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Review: Cobbler Union "Richard" cap toe Oxford

Robert Powers

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2018
Messages
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In June of 2022 I arranged to have an in-person fitting at Cobbler Union’s Atlanta physical store while I was in town for a business meeting. The fitting was documented in a YouTube video which I will link below. My feet are are US size 11-1/2 E to EE on the Brannock with a heel to ball length of about 12-1/2. I have normal arches and insteps, but a fairly fleshy foot (as opposed to bony and thin) with a wide fore-foot. For a frame of reference, the Allen Edmonds 65 last (Park Ave, Fifth Ave, Strand, etc) size 11.5 3E fits me like a glove. In the 97 Last (Grayson, MacNeil) 12 EE fits well. I even have a couple shoes in size 13 D that fit well (a pair of J&M Oxfords and a pair of Italian made Polo Ralph Laurens). I have had my eyes on their shoes since I first visited the Cobbler Union physical store and documented the visit in a YouTube video back in 2019. At this point in time, Cobbler Union does not offer a wide width, and without the ability to try them on, I was hesitant to purchase a pair through the internet, so I relished the chance to be in the physical store. I did do a virtual fitting, which probably would have worked, but I honestly was too untrusting of the process. I got permission ahead of the visit to video record the June 2023 fitting.

I met Peter and Liam at the store. Peter was a little more reserved, and speaks with a very deep voice. His style is very relaxed, but it’s obvious he knows their product lines well, and they both know how their different lasts fit relative to the Allen Edmonds lasts I wear. I was thoroughly impressed with their knowledge and their demeanor made me comfortable right away.

I had a very good idea of what I wanted going in. At that time I think I owned around 25 pairs of shoes, with many of them being Oxfords, and 12 pairs being Allen Edmonds. I love Oxfords. I knew I wanted an Oxford, or possibly a Monk strap shoe, if it had broguing on it. I knew I did not want black, as I feel it hides the beauty of high quality leather. I wanted something in walnut/chestnut color, brown, or Oxblood/burgundy. CU (Cobbler Union) also has one feature I’ve been dreaming of having every since Kirby Allison’s channel taught me about it: a narrowed fiddleback waist. I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it, that’s one of my dream shoes. I like broguing, and Museum leather is beautiful to me too, so I had in mind a Museum brown, walnut, or Oxblood Oxford with a fiddleback waist and preferably some broguing.

Lasts: which of their lasts can I possibly fit? What follows is a list of their lasts that Oxfords are available on, with descriptions, from the best to worst fitting for me:

312 Last – full rounded full toe box for casual shoes & boots. Fits me very well in size 12 (it runs 1/2 size big) with a little more room around the vamp than ideal.
Made on 312: John, George, Alex UR (LWB) & Winston UR (Oxford w/ a double oak sole)

358 Last – Angular sweep with a slightly chiseled rounded toe that also tapers in profile, similar to the 888 last but 2mm wider. Hidden channel stitching, but NO fiddleback waist.
It probably fits me the best. I tried the size 12, but not the 12.5.
Made on 358: Adelaide, Guillaume, Norwegian, Renoir

City Last – “Contemporary round toe last similar in length to the Louvre.” It has an elongated rounded toe box with an almond shaped toe and a softer but early sweep from the ball of the foot towards the toe. It HAS hidden channel stitching AND a fiddleback waist.
Size 12.5 fits me okay with some pinky toe contact.
Made on City: William, Richard

357 Last – similar to the 358, but with a more sharply chiseled toe with a more generous toe box. Fits decently well. Hidden channel stitching, but NO fiddleback waist and NO narrowed waist.
Made on 357: Robert

888 Last – fairly angular toe box with soft chiseled toe that tapers in profile. In size 12.5 my big toe hits the side and may become uncomfortable. Hidden channel stitching, but NO fiddleback waist & NO narrowed waist.
Made on 888: Robert, Norwegian

Louvre Last – sharply angled sweep & a narrow toe box with a soft chisel point. It’s ther “longest and arguably most elegant last.” HAS narrowed beveled fiddleback waist, but I CANNOT fit (my little toe hits in the 12.5, & I cannot wear a 13 as there’s too much overall volume around my foot, and my foot slides forward when I step, so my toe still hits).
Made on Louvre: Miquel, Noah

Their colors are Black calf, Museum Blue, Museum Brown, Museum Oxblood, Museum Cognac, Cognac grain (pebble grain), and Mustard Calf.

Based on my above referenced choice, the “Robert” (cap toe Oxford), the “Richard” (cap toe Balmoral), and the “William” (semi brogue Oxford) fit my criteria. I chose the “William” as it was the only Oxford with bruguing. Unlike Allen Edmonds, they are a small batch company, so all of their models are not available in every color, so I chose it in Museum Brown. The “William” is made on the City last, which features the narrowed fiddleback waist I wanted. Size 12.5 in a standard D width gave me enough ball width, while still keeping the widest part of my foot in the widest part of the shoe. My wider right pinky toe did contact the outside of the shoe a little, but I didn’t think it would be enough to cause pain once break-in was completed. I was elated! Unfortunately, over size 12 is not stocked as readily, so I would have to wait 3 months or so until September 2022 for it to come in. I went home prepared for the wait.

September arrived, but the shoes did not. I was informed ahead of time that due to supply delays, the shoes would come in October. I was not upset. This is definitely a first world problem. October arrived, but again, the shoes were delayed, this time until February 2023. I thought NOW, this will be IT! Alas, there was one more delay, and this time I was asked to choose another shoe that was available in stock. Although I did want broguing, I was more willing to give up broguing than to give up on the fiddleback waist, so I chose the Richard, a cap toe Oxford, in Museum Oxblood. It arrived very soon after.

The shoe is gorgeous! The stitch density is no comparison to a current Allen Edmonds, and it is nicer than the pair of AEs I have that were made in 1987. The double stitching across the vamp and toe cap are less than a millimeter from the edge of the leather. The skiving must have been almost perfectly executed, as there is no tell tale bump across the back of the toe cap. The leather quality is exquisite. The clicker must have taken their time in choosing the leather. They both creased as they should, with no difference between the left and right. No “tiger stripes” on one of the shoes, which I have gotten twice with AE. No “loose grain” anywhere. I know they could not have “prepped” a special pair of higher quality than normal shoes for me, knowing they’d go on YouTube, as I ordered from shoes that were already produced. The soles are a work of art. The narrowed waist is stunning too. The upper actually is pulled under the arch of your foot, creating this gorgeous hourglass silhouette. I just stared at the shoes in awe!

The fit was as I expected; my right pinky toe contacted the outside of the shoe. My left foot is a little narrower, but also a little longer. Another striking visual difference between these shoes and AE is the vamp profile. If you look at it, the vamp blends as a straight line, and curves into the toe. The CUs have a convex profile of the arch/eyelet area, and it sucks down into the vamp, creating a different look. It’s gorgeous, and takes some extra unnecessary leather away, and in theory should help limit the appearance of creases on the vamp, but the contact to my left foot behind my toes is felt even after about 35 hours or so of wear. It’s not painful, but between this contact, the contact with my right toe, and the fact that the insoles feel thinner and firmer that with my AEs, I would not consider these a 10,000 step shoe. A 10,000 step shoe is just that; a shoe you can go walk 10,000 steps (probably 5 miles or 8 kilometers) with no foot pain. Then again, who cares? Just as I wouldn’t buy a convertible Ferrari for long commutes, the absolute comfort of these shoes are secondary to their looks, style, and build quality. The museum Oxbood color did leave a little to be desired. First of all, my pair did not really appear to be museum. There were a few lighter patches, but it was barely visible unless you’re in the right light. Second, the color is not as red or purple as I would like. In medium light, they just look brown. I would describe the color as a dark brown with a burgundy tone. I would like to see less brown, and more dark red hues brought out, and I would like to see the patchy marbled light and dark turned up 200% at least to call them a true “Museum” leather.

Overall, as with any purchase, there are compromises when you’re not paying top dollar. I did receive a discount on the shoes in exchange for shooting and posting the YouTube videos, but I did purchase them (they were not given to me and I was not paid to promote CU). First time buyers get $50 off, and they often have sales of $50 to even occasionally closer to $100 off I believe. What you get for around $400 give or take is a full grain leather shoe made from fine leather, with construction quality rivalling $800 shoes, with a fiddleback waist and hidden channel stitching and strikingly gorgeous style. Even though the fit is a compromise, these Cobbler Union Richards are now the favorite shoes in my collection.

My mother passed away shortly before the writing of this article. She was 89 years old, and had lived with cancer for over 2 years. She lived a long and fruitful life. I life in Northeast Ohio, where fashion rules are not lax, they’re non-existant. I therefore knew that I did not have to wear black shoes for the funeral, but I wanted to honor my mother by looking my best. I chose a Hickey Freeman black suit with dark red pinstripes that I tailored myself. I paired them with a white Roundree & Yorke French Cuff white fitted shirt, and a maroon tie with a mild pattern on it, and the CU Richards. I received several compliments on the suit and on the shoes.



I can’t wait to wear them again! I’ve got my eyes on the Adelaide (made on the 358 last ) in museum cognac since I don’t own any Adelaide models.

New Cobbler Union Shoes Unboxing & Review​

 

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Last edited:

Fflam

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2021
Messages
13
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7
Sorry for your loss.
I wanted to visit Cobbler Union while in Atlanta in Feb 2023 but was informed over the phone that all stores were closed and it was now totally virtual. Gave me more time to eat at Ponce City but I had really been looking forward to trying out the different lasts and checking out some boots.
 

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