Cie Shoes – A Surprise From China
Earlier this month my good friend Mike “Mbshoedoc” had the chance to Review a rare Triple Monk Strap Boot from Cie Shoes. Cie Shoes is a company based in Shanghai producing some interesting designs for affordable prices. His pair however was a little larger so he shipped me the boots as it was also my size.
Luckily, the size was correct and it was a fine opportunity for me to write my own review. Today then we will take a look at Cie Shoes and Review this unique Zipper Triple Monk Boot in Brown Patina.
As is customary, join me for a cup of tea and a good read.
Don’t Be Afraid To Buy (The Correct) Stuff From Asia
There is this stigma that China and most Asian countries make very low quality, cheap items. While often true, there are a lot of companies making quality items in those regions. Meermin, Suitsupply spur to mind, while there are some great new shoemakers in Vietnam and Singapore. CNES Shoemaker, Hephaestus, Fugashin and the incredibly high quality Yeossal to name a few.
Of course you need to use common sense and do some due diligence before you buy something. The small good workshops there can produce extraordinary things in fact.
Now before Mike’s Instagram Review I was unaware of Cie Shoes. However for the cost of shipping it was a very good opportunity to experience first hand this shift towards quality in China. Before that however let me present the information I managed to compile about them.
The Good & The Bad Signs
First things first. Cie Shoes has its base in Shanghai since 2010 making shoes for men for over 10 years now. One of the great things that is usually a good sign is the website. It is simple, easy to navigate and the English is pretty good actually.
You immediately know what you are looking at and equally as easy to find what you look for. Cie Shoes makes from classic derbies to fancy monks and matching belts. There are a lot of Patina colors to choose from but also construction and width. Blake or Goodyear Welted and Regular or Wide width.
Tip: I suggest you read the Shoe Construction Guide if you are looking for more info!
Now let’s move onto the “bad” part. When I saw the picture of the boots it looked familiar. More on that later. However, my hunch was correct as there is one specific design you would not miss if you are an enthusiast.
Back in my Best Shoe Brands Article I talked about one of the most talented visionary shoemakers. Norman Vilalta is very famous for bold, unique designs in a time when it is very difficult to innovate. His side-stitched wholecuts and tractor derbies are very special. Nonetheless there is one specific model that is synonymous with Norman. The Decon Chelsea Boot.
Now let us take a quick look at the “Boots 05” Model by Cie Shoes.
We live in an age where copying and doing what others do is easy and there is no real copyright. I must admit I was not very happy to see this as the Triple Monks are also similar to Septieme Largeur’s iconic Boot.
This is not to say that their shoes are bad or just copies, but I want to be transparent and talk about things that bother me. I would like to see in the description that “this boot was inspired by Norman Vilalta” for example.
Talk About The Monk Boots Already Kostas!
Regardless, I am here to review a pair of boots and see if they are actually worth your money! Beginning as always with the specifications:
- Brand: Cie Shoes
- Style: Triple Monk Strap Boot with side zipper
- Color: Dark Brown Patina
- Reference: Boots 01
- Construction: Goodyear Welted
- Width: Regular
- Size: UK 7.5 (US 8.5/EU 42.5)
- Uppers: Full Grain Leather
- Lining: Full Grain Leather
- Sole: Single Leather Sole
- Price: 319$ (289€/244£/3050 SEK)
- Shipping: Free International Shipping
Not bad really. A very good price for a Welted Shoe, Free Shipping and a nice Patina. Now that we know what we are dealing with let’s continue!
Understanding The Style – First Impressions
This is definitely not a shoe that was on the top of my list. Yet as you will find out I will have a really nice time wearing it! It is a hybrid of a Monk Strap and an Ankle Boot with an added twist of having a Side Zipper.
Traditionally Monk Straps have 1 or 2 buckles creating a beautiful visual effect. Anything more becomes too noisy and unattractive. Monk Boots however are one of the rare styles that can work with 3 in my opinion due to the extra space on the shaft.
It is a casual boot that you can get away with wearing with odd suit pants and possibly in a very relaxed business casual environment. The zipper indicates that after all. There is no information about the last, but it has a very aggressive soft square toe which I really like.
The Patina is really nice and my friend Mike did a superb mirror shine before he sent them. It certainly looks pretty and the first impressions are very good. It will not feel like a cheap boot when you unbox it and is also very lightweight.
Tip: Read more about the history of Monk Straps here!
Unboxing Is Always Fun!
Unboxing is not something you expect to be really different each time. Today though you are in for a surprise! The box is not your standard black or blue but vibrant deep purple. It is a really nice different touch and certainly makes it memorable especially with the contrasting gold logo.
Inside you will find some even more vibrant shoe bags with a very flannel/velvet feel and a pretty good wooden shoe horn. I am not sure if there is more to the actual box since I received it from Mike. By that I mean any leaflets, bubble paper or other accessories.
Nonetheless the box is sturdy and very unique. You will be able to identify the brand very easily by looking at it.
The Uppers & The Patina
You can actually order all the shoes with a custom patina and can choose from 16 colors. That is pretty nice and impressive. This one reminds me a slightly lighter version of the Guimaraes Patina of Carlos Santos which I adore.
Leather wise, I cannot identify where it comes from and only time shows the true quality of leather. However I can tell you that it feels good to the touch and is very supple, if a little thinner. It certainly looks good and after 3 uses already holds its shape very well.
The instep is pretty decent as well for my foot at least and I noticed virtually no creasing yet.
Toe Box & Backseam
If you follow Misiu Academy you should know I really like chiseled and soft square toes. The last on these boots has a pretty prevalent square shape and in my opinion makes it more dressy.
If you look at the sole later the edges of the square are pretty sharp. The toe box also has a nice curvature to it and a Gaziano & Girling-esque feel to it.
When it comes to the back seam, things are pretty standard with two stitches going all the way up to the shaft in a soft elliptic shape.
Closer Look At The Zipper & Buckles
This boot is all about the buckles and the zipper. Interestingly enough, you will never unbuckle them as there is no need to. Your foot will slip very easily inside due to the zipper. Regardless, the silver buckles have a nice shape that matches the boot and feel like good quality.
Then we move to the zipper which is also functional. Both work fine, however the right one sometimes has a small issue with the lining getting in the way of closing.
I must admit I kind of enjoy the ease of putting them on. This is a good style to experiment with, however it would look superb without it as well.
The Inside – Lining & Insole
If there is one place that I can see they cut some corners from is the inside of the shoe. For starters the trimming and polishing on the top of the shaft could be better. There are some bits and pieces here and there but it will not cause you any trouble whatsoever.
The same goes for the little piece of leather supporting the back of the zipper. It looks like it is unfinished with grey and dark patches here and there.
As for the rest of the inner lining it is pretty sturdy and works fine. The insole is basic with some jagged edges and it feels it might come off in a few points. Time will tell though and for now everything works very good.
Welt & Stitching – Very Consistent
Yet another area that satisfies me is the overall stitching of the uppers. The SPI has high enough density and looks fairly consistent everywhere. If you are very observant, you will notice here and there very small differences between the edge and the stitches but we are talking millimeters.
The welt is really good as well and the stitching has some more natural light brown color to it. It goes all the way to the heel and then cuts off.
This is an area I would like to see some improvement. The heel is not as tight as it could be and I feel would look sleeker if they trimmed it down a bit more. Maybe that is my idea, however it is not something that bothers me or would deter me from buying.
The Sole – Solid
The sole is yet another interesting aspect of a shoe. In high end shoes it is all the rage and a marvel of shoemaking. However its purpose is to be functional, have good grip and quality stitching.
Cie Shoes did a good job overall with the sole. The stitching in particular is extremely tidy and the channel is clean and consistent. It is also rather close to the edges of the sole. What they do is engrave/emboss their logo at the bottom as well which is something I find aesthetically pleasing. You can even notice the beveled waist and shape of the toe with ease.
When I look at the heel it feels fine but nothing extraordinary. There are no visible nails at the bottom while the rubber insert appears to be a little sloppy where it meets the leather. Mike did take it out for a very short test drive so I am on the fence about this one.
A pretty decent job I would say.
Overall Build Quality
So the leather is good, the stitching is generally fine and the lining could use some more attention. But overall this is a well-built boot.
There are some rough edges here and there such as the underlining of the buckles and the way they stitch it to the rest of the shoe. It is a little sloppy at times.
The shoe its self is rather lightweight and an easy carry which is great. It also looks really nice to me and that is a big plus.
Any Advice On The Sizing?
So here’s the deal. Over the past few months I had the impression I was unnecessarily sizing down half a size more than I need to. I considered myself a UK 7 and quite enjoyed a snug fit. However I now value comfort a bit more so I decided to size up half a size.
Since these were UK 7.5 it was the perfect opportunity for me. Luckily it was also the correct choice as the fit is great. There was a very slight pressure on the big toe of my left foot but otherwise it was snug yet comfortable.
My recommendation is true to size but remember two things. First of all, the sizing on their website is in US Sizing. Which means if you are in Europe you have to go up 1 full size from your regular UK. Lastly, take into consideration the width of your foot as they offer regular or wide versions.
It is worth noting that you can choose from US 6 up to US 14.
I Need To Know, Are They Comfortable?
Yet another difficult question to answer since everybody has different feet. I am going to speak for myself however and the answer is an overwhelming yes!
It fits great. I would have serious issues if it was half a size smaller. This however fits great around my feet. The sides have just enough space, the heel is not slipping and my toes have some wiggle room. The right boot felt a little stiffer around the top of the shaft and took a bit getting used to for my ankle.
Arch support feels good enough and the cushioning good. I used regular wool socks for this experiment but I will need to wait for spring in Sweden for more tests. It is also so easy to put them on thanks to the zipper.
I mean, it is a Goodyear Welted Shoe which means the cork will mold at your feet with time. The sole did feel a little slippery at times but I really enjoyed my time with them so far.
The Septieme Largeur Conundrum
Now, one last detour before the final verdict. While not the Decon Chelsea the Triple Monk Boot is a famous style by Septieme Largeur. This boot looks extremely similar to their iconic Tobar model. However I must add that the “original” has no side zipper so it is something that differentiates them and I appreciate that.
You can see the resemblance but I am happy they put the side zipper on this one. This does not mean this is a bad boot of course, but it felt really familiar and I had to talk about it.
Buy Or Pass – Final Verdict
Ah, the million dollar question. This is a good shoe, no doubt about it. Comfortable, looks great and very easy to use. With proper care it will last you a long time as well! The price is pretty good and the Patina as well even though there are some areas that could use improvements.
It is certainly for those that want something different without breaking the bank. Those that appreciate a good-looking functional shoe but will not care too much about the details. They will not nitpick the lack of visible nails on the sole or the unpainted lining of the zipper. Not only that, but it is also a great option for those with bigger, smaller or wider feet.
For those of you that appreciate the tiny details though it might be a harder sell. Thus the style and looks become the selling point. As a comparison, my Carlos Santos Patina would cost you approximately 285-300$.
If you asked me after buying this for 319$ if I am happy with my purchase I would say yes. Looks good, feels good and it looks really sexy with denim. Plus I am a sucker for soft square aggressive toes! Would I buy it however in the place of Carlos Santos for the same price? I am not sure, but I am pretty biased on that subject!
In the end, you now know enough to make an educated decision. I know I will wear this a lot this upcoming year.
Cie Shoes Review – Concluding Remarks
Well there we go everyone! This is the end of a pretty long “Review of the Cie Shoes Triple Monk Boots in Dark Brown Patina”! We discussed everything from controversy to build quality, looks and comfort as usual. I have to commend the effort of Cie Shoes for making a good shoe but also for being very friendly and accommodating on Instagram.
I am really curious to hear what you think about all this. Maybe you have some experience or stumbled upon them? In the meantime I will see you next week with the monthly news recap and I will work on the Suitsupply article afterwards. Have a good rest of the week!
Thank you for reading,