With most of us still working from home, there isn't an immediate need to buy new office attire, especially dress shoes. However, going against the norm here, I wanted to review a dress shoe brand that recently came into my radar towards the end of 2019: Beckett Simonon. It's certainly a unique brand, with a unique business model. Their shoes exude the class and vibe of an Allen Edmonds, but at a much, much more affordable price. Whereas AE shoes can cost upwards of $400-500, Beckett Simonon's shoes come in around $200 - sometimes cheaper with certain promo codes (like 20% off when you first sign up). The ones I received are their Durant Oxfords in the Oak color and I got them for around $160, which is a solid discount!
The downside to getting such a high-quality dress shoe at a great price point is that it takes quite a bit of time for the shoes to get to you. They're manufactured in small batches (and under ethical working conditions), so as a result, it can take around 2-3 months for the shoes to reach your doorstep. I was part of the unfortunate March batch that was affected by additional COVID lockdown delays, but for most people the 2-3 month timeframe should be accurate. Nicely enough, they send regular updates on where your shoes are in the process as they're being constructed. I received several emails keeping me informed as they moved from stage to stage, which I appreciated a lot. Now that I've had these in my hands for some time, we can take a detailed look at the shoes and whether you should consider these for your next pair.
- The Unboxing
- Style & Fit
- Quality & Construction
As soon as you have the box in your hands, you get the feeling that you're holding a premium product. It's a great, solid-feeling navy blue box with "Beckett Simonon" written across the top in gold foil letters. Open the lid and on the other side of it you get a reminder that these shoes were hand-made just for you: a sticker showing a summary of what each part of your shoes is made out of. Delving into the box, I got a great little booklet with some history on the brand and care instructions, along with a coupon for 20% off my next order. Both of these were made out of a nice cardstock material, with more gold foil lettering. Underneath those were the shoes themselves, each one wrapped inside its own silky dust bag. Lastly in the box, you also receive some extra shoelaces and shoe inserts, in case they fit a tad bit loose right out of the box.
Overall, you feel like you got your money's worth before even looking at your shoes. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but there's no denying that the whole experience of opening up your shoes feels extremely premium. Maybe they could throw in some shoe trees as well next time (which you should buy, by the way).
Style & Fit
Let's talk about the shoes themselves. After the incredible unboxing experience, you finally get to take a look at the shoes. The Durant Oxfords have just a slight amount of brogue detailing without overdoing it, and in my opinion, that keeps them looking very clean while still having a bit of an interesting pattern. It's just around the cap toe and along the stitching up top - most of the shoe is clean, minimal leather. The Oak color is a medium-dark brown with a very slight hint of red under certain lighting conditions, and could go well with almost any color suit or dress pant, but I think it will look best with navy or a dark gray. The leather has a shine to it, but for the most part it's nice and understated. In terms of looks, these are fantastic and definitely look like $200 shoes.
In terms of fit, they're very close to perfect for my feet. I usually wear between a 10 - 10.5 US size for most of my shoes, and the shoes I ordered were a 10. My feet are narrower than average, so if you have wider feet keep that in mind. There's excellent support around the heel and throughout the footbed, making it quite comfortable - for WFH reasons, I haven't been able to test wearing them through an entire day, but I imagine they'll remain comfy regardless. My favorite part of the fit is how the top of the shoe contorts to the shape of your foot immediately. Other than that, there is a slightly large toe gap between my toes and the tip of the shoe, but this is more nit-picky since I like having almost no toe gap. The good thing is, if your shoes fit loose, you can slip in the shoe inserts. If they fit really small (or really large), you can contact Beckett Simonon for a size exchange since they make some extra sizes with each batch of shoes.
Quality & Construction
If you usually buy your dress shoes from a traditional department store (as I usually do), you will notice an immediate difference in quality with these shoes. Let's talk about the leather. Beckett Simonon says that they use full grain Argentinian calfskin leather, which is the best type of leather for durability and developing that nice patina over time. The interior is also lined with full grain leather, which is really nice because normally this would be a good place to cut some costs since it's not on the outside. The shoes have that incredible leather smell and feel awesome too.
These shoes also use Blake stich construction, which is a row of stitching that combines the upper, insole, midsole, and outsole with one uniform method. Blake stitching has been known to be the mark of a quality shoe, because it gives the shoe sturdiness and is easy to resole when the time comes (as opposed to using glue to attach the layers together).
Then there's all of the little details that remind you that these shoes were indeed, made by hand: the bar-style lacing, the "one-at-a-time handcrafted" stamp in the box, the tight stitching with slight variations, and the uniqueness of the brogue pattern. If there's only one thing I worry about, as I do with all leather shoes, it's the crease lines in the leather by the cap toe. However, utilizing shoe trees should keep the leather in check and delay those creases from showing up.
I'll be very upfront here - if you can wait a couple months for your dress shoes to arrive, get these. Give them a solid shot, because they are so well-made and such an excellent value for money that I think anything else in this price point would fall short. Dress shoes are one aspect of a guy's wardrobe that should never take a back seat when it come to quality, and I believe these are the best ones I have ever owned. They're still a slight step below some of the more luxury names in the $400-500 range, but dollar-for-dollar I don't think Beckett Simonon can be beat. Their styling is classic, they're extremely well-made, and they have excellent customer service.