My New Favorite Pair Is Here
I must admit that sometimes it is hard to find new content to write about. The Noble Shoe exploded into my life for the past 6 months and your support is astonishing. Often I have to take some risks and gamble on new pairs that I don’t have a physical sample. One of them was the Carlos Santos 9393 Handgrade Austerity Brogue in Guimaraes.
Oh boy am I glad I took that particular risk. The unboxing moment was full of excitement and nervousness. But I loved it so much that now it will be a permanent mainstay of The Noble Shoe’s collection. Today, we are going to take a look at the Carlos Santos Handgrade Austerity Brogue as part of a showcase article.
So sit back, relax and enjoy these beauties and me wearing them!
Champions Of Value & Quality
If you are new in the quality shoe world there are a few brands you should definitely know about. The entry king is Meermin, but for me the best value for money lies within Carlos Santos. Carmina, TLB Mallorca and of course Crockett & Jones are fantastic Brands but cost more.
Carlos Santos is a legendary manufacturer of High Quality Shoes from Portugal since 1942. It has 4 main lines:
- Green Label: Blake Stitched Entry Level
- Goodyear Welted: The Main Collection
- Handgrade Line: A Premium Collection with High Quality Features
- Handcrafted Line: The Most Exclusive Collection that rivals Crockett & Jones Handgrade
The big advantage that allows Carlos Santos to have exceptionally good quality and value is the decades of experience and generally cheaper labor when comparing to countries like England. They own a fantastic, state of the art factory called Zarco which I visited last month. Read all about my visit here!
The Austerity Brogue is part of the Handgrade Collection and you will not find this model anywhere else.
Wait A Second…What Is An Austerity Brogue?
Back in the day I wrote an article about the Top 5 Dress Shoes you need. It certainly needs some updating and it is a good time to do that soon now that I have more knowledge. One of the things I would write about is the difference between Brogues and Austerity Brogues. I briefly touched upon it on my Carlos Santos Wingtip Review.
An Austerity Brogue is in simple terms a Wingtip that has a similar aesthetic but the broguing is “fake”. There are no perforations and punches in the leather.
There is a really nice explanation about Austerity Brogues in a book The Suit by Nicholas Antongiavanni in page 94.
“During the Second World War, when tight restrictions were placed on leather usage, English shoemakers offered full brogues without broguing, called “austerity brogues.” Their distinctively sleek lines ensured their survival beyond the war, and they remain popular with dandies as an alternative to the plain cap toe.”
In the end, it is quite funny since it is not a “brogue”, yet you call it a brogue.
Carlos Santos Austerity Brogue Specifications
Finally, time to get to the good part! Let’s look together at the official specs of the shoes.
- Product Link: The Noble Shoe
- Brand: Carlos Santos Handgrade
- Style: Austerity Brogue
- Model: 9393
- Color: Guimaraes Patina (Dark Brown with Chestnut/Red Hues)
- Last: 401 Almond Last
- Fitting: Regular F Width
- Size: UK 7.5 (US 8.5D/EU 41.5)
- Construction: Goodyear Welt
- Lining: Genuine Leather
- Sole: Handgrade Closed Channel Leather Sole
- Origin: Portugal
- Price: $379.99 (€351.99/£292/3715 SEK)
The price does NOT include VAT and you should add +25% if you live in the EU. For those of you outside the EU, VAT is automatically deducted during checkout. When you are on the website you can actually see both prices at the same time.
Excellent features which rival much pricier alternatives such as Crockett & Jones.
I should make a quick note about the availability at the time of writing. Only a few sizes are currently in Stock however you can Pre-Order your pair in most sizes through the regular product page. You will notice that the button will change to “Pre-Order Now” when applicable.
Unboxing & Shipping
I have the luck to work with DHL Express in The Noble Shoe, which ensures almost always 1-3 business days delivery. If you live in New York, it is actually 1 business day which is absurd! And the best part is that it’s FREE Shipping!
As with all Carlos Santos Shoes you will receive a nice black box that is quite sturdy and has a textured feel. Inside you will find your shoes carefully packed with some foam, bubble paper and tissue paper. Additionally, you will receive a branded shoe horn which is a nice touch and black dust bags for storage.
I think this is one of the most photogenic pairs I have, if not the most. The 401 Last is one of my favorites and strikes the perfect chiseled balance. It is also slightly elongated which works in tandem with the “broguing” lines.
The color is Guimaraes which is Dark Brown with Chestnut Hues and is my all time favorite alongside Sintra. It is classic yet has so much character and vibrance. They hand-paint the Patinas on crust leather and create this unique visual effect that will age gracefully.
I must admit I am not the biggest fan of brogues or better say chunky country brogues. I like my shoes a little more subtle on those details which is why I love this pair. The details are very discreet with soft jagged edges that almost disappear from afar. Yet you can sit there and admire the craftsmanship for hours.
It is also an incredibly easy model to style and match. Dark Brown goes well with almost everything and you can dress up or down any outfit. This is a perfect versatile shoe for any occasion barring black tie in my opinion. You will look spectacular with a navy suit, perfectly presentable in a dark grey and I assure you will turn some heads if you wear these with chinos and denim.
The 401 Last
One of my favorite lasts of all time is the 401 which is right next to the 389. If you remember, that is the one one my Handgrade Adelaides also from Carlos Santos. It has a nice almond shape and is slightly longer. I would say about 0.5-1 cm than most average lasts.
The instep is slightly higher which is perfect for those of you that have such issues. I would definitely call it more generous than Carmina Rain and TLB Artista at least for my foot. The advantage of this last is that it looks fantastic with plain toe designs such as Chelsea Boots but also broguing. In my opinion it gives a very elegant, aerodynamic shape (for a lack of a better word) to the shoes.
Sizing & Comfort
Lately I switched to UK 7.5 and I enjoy it much more in all of my shoes. I retain a good fit but I prefer more comfort when I wear them for a longer period of time. This is no exception but the advice remains the same. Choose your True To Size and remember to size down 1 full size from your regular US size.
For example, if you are a US 9D you should choose a UK 8. It is worth nothing that the 401 Last is slightly wider (2-4 mm) so it can accommodate those of you with a little wider feet. Having shoes like Meermin (Hiro), Crockett & Jones (337/348), Carmina (Rain) makes it easier to choose.
Some people might find the heel a little roomier if they have a narrower foot so if you are between sizes you can size down half a size more than usual.
All in all, this is a Goodyear Welted Shoe which means it will only get more comfortable with time. The cork underneath the sole molds to your feet over time which is great.
Closer Look At The Uppers
The leather is top notch. People complain all the time that Patina Leather is thin and delicate which I don’t think is true. All my shoes age wonderfully so far and take a good look at the depth of color and little details here.
It mimics the wingtip design very well and is so discrete yet unique. Back to the leather, it of course comes from the Tannery du Puy in France. For those that don’t know, Hermes (who also owns John Lobb) owns this Tannery. This means that the quality of the leather is as good as it can be.
The finishing and the burnishing on the edges is top notch and unheard of in such price ranges. Look closely how it fades and blends in seamlessly on the toe area. I love it.
Inner Lining & Laces
In the picture above you can also see the flat laces which is one of the differences from the main line. I think it is perfect and compliments this look and keeps it clean. It goes without saying that you can always switch your laces.
I need to snap a good picture of the inner lining but it is higher quality than the base Goodyear Welted range. Will probably update this section with a proper picture in the following days!
It has a more brown/grey look to it than the regular orange color and a “sueded” feel. I really like it even though nobody can see the inner lining when you wear the shoes. It is aesthetically pleasing to me to look at.
Stitching & Welt
Having an inventory and dozens of pairs is a very good chance for me to check consistency. After all, I don’t want to see a pair I haven’t quality checked. I am very satisfied with the stitching of both the uppers and the welt. Sometimes you might see a small thread here and there at the end of the sole stitch but it is quite normal.
The Handgrade Line goes through most of the processes of the regular line. The people that operate the machines have years and even decades of experience. It is highly unlikely you will come across these kinds of problems.
Honestly however, none of the shoes I own so far with a Goodyear Welt Construction exhibited any kind of problem with the stitching or welt. All in all, clean consistent stitching all over the shoe with an exemplary finish on the faux broguing. I especially enjoy the fudging around the edges.
The Sole Is A Marvel
If there is one distinctive feature of the Handgrade Line over the regular, then that is the sole. It is an absolute treat of shoemaking. It is a closed channel leather sole with a custom patina in a shade of yellow.
How this works is the shoemaker cuts into the sole leaving a thin flap of leather to stitch the shoe and then hide it. In very simple terms at least. This creates a very clean, beautiful look that is a trademark of bespoke shoemaking. Very few RTW companies do that at these price points with Carmina and Cobbler Union to name a couple.
I can advise putting a metal toe tip on your shoes to protect the front. Plus it looks pretty badass when you look at it don’t you agree?
Why Choose Handgrade Over Regular Line?
It is a valid point, but there are merits to it. If you want a good shoe and have a lower budget you will have a blast with the classic Goodyear Welted Line of Carlos Santos.
If you want a super high quality product with amazing value and rare features on this price level the Handgrade Line is for you. The least impactful feature is the inner lining which is significantly better. The real difference is the sole however. A closed channel sole is more durable since it hides the stitching. When the stitching is less exposed to the elements it will naturally last longer and have smaller risks of damage.
It also takes exceptional care and effort to properly create a beveled waist with a fiddleback sole. You have to carve it, open the channel and trim the waist with no room for error. Not only that but they also hand-paint it for you as a patina.
My clients are happy to compare the Handgrade Line to Carmina and TLB Mallorca which is high praise. One of them actually said it was sad to compare his Meermin to them afterwards and they will rarely touch Allen Edmonds again.
How Do I Take Care Of Them?
A short section on shoe care is always important. It is also one of the simplest too! All you need to do is avoid strong cleaners such as the Renovateur. Instead, use Neutral Polish and Wax to preserve the Patina. If you need to spot cover a scuff for example it is ok to use a colored polish closest to that spot.
Of course it goes without saying that you should rotate your shoes and use cedar shoe trees soon after removing them. If they get wet DO NOT let them dry near heat sources such as radiators because the leather will dry and crack. Instead let it dry naturally and use a soft cloth to absorb any excess water.
Pretty simple huh?
The Carlos Santos Austerity Brogue Is My New Favorite!
I simply love them. All the people that bought them or see them for the first time are in awe. Stunning color, excellent craftsmanship and a great price point with hand-painted Patinas. I would not quit my jobs to work with Carlos Santos if I did not believe in them so much.
Many years of good wear will follow and the Guimaraes Patina ages beautifully. As much as Coimbra actually! Regardless, I feel this was really nice relaxing article for me to write and hope you enjoyed the photos and write up. The Carlos Santos 9393 Handgrade Austerity Brogue is only available through The Noble Shoe. I appreciate all the support you show me and a little extra if you Pre-Order yours!
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment. I would even like to hear the opinion of those of you that have one and can compare to other popular brands. In the meantime I will work on an article about how should your suit fit and prepare for some exciting news and GMTOs.
Thank you for reading,