*** Warning: Picture heavy post. The pair was gifted with no strings attached. I was never asked to review these but I do so for all of you. Opinions are all my own and solely my own***
Following the unboxing video that I did last year is the long-awaited review of the brand that has taken Instagram (and the industry) by storm: ACME Shoemaker.
For those that are not familiar with that name allow me to give a very brief introduction. Hailing from Beijing, China, ACME shoemaker really made their appearance in the industry last year in the height of the pandemic with their first Instagram post on March 30th, 2020. I do not recall how I stumbled across them but by April 19th, 2020 we were in touch and I was quickly impressed with what I saw of their few posts on IG. I saw huge potential and just a little over one year later and 16K followers, here they are as one of the top makers of the industry, in my very humble opinion.
I can hear the scoffing from the traditionalists who believe only Europeans or Japanese can fall into that category but allow me to tell you that could not be further from the truth. At a starting price of $1250 for a completely handmade shoe, there are actually few options in the entire industry that are better than this when it comes to value for money. Granted if you prefer to pay for a name, a prestige of “Made in X”, an idea of grandeur, or the like, well that is your prerogative. But if you care not where your shoes are made and simply want the best value for money, it will be hard to find something that trumps ACME shoemaker.
So now let’s get down to the brass tax here and talk about all of the aspects of the shoe and look at what makes them great versus what they could improve on:
The shoes are completely handmade. That means that they a handwelted construction. They are made to the standard of a bespoke shoe but at an RTW/MTO offering. Not to say that they do not do bespoke, but that you get the bespoke style of making (i.e. handmade through and through), whether you order RTW, MTO and/or bespoke. This is becoming more and more common among makers in SE Asia. They have learned the craft, are perfecting their skills and building some serious companies offering a very competitive product at a very competitive price. ACME is no different and is setting a high bar.
The shoes easily had that ‘handmade’ look and feel about them. You get that, mainly, from superb finishing. And there is a fine line between razor-like machine finishing and razor-like hand finishing. The hand-finishing will almost always have a notch in the edge of the sole where the heel meets the waist and that is a tell-tale sign that they are hand-finished. While I think that their finishing was tremendous for the value of the shoes in contrast to their price, the reality is that there was room for improvement if you are comparing them to bespoke shoemakers that give you a flawless product. But that is really just being nit-picky for the sake of pointing something out. For me, comparing them against any other shoe that sells for $1250, they are blowing most of the competition out of the water. In reality, there is something appealing about tiny little hand-made discrepancies that make the shoes feel more real. Shoes that are too perfect, look great and all, but do not always look appealing as a product to wear. Overall, the finishing was tremendous.
So, me being quite standard a UK7 narrow (US8 narrow) or UK6.5 medium fit (US7.5D), I told them of my size and what I have worn in other brands. They sent me a UK6.5 and it fit like a glove. Naturally, one must expect that when entering the echelons of high-quality footwear, the fit is vastly different than that of entry or even mid-tier shoes. Fit at this level is hugging like a tight glove. The way, in reality, a shoe should fit. The way bespoke shoes fit. And they fit as well as a RTW shoe can be. You could feel the arch support and the hugging nature of the shoe all around. A gripping heel, snug forefoot and a hugging arch. All the things you need to be properly supported. The shoe was just right. But granted, suede always feels better. I will be curious to know how the same size fits in a leather oxford, which I have coming. Overall the fit was good and just how I like it.
As I mentioned in the unboxing video, if one were to want to gripe at something, the only two things that were not ‘perfectly flawless’ in these shoes, were the finishing of the waist and the handstitched apron, which had some deep grooves from the awl being too firmly pressed into the suede. But the reality is that this is very hard to not have happen when stitching the apron on top of the lasted upper. I should know, as I have done it myself during my time apprenticing under Stefano Bemer. And I am always blown away a the shoemaker who can do that handstitching without any marks. Therefore, I really do not consider these flaws at all. These are simply signs of handmade shoes and tells of room for improvement. But in no way should they dictate complaining or the asking of one’s money back.
Overall, these are amazing shoes for their price. When you consider that there are factory-made shoes out there that cost just as much if not more that are not as good as these, it is amazing to think that people have not caught on more to ACME Shoemaker. But, of course, we know why many are hesitant. 1. They do not have a big name that sells a lifestyle to the end user. 2. They have not been around long enough for some people to trust. Both silly things in my eyes. The simple fact is. They make great shoes for a great price and I can only them getting better. Stay tuned for my next review as I have another pair on its way!
Contact ACME Shoemaker: https://www.instagram.com/acme_shoemaker/?hl=en