Dress Shoe Makers

First off, Merry Christmas Eve my friends. Hope you’re enjoying a nice day off.

tumblr li8svxTHNc1qgbkfmo1 1280 Dress Shoe Makers

Beautiful John Lobb captoes. (Photo credit: dieworkwear)

A couple people have been asking me about what dress shoe brands I like. Well, here’s a quick list I put together for you all. It’s certainly not exhaustive, but hopefully it helps you guys familiarize yourself with some premier shoe brands. Just FYI, most of these shoes are quite high-quality, so they’ll probably be much more expensive than shoes at your average Kenneth Cole / Calvin Klein level.

Dress Shoes

Edward Green $$$$ : Stunningly amazing shoes, but will easily cross the $1k mark. Not for the light-hearted… or light-walleted.

John Lobb $$$$: Also extremely amazing shoes, and a direct competitor to Edward Green. Will cross the $1k mark easily just as well. The finish on these bad boys is second to none.

Gaziano & Girling $$$$: Okay okay, I’ll stop with the $1k+ shoes here. G&G is also one of the premier makers of ready-to-wear dress shoes, just like John Lobb and Edward Green.

Crockett & Jones $$$: A solid shoemaker from England that makes some of my favorite shoes in the world. Great design, high quality construction.

Santoni $$$: Pure Italian designs using extremely supple, high quality leather. Comfort and design in one.

Tricker’s $$$: Pretty innovative company getting press for doing some cool collaborations recently, but ultimately they are pros at their craft in their own right.

Alfred Sargent $$$: Quality English shoemaker that gets a lot less attention than they deserve.

Peal & Co. $$$: High-end Brooks Brothers brand name, but they’re actually Crockett & Jones or Alfred Sargent shoes, depending on which one you get.

Ralph Lauren $$$: I’m talking about their “Made in England” shoes, as they’ll be constructed by Crockett & Jones. This applies to POLO Ralph Lauren shoes as well.

Church $$$: Solid company, with a solid reputation. Amazing quality and attention to detail, highly recommended.

Alden $$$: One of the last standing classic American shoemakers. Quality of their stuff is absolutely rock solid, but a bit more bulky in design than, say, an Italian shoe.

Tod’s $$: Never really tried these on, but have heard rave reviews about them consistently. Might want to find them on sale though, as value isn’t the best.

Allen Edmonds $$: Best bang for the buck high quality shoes. Made in the U.S. and is probably the standard in American-made shoes.

Loake $$: Another nice shoe maker that I respect quite a bit. A very good alternative to Allen Edmonds.

Meermin $$: Simple shoes, made with very nice attention to detail. Harder to get, since I believe they’re in Europe, but worth a try.

Florsheim by Duckie Brown $$: Duckie Brown makes some interesting designs, but I’ve been a fan of his partnership with Florsheim. Pretty good quality stuff and you can find it on sale often.

Charles Tyrwhitt $: Follows very classic designs, and provides pretty high quality shoes. Good news is they often go on sale as well, thus giving them one $ sign (still will cost you over $100 though).

Johnston & Murphy $: Solid entry level brand for shoes just as well. Don’t expect these to compete with most of the above brands though.

There you go! Get yourself a pair of dress shoes. They are investment pieces, so I’ll say this again… they’re worth the extra buck or two.

  • joe

    Awesome post. Will have to check some of these brands out.

    2012 was the year I made my foray into higher quality shoes.

    I bought several Donald J. Pliner shoes, which I like better than the Kenneth Coles and some Cole Haans, and then I decided to splurge a bit for some A. Testoni basics and Mezlan loafers.

    While the design of these shoes were aesthetically pleasing and awe inspiring at times, the comfort was pretty sub-par in comparison to some Cole Haans or DJPs that I have worn in the past.

    Have you found that paying higher prices for higher quality shoes doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting comfort in addition to craftsmanship, but rather more craftsmanship/style/design for less comfort?

  • http://simplermandotcom.wordpress.com simplerman

    Awesome, I’m glad you’re trying some higher quality shoes out!
    I’ve actually never worn either Mezlans or A. Testonis, but have come across some really attractive models on Gilt. Truth is, Cole Haans are extremely comfortable for me (they’re owned by Nike), and higher end shoes CAN be as comfortable or more comfortable, but that’s not necessarily where their benefit is most prevalent. So if comfort is #1 beyond everything, then it might not make sense to wear Allen Edmonds over Cole Haans.

    A couple things:
    1. Higher end leather is a bit more stiff at first, so it will take a bit of getting used to before settling in, but they can become quite comfortable after some time.
    2. Leather soles (which are used in higher end shoes) aren’t as comfortable as rubber soles, but they are generally more durable, classy, and higher quality.

    Anyhow, I believe that you can still come across some very comfortable shoes even when going up the shoe ladder. You’ll also get a lot more benefits, like better construction/styling/durability/etc. so at the end of the day, you’ll win out, even if you have to compromise a little bit of comfort.

    Merry Christmas!

    • joe

      Merry xmas to you too man!

      Yeah, if comfort were the only factor I’d probably be sticking to Cole haans and rockports as they’re both owned by athletic shoe companies.

      Heh, I guess the way my mind thinks is that, if you’re paying that much more for higher quality material and craftsmanship, that the technology (i.e., comfort) would be elevated as well.

      These shoes were fine comfort wise when I was using them solely from going to the office, but now that I’m spending most of my time in airports and walking in downtown, they’re no longer comfortable enough.

      I’ve bought one of those Dr. Scholl’s orthotics from CVS after taking their ‘test’ on their machine and am going to see if they help at all.

      • http://simplermandotcom.wordpress.com simplerman

        Agreed, but I would say that comfort can still be comparable or better with some of these brands. I have a pair of Bruno Maglis that I feel trump any Cole Haans I’ve ever worn in terms of comfort, so it’s just a matter of finding the right shoe.

        Great idea! I have some insoles in several dress shoes, now that I think of it. Makes wearing them a lot more comfortable, and I highly suggest it. Who knows, might even make them more comfortable than your Cole Haans.

  • http://twitter.com/johnnytran Johnny Tran (@johnnytran)

    Great list!

    Have you heard much about Carmina’s quality? I love their silhouettes. I’ve dreamt of owning a pair of shell boots like these bad boys: http://people.timezone.com/pchong/carmina-boot2.jpg

    I’m interested in shell cordovan since I mostly wear casual clothing at work, and boots seem to be ideal for a guy who mostly rocks jeans and chinos. Plus the leather is supposed to be great for rainy conditions (you know how it is here in the NW). The Ralph Lauren/Peal & Co equivalents aren’t bad either.

    • http://simplermandotcom.wordpress.com simplerman

      Thanks Johnny!

      I personally think Carmina makes some beautiful shoes, based on pictures I’ve seen. Unfortunately, I haven’t handled them or worn any of them, but all I hear are rave reviews. I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with them, and that boot is pretty damn gorgeous.

      Yes, I’ve been having a little bit of an obsession with shell cordovan as well, but haven’t pulled the trigger on one just yet. The workmanship that goes into shell cordovan shoes is nothing short of amazing, and the way it ages and rolls as opposed to creases is quite beautiful too. I’ve been hovering my mouse over the submit button on these pair of boots for the past day, but am having a hard time getting myself to do it still due to the cost: http://www.brooksbrothers.com/Peal-Co.%C2%AE-Cordovan-Boot/621H________BRWN_08___D___,default,pd.html