Custom Shoes Online: A Review
October 8th, 2014
Good style is all about understanding the “modern classic”. It’s about investing in pieces that are inspired by (and often very close replicas of) classic menswear items, but with a slight design twist.
Through the power of the internet, now you can decide what that design tweak will be. Just remember that often times the difference between good taste and bad taste comes down to the subtlety of that “twist”.
Thanks to the emerging market of guys who want a quality product that is versatile, but also unique, there are an increasing number of custom menswear outlets. We’ve already reviewed several online custom suits and made-to-measure shirts, but today we turn our attention to customizable footwear.
Here I share my experience designing shoes with three different brands who offer made-to-order, goodyear welted footwear.
Disclaimer: it should be noted that I received each these shoes relatively recently. They’ve only been worn a handful of times, so I can’t necessarily speak to their durability or how they wear-and-tear. A few months from now (on our new site ;) we’ll do a “where are they now” follow-up with a more accurate depiction of their quality.
Style: “The Dark Knights”: the baldy with the “sharp round toe” in black leather
Wear: I’ve only worn these once, with a tuxedo, for about 4 hours. So they still look extra crispy.
- They send you a “try-on kit” (one shoe) in your selected size & last (toe shape) to confirm the fit before production
- Beautiful silhouette and shape. This is a very sexy shoe
- Accurate fit and comfortable on first wear
- This one-piece “baldy” style can easily transition from business suit to formal tuxedo
- Package arrived slower than expected
- Came in DHL box directly from Laos (where the shoes are made)
- Only 5 leather options and you can’t use multiple materials on one pair
- Sizes only go up to 12
2. Awl & Sundry
Brand: Awl & Sundry
Style: “Murder Monks”: the monk with “townsend” last in black textured calfgrain/black ostrich
Price: $600 ($350 without Ostrich)
Wear: In fairness, I’ve worn these quite a bit. The minute I opened this box I was hyped! These things are mean. Murderous. I’ve worn them out several times, they’ve even been through a wedding and a weekend in Vegas. They’re holding up nicely.
- Most customizations by far. The most freedom in design
- Several options for details like toe styles, foxing lines, eyestay shapes, broguing, etc.
- 29 awesome skins to chose from including smooth and textured full-grain leathers, suedes and exotics
- 5 colors of crocodile and 5 colors of ostrich!
- Good fit, comfortable after a quick break-in period
- Great user interface on their website to experiment and watch your design come to life
- Awesome packaging. They come with luxury cedar shoe trees in a high quality box and velvet shoe bags
- You can monogram them on the inside heal (if you’re into that sort of thing)
- Only 4 basic styles to chose from (oxford, derby, monk and loafer)
3. Allen Edmonds
Brand: Allen Edmonds
Style: “The Country Townhouses”: the strand captoe oxford in chilly burnished calf/alpine grain/chocolate suede
Wear: These have been worn a handful of times. As you would expect from an American heritage brand like Allen Edmonds, they’re built tough. I also went with rubber soles which makes them more indestructible, and comfortable to walk in.
- Quality craftsmanship. The “Strand” is a tried and tested classic style (309 out of 332 reviewers recommend them)
- The AE website has a good user interface to display your design as you make changes
- They offer the most shoe styles/silhouettes to chose from including boat shoes, wingtips and tassel loafers
- Option for full rubber sole (Allen Edmonds also offers resoling and refurbishing services on most of their classic styles)
- Most sizing options (up to size 16 with multiple width options)
- Made in America
- No customizations other than choosing leather colors for different parts of the shoe (you have to stick to Allen Edmonds’ classic shapes and styles)
- All styles are very conservative, with equally conservative leather choices
- Brown Felt hat by Stetson
- Linen crewneck pullover by Hugo Boss
- Green herringbone jacket
- Brown leather tote by Frank Clegg x Dan Trepanier
- Watch by Montblanc Timewalker
- Indigo selvedge denim by RPM West
- Brown Custom “strand” captoe brogues by Allen Edmonds
Before you go ordering a funky pair of custom shoes (or designing anything made-to-order for that matter) think about the longevity of your investment. Consider your wardrobe and how you can maximize the use of your new purchase. It’s better to have a simple elegant shoe that you can rely on (like the pair in look 1) than a green & yellow pair of monkstraps that you only wear to a couple parties.
Remember, subtlety is the key to good taste.
Thanks for reading.
Yours in style,
Articles of Style
Photography by Alex Crawford.