I won’t lie. I will proudly say that Suitsupply is one of my favorite clothing brands. I won’t pretend that I really care where clothes are made from. Of course, I would go bespoke everything if I could but I am not a billionaire, or even close to a millionaire for that matter so won’t try to pretend that this is my taste. The fact is that Suit Supply makes pretty well-made clothes at a pretty damn good price. And more importantly, makes clothes that have good style and design.
So when they asked me to take a look at their new range of quality shoes, I was happy to oblige. I was intrigued too to see what they are up to on that front as I know that they are always trying to make their offering better and more appealing to a larger group of consumers. So I agreed to do a review/write-up in exchange for some great articles of clothing (that I will soon model for all of you 😉 and here is my take on what I found in their current collection.
Now, let me first start off by saying that Suitsupply shoes are Blake Rapid Construction. They are NOT welted. So for all of you who are more snobby than me and wear welted only shoes, well this post might not be for you but for those of you wearing Department store-bought shoes like Santoni, Ferragamo, To Boot New York, Magnanni etc, and the like, then stay tuned for something that just might appeal to you.
Suitxupply gave me two models to take a look at. One is a very elegant wholecut oxford in this cognac-like brown with subtle burnishing. A very Italian-looking shoe in my humble opinion. The other is on the other end of the European spectrum of shoe design, having a far more British-like appeal, in a black brogued double monkstrap.
Both of these models are a part of their A/W ’19 collection and can be found in stores and online.
Now, comparing apples and oranges is a mistake so I won’t do it here and I do not expect you to do so either. I am not a personal fan of plain Blake Stitched Construction but that is simply my taste and is not the end all be all. Some people hate Goodyear welted shoes, want a flexible shoe and do not give two thoughts about whether or not they can resole their shoes. But I do find the Blake Rapid construction far more appealing as it adds an extra layer of comfort, quality and durability to the sole. That being when judging these one has to take into account the likes and comparisons with respect to the shoes at hand. The reality is that most of the planet wears blake-stitched and glued shoes and not welted or Blake Rapid for that matter. These two constructions are far from the minority.
Therefore, let’s get to it. These shoes cost $449.
The finishing on these Suitsupply shoes is flawless. It is what one would expect when buying from a good Italian factory that can make mass-produced footwear. Think, of the factories that make Ferragamo and Gucci. Those are very large factories that pump out good quality blake stitched shoes with flawless finishing. That’s what these shoes were. Flawless blake-stitched shoes, but not for the Gucci/Ferragamo/Santoni price that often extends upward of +$600. So, in reality, you are getting a $150 discount for not paying for these designer names and on top of that, more than just Blake, but actually Black Rapid. Because truth be told, while I do love Santoni’s welted footwear, I have to say that these Suitsupply shoes were just as good, if not better than what those brands are pumping out for 25% more in retail price. And that is the reality of Suitsupply in general. They tend to make the same quality as the big designer brands of the world but for a much better price.
Being between the pricing of TBNY and Magnanni (higher than both) but lower than Santoni and Ferragamo, I must say that the finishing was better than the first two brands and on par with the latter for a lot less of the price. It’s impressive, to say the least, and helps to show you that sometimes, you are paying for a name.
Suitsupply shoes run very large. I took a US7 in both, a half size smaller than what is usually snug for me (at least in my shoes and most other British makers at UK6.5/US7.5) and both shoes were big on me. The wholecut fit was similar to my chisel lasted shoes, being about ¼ of a size too big for me. However, the monkstraps were huge. I could have easily taken a half size down in those which is unheard of (I am really a US8 narrow but like a tight fit). So be aware of those in particular.
This type of fit is somewhat in tune with many other Italian-made shoes, where Suitsupply’s shoes are in fact made. Therefore if you typically wear British type shoes you may want to size down for these and if you are wearing other like for like Italian style shoes, i.e. Santoni or Magnanni, probably stick to the same size (if not a half size down for the Monkstraps).
There were two issues that I found, for being a shoe snob. One was that the lack of structure due to not having reinforcements between the leather and lining caused the mouth of the shoe to gape. You might be able to see this in the photo of me wearing the shoes. But this also happens as I am semi flat-footed and can be an issue for many ‘deconstructed’ types of footwear, hence my gravity towards something more ‘structured’ i.e. welted shoes.
The other issue is probably not so much an issue but worth noting. On the wholecuts, you can see that there is a heavy amount of finishing on the uppers, to give that burnished/patina type look. But the issues with over finishing a shoe is that when you where them the first time, you tend to get some flaking of the finishing, as you might also see in the flex points on the vamp. But the leather seemed good on the brown pair. A solid crust leather for sure. The black shoe was bookbinder and we all know how I personally feel for those. Good for rain though.
While I do not wear Blake Stitched or Blake Rapid shoes (they hurt these sensitive feet, I need that welted sole), I think that it is impressive to see the quality of the finishing and Rapid construction at this price-point with respects to what else is there in the market charging around the same price if not more. And remember these are Italian made which still carries weight in price. Just because something is Blake does not make it automatically inferior to welted shoes. It’s all an opinion. And more often than not, with blake/blake rapid shoes you are paying for the immaculate finishing that is flawless and only found in welted shoes that cost upwards of $1000, if not a lot more.
I am happy to see that Suitsupply upped their game in the shoe department. Let’s see if they ever go for a welted line. Then a lot of us would be in trouble!