Blood And Wine (Shadow)
Walking through Skoaktiebolaget’s door to pick up my new shoes, I was filled with excitement. My first ever pair of the best Portuguese Shoes had arrived. This excitement culminated in the Carlos Santos Review that I bring you today!
I have tremendous respect for traditional techniques and family businesses, especially when they started during World War II. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to start something back then, survive and live to tell the tale 86 years later.
Well-respected among the shoe enthusiast community, Carlos Santos has been making shoes since 1942. With beautiful designs and a personalized patina service, I was curious to try something different. Something that would elevate my shoe collection to another level.
This time I chose to foray into the world of Double Monk Straps, an elegant and unusual dress shoe. In order to take full advantage of the patina service I made a bold color choice.
Misiu Academy proudly presents you the “Carlos Santos Review of the Double Monk Straps in Wine Shadow Patina “.
Carlos Santos Shoes – A Short History Lesson
In 1942 there was a shoe factory called Zarco which was operated by the Costa brothers in São João da Madeira in Northern Portugal. A 14 year old boy was working there and developed passion and love for shoes.
Year by year, he slowly bought shares from the Costa brothers and in 2002 he attained full legal ownership. Carlos Santos was borne, named after the young kiddo. The kiddo that is the current owner and director for the brand.
Operating a lean family business with his daughter Ana, they employ a couple hundred master artisans who work hard to deliver you high quality footwear. The factory is rather unique and produces approximately 2250 pairs a week or a 100.000 pair of shoes every year. Compare that to a classic juggernaut such as Allen Edmonds who makes 500.000 shoes per year and you understand the scale.
“Every shoe we make is a veritable work of art”
The quote above perfectly describes their goal. High quality with expert craftsmanship and little help from machinery. Not many build shoes these days with the Goodyear Welt system to keep costs down and Carlos Santos attempts to avoid full automation of their process.
The cow hides are sourced from the finest tanneries in Italy and France and each shoe pair passes through the hands of many before they take their final form. Besides their Goodyear Welt line and hand-grade shoes, one can find Bologna and Blake stitched versions and even sneakers or accessories.
Carlos Santos Patina Service
Skoaktiebolaget was one of the online companies that offered this program but it has been discontinued. This means that my shoes were one of the last orders using the traditional system. It makes it a little more special to me.
The patina service offers 12 different colors including beautiful shades of blue, violet and green. I wanted a flexible versatile pair so I chose wine shadow, which is very close to burgundy/oxblood.
You can find the patina service online at The Noble Shoe! From the moment your order is through it can take between 3-8 weeks before the shoes are ready.
Enough with the chatter! Let’s get technical and right into this review:
- Brand: Carlos Santos
- Line: Carlos Santos Patina Service
- Model: Double Monk Straps
- Style: 6942
- Color: Wine Shadow
- Last: Z 401/S Almond Shaped Toe
- Size: UK 7, (US 8), regular width
- Sole: Single Leather Sole
- Insole: Genuine Leather
- Construction: Goodyear Welted
- Price: €310 ($349/£279/SEK 3299) incl. VAT
- Origin: Made in Portugal
Update 7/7/2019: Skoaktiebolaget no longer sells Carlos Santos Shoes. However, we have our own Shop! Read more about The Noble Shoe here. Prices above reflect our retail rate. If you are outside the EU VAT is automatically deducted ($279).
Ordering – 9/10
The Skoaktiebolaget website is fantastic. Easy to navigate and extremely fast, I placed my order in no time. I docked a point just because there was nowhere to specify what size I wanted.
Nonetheless, the guys at Skoaktiebolaget are very friendly and after a quick phone-call they made a note of my size.
I got a purchase confirmation and an additional email when my shoes were ready for pick up. I got notified that there was a small mistake and the shoes had a 6.5 size inscription, but they measured it personally and let me know in advance that it is in fact a 7.
Minor things, but enough to not warrant a perfect score.
Unboxing – 10/10
In this price range, this has been the best unboxing experience. The box itself is black with a calligraphic Carlos Santos inscription on the top. It has a nice feel and texture to it. Quite sturdy and roomy for all the accessories.
On the side you will once more see the logo and a few details, such as last, style, leather and sole.
Inside, you will find your pair of shoes in two blue cloth bags which closely resemble the Loake 1880 ones. Interestingly enough, they provide a small plastic shoehorn. While of not the highest quality, it surprised me that you even get one and is a great touch.
If you turn the box cover upside down there is a nice little message from Carlos Santos, thanking you for trusting and supporting the brand.
The whole experience had a little more quality feel compared to the Loake 1880 presentation. The cloth-bags are more durable and there is a little leaflet explaining the Goodyear Welt method.
The shoes fit well in the box and the foam protects them well from damage during transport. The unboxing was perfect and I would not hesitate to give it the highest grade.
Style – 10/10
I am speechless with how good these shoes look. From the almond toe to the color difference on the shoe, you are going to turn some heads. What is even more mind-boggling is the price that you pay for this. There is absolutely no competitor on this level that offers the same kind of quality and service.
Double Monk Straps are quite popular but also unusual. If people’s heads turn to the monks, they will be staggered by the patina of the Carlos Santos. I am not kidding, it is the most beautiful pair of shoes I have ever had (at the time of writing).
Choosing Wine Shadow was easy and that is because oxblood/burgundy is really flexible. It goes well with both grey and blue and you can style these with a suit or your jeans. My initial perspective on the Monk Straps has changed after this in a very positive way.
The Coimbra (Dark Brown), Braga (Cognac), Guimaraes (Chestnut) or Alentejo (Cherry) colors are also excellent choices.
I am elated to give them a perfect 10/10.
Sizing & Fit – 9.5/10
These Monk Straps are based on the Z 401 last and the 6942 style, replacing the older 234 last. People compare it to Carmina’s rain last and has an almond toe. At first glance it looks quite narrow but I was surprised how easy they were to put on.
My biggest concern was ordering online a last that I had not physically tried. The good guys at Skoaktiebolaget let me try a similar last and made my choice much easier. I am a UK 7 (US 8/EU 41).
Comparing the Carlos Santos Monks to my Loake 1880 sizing is very interesting. The Chelsea Boots were the same size, while the Oxfords a full 1 size more (UK 8/US 9/ EU 42). I would always advise you to try shoes physically if possible.
There is no way to sugarcoat things, these shoes fit me perfectly. A tiny bit of space on the toes, no slipping on the heel and a nice snug fit on the sides. No visible creasing or space on the top of my foot.
Comfort – 8/10
Since I have no real mileage yet on these shoes, I cannot give them a perfect grade.
Yes, they do fit great and I felt no discomfort on my first use, however I am still reserved until I wear them a bit more. Therefore, this section might be updated in the future depending on my findings.
Early results are very promising however I must admit. Not only that, but the straps are really easy to use and it is much faster to put them on than the more tight Oxfords. Perfect when you are in a hurry.
Update 2-11-2018: I docked off a point since I got some heel pain on my left foot after the first wear. Very minor and it since has gone away.
Update 14-10-2019: Still rocking these bad boys and they are as comfortable as ever!
Quality – 9/10
I inspected the shoes on delivery and also later at my home. The shoes are a work of art. The leather feels softer or smoother than the Loake 1880 but the Carlos Santos is on a whole new level when it comes to coloring. If the Loake is a WV Golf, the Santos is a WV Golf GTi.
From the little details inside the shoe, to the sole and the stitching, everything was almost perfect. There is a tiny little scuff on the side of one of the soles but the stitching is perfect. I am looking forward to seeing how well the buckle will hold up.
Another thing was the miscommunication of the size. As aforementioned, while they gave me the correct size, one of the shoes has UK 6.5 inscribed on it. Now, I do not really care since the shoe is of the correct size and fits well, but I feel I should mention it.
I am quite conflicted here. One part of me wants to give them a perfect 10/10 but these small inconsistencies would probably not be present on a 1000$ shoe. But that is exactly the point, these shoes cost 1/3 of that price!
I think a 9/10 is a fair score given the circumstances, but it also sets the bar for my future purchases.
Update 17-01-2019: The shoes still look brand new and shiny. The quality is unquestionable and you will wear these for years to come.
Price – 10/10
350 $ might be a steep price for some people, however it is a fair price to pay when you are looking at Goodyear Welt shoes. While there are many upcoming or established competitors on the entry level, I believe nobody can offer the value that Carlos Santos does in this price range.
You get a lot more than Loake which is the most direct competitor. Accessories, leather quality and patina for the same price. I can feel some sort of passion behind these shoes which I did not with any other pair so far.
These are shoes that will last you a lifetime and you will get a lot of wear out of them. When the time comes, you can resole them and with proper conditioning they will look as good as new.
When it comes to value of money spent compared to more expensive competitors, Carlos Santos sets the bar for me. At least until I get my hands on the Löf & Tung equivalent.
If you are looking for the patina service, a quick Google Search will point you in the right direction. If however you are looking for a Carlos Santos shoe in general, they seem to be easily accessible in Europe.
Since Skoaktiebolaget no longer sells Carlos Santos, make sure to take a look at The Noble Shoe. We ship Worldwide!
Pro Tip: Do not forget to buy a pair of cedar shoetrees!
Are They Really That Good, Misiu Academy?
At the time of writing, I had no affiliation with Carlos Santos Shoes or Skoaktiebolaget. If you remember the Vincero Kairos Review, I am not afraid to mention when something is terrible or not worth it.
Simply put, the Carlos Santos Double Monk Straps are the best shoes I owned at the time of writing and that justifies every penny spent on them.
Until I try the rest of the competitors, these shoes will be your best buy. I am very surprised that there is a shortage of reviews when it comes to this brand. In Misiu Academy we will promote only items that are worth your hard-earned money and Carlos Santos is one of them.
I should also do a special mention to Ana Santos. I have corresponded with her over the last two months and she has answered all my questions in detail in a very friendly manner. The customer experience is fantastic and it feels much more personal. It is our duty to promote and acknowledge these kind of people.
Conclusion – The Carlos Santos Review
To begin with, congratulations if you got the Witcher 3 reference in the first heading. It was a sneaky one.
I am ecstatic over these shoes and you can see it in my writing. In fact, I am looking forward to wearing them as often as I can and explore my sartorial boundaries.
What did you think about the Carlos Santos Review? Do you own any of their shoes? We would love to hear your voice in the comments down below!
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Thank you for reading,