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Review of Archibald London Tan Anticato Cap-Toed Oxfords

JFWR

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I now have the distinct pleasure of owning a pair of tan anticato cap-toed oxfords on the 001 last in size 45 from Archibald London. I'd like to share my thoughts with all of you.

First, some background. I am a lover of fine, well-made shoes, that look and fit beautifully, and have over the last year and a half of serious interest in amassing a good shoe collection, and have collected over 25 pairs from Allen Edmonds, Alden, Crockett and Jones, Edward Green, CNES shoe makers (MTO), vintage Hanover, and vintage Florsheim. I have also purchased a pair of Carminas for someone else. I am by no means the greatest expert on shoes, but I consider myself well versed enough to comment on the quality of shoes based on my experience.

Secondly, a caveat: @ArchibaldRoh provided me with these shoes for review. He asked only for my honest appraisal—nothing more, nothing less. I will not be biased in any way towards these shoes because they were offered to me so generously.

Now, the review--

Packaging: I was remarkably impressed with the care and attention given to the packaging and accoutrements provided. Clearly, Archibald London values its customers and cares about the little details that make a difference. Not only was I given two shoe bags, but also a pair of extra laces and an animal shoe horn. This far exceeds the norm from other shoe makers. Allen Edmonds usually provides just one shoe bag (exception: anything Ashley touches, she’s amazing), Carmina only provided one shoe bag, and both CNES and Crockett and Jones provide two bags with no other accoutrements.

Now on to the shoes themselves.

Style: What I look for in a shoe is timeless elegance. I do not want a fad shoe, something that I think would look ridiculous in a few years. Even if I am going to go with an untraditional colour, like green or blue, I want the fundamental design of the shoe to be such that I can imagine wearing these shoes for the rest of my life, and never thinking that these belong only to a certain time and place. In effect, if I can't imagine myself wearing these in the 1920s, 2020s, or 2120s, I usually don't go for the shoe (with exceptions). To this end, these shoes match my aesthetic sensibility. The toe is neither too almond, nor too round, and though it has a rather long cap, the shoes are well proportioned and classically designed. Of note is the detail of the five eyelets being placed further apart towards the toe, narrower near the top of the tongue. Moreover, the stitching work is beautiful across the whole of the shoe, with not a single stitch out of place or loose. These shoes can stand toe-to-toe with any of the best of men's shoes on the market in terms of style, and I’d say these belong in competition with Crockett and Jones handgrade and Edward Green on this front.

Hand welting: These are my first pair of hand welted shoes and I must say: I am in love. The detail I would like to most point out is something which is rarely ever found anymore: the stitching matches the fudging on the welt. That is to say, the stitches actually fit into the grooves, which is more or less an impossible task for most modern, goodyear welted shoes. This detail provides no structural benefit, but my God is it beautiful. Otherwise, the welting is 270 degrees, which befits a superior elegant design, and the stitch density of 10 per inch--excellent. Once again, I'd say Archibald stands toe to toe with the best of quality, and in respect the details of the welt, I'd say they have Crockett and Jones and Edward Green beat, at least in their RTW lines.

The soles: Closed channeled stitching is a mark of superior elegance, and the work done on these single-oak soles with quarter heels is impeccable. The heels are nailed beautifully in groups of three triangles of three nails each on three of the corners, with one corner taken up by the rubber of the quarter heel; however the waist is flat, not fiddle backed. With the exception of the waist not being fiddle backed, these features are such as one would expect from only the top end of men's shoes. I'd rank these as superior to that of Allen Edmonds, Alden, Carmina, and mainline Crockett and Jones, on par with Crockett and Jones handgrade, and below that of Edward Green and CNES MTO. My only marginal gripe is that I think a bit of brown dying on the sole edge might have been nicer than just a black, but this is marginal.

The leather: The shoes are constructed of beautiful, full grained, high quality calfskin that has been vegetable tanned. The leather is of superior quality. Only my Edward Greens and CNES shoe makers MTO have obviously finer quality calf skin. I'd place these on par with Crockett and Jones mainline, which I take to be slightly superior to Allen Edmonds and Alden's best calf.

The colour: Though called "anticato tan", these shoes are really a deep, rich brown. I absolutely love the colouring on these shoes, and I find them amongst the most handsome of brown shoes I have. The colour is rich with subtle variations across the shoe. These are certainly my favourite brown colour I've ever purchased, even moreso than Edward Green's dark oak, or the vegano brown I have from Allen Edmonds. Nevertheless, I would suggest changing the name to some form of “brown”, as there is nothing tan about these shoes at all. Admittedly, “tan” has a lot of variants in the shoe world, but this is clearly a brown shade.

The insides: Full leather interior in a tasteful (actual) tan. I especially love the detail of using a rougher leather for the inner heel to give more immediate grip. I believe this will help me greatly, as I tend to get blisters on my heel from breaking in new shoes. I will report back on this detail in the next review, to tell you if it did indeed help. Anyway, the insides are comfortable and well made.

Fit: Despite having wide American feet, with help from @ArchibaldRoh, we determined that my best fitting would be 45, which is a UK 11. I generally wear 11.5 EEE US, and my Edward Greens are 11.5/12 e, and my Crockett and Jones are 11.5 E. These shoes fit wonderfully and are very comfortable, although I have not walked or stood in them for very long. I have plenty of room in my problem area (the toes) and my heels fit snugly without much in the way of slippage, all of which should disappear in time. They are already very comfortable, although of course I will have to break them in, and I anticipate that comfort will increase once I do so. I can't foresee these causing me serious problems, but I will return with more discussion of how they feel after I've worn them regularly.

Flaws: My one and only major complaint about these shoes is the unfortunate side effect of the toe cap being so big: there is simply no way one will avoid getting creasing in the toe cap. I tried setting the crease myself, but to no avail: there is no way my feet can bend without causing creasing in the toe. This is the downside to the design. It is by no means a deal breaker to me, as I have substantial real estate to mirror shine anyway, but I do like a flawless cap-toe and prefer it. Likewise, I did notice a very slight flaw in the leather on the right shoe, but this is so minor as to go unnoticed. Again, my only real gripe is that given the design of the toe cap, it is impossible that there shall not be creasing along the bottom edge of that cap toe, and given this would not be resolved by longer toe stiffeners (as is the problem with Allen Edmonds sometimes), I'd chock this up to simply a consequence of choosing the longer cap toe.

Personally, I’d recommend Archibald consider a shorter cap toe so this isn’t a problem in future models/designs.

Overall: These shoes are truly high-end, high quality men's dress shoes which I believe to approach Edward Green in quality. They are timelessly elegant, and not at all too continental or fashion-focused, which so many shoes are. From what I gather from the website, the intent was to merge the best of Italian and English shoe making traditions, and my immediate impression is that they have truly succeeded in this respect. What makes these truly exceptional, though, is the pricing. If you buy these at the normal, 440 GBP ($607.00) price (which I believe is with VAT included), I'd say you're getting a great deal. You're getting Crockett and Jones handgrade quality at slightly less than main collection prices. At the Naked cost of 279 GBP ($385.00), you are almost robbing them. Crockett and Jones handgrade costs $840, Edward Green costs $1,285. You are getting a comparable shoe for quite literally half or a third of the price. I actually am concerned that the company is charging too little for their shoes. This is an insane value—I mean, absolutely absurd level of value. I can unequivocally state at this point, that my first impression of these shoes lead me to suspect this is the greatest value in men's shoes world-wide in terms of cost/quality comparison. Their only competition in this respect is CNES MTO.

First impression ranking: 9/10. Exceptional.

I will return with a report once I have worn these outside several times and broken them in. Sadly, this may take till the spring, as Illinois is a frozen tundra, and there ain't no way I am wearing these shoes on ice as I am neither suicidal, nor do I want to wreck these great shoes with salt, snow, and ice. I'll wait till I have solid ground to walk on, as much as I am tempted to show these beauties off.

Still, if my first impression can be judged, I'd say this:

Gentlemen, buy these shoes. Buy. These. Shoes.

I'll be ordering another pair for certain. At this price, there is absolutely no reason not to do so. If you like a more conservative, English style look, that is classically elegant and timeless, with almost all the features of the highest of the highest end shoes, than these are the shoes for you.

IMG_20210211_1508034.jpg

IMG_20210211_1502445.jpg

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JFWR

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To be very, very clear (and not to post whore): Even at their regular price, this is worth it. You are getting a pair of shoes which should cost $1300 dollars for about 500 USD.

I've never been a big fan of direct-to-consumer brands as they don't suit my style and the quality I want from a shoe. I've avoided them as I don't care for what they're offering. Not so with Archibald. Archibald has what I like, and if you agree with timeless elegance, you cannot go wrong.
 

Proleet

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Leaving aside the handwelting how do you rate these shoes on build quality, leather, finishing to say Carmina? You make a reference to EG but at the same time point to a finishing issue that you wouldn’t have with EG. If you had ever handled Enzo Bonafe it would be great to understand how you rate these against that (as the regular Archibald price is close to what EB charges for handwelt)
 

Noblekostas

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Leaving aside the handwelting how do you rate these shoes on build quality, leather, finishing to say Carmina? You make a reference to EG but at the same time point to a finishing issue that you wouldn’t have with EG. If you had ever handled Enzo Bonafe it would be great to understand how you rate these against that (as the regular Archibald price is close to what EB charges for handwelt)
My biggest issue is the claim that you get $1300 for $500. I have shoes from both price tiers and it leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth as I often see it in brands like Paul Evans, Ace Marks, you get the idea. I know the wholesale price for most high end shoes including those made in Italy so there are certainly cut corners somewhere.

I think the cap-toe is a little too far up for my own taste. As Proleet says EB might be a good reference point for a comparison.

Other than that, I can't say much unless I handle them myself. It looks fine, it has good specs but only time will be the judge I suppose.

I was not impressed by CNES RTW unless their MTO is with higher standards.

Regardless, for the naked price it is a good deal for sure purely based on what you get.
 

JFWR

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Leaving aside the handwelting how do you rate these shoes on build quality, leather, finishing to say Carmina? You make a reference to EG but at the same time point to a finishing issue that you wouldn’t have with EG. If you had ever handled Enzo Bonafe it would be great to understand how you rate these against that (as the regular Archibald price is close to what EB charges for handwelt)

The most minor imperfection on the finish in one tiny space wouldn't be enough for me to be mad even on an Edward Green. I'd not take any shoes back on this.

Build quality and finishing I'd say they exceed Carmina. I've bought Carmina and I'd rank Carmina as inferior to mainline Crockett and Jones, which I rank as inferior to these shoes. Overall, I'd place these at hand grade level C and J.

Carminas are nice shoes, but their main benefits over say, an Allen Edmonds, is stitch density on the welt.

Leather wise, I rank these on par with main collection C and J, which I rank as higher than carmina. So advantage, but slighter.
 

JFWR

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My biggest issue is the claim that you get $1300 for $500. I have shoes from both price tiers and it leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth as I often see it in brands like Paul Evans, Ace Marks, you get the idea. I know the wholesale price for most high end shoes including those made in Italy so there are certainly cut corners somewhere.

I think the cap-toe is a little too far up for my own taste. As Proleet says EB might be a good reference point for a comparison.

Other than that, I can't say much unless I handle them myself. It looks fine, it has good specs but only time will be the judge I suppose.

I was not impressed by CNES RTW unless their MTO is with higher standards.

Regardless, for the naked price it is a good deal for sure purely based on what you get.

I can't tell you if any corners are cut in terms of say, leather board v. Stacked leather heel. I'd have to take the shoes apart for that.

I haven't bought enzo bonafe so I can't comment on those shoes. I've not even worn them.

The cnes mto I have were impeccably made. High density stitching on the 270 gyw, closed channel, fiddle back waist, and really beautiful calf. The calf quality by feel is equivalent to how my EG chelseas feel.

One way I judge leather is by touch. You can in a sense feel whether the calf is super high quality. The French calf on my cnes mto reminds me in texture and feel of my Edward greens. These Archibalds feel like Crockett and Jones.
 

ArchibaldRoh

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My biggest issue is the claim that you get $1300 for $500. I have shoes from both price tiers and it leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth as I often see it in brands like Paul Evans, Ace Marks, you get the idea. I know the wholesale price for most high end shoes including those made in Italy so there are certainly cut corners somewhere.

I think the cap-toe is a little too far up for my own taste. As Proleet says EB might be a good reference point for a comparison.

Other than that, I can't say much unless I handle them myself. It looks fine, it has good specs but only time will be the judge I suppose.

I was not impressed by CNES RTW unless their MTO is with higher standards.

Regardless, for the naked price it is a good deal for sure purely based on what you get.
You know i really dont blame you for having a sour taste on the d2c promise.

The false premium offering from d2c brands has been the biggest hurdle we have had to overcome as we are using the model unlike anyone else is.

The handwelted shoes cost us over 200 euros to make (around 220 on average i believe) and that is without any taxes... Just the shoe. They arent cheap and I dont believe any corners are cut as we are literallly aiming to do something very different. See we dont keep stock of these... We cant. And when we have spares from returns on wrong sizing etc then they go into what makes up a small stock. This isnt one of those venture backed d2c brands... VC's dont support our model they want the cheap stuff sold as false premium. The low customer acquisiton cost where you dupe an unaware customer who after two cycles leaves you.
My bet is on the lifetime value, i know if i convince you and then prove it with product then you will never leave as there will be nowhere to go. High acquisition cost as i have to convinxe you but high lifetime value. And ita not just shoes, its anything that is top.

In order for it to work i need the validation of those in the know. We have been building our following on SF lately but it takes time so i want to close that.

Frankly speaking on the basis of Italian made Handwelted vs anything goodyear welted there is no comparison. Anyone saying its a fair fight simply has never worn or owned handwelted shoes... There is a remarkable difference and it can only be spotted worn.

So automatically and i say this without bias (though i know you wont believe me) i cant go back. It is a different league.

But i digress.

So yeah, you are fully right to feel the way you feel. Its exactly what i felt about warby parker which is why i went to Sabae, Japan to get the eyewear made when we started this thing.
Its why when Everlane go to China, we go to Italy.

All the brands you mentioned, other made in italy shoe brands pedalling the d2c storu all that nonsense is just the same d2c rubbish you get everywhere else. So i really, believe me dont blame you for assuming ehat you assume and stating the value of these are what we pedall them for at Naked.

My problem is i priced these too cheaply. I am stuck on this idea of d2c done right of creating the ultimate proposition in retail and that is why i reached out to @JFWR because I know the roadblock faced here... The price makes it questionable, lack of perceived value, there must be something wrong with it, and automatically we get pegged with the rest of the d2c bullshit.

Its is why things changed for us through Vicuna when we sold a vicuna scarf for 575 because... No one can questio vicuna its a pure fiber and in our case woven into a perfect scarf made in scotland sold for a third of the price of the cheapest matched alternative. Through it people realised we arent messing about.

The difference is we are everytjing we say on the tin and more. By the way, our handwelted shoes go for 495 at full price including shipping.

Enzo are 810 usd without shipping.

We are on par with Enzo, id dare even say we trump them on comfort which will be revealed when these are used daily. We explored Enzo Bonafe to make our shoes and they are based in the same region so know of them well.

Now one thing i will concede where we need improvement and are improving tremendously - the finishing.

Out the box a pair of Carmina (which i consider no where even close to C and J) are generally flawless and great to photograph. But to the touch, the leathers used and worn, well its not on the same level as CJ is it? Not even close... Carmina is entry level. Perhaps the best entry level shoe out there and will never fail out the box, but i now know better.

Anyway im selling samples we have laying around so if you feel like trying a pair for a cut price please go ahead and message me. If its ****, you can lambast us and destroy us on the forum in a public setting.

But no brand out there is doing anything remotely close to what we are doing AT FULL PRICE, nevermind Naked.
 
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Noblekostas

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You know i really dont blame you for having a sour taste on the d2c promise.

The false premium offering from d2c brands has been the biggest hurdle we have had to overcome as we are using the model unlike anyone else is.

The handwelted shoes cost us over 200 euros to make (around 220 on average i believe) and that is without any taxes... Just the shoe. They arent cheap and I dont believe any corners are cut as we are literallly aiming to do something very different.

In order for it to work i need the validation of those in the know. We have been building our following on SF lately but it takes time so i want to close that.

Frankly speaking on the basis of Italian made Handwelted vs anything goodyear welted there is no comparison. Anyone saying its a fair fight simply has never worn or owned handwelted shoes... There is a remarkable difference and it can only be spotted worn.

So automatically and i say this without bias (though i know you wont believe me) i cant go back. It is a different league.

But i digress.

So yeah, you are fully right to feel the way you feel. Its exactly what i felt about warby parker which is why i went to Sabae, Japan to get the eyewear made when we started this thing.
Its why when Everlane go to China, we go to Italy.

All the brands you mentioned, other made in italy shoe brands pedalling the d2c storu all that nonsense is just the same d2c rubbish you get everywhere else. So i really, believe me dont blame you for assuming ehat you assume and stating the value of these are what we pedall them for at Naked.

My problem is i priced these too cheaply. I am stuck on this idea of d2c done right of creating the ultimate proposition in retail and that is why i reached out to @JFWR because I know the roadblock faced here... The price makes it questionable, lack of perceived value, there must be something wrong with it, and automatically we get pegged with the rest of the d2c bullshit.

Its is why things changed for us through Vicuna when we sold a vicuna scarf for 575 because... No one can questio vicuna its a pure fiber and in our case woven into a perfect scarf made in scotland sold for a third of the price of the cheapest matched alternative. Through it people realised we arent messing about.

The difference is we are everytjing we say on the tin and more. By the way, our handwelted shoes go for 495 at full price including shipping.

Enzo are 810 usd without shipping.

We are on par with Enzo, id dare even say we trump them on comfort which will be revealed when these are used daily. We explored Enzo Bonafe to make our shoes and they are based in the same region so know of them well.

Now one thing i will concede where we need improvement and are improving tremendously - the finishing.

Anyway im selling samples we have laying around so if you feel like trying a pair for a cut price please go ahead and message me. If its ****, you can lambast us and destroy us on the forum in a public setting.

But no brand out there is doing anything remotely close to what we are doing AT FULL PRICE, nevermind Naked.
I get what you mean. In fact, I had actually even tried to contact you here and back when Maja worked with you to see if I can review your shoes.

As a prospective customer I can only take what you (as well as few reviewers) as the truth until I experience it myself. I own my own shoe store too and I know quite a bit about shoes and I will study at stefano bemer so i am not a “newbie”.

I wish you good luck and I follow the thread for a long time now :)
 

ArchibaldRoh

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I get what you mean. In fact, I had actually even tried to contact you here and back when Maja worked with you to see if I can review your shoes.

As a prospective customer I can only take what you (as well as few reviewers) as the truth until I experience it myself. I own my own shoe store too and I know quite a bit about shoes and I will study at stefano bemer so i am not a “newbie”.

I wish you good luck and I follow the thread for a long time now :)
Lets do the review. Since the guys in the handwelted gmto thread helped us get a handle on the finishing, i feel we are ready to go at it.
 

JFWR

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My general opinion on leather quality is once you get to full grain calf, the difference is real, but moderate.

A pair of Allen Edmonds is superior to a crap modern Florsheim genuine leather made in India garbage shoe by a country mile.

The difference between those Allen Edmonds and Edward Green is not as big, but noticeable to the touch.

To me Carmina is as good as any Allen Edmonds, neither better nor worse leather wise.

My Edward Greens have great leather but it's not the difference of night and day.

Let me put it this way:

A B+ is closer to an A than an F, grading wise.

Florsheim F
Allen Edmonds and Carmina: B+
Crockett and Jones: A-
Crockett and Jones hand grade and Archibald: A
Edward Green: A+

As a professor, I can judge a paper as an A, but the difference between an A and B+ is much harder to differentiate than an F paper. Fs are obvious.

Once you reach the level of gyw, made to last, proper shoes, the difference is now in elegance and details. This elegance and details are why Edward Greens are sometimes 6x more expensive than Allen Edmonds.

This is also why I personally buy only calfskin shoes at higher prices, as I don't think cordovan has any real grades of refinement. If I'm paying more, it's for the little steps up.

Incidentally, this is why I love these Archibalds. I'm getting a shoe I'd say is at least on par with Crockett and Jones handgrade for half the price. Those refinements are there.

Can I love and be satisfied with a regular Allen Edmonds? Hell yes I can. But I can and do appreciate the extra quality.
 

Proleet

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It might be me but I don’t feel any comfort difference between GYW and handwelt. I’d reckon for most people it’s more about craft than comfort that they want this..

will also say that after wearing plenty of brands for 5-10 years I can’t say Carmina leather is worse after wearing it but it might just good or bad luck. Generally speaking I think most people make way too much out of “leather quality” without understanding what goes into it. A starting point would be to understand the average number of pairs out of each hide.

Regardless it would be great to understand the full specifications of your shoes. Aside the handwelting i can’t recall that has ever been shared so would be interesting to see the side by side.
 
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Potatoe

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Reading this thread makes me very sad that the Jumper Boot project seems to be on hold.

I think it would be a huge success. I also think the biggest hole in the Archibald line up is a good pair of lace up boots.

With COVID I think there are way more people buying casual shoes. Oxfords and whole cuts are a tough sell even at cost. I suspect most of the spending right now on high end shoes goes to sneakers, boots, and derbies.

I would love to buy a pair of these oxfords (the blue cap toes are sexy) but I'm looking at a pair of Meermin cap toes, I bought a year ago that I still haven't worn. It may be 2022 before there is another event where I need to wear a formal shoe.
 
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ArchibaldRoh

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Reading this thread makes me very sad that the Jumper Boot project seems to be on hold.

I think it would be a huge success. I also think the biggest hole in the Archibald line up is a good pair of lace up boots.

With COVID I think there are way more people buying casual shoes. Oxfords and whole cuts are a tough sell even at cost. I suspect most of the spending right now on high end shoes goes to sneakers, boots, and derbies.

I would love to buy a pair of these oxfords (the blue cap toes are sexy) but I'm looking at a pair of Meermins I bought a year ago that I still haven't worn. It may be 2022 before there is another event where I need to wear a formal shoe.
I promise on Monday i will commission the sample. And they will be made available in Horween Shell as well.

We have the data points submitted and you are right its been on ice for a while. My apologies but i think the overwhelming positivity from the HW01 gives us confidence to march ahead. Thanks for the push.
 

Potatoe

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I promise on Monday i will commission the sample. And they will be made available in Horween Shell as well.

We have the data points submitted and you are right its been on ice for a while. My apologies but i think the overwhelming positivity from the HW01 gives us confidence to march ahead. Thanks for the push.

No reason to apologies, I know some of the big projects have been stressful for you guys. I think after how nice the sneakers came out there will be a big demand for the boots. Whole cuts are nice but they are a bit more niche, everyone likes boots.
 

Noblekostas

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No reason to apologies, I know some of the big projects have been stressful for you guys. I think after how nice the sneakers came out there will be a big demand for the boots. Whole cuts are nice but they are a bit more niche, everyone likes boots.
Wholecuts are awesome. But there’s a big boot culture in the USA, especially on service boots.

@ArchibaldRoh thanks for the offer, I have enough shoes so I do this just to show people things the don’t often see. I wouldn’t want to put “pressure” during covid times for just another pair. I am also quite critical or controversial and even got some hate for my last Saint crispins review. Speculatively, it would have been an oxford or the wholecut in green shell looks good. If I may offer some criticism, the pictures don’t look appealing to me at least for the shoes (4K screen though). If your product is as good as you say sharper pictures will help a lot.

have a nice weekend everyone :)
 

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