The King Of Luxury & Value Is Here
If you follow Misiu Academy it is not a secret that I absolutely adore Carlos Santos for multiple reasons. The heritage, the value and display of shoemaking and the excellent customer service are some of them. I thought I had seen it all but they never cease to surprise me. This time, I got my hands on the Premium Carlos Santos Handgrade Line.
More specifically in this Review we will look at a stunning Adelaide Oxford on the signature Guimaraes Patina. With features rarely seen even on top RTW shoes for a fraction of the cost, I believe these truly set the bar for value and quality.
I cannot wait to dive deep into this and explore them with you! Fasten your sartorial seat-belts and let’s begin!
Over 75 Years Of History
One of the most iconic shoemakers in the world, Carlos Santos found the homonymous brand in 1942. It is fascinating how he went from a young boy working in a factory in Northern Portugal to creating his own legend.
Their shoemaking skills are highly regarded and many manufacturers produce their shoes there. Simplicity, elegance and good construction for an unbeatable price are just the tip of the iceberg. For the 65th anniversary of Mr. Santos, he created the CS1942. A beautiful limited edition shoe that exhumes these qualities and Portugal’s history in the sea.
Apart from the main models however there is the Handgrade Line. The crown jewel in the Santos collection if you may. A very exclusive line that is very hard to find. Soon though, you will be able to purchase the shoe in review in my own upcoming shop.
Carlos Santos has a wide spread presence especially in Europe, as well as Russia. Additionally, the brand has received multiple honors from media, magazines and even the former President of Portugal.
Of course, our reviews speak for themselves. Here are the other models that Misiu Academy has reviewed:
- Double Monk-Straps In Wine Shadow Patina (6942)
- Classic Derby in Coimbra Patina (9381)
- Lace-Up Boots in Coimbra Patina (8866)
The Adelaide Oxford In Guimaraes – Specifications
Let’s take a quick overview of this model from the Handgrade Line.
- Brand: Carlos Santos
- Style Reference: 8618
- Type: Adelaide Oxford
- Line: Handgrade
- Made In: Portugal
- Last: 389 Soft Square
- Uppers: Aniline Calfskin
- Color: Guimaraes Patina
- Sole: Single Leather Closed Channel
- Construction: Goodyear Welt System 270°
- Size: UK 7 (US 8/EU 41.5)
- Fitting: Regular
- Eyelets: 5 Blind
- Lining & Insole: Genuine Leather
Those are some juicy specs. This model is usually a part of GMTO’s so it is very hard to find. Luckily, you will be able to pre-order yours by visiting The Noble Shoe! The price will be:
- $365/€325/SEK 3449/£290 excluding VAT (for those outside Europe) or
- $460/€410/SEK 4373/£369 including VAT.
Important: The available pre-order model will be on the Wine Shadow Patina and delivery is expected around August.
Now, if you are familiar with the Carlos Santos brand then you know what to expect.
A sturdy black box with the Santos logo on the top and a side air vent. Underneath, some words by Mr. Santos himself make for a nice touch. Inside there is a small leaflet explaining the Goodyear Welt System, a branded shoehorn, two high quality black dust bags and of course your new pair of shoes.
Light brown thin paper protects your purchase and the smell of the leather oozes from every pore. Slowly building up the anticipation until the moment you hold them in your hands. I find the addition of a shoehorn a very welcome addition. You now have no excuse for a cracked heel right?
I feel that Carlos Santos shoes have a very distinct smell to them. They also show up with an unusual very high shine. I spent at least 5 minutes looking at the shoes from every possible angle, trying to think of ways to describe them. Finally, I got it.
The word is: Elegant.
An artistic masterclass brimming with elements of Southern Europe. Contemporary minimalism if you may, with a touch of Portuguese. From every angle, it looks gorgeous, modern, yet comfortable. Kind of like those gentle hybrid motoring giants of today. Roaring for attention but when you really need them to be quiet they purr like a cat.
I could imagine how my feet would look and how the leather would hug them. How tight the waist is and how magnificent the sole looks. How the fudging on the edges creates this premium feeling seen on Enzo Bonafe shoes.
Lastly, the subtle broguing and the ability to seamlessly dress up or down any outfit.
It is worth noting that this is an Adelaide Oxford with light broguing. The Adelaide is a style of shoe originating from the 70’s and legendary last maker Terry Moore. You can easily identify it by the “U” shape at the yoke area.
Oxford means that the lacing is closed while Derby shoes have open lacing. Read this Guide for more info.
Carlos Santos Handgrade Review – Analyzing Every Area
After building up the anticipation, it is time to go through each individual category and every inch of this pair. As usual, we will cover things like fit, construction, comfort and the different areas of the shoe.
Shape & Last
I want to continue riding the wave from the first impressions. In my opinion, the 389 last is the most stylish Carlos Santos offers. I am a big fan of formal shoes with tight edges and sharp corners.
The description would be similar to the TLB Mallorca Artista. Aerodynamic and a bit like a Lamborghini’s bonnet. The toe however has a more square shape which I really like and reminds me of those super expensive Italian shoes.
The waist is tight adding to the aesthetics while the instep is interestingly generous for such a sleek shoe.
A Stunning Patina
One of the trademarks of Carlos Santos is the Patina Range. There are over a dozen unique colors that are hand-patinated to achieve these gorgeous results. A small detail that I love is that most of the patinas get their name from cities in Portugal.
This in particular is the Guimaraes Patina. A deep chestnut brown with red hues and a little darker than Wine Shadow. Super formal and versatile, you can essentially wear it with anything.
We already talked about the shape of the toe, but I want to take a closer look at the details. This is a classic Cap Toe with broguing.
Carlos Santos often burnishes the edges of their shoes. In combination with the Patina it creates a very pleasing formal design.
The broguing is also top notch with all the holes in each shoe equal in size and placement. Stitching is consistent and the color has a great lustrous finish.
Moving on to the rest of the uppers, which include the vamp and quarters. What I love doing is to get my eyes as close as possible to the leather and notice the details. It is mesmerizing to see each individual pore of the hide and the unique color palette that comes with it.
Here it is a good time to remind that these shoes are hand-patinated and there might be slight color variations. It actually adds to the character of the shoe and is by no means a display of low quality
While the waist itself is not as tight as the TLB Artista, I think it strikes a perfect balance with this last. In a way it looks…more foot friendly.
The Back Of The Shoes
Everybody loves a cute behind. Curvy with a very elegant feather between the uppers and the heel area. It is also the part where the Adelaide broguing seam goes upwards and stops at the top.
The backseam is also different from the usual dogtail shape you find in most Carlos Santos dress shoes. It is very reminiscent of the Heinrich Dinkelacker Budapester from last week at the bottom, albeit a little longer.
Lacing & Facing
Overall I am very happy with this part. The U-Shape broguing goes all the way towards the back of the shoe and is very tidy with single stitching on each side.
The flat laces have good quality and are firm and easy to use. In total there are 5 blind eyelets that keep the cleaner look of the shoe and have brass reinforcements hidden underneath.
Very consistent in both shoes, I did inspect them up close next to each other and everything seems to be on the same level.
The Inside Of The Shoes
The interior design is also a bit different from the standard line. First of all, the half part of the insole is different with a grey/black color. The same applies for the lining but with a slightly more sueded feel at the back of your foot. You can notice the Carlos Santos Handgrade logo in silver which reminds you that you are holding something special.
Further inside the last part of the insole retains the usual natural color and has the appropriate stamp. Everything is from genuine leather.
If you really want to nitpick, there are a few spots here and there that might look slightly sloppy. However, I am by no means an expert on insoles and standards. Additionally, you have to look really close to even see something.
Summary Of Stitching & Broguing
Like all Carlos Santos shoes, the Handgrade Line uses a 270° Goodyear Welt construction. Here, the stitching is very tight with the addition of fudging the edges. Bespoke shoemakers usually use a fudging wheel to mark their stitches on the welt. Think of it like little ridges across the welt.
It is a technique that is not mainstream in the RTW industry in such price ranges. A good comparison would be the TLB Mallorca Artista that admittedly has a tighter welt.
Stitching is excellent everywhere with a very high SPI. No loose threads or any problems whatsoever. While the same applies to the perforations, there is a small area I would like to report.
On the back of the left shoe the broguing holes are not level with each other. Of course, this is not a detail that would affect you in daily life or even noticeable. But when you actually spend some time inspecting them you will see it.
Thinking about the price and value, it does not deter me though.
Let Us Know How To Size!
The best thing about Carlos Santos so far has been the consistency in sizing. It makes it so much easier. I own shoes in the 401, 234 and 389 last and all of them are UK 7. Since I know that 401 fits well but was a tad tight on the width I knew I should size the same for 389.
Therefore my advice is to stick with your regular True To Size (TTS).
But…Are They Comfortable?
The last has a soft square shape and a narrow waist, which means it will not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you have a wider foot or discomfort around the base of your big/little toe it is probably not for you. It is a regular feet after all and you already know you prefer wide, round lasts.
For me however this fits great once more. While the initial thought was “how am I gonna get my foot in there?!” It actually went in surprisingly easy. The fit is snug with normal socks, there is just enough wiggle room for the toes and no heel slip at all.
The insole is rather comfortable for such a dressy shoe with decent arch support and I would say the instep is a little more generous than the TLB Mallorca Artista.
I had no heel pain or discomfort while trying these for a few hours at home, so I expect them to be ready to go after a couple of wears.
It Sounds Too Good! What’s The Catch?
Honestly, I cannot find much to complain about this. Apart from the slight broguing mishap on the back of the left shoe, everything is top notch. I would expect this kind of quality from shoes over 600-700$.
Everything checks out really. The pictures speak for themselves. I guess the only problem is availability as these bad boys are not readily available anywhere else. Remember to send me a mail for a pre-order. In the meantime why don’t we answer the question on everyone’s minds?
Maintaining Your Carlos Santos Handgrade Shoes
While I am by no means an expert on Patina shoe care, there are a few things you should always do to prolong the life of your footwear.
For starters, you need a horsehair brush. You can use it to quickly clean particles and dust after use or buff your shoes during polishing. Secondly, you need to always use a shoehorn or you risk cracking your heel. Carlos Santos always provides one, but if you don’t have one be creative. Use a spoon.
Third, you need cedar shoe trees. They absorb moisture and keep the shape of your pair. Absolutely vital and will cost you less than 30$. It is a sound investment.
Lastly, when it comes to polishing it really depends on your skill level. I would suggest using Neutral polish like the Saphir 1925 02. If you really want to enrich the patina you should use different polishes and apply to the respective areas, or mix them. This is definitely for advanced students and you should consult with Saphir for advice.
Regardless, these little tips will help your shoe look best for years to come.
Who Is It For?
Now this is a question that is easy to answer. This is a Premium model, which means it costs a little more than the regular line. So it is not probably for those with a low budget or those that want to get their feet wet in the quality shoes segment.
However, if you want just 1 fantastic pair of shoes or just want the best value for your money, this is the one to go for. The competition in my opinion at least in Europe is just TLB Mallorca with its Artista Line. However, the latter is more expensive, albeit also fantastic.
If you enjoy the beauty of Patinas and the reflection of their skill, Mediterranean shoemaking and chiseled pointy lasts, this is the one for you. If you are on the wider foot category and enjoy more classic round English lasts or country shoes, you are better off checking something like Tricker’s.
Absolutely an incredible investment, as well as comfortable and easy to size. I will conquer the world in these shoes.
Quest Complete – The King Is Here
I am trying to come up with more superlatives, but I think my last phrase above sums it all up. With features unheard off in this price range, excellent construction, years of experience and a stunning shape, this is the one to beat. The Carlos Santos Handgrade Line is exactly how The Parisian Gentleman described. Up to par with with juggernauts like John Lobb and Corthay among others.
What a year to be alive 2019 is proving to be. With gems such as these, the world is truly in your feet. It is up to you now to step up to the plate and walk with confidence towards your goal. I would like to dedicate this article to Mr. Carlos Santos and his daughter Ana, Zahraa who has been incredibly patient with me and everybody that works to make these beautiful shoes behind the scenes.
I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I did. My excitement shows right?! Now if you excuse me, I will go admire them a little more and prance around the cobbled streets of Stockholm looking for a new adventure.
Do not forget to subscribe and please interact with me in the comments. I would love to hear your opinion about these!
Thank you for reading,