Olukai Hāmākua Poko Leather Shoes Review — $130

Most days, I come home from work, and the first thing I do is take off my shoes. But–I’m not kidding you–I don’t do that with my Hamakua Pokos from Olukai.

Yeah, seriously. They’re so comfortable that I don’t feel the need to kick them off at the end of the day. For me, that’s rare.

And while they’re the perfect shoe for looking and feeling chill, the leather also looks great, which keeps them from looking overly casual. And the quality craftsmanship makes them ready for adventure as soon as you cinch up the laces.


The Hamakua Poko shoes are named after a mountainous region on the Big Island of Hawaii, and the Hawaiian culture is central to the Olukai brand. Each of their shoe designs, including these, are centered around the ocean lifestyle, which means they’re rooted in both comfort and durability.

Personally, I was drawn to the Olukai brand for two reasons: Most of their shoes are zero-drop (no heel) and many of the designs have a fairly wide toe-box. They’re also known for their drop-in heels. Once I got a pair of these shoes, I was pleased to discover the excellent build quality, and I’ve become a fan of the brand (these are my second pair of Olukais).


Despite the fact that they have laces, I want to call the Hamakua Pokos loafers. Or you could call them slides thanks to the drop-in heel. Whatever you want to call them, they’re comfortable. They’re made from top-grain nubuck leather, which is soft and sort of velvety to the touch. The leather is hand-sewn, and the seam design gives it a bit of a moccasin style.

Mine have worn well so far: I’ve walked 30 or so miles in them (but admittedly haven’t done any rugged or dirty terrain). The soles are pretty thick, and while that adds durability, mine took some breaking in. They were stiff at first and didn’t flex much as I walked, which caused a little chafing on my right achilles tendon. But after a couple days it was smooth sailing.

The insoles are made with a polyurethane gel wrapped in microfiber. They feel great to walk in, and these insoles are also removable and washable (which makes wearing them barefoot much more feasible). Combining that with the wide footbed, they call it “the perfect environment for you foot,” and I have to agree.

The outsoles are made with a thermoset rubber process, which casts a liquid into a die to create the distinctive shape. The sole itself is made of a combination of synthetic and natural rubbers which have never left a mark or scuff on any surface that I’ve walked on.


My friend Cameron told me that in Thailand it’s rude to show someone the bottom of your shoe. So it would be a bummer to wear these there because the bottoms are one of the coolest features. Similar shoes from competing brands have soles that wrap up around the sides and back, creeping up beyond their bounds, which I personally think is really ugly. The Hamakua Pokos do the opposite. The leather actually wraps under the tread–as if it’s retaking lost ground, which is the way you want the battle to turn, in my opinion. It’s a sweet design–or dank design, as one of my friends called it.

Before getting them, I was curious how the leather on the bottom would wear. And as you see in the picture below, it has gotten a little scratched from gravel and rocks. But the leather is dark enough it’s hardly noticeable. More importantly, the stitching that holds the leather onto the sole is holding up well. Not yet sure how it’ll hold up over the course of a year or more, but so far so good.

I did encounter one negative aspect. My fashionista sister gave these shoes a snooty look because they weren’t trendy enough. Aside from her, I’ve actually gotten a couple compliments on the shoes, but mostly people tend not to notice them at all. I guess that’s fine for an easy-going shoe like this.

Mine are the dark wood/dark wood style (which means dark leather for upper/lower), and that’s what you see featured in my photos. Olukai has a few other styles to choose from though, which you’ll see on the site.


Olukai’s Hamakua Poko shoes are a relaxed style and are built really well.If your feet have been asking for an easy going sort of shoe, these are probably the the ones.

Truth is, I’ve been wearing mine too often. Like even when I ought to be wearing something a little more dressy. But I just can’t help it. They’re so dang comfortable.

Although I’m not an islander (far from it, in fact), I respect the culture and the accompanying attitude.

And I love these shoes.


Timberland Boot Company Wodehouse Captoe Oxfords – $289

When I think of Timberland, I almost always picture the classic 6-Inch boots, or a pair of hiking boots. But I’ve recently been able to see quite a bit of their product line, which includes almost every conceivable type of shoe for men, women and kids. Their most impressive collection, however, is known as the Timberland Boot Company, which was launched about a decade ago. This line is focused on craftsmanship, using Horween leather and higher quality materials. We’re taking a look at Wodehouse Captoe Oxfords from the Timberland Boot Company line.

TImberland Oxford 3


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.

TImberland Oxford 2


The Wodehouse Oxfords are made with a waxy full grain leather from Horween, welted onto a leather sole. The sole is reinforced with rubber panels at the heel and toe for traction. The inside is lined with a molded leather insole that is removable.

The shoe has a classic oxford construction with rustic details to make them unique. The vamp is made of thick strips that are attached with contrasting stitching with matching cotton laces. There are extra panels sewn along some of the seams to give it an old-fashioned, patchwork appearance.

TImberland Oxford 5


The Wodehouse Oxfords have a very old-world feel to them, with waxy, marbled leather, textured details, and leather soles.  They’re available in Burnished Dark Brown, Burnished Black, and Dark Russet Full-Grain (which is this pair).

These shoes are extremely comfortable out of the box. I like that you can wear them with semi-formal attire as well as a pair of jeans. The leather is soft, the sole is extremely durable, I have no complaints about these shoes. The soft leather scratches easily, but also buffs out easily. Even so, the marks add character to the leather and any minor scuffs do not compromise the shoe’s integrity.



The Timberland Boot Company Wodehouse Cap Toe Oxfords are a unique choice in the world of oxfords. The full grain leather will hold up well, and don’t require a ton of care. If you’re looking for a quality all around duty oxford and one that elicits a slightly different look than the bevy of traditional oxfords that are out there, I encourage you to consider the Wodehouse Captoe Oxfords. They’re well made, durable, and will get better with time and use.

TImberland Oxford 1

Lems Nine2Five Coffee and Cream Shoes Review — $125

Like other bandwagoners, I became a fan of minimalist shoes after reading Born to Run. I bought my first pair and transitioned instantly, which gave me sore muscles in my shins and feet like never before. Of course, wearing the shoes strengthened those atrophied muscles and changed my gait a bit. But I’m not here to convert you. This review’s mostly for people who are already looking for a leather zero-drop shoe (shoes without heels). If that’s you, you’re in for a real treat, because the Lems Nine2Five Coffee&cream are my favorite.




About Lems Shoes

The Lems team is just 5 employees. That amazes me. Especially for a company with so many products and so much success. They’re American, family-owned, and they’re concerned with what’s right more than what’s profitable—so says their mission statement. They also care about customers and feedback, which I can vouch for. When I emailed questions, I always got a quick reply from Audrey, with a tone that implied a friendly smile.

You should know about one potential frustration though: Lems doesn’t provide free return shipping. It took me two tries to get my shoe size right. So expect to spend an extra $12 or so (unless you’re a better guesser than me) as their awesome customer service gets you into the right size.





A Cherokee proverb has become a common American saying: “Don’t judge a man till you have walked a mile in his shoes.” Well, I’ve walked a mile a day in these Lems for the last seven weeks, and I’ve gotten a pretty good feel for judging them. Not only walking, I’ve run sprints and played a little frisbee (which includes lateral movements), and, even unlaced, they’ve performed well. I’ve been rough on mine, and they’re holding up, but I don’t expect them to have the same tenacity as something more traditional—that’s the tradeoff for the lightness. Totally worth it, if you ask me.

The soles are thin. Real thin. I took the insoles out of mine to add more width for my wide feet, and that made the bottoms even thinner. So thin that when strolling through the neighborhood, I gravitated toward walking in people’s yards. If you’re planning some extensive walking on concrete, these probably aren’t the shoes you’re looking for. (In their defense, it’s not the shoes that are unnatural, but the walking on concrete.) Concrete also happens to be where bone micro-fractures are most likely to happen, something you’ll hear about from the naysayers, and something to be wary of. Just make sure to do your research.

Overall, I love the thinness. This factor will shift your walking style, more forward off the heels, as if you were barefoot. I consider this a good thing.




These shoes are also extremely lightweight—literally more lightweight than my flip flops. This airiness makes them particularly comfortable. I don’t find myself slipping them off every chance I get like I do with other shoes. (Unless I’ve worn them in the sun on a hot day, of course, as they don’t exactly breathe like a sneaker.) They’re also great as a spare shoe when traveling because they hardly weigh down your bag. They also conform to your foot, so when you bend your toes, the toe of the shoe bends too.

This isn’t a great venue for a treatise on zero-drop shoes. But the short of it is that they let your feet be what they evolved to be, which helps balance your spine. I’ll also add that a few of my favorite internet celebs are in to the barefoot / zero-drop shoes, people Tim Ferriss, Kelly Starrett, and Sergey Brin. And I’m pretty sure God is a barefooter.





The Nine2Fives are a good fit for summer barbeques, firework shows, and lounging in the shade. I’ve also been wearing them to work, and because they’re leather they give off a professional, classy vibe.

I got the Coffee&cream variation—brown leather, cream sole. If you want to take the formality up a notch, there’s another version with brown leather and black soles, and another with black on black. Also, my buddy Victor reviewed the Lems Mariners, so check those out if you’re looking for a completely different flavor.

I love the shape of these shoes. The wider toe box feels really good—spacious and natural. But I think it looks good too. It gives them a more masculine feel, almost like the nose of a 1-ton truck. Or like the shape of Spider-Man’s foot in the old comic books—which means it’s the shape of an actual human foot rather than of a shoe. To me, this is awesome, but I’ll leave the final aesthetic judgement up to you.



BestLeather Conclusion

I love these shoes. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and classy. Having mentioned a few things you should be aware of, I’m ready to fully endorse these babies. If you’re looking for a stylish zero-drop shoe, you have to try out the Lems Nine2Five Coffee&creams.



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.

Olukai 7


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.

Olukai 2


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.

Olukai 5

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.

Olukai 4


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.

Olukai 1


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.

Oliberté Bokoroo Review – $140

The world we live in is constantly changing and there’s great people out there who are making efforts to be better at everything we do. I believe that a small portion of this success can be attributed to Oliberté and their Fair Trade efforts. The Oliberté shoes we have reviewed before were quite nice, so I am excited to dig in to the latest piece, the Bokoroo.

Oliberte 1


“Oliberté is a sustainable brand supporting workers’ rights in sub-Saharan Africa. We believe in empowerment, transparency, and doing right by all. This means making premium quality products with a lifetime warranty, and it means treating every employee, everywhere in the world, with respect. In 2009, we started off as a small footwear company partnering with factories and suppliers in Africa. Since then, we gained enough momentum to launch our very own factory in 2012. We make every single pair of Oliberté shoes at this factory in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In September 2013, we also became the world’s first Fair Trade Certified™ footwear manufacturing factory.”

To read more about Oliberté’s story and the Fair Trade model, check out their About Us page on their website.

Oliberte 4

This company is dedicated to quality, respect, and humanity. Each and every pair of shoes or boots they produce reflects these intentions and principles.

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Right from the start the Bokoroo’s construction has been the most notable aspect of the shoe. Their classic, retro design are complemented by excellent quality stitching and premium leathers. The Bokoroo is constructed with a full-grain leather upper, goat leather lining, and natural rubber sole with an awesome map of Addis Ababa, the Oliberté factory location in Ethiopia. I Bokoroo is built extremely well, and the only niggle I have with its construction is the small leather heelpiece that isn’t completely attached. This may be for aesthetic, but I would prefer it to be sewn together due to it unfolding after extended periods of use.

Oliberte 3


I have not had one single issue with how the Bokoroo performs at all. The high-top has treated me well during miles of Las Vegas trade show perusing, thousands of miles on my motorcycle, and countless day trips around town. I am extremely impressed with Oliberté’s dedication to high-quality, accessible footwear. These shoes are built to last and I definitely have and will continue to put them to the test.

Oliberte 2


This is my first pair of high-tops that I have actually enjoyed looking at as much as wearing. The deep black leather is very attractive, and I am sure the other two colors are as well. The Bokoroo is built on the Oliberté Anbesso last, so there is plenty of arch support and comfort. Over time, the Bokoroo has stretched out just a little bit, but it still fits my feet perfectly, which are a little on the wider side. The shoe has already started to develop a worn in look, which goes well with the retro, African infused design.

Oliberte 5


If you are a person who enjoys supporting companies that are truly committed to fair trade principles, Oliberté is an excellent choice. I have been impressed with the quality of Oliberté’s shoes for the price–  purchasing a pair is not going to break the bank. At only $140, the Bokoroo is a wise purchase for men looking for some quality, unique casual footwear. Head over to their site and check out some of the new models, some of which are a great deal. Ladies, be ready for an Oliberté women’s shoe review coming soon!

Oliberte 6


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.

Dr Martens Pascal Boots 1


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.

r Martens Pascal Boots 3


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.

r Martens Pascal Boots 5

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.

r Martens Pascal Boots 4


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.

r Martens Pascal Boots 7


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.


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.

r Martens Pascal Boots 8 r Martens Pascal Boots 2

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


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


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.

Steve Madden #3


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.

Steve Madden #4

Steve Madden #6


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.

Steve Madden #5


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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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.



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.




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.



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.





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.


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!



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.


Oliberte Women’s Amboa Review – $125

I got my first pair of TOM’s the first month of my senior year of high school. By the second month of my senior year of high school, they were trashed. The canvas was threadbare in several places and the poorly constructed toe was peeling away from the sole. Since then, I’ve been quite wary of TOMS and companies of their breed.

Oliberte Amboa 8

When I opened up my Oliberte Amboas, my fears were immediately put at ease. These are no TOMS. First of all, their mission is much more sustainable. Instead of sending poorly made shoes to impoverished countries, Oliberte actively invests in the Sub-Saharan economy, boosting industry and providing justly compensated jobs. Their factory and sourcing is completely fair trade certified. Secondly, the quality of their products is much higher. To learn a bit more about their social and environmental mission, check out their About Us page.

Oliberte Amboa 1


Oliberte sources their leather from the Hafde Tannery in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The upper on the Amboa is made of African nubuck, the midsole is made of veg-tanned cowhide, and lined entirely with goat leather. The leather is smooth yet firm and hasn’t stained or scuffed after quite a few wears. It comes in black and brown colors as well. The dark grey is a very unique color that I have found to be very versatile. The color is a bit lighter in person than on the website, and it has almost a light blue hue. They go great with dark skinny jeans, especially since they have a subtle heel.

Oliberte Amboa 2



The leather is cemented to the sole, made of molded rubber with a 2/3 inch wedge heel (15 mm). The laces are standard nylon, in the same grey color as the leather. The bottom of the sole is printed with a map featuring Addis Ababa, a fun little detail that I’ve been asked about several times. It’s a fun reminder of Oliberte’s mission.

Oliberte Amboa 4

The only issue I want to warn you about is sizing. I generally wear a size 9.5, and was told the Amboas run a little large, so I ordered a size 9 (they don’t come in half sizes). They ended up being a little small and I now wish I had ordered a size 10. I worried that since they’re small, the cemented sole is starting to pull apart a tiny bit on one side. But I’ve worn the shoes probably two dozen times for long periods of time and it hasn’t gotten any worse, so I wouldn’t be too concerned. Just be sure to order up if you’re usually a half-size.

Oliberte Amboa 7

Even though they’re a little tight, they’re not uncomfortable. I can easily wear them all day long. I’d recommend wearing the tiny socks made for ballerina flats because the goatskin liner can be a little squeaky without socks.

Oliberte Amboa 6


These are great, unique shoes from a company with an amazing mission. These aren’t meant to be everyday shoes that will last you forever, but the Oliberte Amboas are a great purchase that will last much longer than a cheap shoe from Payless. Plus, they boast a much more distinctive look and story. At $125, these are very fairly priced, especially since they frequently put them on sale on their website. They’re currently down to just $60, so snatch them up while you can, and keep an eye out for sales on some of their other great looking styles.




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).



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.



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.



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.



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.


Why My Leather Shoes Are Made In Italy

This is an opinion guest post by Paul Evans, Co-Founder & CEO at Paul Evans, a fairly new NY based shoe company.

You have most likely heard that American manufacturing is undergoing a renaissance. Many believe that our country’s manufacturing costs are becoming more competitive and that future economic prosperity will be tied to growth in the manufacturing sector. While many industries are well situated to benefit from a rise in American manufacturing, I do not believe footwear is among them.

Paul Evans Shoe Article1

In the United States there are virtually no footwear manufacturers still in operation. Beyond Alden in the Northeast and Allen Edmonds in the Midwest, shoe manufacturing in the United States is limited to a select number of local boot manufacturers. Believe me, I’ve looked. I spent over a year sourcing factories internationally to find the best possible product at my retail price point. I found that factory in Italy after extensively traveling the country.

Italy is a superior choice for shoe manufacturing because of expertise, tradition and location. There are thousands of factories in Italy that have been in operation for generations, passing along the savoir-faire and passion necessary to create beautiful shoes. The Italian artisans have been around for so long that their experience ensures stylish, quality footwear. They’ve seen thousands of styles throughout the years and know how what works and what doesn’t. Feedback from my factory has ensured I am able to produce a shoe that will endure.


Additionally, factories are clustered in communities that are dedicated to producing shoes. During one of my sourcing trips I was driven around town to meet the many suppliers involved in the production process. The relationships my factory has with its suppliers ensures production will be as seamless as possible, while also keeping production costs low. And of course, the numerous trade shows in Italy contribute to the continued success of the Italian fashion industry as ideas are shared, relationships are forged and new and creative merchandise is sold for international distribution.

menswear tradeshow

Two of the most well known Italian trade shows are Pitti Uomo and Micam. Pitti Uomo is a menswear extravaganza with something for everybody. Held twice a year in Florence, menswear buyers, brands and enthusiasts are able to see new product, order merchandise for their stores and of course create lasting relationships. Micam is held bi-annually as well in Milan and is arguably the most important footwear trade show in the world. Anybody who is anybody in footwear is there. And again relationships are key in this industry. The relationship I have with my factory is without a doubt my brand’s greatest asset. They don’t pick up the phone for just anyone. It takes time and effort to cultivate a lasting bond with these Italian artisans who are so passionate about fashion.

And that’s why my shoes are made in Italy. The skilled artisans, the convenient infrastructure and the presence of a large footwear community make Italy a superior choice for shoe production. Italy is the ideal country for new brands looking to break into the world of fashion.


Leather Shoe Construction Methods – Goodyear, Blake, Blake-Rapid, Bologna, Norwegian, Adhesive

There are five distinct ways of soling a leather shoe. Each shoe’s sole impacts its comfort, durability, and waterproofing. Here’s a quick breakdown.

Goodyear Construction

Goodyear welted shoes are distinctive for their waterproof soles since the stitch that attaches the sole to the shoe runs along the outside edge instead of piercing through to the inside of the shoe. The sole attaches to the welt (a strip of rubber, leather, or plastic) which then attaches to the upper. The welt forms a cavity which is then filled with cork or similar material. Because the stitch line runs around the outside of the shoe it is relatively easy for a shoe-maker to resole Goodyear welted shoes.


As you may suspect, the name comes from Charles Goodyear who patented the machine capable of sewing around the perimeter, replacing the need for hand-sewn welts. These days, it is rare to see shoes with Goodyear welting because of the time and difficulty, and the fact that it requires skilled labor.

Advantages: Waterproof, and durable. Easily resolable, extending the lifetime of the shoe for many years.

Disadvantages: Cost. Because stitching is done on the outside of the sole, Goodyear welted shoes tend to be bulkier and less sleek.

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Blake Construction (a.k.a. The McKay Method)

Lyman Reed Blake invented the machine in 1856 to make this method possible and later sold it to Gordon McKay. It is a simple process of joining the sole directly with the shoe’s upper with a large strong stitch. This makes the sole thinner than the goodyear welted shoes because they do not need an intermediate layer connecting the shoe sole to the shoe upper.


Advantages: Ease of construction, sole flexibility, and sleeker, more fashionable shoes (which the Italians are famous for).

Disadvantages: Less waterproof soles due to the stitching. Sometimes the thinner soles can be less comfortable on cheap shoes, and most seriously, the thin leather soles can wick water from the ground into the shoe (rubber soles negate this).

Many shoes made with Blake construction are of lower quality BUT there are many good makers who utilize this technique and are worth considering. Blake construction is most popular among Italian shoemakers, who dominate the high-end leather shoe market.

The Brando by Paul Evans

Blake-Rapid Construction

Blake-Rapid is a synthesis of Goodyear and Blake methods, where the stitching technique of Blake is combined with the extra midsole of the Goodyear. Many manufacturers that utilize the Blake method will also use Blake-Rapid. Blake-Rapid shoes tend to be bulkier because of the midsole introduction and thus is typically used on more rugged shoes.


Advantages: Waterproof and more durable than the Blake method.

Disadvantages: Soles are less flexible and added bulk makes soles further from the upper.

Norwegian (AKA Norvegese)

The Norwegian method is an uncommon demonstration of shoemaking virtue. It was originally designed to make shoes more waterproof but has faded from common usage due to its difficulty.


The unique feature of the Norwegian method is the shoe upper is stitched to both the outer sole via the Goodyear method and by the insole. This effectively closes off the channel that water would otherwise use and makes the shoe quite waterproof compared to other methods.


Beware of Blake constructed shoes that knock off the Norwegian method by applying stitching around the base of the upper that does not connect it to the insole. Some manufacturers charge much more for this worthless feature.

Check out Sutor Mantellassi shoes in the United Sates. Santoni, A. Testoni, and Lattanzi also make Norwegian method shoes.


The Bologna style is suitable for shoes with flexible soles such as slippers or moccasins because of their simple design. The leather upper is wrapped around the bottom and sewn up. Then the sole is sewn directly to the upper. So, no sole touching your feet. Just soft leather all the way around your foot.

The stitch is very similar-looking to Blake, except the stitching is closer to the edge on the inside of the shoe so you don’t feel it.bolognascreensw9

Advantages: Very comfortable and easy to make. Suitable for moccasins and slippers.

Disadvantages: Not waterproof or very durable compared to other methods.


Cheap soles are glued to cheap leather uppers by cavemen.

Advantages: It’s cheap.

Disadvantages: Not durable and falls apart quickly. This method was officially banned by the United Nations in 1957 in the Resolution To End Crap Shoes (hehe). It is punishable by mocking.