copeland Chukka is one of the most comfortable boots I have worn to date. I have used them for 7 weeks now, and not one single stitch has come undone, the sole looks brand new, and the tan leather has broken in attractively. This Chukka has obviously been constructed very well, meeting the standard Johnston and Murphy has worked so hard and long to achieve.

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Function 

While these are some of the most comfortable boots I have worn, it didn’t happen right away. It took a solid week of steady wear to break them in to be consistently comfortable. This is perhaps the only negative to the Copeland Chukka I have come across so far. But, this is a common issue with high-quality leather footwear, and Johnston and Murphy has done a very good job at minimizing the break-in time and the resulting aching feet. Over time the memory-foam cushion and padded mesh toe box has formed seamlessly to my foot, making this shoe comfortable no matter what I am doing. The Copeland Chukka has accompanied me on numerous motorcycle rides, coffee shop visits, and the occasional urban trek. I have been appropriately pleased wearing these boots and look forward to how they wear in the future.

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Aesthetic

The Copeland Chukka is a wonderful take on a classic boot style. With chukkas, you can really wear them in numerous different casual occasions, and still maintain a classy, stylish appearance. This chukka does come in three colors of suede in addition to the tan leather. All these colors are rich and all have the same construction and durability. This chukka is perfect for going out to dinner with friends, to a business-casual event, and really any casual event there is. This version of the chukka boot is a little on the rough, outdoorsy side because of the oil tanned leather. It still has that modern appeal to guys of all ages, making it a good choice for those of us who appreciate versatility.

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Conclusion

The Johnston & Murphy Copeland Chukka has proved to be an extremely well constructed, quality boot. I have enjoyed them every time I have worn them. If you are looking for a casual, versatile boot to add to your wardrobe, the Copeland Chukka is a suitable choice to consider. At $145, this boot is a reasonable purchase for the quality you will receive. If you haven’t already, head over to Johnston and Murphy to check out their products, learn their history, and appreciate quality leather footwear.

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Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Cap-Toe Lace Up Oxfords Review – $385

Allen Edmonds is largely a household name. This has long been the case, as the name gained fame after World War II, during which it had produced shoes for the military. This established a base of lifelong followers of the company, and started it on the path to inextricably intertwine itself with American culture. Since then Allen Edmonds has been worn by presidents, prime ministers, and countless celebrities; but the real testament to the company is that their expertly crafted shoes stand up to the hype. We recently got a hold of the Park Avenue Cap-Toe Oxfords, the same style as has been worn by four American presidents on their inauguration days (Reagan, H.W. Bush, Clinton, and G.W. Bush).

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FUNCTION

The first thing you notice about a pair of Allen Edmonds is how durable they feel. The upper on these shoes is incredibly sturdy for calf skin, though they never seem too heavy. The sole is thick and un-padded solid leather which makes them a bit uncomfortable until they break-in. This can take anywhere from a day or two to a week of wear, being comfortable enough once they have taken to your feet. For a thick formal shoe they are reasonably easy to wear and take care of. I recommend using shoe trees and the appropriate shoe bags for the storage of a shoe of this value and quality. You can greatly extend the lifespan of any pair of shoes by taking proper care of them, and even a quality behemoth like Allen Edmonds need a little TLC.

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CONSTRUCTION

From simply picking up a pair of Park Avenues you would know that they’re sturdy. Each shoe is weighty and somewhat inflexible because of the construction. Heavily reinforced from toe to heel with a hefty solid-leather sole, the durability of the shoe is unquestionable. Double stitching secures the cap-toe section, with triple stitching in the throat line. The rest is sporadically single or double stitched to ensure that every inch lasts just as long as the wearer does. If resoled every decade or so, this pair of shoes could comfortably last you a lifetime.

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AESTHETIC

Undoubtedly a good looking pair of shoes, the moderate sole and toe width help to keep the contemporary styling modern and classic. The leather is both thick and fragrant, arriving well polished and ready for a special event or just another day at the office. Even after having been worn in the rain several times, this pair has retained much or its factory shine. Nearly perfect calfskin leather comprising the exterior makes the shoes consistently smooth and attractive from every angle. A great choice for special events or formal business settings, the Park Avenue Cap-Toe Oxford shines as an understated yet classy footwear option.

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CONCLUSION

Most fine dress shoes cost anywhere from just over a hundred dollars to the multiple thousands range, placing Allen Edmonds in the middle of luxury and budget shoe brands. Still, to many $385 is pricey for a single pair of shoes. This is why the durability and longevity of a pair of Allen Edmonds comes in handy, because where one might need to purchase a new pair of cheap dress shoes every two or three years, this single pair of shoes could last you the rest of your life. With style, construction, and comfort all taken into account, the Park Avenue Cap-toe Oxfords are worth the heftiness of its price tag.

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