Review: Shoepassion.com Patent Shoes

Model no 570 - Patent Derby

Model no 570 – Patent Derby (click for more images)

Model 571 - Patent Oxford

Model 571 – Patent Oxford  (click for more images)

German shoemaker Shoepassion.com wanted to spread the word about their handcrafted shoes sold for mainstream prices and asked me if I would review their product.  I accepted the offer as an opportunity to add patent lace-ups to my formal wardrobe and came to learn a fair bit about shoe construction in the process.   What I discovered was that their footwear offers impressive value for the money.

Price

  • model no. 570 (patent-leather derby):
    • €199 for regular width including VAT, €167.23 (approx. US$230) for customers outside the EU
    • €209 for wide last, €175.63 (approx. US$245) for customers outside the EU
  • model no. 571 (patent-leather oxford):
    • €199 for regular width including VAT, €167.23 (approx. US$230) for customers outside the EU
  • higher costs apply for larger sizes (UK size 12.5 / US size 13.5 and above)
  • shipping is €4.95 for most European customers and €29.95 (approx. US$40) for everyone else

Styles & Options

My aesthetic preference in lace-up formal shoes is the tidier closed lacing of the oxford (balmoral in the US) but in this case it was trumped by my physiological requirement for a wide fit which is only offered in the open-laced derby model (blucher in the US).   Shoepassion’s derby is actually made all the more busy by extra side seams but, on the other hand, it has two less pairs of eyelets than their oxfords so I guess it all evens out.

The company also offers plain black versions of their derbies (€189) and oxfords (€199) as well as a wholecut model (€229) but I don’t regard a shoe that’s appropriate for business attire as being truly formal.

Ordering & Customer Service

Although I ordered my shoes directly from a company rep, I still made a point of investigating their online ordering process.  I was initially impressed that they offer a printable chart to help customers determine their correct shoe size.  When it failed to print to scale, the rep asked me to just measure the length of my foot and ascertained that I should get a half size smaller than my usual shoe size.

I later figured out that the chart is designed to print on A4 size paper which is not used in North America.  By using legal paper instead, I was able to print it to scale.  However, it indicated that my shoe size was one full size smaller than normal.  Based on the tight fit of the larger shoes I received, I’m glad I didn’t order based on the chart’s recommendation.

Although I had to wait a while for my size to be restocked, the shipping time was quick: it took only four business days to get to Toronto.

As for satisfaction guarantees, customers may return the product within 30 days for a full refund, excluding shipping costs.

Fit

As mentioned, I was advised to order a half size smaller than my usual shoe size based on my foot measurement.  The shoes I received were noticeably snug in their breadth but still quite comfortable and had plenty of room at the toe.  It’s hard to say whether my usual size would have been a better fit or slightly too long.

Quality

I don’t know a whole lot about assessing the benchmarks of quality footwear but the Shoepassion Web site certainly suggests their products are made to high standards:

Our formal [dress in US] men’s shoes are handcrafted using traditional methods and Goodyear-welted.  As such, they offer cushioning, support, breathability, durability and are easily resoled.  Produced with painstaking care by a Spanish manufacturer, just one of our formal men’s shoes is made of 65 separate parts.  In all, around 210 skilled operations are used to craft each of our extraordinary men’s shoes.  Only high-grade materials are used for the shoe manufacturing, like finest Italian leather, which guarantees the highest quality.

The site repeatedly refers to Goodyear welting so I figured it was worth finding out just what that meant.   It turns out that this method of shoe construction differs from the more common Blake method in the way that the upper (the top part of the shoe including the insole) is attached to the sole.

primer_stitch_comparison

The common process is to simply stitch the outer sole directly to the insole which results in exposed stitching that can sometimes be uncomfortable, and in open holes that make the shoe less waterproof.   The Goodyear welt method – named after the inventor of the machine used for the process – connects the two halves by first attaching a welt (strip) of leather around the outside of the upper then to the outside of the sole.  It also involves placing a thin layer of cork between the two soles.  The result is not only a shoe that is more waterproof but, as noted above, more breathable,  cushioning and supporting because of the cork and its tendency to mold to the shape of the foot.  Another significant benefit is that it allows the shoe to be resoled when needed.

Because the welting process takes more time and requires highly skilled operators, it is more expensive.  Thus the reason it is not as common as the other method.

After testing my pair at home on a number of evenings, I can attest to their comfort.  The quality of the patent leather also appears to be excellent considering that although they have creased, as all dress shoes are wont to do, they have not cracked, as only cheap patent will do.

Value

Because Shoepassion eliminates the middle man through direct sales and omits the gullibility markup associated with high-profile brand names, it is able to provide quality footwear at significantly lower prices than usual.   They also go the extra mile by packaging their product in a high-quality box and providing an extra pair of shoelaces, a spare pair of anti-slip rubber outsoles (should you want to use these on regular dress shoes in fall and winter) and two individual shoe bags.  The latter are particularly valuable for patent leather footwear as they prevent the smooth surface from scuffing while in transit or storage.

In my opinion, this all adds up to a very good deal.

7 Comments

  1. Cajetan

    Hello Peter,

    This post comes at exactly the right time for me. I have a pair of patent leather shoes with which I am quite happy, but I will need some new business shoes in the next months and I agree that most of their “formal” models are actually more suitable for business purposes (our interpretation might be a little bit conservative; for “business casual” they are definitively too formal ;-).

    As I noticed that model 570 has leather soles, like most of their others, what is your impression about their durability? I am a little bit reluctant to buy shoes with pure leather soles due to a bad experience I have made with a pair; the sole was so soft that after wearing them a few times, the shoes were starting to dissolve and were a complete loss in the end.
    As I want to avoid a similar experience, so your comment would be highly appreciated.

    Reply
    1. Peter Marshall

      Sounds like you were ripped off. I’ve owned leather-soled dress shoes for many years and have never had that problem (and they’re not high-end brands). The soles on my Shoepassion shoes seem to be equally good quality, if not better.

      Reply
      1. Cajetan

        Yes, that is right. I was inexperienced and naive and was ripped off.
        Thanks for the confirmation; it is always a good decision to visit your blog.

        Reply
        1. Hal

          Leather soles should stand up just fine. They will wear more heavily when worn in the rain. If you are unsure about them (or don’t fancy having to replace them) get your cobbler to fit a thin rubber skin over the leather sole.

          Reply
  2. CharlesM

    I had always thought that the derby style was looked upon with some disfavor for a black tie outfit. It is difficult to form a judgment based on a single photo but they do seem to look very casual with the open lacing and the very high and bluntly rounded toe box.

    The oxfords appear much more elegant, especially with the lower-appearing french toe, a style unfortunately not seen too often.

    But it seems to me that the goodyear welting, with its usual very thick sole and exposed welt and stitching is not at all compatible with formal wear. To my eye, that style always looked like it was borrowed from industrial work shoes.

    But you, sir have the actual goods in hand, not me. How do they comport with the rest of your black tie ensemble?

    Reply
    1. Peter Marshall

      With the rest of the outfit they look like perfectly acceptable formal shoes. If you’d like to see more images of the shoes, I’ve just linked the photos above to the Shoepassion site.

      Reply
  3. Giselle

    This is what I call FORMAL SHOES. I would really prefer if men would wear this than sneakers and other colored shoes. I think these shoes speaks the integrity of a man.

    Reply

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