Everything I’m writing has gone to seok over the last couple of days.
First, I don't know what kind of magic shipping seok uses, but the shoes got here in 9 days. Almost as fast as I get things from home. Highest marks.
Styling—you can see them, they’re pretty hot. I was very specific about the toe shape and the shape of the seam between the quarters and the vamp, and he nailed both points. I was not specific about the height of the boot, and it defaulted to ankle-height. Would have preferred 6” so lesson learned. The tongue is not an extension of the vamp, as a blucher should be, which is disappointing. Should be addressed for my next pair. Two points where I was specific were not addressed. I asked for the sole to be trimmed close to stitching, specifically closer than the examples pictured, and I asked for a beveled waist. Neither was identified as an impossibility, so I don’t know what the issue was.
Leather--not bad, but don't know that it's up to AE levels. Actually it's a different animal, much softer than AE/Grenson. More like some of the softer benchgrade C&Js, but time will tell. The leather is too soft, IMO, for boots, as I will get into later. I'm not picky about this kind of thing, but others will be: there are a couple of small mars in the leather. Should polish out, but not for sure. I like the caramel color a lot, don’t know how it’s going to take to polish and cream. It’s uncorrected grain.
Sole--seems stiff, like I've heard reviews of Vass. Like it might be resistant to molding to the shape of the foot. Again, time will tell. Certainly nothing here that’s a concern.
Construction--stitching is all good, heel is not reinforced above the counter. Insole is only half of a leather lining glued to the footbed. I'll request a full leather sock on the next one. Channeled sole looks good. Laces are average. I’ll answer specific questions about all of this if there’s something I’m missing that you’d like to know.
Fit—it’s a struggle to get my foot into them. Where the vamp meets the quarters, there's none of the extra room required to get past the point where your toes are hitting the insole and your foot is at a 45* angle. Combined with the weak heel I feel like trying to push my foot in is going to destroy the shoes. Once I get them on, they're tight. Could be wrong but don't think it's well-fitting tight. You can see the outline of the outer two toes on my left foot through the leather. The heel width is good, the height is good, but the ball width is too narrow. Very odd, as I made sure to trace and measure with some extra room around my foot, at the end of the day in sweaty boots, etc. I understand that other customers have not had the same problem, including seok’s father who is very happy with his chukka boots.
Among seok’s responses:
Very sorry and sad to hear about the fit.
I also appreciate you writing me before posting on SF.
I do think that it was most wise of you to order 1 pair first.
We verify the sizing to the self-measurements as they get shipped out. The only thing I can say is that let's work together on your next pair of shoes--length, width, height--and get the fit right.
The other points I will follow up on promptly with the shoemaker.
Hearing your comments, I think I need to spend some time with the self-measurement form and perhaps explore an option for people to get their "upper mould" (in cloth, shape of your shoes. this is what would be used during a fitting) mailed to them, then mailed back with comments.
Seok has been very communicative throughout the process. I am torn between the "Jantzen effect" of the first try not fitting well and the fact that this is more than a $40 experiment and that they're not quite at Jantzen quality.
Here is the pic I sent as a guide (C&J ankle boot+ JL Landon toe+ Vass seams):
And the final product: