$400+ Shoes?

Is there a difference between $400+ shoes and $150- shoes?


  • Materials
    • Full-grain vs split-grain leather (Full grain is naturally more resistant to weather and wear. Split-grain needs constant polish to look nice)
    • Highest quality leather vs cheap leather (cheap leather will quickly wrinkle and crack)
  • Construction:
    • Made by hand by craftsmen vs made by machines
    • Individually built around a wooden last vs mass-produced with generic sizes
    • Full lining with natural materials vs who knows what
    • the pattern is cut according to the leather’s grain vs the pattern is cut to get the most out of the leather piece
    • Sewn and glued vs glued construction (Ever seen a sole come loose from the shoe? It was glued on.)
    • Goodyear vs Blake welt or fake welt
  • Sole
    • waxed, ironed, quality leather vs whatever
  • Comfort
    • Molds to your foot and keeps that shape vs soft and sloppy
  • Longevity
    • The $400+ shoe will last a lifetime*… because it was made to. (*with maintenance)
    • The $100 shoe will last a year**. (**before it cracks or separates. If worn regularly.)

Here are the elite-quality shoe makers:

  • Allen Edmonds (US)
  • Alden (US)
  • Church (UK)
  • Loakes (UK)
  • Salvatore Ferragamo (IT)
  • J. M. Weston (FR)
  • Crockett & Jones (US)
  • Edward Greene (UK) (there’s some on eBay right now for $4,000)
  • A. Testoni (IT)
  • John Lobb (FR)
  • Alfred Sargent (UK)
  • Ralph Lauren Purple Label (US)


Often beautiful. Often trendy. Not the quality of the brands above, but not terrible. Much of the price is to pay for the marketing:

  • Gucci
  • Dolce & Gabbana
  • Marc Jacobs
  • Marc Nason (I love them!)
  • John Varvatos (I love them!)
  • Bruno Magli
  • Versace
  • Alexander McQueen
  • Tod
  • etc

THE $150 gang:

They cover your feet. They are OK if you find them on sale (which is easy to do).

  • ECCO
  • Cole Haan
  • Nunn Bush
  • Bostonian
  • Kenneth Cole
  • Johnson & Murphy
  • Florsheim
  • etc


Ready to pay for a shoe made just for your feet?

  • Bontoni
  • Berluti
  • Edward Greene
  • Alfred Sargent
  • John Lobb
  • Church (~$500)
  • Berluti (~$7,000)
  • Johnson & Murphy
  • Bally Switzerland
  • Silvano Lattanzi (can run over $100,000)

Salvatore Ferragamo Tramezza:
The elite line of an elite brand. The tramezza is made of leather that has been conditioned in running water, so it breathes as it conditions.



  1. Grandly interesting 🙂 I’m glad Salvatore Ferragamo made the cut; and was mildly surprised to see Ralph Lauren US Purple label. I do like his clothes.

    Thank you for making those points, too, someone may think differently the next time they look for new shoes. I know I will 🙂

  2. allen edmonds, loake, ferragamo, and testoni don’t belong on that first list (ae: dowdy, terrible lasts and leather, relatively speaking, a world apart from alden; loake: make some ok everyday shoes, but mid-level quality, about like ae; ferragamo are sometimes very nice looking, but generally just too dainty, still better than the other designer shoes like gucci, dolce etc etc; it’s extremely hard to get a good pair of shoes from testoni — mid-level quality like loake for the most part). missing from the list are tricker’s (there are many discussions about this, but let’s, to be fair, say they’re on a quality level with church’s and c&j, just different style; their more robust shoes are superior to the other two makers’, their city shoes not as elegant; i have all, and tricker’s are my favorite). missing are also vass and dinkelacker, also st. crispin. one shoe that never gets mentioned in these things is Handmacher from austria, where for a reasonable price (about $400) you choose the style, the soles, and the leather; they then handmake your shoes; however, it’s important to try them on when you’re in europe, to be sure you get the right size (i wear uk12, us 12.5 or 13, european 46, sometimes 47, but in handmacher i wear 11). there are more, but this suffices as a correction and expansion.

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