Let’s Ant-elope Together
Welcome to my long overdue Review of Sons of Henrey Shoes.
Specifically, the Review of the Sons of Henrey Ambly Chukka Boots in Chestnut Jamaica Kudu.
I will take a closer look and honest opinion on what looks to be an excellent casual pair of Chukka Boots.
So if you are considering buying shoes from Sons of Henrey, make sure to read this in-depth Review!
A Little About Sons Of Henrey
It’s always fascinating researching the history and roots of certain brands.
Especially for (relatively) new ones such as Sons of Henrey, a Belgium based brand making shoes in Spain.
However when you begin digging in, you will find that the owner has a long, rich involvement in one of the best shoe brands in the world despite his young age.
Tom Brone used to work in the online sales department of Vass Budapest, an excellent handmade shoemaker from Hungary.
He worked there since 2011 if I remember correctly and eventually left to pursue his own adventure in 2018 or so.
Tom’s knowledge of the supply chain, inside experience of Vass and sheer enthusiasm led to the foundation of Sons of Henrey and his new brainchild Vekla.
Since that, I kept contact with Tom and was witness to his diligent expansion and minimalist lean business model of mostly Made to Order shoes.
Sons of Henrey has a very curated, small selection of core items with unique leathers and designs.
But they also do a special collaboration with Oct. Tenth, a brand from China making high end handwelted shoes for a fair price.
While I can attest to Tom being a super friendly, knowledgeable and welcoming individual, I had no idea about the actual quality of his shoes.
I rarely approach brands to request free review pairs so that is one of the reasons I did not Review Sons of Henrey until now.
However, Tom was super kind to offer me the chance to check out his Kudu Chukkas which as you will see is an excellent piece of footwear.
This is not a sponsored post and there is no monetary compensation or affiliate links.
As always, it is customary to begin with the specifications of today’s model:
- Brand: Sons of Henrey
- Model: Ambly
- Style: Chukka Boots
- Leather: Kudu Antelope Leather
- Tannery: Charles F. Stead
- Color: Chestnut
- Last: Elegant Round
- Construction: Goodyear Welted
- Sole: Vibram Rubber
- Eyelets: 3 Blind
- Origin: 100% Made In Spain
- Price: $349.99 (€385) + VAT for EU countries
This places Sons of Henrey in a rather competitive market, which is the $300 – $400 USD range.
Tom’s vision of limited, customizable quantities and unique leathers makes his offering certainly more unique than most out there.
What it really boils down to however is how good the shoes actually are.
Let’s find out.
Unboxing & Delivery
If I remember correctly, Tom uses DHL Express like I do at The Noble Shoe and that means super fast shipping.
Especially in Europe it takes only one business day to deliver a package and only a few more for the rest of the world.
What surprised me when I received it was how small the package was.
It looked so small for a pair of boots and so did the actual shoe box inside, which fit perfectly snug.
Tom made custom boxes I think to just fit the boots correctly and save space and it shows.
There was just enough space for the chukka boots to sit snug but not super tight inside.
As for the actual box, it is minimalist with a nice blue color and the Sons of Henrey logo on the top.
Inside were my boots inside their shoe bags, with a charming welcome note and extra bubble wrap for protection.
The shoe bags are grey and have a soft, fuzzy texture like flannel, very pleasant to hold.
Oh, you also get an extra pair of shoe laces.
Initial Impressions & Thoughts
It’s a Chukka alright!
Possibly the most simplistic boot model a man can get, the Chukka is a true staple in a man’s wardrobe.
With 3 eyelets and two side panels, there’s nothing special about the design of your average Chukka Boots.
That obviously makes the leather the standout feature of the Sons of Henrey Ambly.
More on that later, but my first thought was that this will be an excellent boot to tackle the weather here in Italy.
First thoughts were quite positive, including the lack of a pull tab which I consider unnecessary in anything but Chelsea boots.
The last is a bit too round for my usual taste, just like with the Cobbler Union Chukkas.
However, considering what this shoe is and what it is trying to be a round last is the best choice.
If you like the aesthetics of British shoes, you will most likely enjoy this model very much.
Leather Quality | Jamaica Kudu Leather
Assessing the quality of the leather is always impossible until you actually wear it for a while.
What always fascinates me the most is the keywords tanneries use for their leather.
Box calf, baby box calf, triple box calf, vegano leather, Russian calf and much more.
This particular leather is Kudu, one of my favorite leathers for casual shoes.
It is a leather that comes in many forms from the Greater Kudu which you can simply call an African Antelope.
Since the Kudu is a wild animal, the leather has natural scars and marks that form part of the hide.
These scars, these marks carry the life and history of that animal and is one of the amazing characteristics of the leather.
Of course, you could opt for a reverse Kudu suede leather, which is 80% similar to calf suede but is super soft.
Kudu is also extremely supple yet really durable from my personal experience and reaction is the same from my customers.
Enough rambling however, let’s talk about this particular one.
I have absolutely no idea why they call it Jamaica Kudu but I do know it comes from the famous Charles Stead tannery in the UK.
They have a reputation for exceptional suede and types of deer leather, including Kudu.
When you examine the leather on the Sons of Henrey Chukka Boots, it’s hard not to stop and examine them for a while.
According to Charles Stead, this is an embossed finish with a distinctive texture and two-tone gloss finish.
I would say that the description is quite accurate.
It is pretty much a heavy textured scotchgrain type of Kudu leather with lighter and darker shades of brown woven in the pattern.
Look at it very closely and you will see scars or markings and it certainly carries that robust yet supple nature of Kudu leather.
The one Sons of Henrey uses seems polished and good quality and I look forward to wearing them.
If I were to sum it up, I would say Kudu is the opposite of a mullet: Party at the front, business in the back.
Construction & Build Quality
What is there to say about the Goodyear Welted construction that you don’t know already?
Sons of Henrey produces its mainline shoes in Spain in the same factory as most brands out there.
With years of experience, you would expect the construction to be solid and it is.
I cannot find something to nitpick on in a bad way actually.
This is a bit of a heavier boot, with a certain weight to it when you hold it.
Makes sense due to the Vibram sole of course, but one thing you might notice is the actual structure in certain points.
For example, a lot of brands that I reviewed recently have a very structured side panel around the toe area.
This Chukka is much more pliable and supple in those areas, which I think is actually great for such a casual model where you seek comfort.
The heavier structure is something I encounter more often in dressier, chiseled lasts.
Since the leather is supple, the shaft of the Chukka is also not as stiff which is so good for my ankles.
Mine are a little bigger and more often than not Chukkas can irritate or pressure them.
I guess if I had to say something, the inner lining is a little bubbly at some points?
Overall, this is a great experience so far.
Stitching & Welt
Like I mentioned in the construction subsection, experience and the model type set the expectations.
There’s not much going on a chukka boot apart from the three pieces of leather that essentially form the uppers.
The stitching is pretty good and consistent in both shoes and I struggle to find something bad to say about my pair.
I enjoy that they used a thread that matches the uppers and makes no contrast.
It wouldn’t really make a difference, but this is already a busy model and bolder pattern so I prefer it.
Interestingly, there is one slightly interesting element and that is the back seam which almost look like it folds inside.
I don’t recall seeing this before and I missed it during the first inspection.
Since I already tried the shoes on to assess the fit, it means that it did not affect the fit or annoy my achilles tendon area.
The welt has a very dented, zip look to it which is aesthetically nice to look at.
You can clearly see the thread with no loose threads or problems anywhere, including the bottom of the sole.
If anything, the welt joint is pretty much invisible and a superb job making it look seamless.
And here is where my OCD kicked in and I noticed a very unusual, interesting detail.
So the outsole was quite thick at the front but it thinned a lot towards the waist.
Upon closer inspection it became clear that the midsole sandwiched between the welt and outsole disappeared, lowering the profile of the boot there.
Very interesting detail and surely intentional, however I have no experience yet as to if it has any particular benefit.
I will be asking Tom about this and he should be able to shed some light!
Very cool nonetheless!
There’s rarely much to talk about when it comes to the inner lining.
It’s leather alright with a peanut butter tint to it and a half insole with a stamped branded logo.
There’s no pull tab on the top, which I really like and mentioned I find unnecessary anyways.
Certain parts of the lining feel a bit bubbly, like there is a bit of separation and trapped air between the upper and the lining.
It has no structural different and doesn’t matter however and you don’t feel it while wearing either.
But I might as well mention it right?
There’s not much to talk about regarding the sole, as I already covered the unique element of the midsole earlier.
It’s a rubber sole from Vibram with studs and a black sort of matte finish.
A bit heavier in the front and honestly, looks very polished.
Have you also noticed that Vibram soles make a distinctive sound when you knock on them?
In any case, these look like they will last you a long time.
Last 2 | Elegant Round
Sons of Henrey has 3 different lasts for the main range.
Those cover all of the needs of the modern man, with a soft square, almond and refined rounder toe.
Only one option makes sense for this boot and that is what Sons of Henrey call elegant round.
Developed with the help of famous last maker Springline, it has a medium instep and width with a little extra volume at the toe box.
I would personally not call this last properly round, but more like medium round or a mix of almond and round.
The round shape is very clear when looking from the top, but at the same time displays a little bit sharper elements and curvature.
You know how I feel about round lasts, but I believe that this one has a good balance that will satisfy most people.
Generally last shapes are subject to each individual taste, however it becomes evident after a while when there’s no effort put into a shape.
This brings back memories of the Lethato Boots and the CNES Wholecut that looked like a deflated banana.
Luckily, by looking at the lines on the Sons of Henrey Chukkas, you can see some actual thought went into making it.
Since shooting the initial “pristine” pictures, I wore the shoes a few times to understand the sizing.
Fit and comfort will also depend on your foot and preferences.
Nonetheless I have a good grasp of sizing for most brands now.
At some point, I had over 50 personal shoes from every imaginable brand.
Since that, I downsized to about 20-25 and that feels like a sweet spot for me.
Without much fanfare and suspense, the Sons of Henrey Ambly and Round Last fit me very well.
Tom recommended a UK 8 which is my average, usual size in shoes such as Saint Crispin’s, Carmina or Crockett & Jones.
His description above seems to match the fit quite well actually.
It was a very comfortable fit both on my instep, widest point and heel.
Just the right amount of space on the instep and enough wiggle room at the front.
To make sure, I tried them both with thicker and thinner socks and felt no real difference.
For 99% of you my advice would be to take your usual UK size.
And for my US readers, take your usual Allen Edmonds US size and convert it to UK.
For example, if you are a US 9D you would select a UK 8 as well.
Don’t forget to contact Tom if you are unsure or before you make any expensive purchase.
Extra Info: I will update the article soon with worn shots, when I get back from vacations!
Is This A Buy Or A Pass?
It is overwhelmingly obvious from what I wrote today that these are good shoes.
Unless I cut it in half and try to find flaws or cut corners, it is impossible to tell you anything bad about these boots.
Clean stitching, a few nice unique touches and an excellent leather with most importantly a great fit.
The market in the $300-$400 bracket is extremely saturated with a lot of excellent options.
Carlos Santos, Carmina, TLB Mallorca, Cheaney and many more to name a few.
Tom’s more conservative approach is smarter, aiming to a more niche market that wants unique details.
The Made to Order focus model has its limitations, relying on Tom’s customer service (which can sometimes be slow, but he became a dad, cut him some slack!).
It also means they produce the RTW models in limited quantities, so it could be challenging finding your size.
Other than that, if you like the aesthetics and the models on offer, I don’t see a reason not to recommend Sons of Henrey.
In my opinion, quality wise and with a lot of unique make ups, Sons of Henrey is excellent value.
Plus, you get to support a small one man business and a good person in Tom.
Tip: One of the main channels and discussion hubs is Tom’s popular Styleforum thread.
How To Wear Kudu Chukkas?
Chukka Boots are casual shoes and Kudu is a casual leather.
This means that this model serves a very specific function which makes it easy to style.
Jeans, chinos, flannel and (even though I despise it) corduroy. I feel I gagged there for a second sorry.
Dark brown will much pretty much anything as well, so it is super versatile.
Since this is a textured leather, you can try to match it with patterns or different materials.
For example, a navy turtleneck sweater with olive green chinos would look great.
But I will update with hopefully some of my suggestions soon!
Avoid wearing such shoes with suits and shorts and you are golden.
Reaching the end of the Sons of Henrey Kudu Chukka Boots Review, it is overwhelmingly clear I endorse them.
So far after a few wears they are comfortable, look good and feels like they will last for a long time.
Quality wise at least in the visible components there is nothing bad to report.
Obviously, problems can occur in all brands, but this was just my experience.
Price wise, I think Sons of Henrey is great value for the average consumer and in the world of today could probably get away with costing over $400.
You know, from the exterior and wear at least, I cannot see how Carmina is any better quality wise.
A very balanced shoe in all aspects so great job from Tom and Sons of Henrey.
I hope you enjoyed this review by the way and would love to hear your opinion about Sons of Henrey.
Thinking of buying or had a good or bad experience? Share it in the comments!
I will see you next week with hopefully something unique again.
Thank you for reading,