The CNES Hand Welted line, for me, has been among the most exciting things in the industry as of late. I say this because the pricing is among the best value-for-money propositions on the market and I really like some of the lasts and styles they create. My favorite is the adelaide oxford highlighted here, which they sent to me for review a while back. You can see my Unboxing Video as well as my ‘Up Close Details‘ video also.
So let’s take a look at the 4 things I typically look at when judging a shoe:
CNES launched its hand welted construction line in 2022 and it has been a success ever since. This line completed the various types of construction they offer, pretty much tackling every single one imaginable. But what was even more impressive was the very reasonable price they offered for it, which puts them around $405 for the non-exotics.
The shoes are solid. They remind me of a VASS which often has a thicker forefoot sole area and a thinner waist. It makes them robust looking yet elegant, as most of their lasts are elongated. When wearing them you feel that they are sturdy and well made. Again, impressive for $400. And I always check to make sure companies are telling the truth and indeed I saw the hand welted indication marks on the insole.
Everything looked tip-top and truth be told, their factory has a lot of experience in hand welted so it is not a surprise to know that they do it well. Again, when making these statements, I am always bearing in mind the price and not trying to compare it against a $2000 hand welted shoe.
The finishing was clean. Nothing crazy, but they also made sure to make it tidy. If you looked with intent to find issues, I am sure it could have been done but again you get what you pay for. But there were no real issues here, as you can see in the photos. Their patina skills have also vastly improved since my first unboxing video and so it would appear that their leather has too.
The fudging on the welt was nice and clean. The transition from the waist to the forefoot sole was good. And that is among the trickiest parts. The sole had its nuances but that will happen when making a super unique fiddleback waist that I like to refer to as the stiletto, which is now their signature look for the CNES hand welted collection. Overall the finishing was clean and that is really all you need. No real issues.
Fit is the thing I have always had trouble with at CNES. Their lasts run large for my feet. I get my usual UK6.5 / EU 40.5 / US7.5 and they always feel a touch generous for me. But, not so much that I think that the UK6 would be the appropriate fit. And maybe it is simply the chisel last, which truth be told, runs large in my own line. I have yet to try a rounded last from them, so maybe that is my next move. Apart from feeling generous, the shoe fits nice in terms of proportion i.e. heel to arch, arch to forefoot. And the heelcup grips nicely. My issue is mainly in the forefoot region, but having a narrow foot this comes as no surprise.
I do prefer the fit to this than to the original goodyear welted pair I reviewed years ago. Not in terms of size but in terms that robust feel and support. The hand welted line feels supportive and hugging in all of the right places.
There were no real flaws in my mind. But I am not your average reviewer. I am not someone who saves up the money, expects something perfect, and then is disappointed when they find the most inconsequential thing ever. In fact, the more shoes you own, the less you start to care about perfection. It’s quite strange really. Anyway, there were no flaws. I define a flaw that takes away from the longevity of the shoes and major blemishes to the main appearance of the shoe. Were there small bites in the leather and a scuff or two here and there? Sure, but that is natural when dealing with leather, and especially shoes at this price point. If you want 100% flawless shoes, be prepared to spend upwards of $1500 and more!
You have probably heard me ranting and raving over CNES’s hand welted line as I really do find it a force to be reckoned with. They make a solid shoe at a fantastic price. It is hard to go wrong, really.
If you want to learn more, just go here: https://www.cnes.co/collections/hand-sewn-welt