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Thread: Overrated or Underrated shoe brands

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    Dappered Veteran Vicious49's Avatar
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    Overrated or Underrated shoe brands

    This is the spin off of my thoughts in another thread. Through the years I've run the gamut of shoes from Cole Haan, AE, Alden, Churchs, C&J, Alfred Sargent, etc. At the beginning you think Cole Haan is high end. Until you read Dappered and you believe Walnut Strands are the greatest shoe ever. Especially since they can be recrafted to last your entire life time. Then you realize maybe they aren't that comfortable and you waste a lot of money trying different brands. You may even end up spending quite a bit on 'Shell' as you read that was touted as way better than leather shoes. Until eventually you realize 80% of the people around you wear square toed Frankenstein shoes so almost anything is a step up so you may as well go for comfort and forget what the fashion blogs are saying.

    On a Sidenote, has anyone ever had a shoe recrafted? I've owned dozens and dozens of shoes and have only ever had 1 pair recrafted. And that was a used pair of Churchs I had picked up off Ebay for cheap. Not a single pair of shoes I've bought new have needed recrafting. Although me not living in a city like NY or London that requires a lot of walking may play in to that.

    Back to the topic at hand. I thought it would be nice to list what are some overrated or underrated brands I've come across.

    Overrated:

    Allen Edmonds - Might as well start with what will end up being the most controversial one since some people swear by them. AE's are built like tanks but just like a tank, that doesn't mean they are the most comfortable. They are usually stiff at the beginning so require a lengthy break in period. The quality control at the price they are now commanding is atrocious. They were a good value when they could be had on sale for around $200 but at around double the price now . . . they are very overrated.

    Underrated:

    Nordstrom 1901 - I've owned a pair of their chukkas (which Joe talks about quite often on the main site) for a while now and they have exceeded my expectations in both quality and comfort. For around $100 that I spent for them, they are underrated.

    Beckett Simonon - When the brand first came out they were not very good to put it nicely. They've reworked things and came back a few years ago with a different brand strategy and product. I have 2 pairs of their shoes (1 which I'm wearing right now) and they may the most worn shoes in my rotation. I've found they run slightly large so I had my cobbler create a thin leather insert for me for both pairs. With the insert, they fit more snugly and gave it a little extra cushioning. I can not recommend giving them a shot at the $160 price point if you like the look of one of their shoes.

    Santoni - I've neglected Italian brands for a long time now as I like the look of American and British shoes more. I have recently tried on several pairs of Santoni and they are more comfortable to anything else I've ever owned. You will pay for that comfort as they are not cheap, but if you are already looking at Alden, Crockett and Jones, etc., why not give them a shot?

    Rider Boot Co - Ron Rider doesn't manufacture shoes himself but does have shoes made to his specs. They are only sold on his site but the 2 pairs I've owned have been extremely comfortable and of very high quality. I frequent his site sometimes and see what I can pick up on sale at the end of the season. Only issue with that is, the highly discounted stuff has a no return policy so shop at your own risk. Unless you want to pay full price which will bring you more in line with more established brands and will negate the savings.

    Feel free to comment on my list or share your own.

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    Allen Edmonds: Good Value at $200

    I don’t know if I would call AE overrated, unless you are only discussing full retail. I think of them more as a jumping off point to a better shoe game. I certainly wouldn’t spend $400 on a pair, but at $200 or less, they are certainly twice as nice as most Cole Haan, Johnston Murphy, or Magnanni that can be found around $100. I would put them above To Boot New York, Meermin, and Jack Erwin at $200. I bought my first pair at full retail and every other pair has been less than $200 (except my Shell Patriots at $350 which is a steal). I have not had the same issues breaking them in as much as other brands.

    Meermin: Overrated

    I find their styling appealing, but they are a nightmare to break in. I have worn my pair over a dozen times and still have issues with blisters at the end of the day. The leather is nice and thick, just not very supple.

    Alden: Spot On

    I have a few different pair of Alden’s that I have picked up on sale. They are a small step above AE in quality and I like their loafer styling. The comfort is similar to AE.

    Carlos Santos: Underrated

    I own 1 pair and they are beautiful! The material quality and workmanship are superb. Quick break in time. At $300, they are certainly underrated.

    C&J: Spot On

    Picked up a pair at Brooks Brothers. The styling and supple leather make them worth every penny.

    Wild Smith: Unheard Of

    Easily my favorite pair of shoes. The leather is thinner than any other pair I own yet they don’t feel fragile. They are extremely light and comfortable while still feeling substantial. The leather is beautiful, supple, and takes a shine very well. I highly recommend at mid $400’s. The can only be found at Herring UK.

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    I would say all of the brands of shoes I own are rated spot on. AE is a great value on sale, Carmina is great at full price and better on sale, Meermin are cheaper but the break-in period takes some time, Bexley of Paris is cheap and would only purchase in person.

    My only gripe would be low-to-no drop running shoes. I would put those, no matter the brand, in overrated....

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    Super Moderator hornsup84's Avatar
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    I've been fine with AE, but think I'll start looking elsewhere going forward--which is rather unfortunate as I've had good luck with their sizing and lasts up until recently, when I've had bad experiences in store and online in terms of sizing/fit. I am ok if different shoes fit differently (although that's a bit annoying), but when the black version fits different from the brown version in the same exact shoe, that's when you start losing me.

    In other brands, I've had a good experience with Grensons (which don't seem to get much play here in the states; I have some super clean black cap toes that I like from them) and Oak Street Bootmakers (trench boots in natural chromexel; have been eyeing loafers but yet to pull trigger). I wouldn't say either are necessarily value plays, but they've played out nicely over time.

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    I agree with a lot of the points made above. Lof and Tung (house brand of Skoaktiebolaget) are some nice shoes, not really overrated/underrated and more just an issue of not being widely known yet. Friend of mine recently bought a pair of their shoes and I was impressed. With spring around the corner I'm planning to try out one of their loafers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rawfull View Post
    I agree with a lot of the points made above. Lof and Tung (house brand of Skoaktiebolaget) are some nice shoes, not really overrated/underrated and more just an issue of not being widely known yet. Friend of mine recently bought a pair of their shoes and I was impressed. With spring around the corner I'm planning to try out one of their loafers.
    I missed out on a grain Chelsea from them. Bought a few other things first but if I see a pair in my size come August/September when they were due to come it, I am getting a pair. They ticked all the boxes in terms of a casual boot I was looking for.

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    They’re pretty great. The owner is very active over on SF the same way Rick is for S&M and seems like an all around great guy. Definitely looking forward to giving them my business.

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    Echoing @Loafer28 - I believe Carlos Santos to be the most underrated dress shoe brand. The leather is nice quality and I love the patina options that they provide. I'm not sure if they do this on all of their shoes, but there is a slight bevel to the waist that I've only seen on more expensive brands. I only own one pair (234 last) and while they're the lowest MSRP of all of my shoes, they easily hold their own against the likes of Carmina, C&J (BB's Peal & Co. is my only experience here), Alfred Sargent & J.Fitzpatrick. The finishing, last shape and leather quality are all slightly nicer on the shoes that I own from those other brands, but when you factor price into it, I haven't found anyone that can top what Carlos Santos puts out at their pricing.
    Last edited by Banks; February 11th, 2019 at 06:25 PM.

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    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.

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    Member cwk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vicious49 View Post
    Beckett Simonon - When the brand first came out they were not very good to put it nicely. They've reworked things and came back a few years ago with a different brand strategy and product. I have 2 pairs of their shoes (1 which I'm wearing right now) and they may the most worn shoes in my rotation. I've found they run slightly large so I had my cobbler create a thin leather insert for me for both pairs. With the insert, they fit more snugly and gave it a little extra cushioning. I can not recommend giving them a shot at the $160 price point if you like the look of one of their shoes.
    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.

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