A Rare Opportunity I Could Not Pass
Not so long ago I had an Interview with Aji who is the owner of Vahtia Shoes Indonesia. Back then I mentioned how I would really like to do a Review of a pair of Vahtia Shoes.
The stars aligned and I actually just got my hands on a pair of Vahtia Austerity Brogue Boots in Brown Calf and I will tell you all about it. As you will see this is a very special pair not representable of the final product however it is an excellent opportunity to showcase you a new upcoming brand.
As always, I will be looking at construction, finishing and stitching as well as fit and value. So grab your morning coffee and let us begin!
A Little Background
Last week I received an unexpected message from Aji asking me what is my shoe size. It turns out he had a pair of Austerity Brogue Boots that failed to clear QC and were defective. Not only that, but they happened to be a UK 8 which is exactly my size!
Aji kindly offered me the boots in exchange for an honest review so that’s exactly what I will do. It is very important to disclose that the pair was a defect however I did not know what to expect until I received them.
For those of you unfamiliar with Vahtia, the sort version is that Aji wanted to make a Hand-Welted Quality shoe brand that was also accessible and incorporates some uniqueness and creativity. The whole project really began in 2018 and he now has big plans for the future. As a smaller scale operation Vahtia focuses more on a few models and will slowly expand its selection.
If you want to learn more about them, I encourage you to Read the Interview!
Shipping & Presentation
Vahtia uses DHL Express just like me and boy is it fast. It took what, 2-3 days from Indonesia to Sweden?
The real surprise came when I actually opened the box though. Speaking about the box, it is not your traditional box with a lid but rather one that slides on the side. Made from some sort of cardboard with a printed motif and the logo on top but that’s all you get. I think it would be helpful to have a sticker with the model and size on the side for those of us that like to keep the boxes for storage.
It was very funny when I opened the box since two packages of Indonesian Noodles greeted me along with a handwritten letter from Aji. As far as the contents go though that was it. Both shoes were inside 2 white light cotton bags and there was no filler content or foam.
In my opining there HAS to be foam or bubble paper to prevent the shoes from moving. When you see the pictures of the shoes they have tons of scratches which I am unaware if they are just from transport.
Cutting costs in packaging to make room for higher quality details without raising the cost is fine by me, however it is imperative for your shoes to arrive in mint condition. If you are those that expect some grandeur operation or luxury packaging you will be disappointed.
Disclaimer: I don’t know if the package is better in real products as opposed to this defective sample.
Before we begin we will do our customary round up of the specifications and features of these Vahtia Austerity Brogue Boots:
- Brand: Vahtia Shoes Indonesia
- Model: El Cid Austerity Brogue Boots
- Uppers: Tannerie d’Annonay Vegano Crust
- Color: Mahogany Brown
- Finishing: Hand-dyed
- Last: Hippogriff
- Width: Regular
- Construction: Hand-Welted
- Lining: Full Grain Vegetable Tanned
- Eyelets: 7 Blind
- Sole: Dainite
- Price: $429 USD
Quite the beefy specs for the price especially considering the construction.
Leather Quality & Finishing
Upon inspection there is no gentle way to say this. The finishing and overall quality of this particular shoe is rubbish and would not qualify for a factory 5th if I may say. Harsh? Maybe, but if you spent $429 and you got this you would (and should) be furious.
Nonetheless remember that this is a defective pair and shows that Vahtia quality checks all shoes before shipping. This is not representable of the final product but serves as a great reminder of what can go wrong.
To begin with the leather itself seems to be supple enough and a little softer than the British Brands. Unfortunately that is the only good thing I can say about this particular pair since the defects are everywhere. To begin with, most of the uppers have this kaleidoscope prism rainbow effect for a lack of better word. You know when there is oil on asphalt and it creates those rainbow circles? A guess can be that since Vahtia Hand-dyes the leather it could be some unabsorbed dye on the surface.
Another big issue is the massive cracking on the heel of one of the shoes. It probably shows that there was a problem during assembly or that particular hide was not good enough. The vamp had some super light creasing which could indicate trying them on but I cannot confirm and is irrelevant to this pair.
Lastly, there were scratches and some discoloration all over the shoes with the most prominent on the toes.
Stitching & Welt
Let’s speak about something that is actually good! These Hand-welted shoes are actually rather light and barring the finishing issues of this pair have excellent stitching. The welt itself seems to be 270 with a tighter heel cup and decent SPI.
When you look at the rest of the shoes there is a double-lined stitching that is overall pretty consistent as well while the facing imitates the traditional hockey stick designs although with some faux broguing holes.
On the back you have a nicely stitched loop which is just the right height so you trousers won’t get stuck so easily. Another thing that improves compared to the CNES Shoemaker pair I reviewed is the inner lining. Not only the polishing and trimming is better on the edges but also inside it feels more premium. If there is any drawback on this pair that would be that the way the stitch the tongue causes it to flap around and fall down instead of staying in place. Of course that causes no issues when you actually wear them.
Flip the shoe around and you get a classic Dainite Sole with what seems to be a slightly shorter heel and actually white contrasting stitching. If you zoom in you can actually see that the sole stitching on this pair is not optimal or at least straight. It would cause no structural problem but Aji asked me to nitpick as much as I can.
It is probably a good opportunity to quickly touch upon the laces as well. There are 7 blind eyelets so this is a shorter boot than a regular jumper or field boot. It sits around your ankle area instead. Austerity Brogue designs are one of my favorites and I consider them quite dressy when done well mainly due to the discreet nature of the faux broguing. So in this particular model I would like to see some higher quality flat laces. These work fine but have a bit more coarse feeling to them just like my old Loake.
The Hippogriff Last
Little we know about the actual information on the Vahtia lasts. If you dig around the information page you can see that this one is the Hippogriff. A very interesting choice of name just like calling your shoes “El Cid” I guess. The only other I could find is the “Pegasus” last so there is a mythical creature connection there. I like it.
My favorite types of toe shapes are soft square ones but only when done well. This one actually reminds me a lot the Carlos Santos 387 and that is a good thing. From the way that the front of the toe box slides down gracefully to the chiseled toe line it is great. It would probably look even better with a thinner/leather sole as well.
On the bottom you get some pretty decent beveling and a little fiddleback which is an added bonus. Overall it is a solid last and my favorite from the Vahtia Line Up.
Sizing & Fit
What’s the point if the shoes don’t fit well right? I am glad to report that this pair is a UK 8 and fits me great. My foot is incredibly strange and I can actually almost hit the front of the toe cap but feels right. The width is excellent and there is no pressure on my instep or any heel slip whatsoever.
I will have to break in the shoes though since the top of the shaft is rather stiff on my ankle while moving.
So if you are looking to buy these shoes I would recommend your regular UK size.
What’s The Verdict?
Needless to say that this particular pair is not worth its full price. But according to the Vahtia website if there are samples that don’t meet the quality standards you can get them with up to a 40% discount.
Overlooking the leather issues of this defective pair I can at least make some good conclusions. You get a good handmade construction with great polished lining and a unique design. Austerity Brogue Boots are really rare and the only time I saw one was when Vass made a Shell Cordovan pair. Stitching all over the shoe is great with some minor inconsistencies on the sole.
As aforementioned I would like to see maybe better laces and the inclusion of protective measures inside the box. There is also the added bonus of supporting a small workshop and a passionate owner. It does take a leap of faith to try out new brands like Vahtia but I don’t think you will be disappointed if you try. Aji is knowledgeable and extremely helpful and it’s worth a try if you look for something new.
It is a hard sell though in a segment with Carlos Santos Handgrade, TLB Mallorca Artista and Carmina I must admit. None of those offer Hand-welted construction but have some superior features but this comes with years and decades of experience. I still think brands like Vahtia have their place in this world and can keep pushing themselves to create even better products.
I would take a new pair of these any day of the week over Meermin and Loake however. In 2020 paying just $350 and $429 for Hand-welted shoes is unreal and great for us consumers.
Well if you do, I am one step ahead! Now that I moved to a new apartment I am slowly settling in and I had the chance to already upload my video review on YouTube. Subscribe if you enjoy it!
An Exciting Future
And that’s it for my Vahtia Shoes Review and specifically these Austerity Brogue Boots in Mahogany. It was a pleasure working with Aji and I appreciate him thinking of me with this pair. He was very upfront and honest about it but still wanted me to review them. I wish him the best and I urge you to at least check out his shop. He has a lot of exciting things on the pipeline such an alleged MTO program and a higher end line.
What did you think about it? Do you own a pair or thinking about getting one? Let me know in the comments down below and Subscribe for more content every week! Next week I will have a great interview with Simon from Wayman Bespoke Shoes!
Don’t forget to stay safe and stay dapper.
Thank you for reading,