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Thread: Overrated or Underrated shoe brands

  1. #11
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    I have a pair of Lof&Tung derbys and can vouch for their quality, ease of breaking-in, and customer service. Looking forward to spring and getting another pair from them!

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    So, as the owner of several pair, I will say that Alden is overrated. Their materials are good and I like their lasts, but QC is not where it should be for shoes that start above $500 and rarely go on sale...
    Mark

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    Agree with much of what has been said, but I'd argue there's some over/underrating within brands to be done.

    AE - Seconds properly rated at $180-220, firsts overrated. Find comfort to be heavily model-dependent. Personally, I have found park avenues to be extremely comfortable - more even than other 5 last AE models. I find the brouging to tend to be stiff, and the clean lines on the PAs alleviate that. So, for what that's worth.

    Meermin - Suede underrated, calf leather overrated. Love the styling and quality, agree with the stiffness and break-in issues others have mentioned. However, their suede offerings do not have this issue. Have been wearing a pair of suede chelseas from Meermin for a few months and they've quickly become a go-to option in the rotation. Stellar quality and none of the break-in issues accompanying their calf leather options.

    Velasca Milano - Underrated all-around. Extremely high-quality, very comfortable, impressive all-around. More conservative designs than some alternatives, but some of their options are perfectly sleek as well. Concede that I seriously dislike the buckles on their monk straps.

    Herring / Loake - Generally underrated around here, though Loake is unfortunately tougher to acquire in the USA these days than they once were. Massdrop is an occasional resource on Loakes.

    Loding - Downright impressive. Reasonably (not under) priced, but under-discussed. Agree Bexley is hit-and-miss.

    Carmina, C&J - Properly rated.

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    I think entry level is the most interesting since you could make a pretty good argument that every shoe above $400 is overrated. I'll go with recommend neutral or avoid since I think overrated / underrated requires you to define relative to what which can get complicated.

    Entry Level

    Meermin - Neutral. One of the cheapest GYW options out there (and handwelted for Linea Maestro). However as people have said, pretty stiff and tough to break in.

    Allen Edmonds - Avoid. Way more controversial of an opinion half a year ago, now it seems to be more commonly accepted. QC has gotten worse, quality has gotten worse (even on firsts), customer service is worse, basically everything is worse. Kinda sad since a walnut strand was my (and many other's) first nice dress shoe.

    Carlos Santos - Recommend. Great bang for buck, higher quality than AE and better looking designs. One of the few entry level makers that does a lazyman design (which is awesome). Haven't fully wrapped my head around the various lines that Carlos Santos produces (avoid the saks off fifth ones, everything from skoak is great).

    Lof & Tung - Recommend. Interesting makeups, there's kudu, utah calf, shell, you name it. Quality is good for what you're paying and a lot of variety. Skoak CS is also very good.

    Wolverine - Avoid. Have a pair of 1000 miles that I got for $150, and at that price it's okay. Shoe's basically a big blob, don't find myself reaching for it all that much.

    Red Wing - Avoid. Same thoughts as with Wolverine, for $150-200 it's fine.

    J. Fitzpatrick - Recommend. Unique styles, quality is good and they put more effort into giving you a good experience relative to some of the other brands (shine the shoes before they ship to you). Unfortunately I haven't spent the time to find a last that fits my feet well.

  5. #15
    Dappered Veteran Vicious49's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cwk View Post
    I *think* you meant to say you can recommend them at the $160 price point. I have four pairs of them in various styles (all of them purchased on sale @ $150 or less at different times over the past year) and have been pleasantly surprised with both the fit and quality. They are Blake stitched so not quite up to the level of AE or other Goodyear welted brands, but for my purposes they work great. They usually end up on my feet at least weekly, and I find the fit is more comfortable than my AE Park Ave and Fifth Ave pairs. Once a month or so they'll do a limited run of a non-standard design such as an Austerity Brogue. I'm a fan of their oxblood color, since it shines without too much of a bright red or purple hue. One downside is that typically your purchase is part of a campaign where they collect all the orders and then build the shoes, so you'll need to wait a few weeks for them to finish and ship. Another downside is the Blake stitching if you have wide feet since you might feel it along the edge of the shoe -- my feet are on the narrower side so it hasn't been an issue.
    You are correct. I meant to say 'I can't recommend them enough . . .'

    I did forget to mention that about the Beckett Simonon shoes - that you can feel the blake stitching with your toes. It was annoying to me at first until I get the leather insert made and now they are some of the most comfortable shoes I own.

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    I disagree about Red Wing. I mean, it is clunky as all hell, but for the type of boots they make, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I wear my Iron Rangers often, usually with slim jeans, an OCBD, and a crew neck sweater. I did pay in the range you said was okay, so we probably don't disagree all that much. But, anyway, I think the quality is high compared to most alternatives in that price range and that the style is good, albeit not at all sleek or dressy.

    I take it you regard Carmina as too expensive for this category?

    Anyway, on AE, I have 14 pairs but I, too, am now moving away from them and likely won't get more in the near future. I want to stress that I think the quality of the classic collection is still pretty good for sale prices but the quality control and customer service have obviously been really lacking recently. My main reason for not wanting to buy from them is that I dislike the direction in which the company is heading and would rather buy from a fairly small business than from a conglomeration like Caleres. For example, the higher prices for the lower-quality shoes made using less attractive designs is really off-putting.

    Here are some of the alternatives I've been looking at:

    1. Beckett Simonon. I have a pair of the Hoyt double monk straps in bordeaux. I agree with what many on this thread have said about it being an excellent alternative, especially at the 20% off list price of $160. I have a narrow/medium-width foot so I didn't have the problem with the stitching, but it did take two or three wears to break in the shoe, as the leather is a little stiff at first. They very quickly became perfectly comfortable, though. But it's a great design (so are their others, by the looks of the website), a very nice, deep color (so are brown, tan, and oak if the website is accurate), and a company that at least talks a good game about treating customers, employees, and the environment respectfully. The big downside is the length of time it takes to get the shoes.

    2. Velasca. I went to their pop-up store in Rome last June, but don't own a pair. I agree with other posters that the quality is good, but that the designs are rather conservative and most of them are a bit boring. For example, a lot are rather wide widths and not very sleek. And the colors are almost universally either black or dark brown - even the shoes labelled "brown" are mostly "dark brown," but the "dark browns" are "very dark brown." I'd have thought an Italian company would design sleeker shoes with some more exciting color options than they do. They do have the one tan ("tobacco brown") cap toe - having seen it in person, I'll say even it is quite a lot darker than, say, AE's walnut. I think they're worth trying, but the conservatism means it could never be a one-stop shop.

    3. Thursday Boots. I like the look of their boots (the shoes look to be lower quality to me) but I've heard wildly differing reports on them online. Some love them, some hate them. I also wish that their dark brown was a full-grain leather like their brandy color is, rather than being a chrome pull-up leather, or was chromexcel, like their natural color is.

    4. Meermin. No experience with them other than perusing the website.

    5. Jack Erwin. I went to their pop-up store a few years ago, but at that point found the leather to be not as good as AE was then. I haven't seen the newer designs in person - the website photos seem much improved.

    6. Loake. I own the Chatsworth chelsea in brown suede. High quality suede but I find chelseas annoying to put on and take off. I go to the UK once a year, so this is more of an option for me than for most others.

    7. Grant Stone. Availability via J.Crew online makes a big difference to me, as I'm a J. Crew cardholder so can sometimes use rewards. But the list price seems high for shoes made in China. The designs do look good, especially of the boots and derbies.

    8. Carmina. I've had a pair of espresso cap-toe oxfords for almost a year now. They are great. The list price is pretty high - I think it's good value, but my family income has gone down for the time being as my wife went back to graduate school, so they are mostly out of my reach for the next couple of years. Well, anyway, I have more than enough shoes! It does seem as though Carlos Santos, and perhaps Yanko too, are good alternatives to Carmina of almost the same quality for quite a bit lower prices. Though Carmina does go on sale - I paid $275 for my pair.

    9. Oak Street Bootmakers. Also a higher price point but their boots look great.

    10. Rancourt and Co. Same sentiments apply.

    Quote Originally Posted by Token View Post
    I think entry level is the most interesting since you could make a pretty good argument that every shoe above $400 is overrated. I'll go with recommend neutral or avoid since I think overrated / underrated requires you to define relative to what which can get complicated.

    Entry Level

    Meermin - Neutral. One of the cheapest GYW options out there (and handwelted for Linea Maestro). However as people have said, pretty stiff and tough to break in.

    Allen Edmonds - Avoid. Way more controversial of an opinion half a year ago, now it seems to be more commonly accepted. QC has gotten worse, quality has gotten worse (even on firsts), customer service is worse, basically everything is worse. Kinda sad since a walnut strand was my (and many other's) first nice dress shoe.

    Carlos Santos - Recommend. Great bang for buck, higher quality than AE and better looking designs. One of the few entry level makers that does a lazyman design (which is awesome). Haven't fully wrapped my head around the various lines that Carlos Santos produces (avoid the saks off fifth ones, everything from skoak is great).

    Lof & Tung - Recommend. Interesting makeups, there's kudu, utah calf, shell, you name it. Quality is good for what you're paying and a lot of variety. Skoak CS is also very good.

    Wolverine - Avoid. Have a pair of 1000 miles that I got for $150, and at that price it's okay. Shoe's basically a big blob, don't find myself reaching for it all that much.

    Red Wing - Avoid. Same thoughts as with Wolverine, for $150-200 it's fine.

    J. Fitzpatrick - Recommend. Unique styles, quality is good and they put more effort into giving you a good experience relative to some of the other brands (shine the shoes before they ship to you). Unfortunately I haven't spent the time to find a last that fits my feet well.
    Last edited by srlclark; February 13th, 2019 at 08:33 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hockeysc23 View Post
    Underrated for me for price to style to value is Cole Haan. I really don't want to recraft my shoes or have them last a lifetime. I'd rather get good value out of the shoes then get new ones especially since shoes take a lot of abuse, wear, and sweat. Cole Haan's at Nordstrom rack are around 100 bucks. You don't have to deal with leather soles that at least for my commute is just throwing money away. You get a few years out of them if not more than can change them out. Because of what I look for in shoes I think Cole Haans are underrated.
    I agree with this 100%. I can almost always pick them up for $100 or less.

  8. #18
    Varsity Member mebejoseph's Avatar
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    I'm enjoying reading people's thoughts on shoes, but I'm not sure I can say what's overrated and underrated. I know which shoes I like and what shoes I think are good values for the price--and I know what shoes I've been disappointed in.

    I've always loved shoes (non-athletic) and over the last 20 years have always had a couple dozen pairs. I was more into flashy shoes than well-crafted, but over the last 18 months or so, I've developed an appreciation for shoes that are well-crafted.

    So, if you've got 20 pairs of shoes that you wear regularly, how important is the longevity? I have a cheap pair of leather Stacy Adams with the toe-box made of snake skin. I paid $69.95 for these about 14 years ago. Also, about four years ago, the snake skin started to flake apart and a very creative cobbler came up with a way to fix them for about $60. They are clearly cemented.--but the soles are still in good shape. I love these suckers, even though I don't wear them often anymore.

    When I was single and cruised the bars in LA and environs, these were great because women would approach me to compliment me on the shoes. Only once did I get approached by some dude, who clearly wanted to get into a dick-measuring contest, and he called me on the fact that they were cheap and that HIS snake skin shoes were better. I agreed with him, and also said, "I've got a tiny dick too, so you win, okay?" That shut him down.

    Overall, did I get my freakin' money's worth? You bet. Good value in my book.

    I've got a couple of pairs of Steve Madden shoes that were more for show than go--but I paid around $100 each for them. They aren't well made, but good values in my book.

    I love my Allen Edmonds shoes. My first pair, black Park Avenues, I purchased in November 2017 in an AE store and paid full retail of $395 (I needed shoes in a hurry). They were flawless and beautiful. A good value in my book. I've purchased seven or eight more pairs since then, all on sale and every pair has had some type of minor flaw or had strange fit problems. I've kept four of those because I could live with the flaws and they were on sale from about $125 for Nomad Chukkas to about $275 for McNeil long wings. I also kept the bourbon Macallisters even though I had to re-dye them after the burnishing came off and a pair of Stuttgarts I picked up at Nordstrom Rack for $175.

    All decent values in my book, mostly because I got them on sale--except I have mixed feelings on the Macallisters. I love them NOW because I learned a lot and have a unique pair of two-tone shoes.

    I have to say that I would be disappointed with most of them at $395. But why paid $395 for AE shoes when they are almost always on sale?

    I love my Jfitzpatrick tassel loafers for which I think my wife paid about $350 on sale. I love them for the style and they seem very well made with very good leather. The last, because of the narrow toe box isn't very comfortable on my foot, however. For someone who doesn't have strange feet like me, I'd say they are a good value. I am waiting for my MTO button boots. No idea if I'll be happy with them for the hefty price of $550 (on sale, even). But they are custom two-tone and will be unique, so there's that. And I ordered them with one of the wider lasts.

    Nordstrom and Nordstrom rack sell a lot of Bruno Magli shoes for anywhere from about $125 to $500 plus. I've purchased three pairs and kept two, paying about $150-$250. The last pair were some monk straps and I returned them because the leather looked like plastic to me. I recently donated the first pair I purchased because I fell out of love with them--I guess we grew apart. One pair I still wear on occasion. They are black cap toe oxfords with the cap being gold. I love these, but overall, my opinion--their lower priced models are not well made, not good leather, and not a good value. I have zero experience with their more expensive shoes.

    Wolfe and Sheppard are NOT worth the $350 to $400 if you ask me, unless comfort is your goal. I think I got mine on sale for about $275 and I'm still not happy with them. They do look like regular dress shoes that are nearly as comfortable as sneakers with zero break in time. However, although the leather is soft, it got wrinkled quickly, and doesn't really take a great shine. It may be corrected leather--not sure. Also, the styling is pretty conservative.

    About 18 months ago I purchased a pair of Clark boots with rubber soles, not crepe, and I love them for $150. They later went on clearance at $75 before being discontinued. I wish I had purchased more. I've put miles on these "hiking" through cities like Portland, Boston, New Orleans, and San Diego. I've walked up to seven or eight city miles in a day in comfort. Great value.

    I recently purchased three pairs of Chelsea boots online, two of them from To Boot NY, and one from Jack Erwin, all about $200 (one of the TBNY boots is on sale at Nordstrom Rack for $130 right now). I returned the TBNY boots--not a good value at the full retail of $399 and not a good value at $200. The leather seems cheap and plastic to me. But I think a good value at $130. Indeed, my wife liked them and didn't want me to send them back at $200. The Jack Erwin boots I kept and I think they are quite nice for $220. Although I am having some trouble getting them to take shoe polish evenly. But I'm still working on them.

    I have a couple of pairs of Donald Pliner shoes I paid about $120 for on sale--one is a bit loafer and the other a blue suede full brogue oxford. I like them both for that price. They are stylish and comfortable. They won't last forever with regular wear, but I only wear them once or twice a month at most. A good value in my book.

    I purchased some Herring Premier shoes (full brogue wingtip single monk strap) on sale for about $330 USA; apparently they are made by Alfred Sargent. I love these guys for the price. They seem very well made and the walnut color pops really nicely with a blue suit when I want a little flash. Herring sends them with shoe bags, a shoe horn, AND shoe creme. A great value in my book.

    I love my Cobbler Union shoes that were seconds because of some very minor creasing--I paid $149 for these $400 shoes. I'm not complaining and I think they are good shoes at $400 even. But I'm cheap and like to wait for sales.

    I have some off brands of smoking slippers and boots for which I've paid between $40 and $100. How can I complain at that price? A round of drinks for four people in LA will cost that much. They all have lasted longer than the drinks.

    I'm sure I could find some other shoes kicking around in my closet on which to comment, but that's enough for now.
    Last edited by mebejoseph; February 13th, 2019 at 11:42 AM.
    Intentionally overdressed for almost every occasion.

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    I have a few underrateds to add:

    1) Stacy Adams. I always wonder why there's never any mention of these shoes on the Dappered site. I bought a pair of their black Madison style wingtips, mostly leather but with suede vamp. Great fit, love the style and they're the shoes of mine that get more compliments than any.

    2) The older JC Penney Stafford boots. Have a pair of the cap toes, and they are also super comfy and get compliments. Great for a pair of boots that cost around $50. It sounds like the newer ones aren't as good, which is unfortunate. They were a super value.

    3) Palladium. Much more casual shoes. Their Pampa Hi boots look something like a boot version of Converse Chucks and come in a number of colors. For the price ($70ish), these are a nice in-between -- not a sneaker, but not a dressy boot.

  10. #20
    Varsity Member mebejoseph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ModifiedMind View Post
    I have a few underrateds to add:

    1) Stacy Adams. I always wonder why there's never any mention of these shoes on the Dappered site. I bought a pair of their black Madison style wingtips, mostly leather but with suede vamp. Great fit, love the style and they're the shoes of mine that get more compliments than any.
    Look up from your post--there it is.
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