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Worst Dress Shoe Brands 2020 | 14+4 Brands To Avoid Like The Plague

Square Shoes

Welcome To The Jungle

I spent yesterday watching the rebooted Jumanji movie. The movie was so bad it was actually funny at times. What does this have to do with the article you say? Well it made me think how something so bad can generate so much interest and money so that people continue watching it. Pretty much like the latest Star Wars movies. Afterwards my thoughts shifted to shoes of course and how many horrendous brands are out there imitating Jumanji. Please welcome the “Worst Dress Shoe Brands Guide“!

Laughable constructions, fake welts, pathetic leather out of scraps and appalling designs are the name of the game here. Educating ourselves about the Best Shoes is not enough. We should definitely talk about the bottom of the barrel as well.

Bring some air freshener, because some of these are real stinkers.

Behold The Worst Dress Shoe Brands

So before we get to the actual list it is worth writing a small disclaimer. Most (if not all) of the shoes make this list due to the quality/value ratio. Essentially what you pay and what you get. The materials are simply inferior and they will not last long. You can do so much better with your money and some of them have really atrocious designs.

While it is also my opinion, I did a lot of research reading people’s reviews on certain brands to make a conclusion.

1. Aldo – Cheap Fast Fashion

We begin with the stuff of nightmares. Aldo is a Canadian retailer that is one of the kings of fast-fashion shoes. They produce tons of shoes by copying popular designs or luxury brands for dirt cheap prices.

Do not buy Aldo Shoes - Worst Dress Shoe Brands 2020
Do not buy Aldo Shoes

If you buy one of their shoes it probably comes from China where 60% of their production lies. The rest come from various Asian Countries as well as cheaper labor in Eastern Europe and Brazil. Let’s look at a quick review feedback from one customer.

“They suck and were absolutely disgusting after 3 months”.

So what is the problem with Aldo? First of all anything produced in such large quantities is bound to have low standards. The leather they use is very low quality made of scraps and corrected grain and it will show very quickly. Even after a few wears you will notice extreme creasing and stretch and they also lose shape. Quality control is terrible and you will not be holding these more than a year before the sole splits in two. Since they use a cemented construction you cannot resole them (nor you should anyways).

You get nothing for your money and we are talking about close to Meermin’s ballpark prices. I advise you to never step foot in an Aldo store. Did I mention they paid less than minimum wage in the US?

2. Henri Lloyd – Terribad For The Price

I have a personal gripe with this one. This was the first ever real dress shoe I bought in an Ecco Boutique in Stockholm. After buying my first suit, I thought it was a good idea to get a nice pair of shoes too. Of course I knew little about shoes at the time so I found something looking ok and voila.

Henri Lloyd is a German Shoemaker that makes cheap, cemented horrendous shoes. Of course, some of them will look ok just like my pair did but most are ugly with totally square toes and unflattering curves.

Do not buy Henri Lloyd Shoes - Worst Dress Shoe Brands 2020
What a “Sexy” Beast isn’t it? Oh Henri.

My pair showed incredible amounts of creasing right after a couple of wears, while the leather was dull and did not take a shine. This is the hallmark of very low quality leather and corrected grain. It began peeling and it was obviously not going to last long. If I can give it a plus, is that my pair was extremely comfortable to wear. Cemented construction means they are worthless so I ended up donating them to a young flatmate that could actually use them.

What makes it even more disturbing for me is that I spent about 1500 SEK (Swedish Crowns) which is about 170$. For a little more one can buy Meermin in Europe instead. There is no excuse to buy cemented shoes anymore.

3. Cole Haan – Don’t Trust The Internet

Alright let me begin this buy a simple google search. I googled “Cole Haan Prices” and one of the results of people’s questions was if they are expensive. Here’s the answer by Marie:

“Not only the brand ,but quality is 100% as well! Cole Haan shoes are expensive because the craftsmanship of the shoes is well made. The quality of this shoes is amazing.”

Marie, stop spreading misinformation. Cole Haan has a reputation for comfort but that’s about it. The leather quality is terrible, the construction is cemented. They are an absolute nightmare to refurbish and it is not worth your time or money. Actually there is a more expensive line around the 300$ mark but it looks to be “Bonwelted” which is a fancy term for cemented. It gives the look of a Goodyear Welt but it is not.

Cole Haan Shoes are not good
Worst Dress Shoe Brands – Cole Haan

Add to that that they changed hands quite a few times over the past few years and you know something is fishy. Those crepe sneaker soles on dress shoes too…Bottom line: You can do better with your money. Much better.

4. Kenneth Cole – As Cheap As It Gets

I start to question why I do this. Yet another cheap quality shoemaker with the lowest standards. This time around we enter the glorious “Designer” space. Kenny seems to make some ok clothes but his shoes are a mess.

First of all, when see shoe costing 30-60$ the red flags should begin to light like Christmas. They are absolutely ghastly. Just take a look at the following.

Kenneth Cole Ugly Shoes
I am weak at the knees..

There is not much to say here. Of course they have some better designs, but don’t fool yourself. It will just fall apart after a while due to the construction and the leather will look like a velociraptor mangled them.

5. Steve Madden – Are You Mad-den?

Keeping the list strong with a Brand that sounds like a Rugby player. Steve Madden is a convicted felon and businessman making something that resembles a shoe. High quality and Steve Madden does not go together.

What is the deal with the square toe designs even in 2020 I don’t get it. Cemented, overpriced hot garbage with the lowest quality leathers. They will crease and crack so hard you might think the tectonic plaques collided and the earth split in two. Just look at how low quality the materials look. They don’t even bother.

Steve Madden Horrible Shoes
If your dream was to be a goth/rock Ronald McDonald grab the Steven Madden Boots

As soon as you enter their website they will bombard you with ads and coupons and pop ups. The pictures are very low resolution and blurry. Some designs look pretty ok but for 100-130$ you can do so much better. There is no reason for you to buy Steve Madden Shoes.

6. Calvin Klein – Designer Garbage

Let’s face it. So many of you just go to the mall and buy a pair of shoes just because you need one and it looks ok. Designer shoes are everywhere and use a famous brand name to convince and coax you into buying. Calvin Klein is of course a very famous brand for a lot of things but the shoes they make are junk.

Everything that applies for the above brands applies here too. The cheapest materials from the uppers, the sole, the heel block and the cemented construction make them worthless. Refurbishing is a waste of time and money so you are better off investing your money into something that will actually last.

Worst Dress Shoe Brands 2020 - Calvin Klein
Worst Dress Shoe Brand – What were they thinking???

Not only that but the pre-sale prices are up to 180-200$ which is once again Meermin territory. Glossy, bulky and terribly unattractive, Calvin Klein shoes will crease like there is no end and you are better off burning your money during a cold winter.

7. Stacy Adams – Plastic

That’s right, if there is one word to describe to describe Stacy Adams Shoes it is plastic. Right next to cheap, low quality, stapled and expendable. Stacy Adams makes my blood sugar rise and it is interesting that their history dates back to 1875.

The worst part of this already terrible shoe is the heel block which is a total mess. I saw a video where some cobblers were talking about how the heel block is just a piece of stapled plastic that rips the shoe apart. Not only that, but they also look distasteful.

Stacy Adams Worst Dress Shoe Brands 2020
Worst Dress Shoe Brands – Stacy Adams is a strong contender

Now, let’s quickly talk about my greatest villain which is Pierro Shoes. I don’t even want to link to his website and give him Google Juice but you need to see this with your own eyes. So this man “Reviews” bottom of the barrel shoe brands and markets them as absolutely incredible quality and comfort. Here are some of the quotes from the article:

“These shoes are well made, period.”

“Every step that you take will feel like you’re walking on clouds.”

“The overall construction of the shoe is very durable, long lasting, and comfortable.”

Let me make this clear. The leather is rubbish, the construction is not durable, the heel block is the stuff of nightmares and you will not keep these for over a year with frequent use. And do not let those argue about the fact that Florsheim owns them. They make them in India or China and Florsheim itself is coming up later on this list…

8. H&M – Now We’re Talking

Hold on to your wallets and never ever let go when you find yourselves in H&M. A Swedish Brand, H&M (Pronounced HoEm in Swedish) is the biggest culprit when it comes to fast fashion. Boy they sell everything from shoes to clothes and even house stuff.

When a new shoe costs 40-50$ you really should be thinking about how low quality it must be. Or how many corners they cut in order to drop the price so low. Or what kind of slave labor and cheap materials they use. The saying says “You get what you pay for“. Well you are paying for trash. Polyester thrash that they call sustainable and eco-friendly. Look at the heel it is hilarious.

H&M Chelsea Boots
Worst Dress Shoe Brands – H&M “Suede” (100% Polyester) sort of Chelsea Boots

There is absolutely no excuse to buy from H&M shoes or suits even if you are on a budget. You will end up regretting buy an unfashionable, cheap and poorly constructed thing that resembles a shoe. If you thought some of their cheap clothes are bad, their shoes are on a whole different level.

9. Zara – Sos

Zara Shoes are not worth writing more about after mentioning H&M. Everything above applies to them too. Mass quantity over any kind of quality.

One good way to describe Zara Shoes is bad software, or a glitch. Think of Zara as Bethesda, a very famous video game designer that brought us the “Epic” Fallout 76. Now picture Zara patching their shoes to make them better, only instead they introduce even more bugs and glitches.

Let’s not waste more of our time with this. One of the worst shoes money can buy, stay as far away as possible.

10. Ecco Shoes – Better, But Not By Far

You already know my disdain about Danish Ecco Shoes from my entry about Henri Lloyd. When it comes to cemented shoes they are actually not that terrible when it comes to durability. Or at least this is what people testify.

The problem is they are still cemented, the leather is not great and the prices are 130-150$. Which means for a little more you can buy something like Meermin or Herring shoes. So for the money, you should definitely not invest in Ecco Shoes.

Another thing that riles me up is the designs. While some can be fairly ok there are some true abominations out there. Like the Ecco Melbourne which is an insult to anything Australian.

Ecco Melbourne
Seriously, is there anyone out there that thinks this looks good?

The leather is much better than most of the designer stuff I mentioned before, but nothing premium enough to command such prices. Do not waste your hard-earned money on Ecco Shoes especially if they look like the one above.

11. Timberland – Poor, Poor Quality

Ah, Timberland. Once associated with money, quality and taste and very famous for their boots and light brown tan color, they are just not worth it. I bought some years ago a casual boot in some kind of nubuck/suede during clearance for 70$ and after a couple of wears with jeans the denim color leached into the boots. Never worn them again.

They don’t make them anymore exclusively in Tennessee but also China and the Dominican Republic. Now, the American made boots use leather from the Horween Tannery so that is a good sign. The biggest problem with these is the construction and the value.

Timberland Boots
Timberland Boots in Burgundy – Buy Red Wings instead

Timberland Boots seem to also use a “Bonwelt” which is a fake welt as aforementioned. And for a price of 200-250$ you are better off buy a much better shoe such as Red Wings or Wolverine. If you really like the iconic yellow boot that is perfectly fine, but remember they are overpriced.

I consider them a very bad purchase and would never recommend them after my own experience and the plethora of reviews out there.

11. Dr. Martens – Better Burn Off Your Money

If you walk around a whole day in Stockholm you will see Dr. Martens everywhere. You can easily tell by the glossy leather and the fake yellow stitching around the sole. While the brand had a pretty decent reputation and enjoyed popularity during the 60’s and 70’s very few remains nowadays.

Dr. Martens 1460
The Classic Dr. Martens 1460

Only 2% of the shoes are made in England, the leather is thinner and you cannot actually resole them. The ones from China have rigged, low quality leather and are truly nasty. Read the response of customer service to Mark, a redditor that shared his experience:

“Dear Mark, Thank you for your inquiry. The shoes cannot be resoled, unfortunately. This is due to the air-cushion feature and unique construction of the sole. The way it is heat sealed and stitched to the leather upper to trap air inside the air pockets is hard to reproduce outside of a factory setting. We have no facilities for repairs or resoling. We have not heard of any repair shops that are able to resole Dr. Martens with the trademark soles either. Sorry to disappoint.”

That should say enough. After some quick searching I found out that people recommend Solovair much more which makes their boots in the UK and is strikingly similar to the Docs. I personally dislike the style very much but I consider these a waste of money. If you enjoy the style, I recommend looking for Docs from the UK or trying Solovair.

12. Florsheim – A Shadow

I don’t have much experience with Florsheim because they are not easily accessible in Europe. Therefore I have to rely on the opinions of experienced people and shoe aficionados.

The reason they are here is because they are nothing like they used to be. Quality wise, exporting, construction and cut corners everywhere. The only line you could consider from Florsheim would be the Imperial or Royal Imperial.

Back in the day Florsheim made some amazing impeccable shoes according to enthusiasts. You can even search for the Vintage Imperial ones on Google or Instagram and you will see how amazing they still look. Especially those from Shell and their wingtips, they are a treat.

I feel there are much better options at this price level and do not endorse such falls from grace.

13. Johnston & Murphy – You Can Do Better

Yet another slightly controversial Brand of this list is Johnston & Murphy. They are not as  terrible by any means and they have a Goodyear Welted line. The problems are that they do not do recrafting any more and that 95% of their line up is cheap shoes around the 100$ mark.

One of the worst things I hear about them is the heel block which is a horrendous mess of compressed paper. Again this is one of the Brands that diminished in quality over the past few years. After inspecting them in a local shop last week I cannot say I was impressed. At least the don’t look as ghastly as the previous entries!

Johnston & Murphy Wingtip
Johnston & Murphy Wingtip

Again, a reminder is that we are talking about most of their cheap shoes that retail for 180-200$ and are on sale for half. Even for the premium line which costs a whooping 400$ you can get so much more value elsewhere.

14. Suitsupply – Never Buy Shoes

The last controversial entry are my former employers. So here’s the deal. Antonio Maurizi is the Italian brain behind the shoes of Suitsupply. Most are made in Italy while some loafers and sneakers in Portugal. The leather is not really bad, nor is the finishing. So why is this in the list?

Quite simple actually. First of all, the price is absurd just because it has the “Italy” stamp on it. Expect to pay 200-300$ for the basic line and up to 400-450$ for the “Premiums”. If you ask most of the employees in Stockholm they won’t be able to find good grounds to recommend you the shoes. This kind of price for a Blake Stitched Shoe is very bad value. Notice I said Blake, not Blake Rapid!

Suitsupply Double Monks
Suitsupply Double Monks – At least they look good!

And now we get to the worst part. They use new, real shoes for you to try them on out of the box. If you don’t like them, they put it back in and sell it as new to the next person. Which means the sole is totally worn out after a while and the leather creases like a nuclear winter.

Suitsupply sells you a USED Shoe. At least in Stockholm. The idea is that they will attempt to cross-sell you a pair of shoes when you try on your suit or pants and they fix the length. Do not fall for that. Additionally, the sizing is all over the place and their boots do not even have half sizes.

Would you like to see an article on the sales techniques that they use? It could be controversial yet quite interesting. Let me know in the comments.

Bonus Round

Technically, those are the 12 brands I wanted to talk about today. I kind of lost motivation as well since there were so many terrible brands out there. But there are some brief mentions that take the golden raspberries for the worst dress shoe brands in 2020. Here they are.

15. Joseph Abboud – Out Of Words

Here’s yet another one I have not much experience with but has the reputation of a stinky bomb. A user on Styleforum called it “Something between wearable and s***t“.

That should say enough. Do not buy everything in one shop as there is rarely a jack of all trades. That includes Suitsupply.

16. Clarks – Cheap, Cheap, Cheap

Yet another brand that you knew from their iconic Desert Boot. Clarks & Bostonian make some terrible shoes not worth your money. Search around and see that not even their Desert Boot is up to par with some of the better constructions out there. We have seen worse, but I cannot recommend you this brand.

17. Rockport – Flintstones

Garbage construction, leather and soles. I can probably stitch you a better shoe myself. Stay away.

18. Any Other Designer Shoe

Just like good ol’ Calvin, any designer shoe is the stuff of nightmares. Prada, Yves Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren and Gucci (apart from their iconic Horse Bit Loafer) is not worth the money. Cemented and overpriced as much as possible, these are not status symbols for the sartorial man.

The Worst Dress Shoe Brands Of 2020 Are Many

So there you have it! My list of the Worst Dress Shoe Brands of 2020. There are some controversial entries and the occasional people that will defend some of their choices. I can respect that, however the construction and quality of 95% of this list is awful. Others such as Suitsupply are not good enough value and try to extract the maximum amount of money from you.

So please do NOT buy your shoes from a cheap mall or a one stop shop. Do some research, spend 30 minutes research a bit more about Shoe Construction and the Types of Shoe Leather. You will save money and frustration.

I am really curious if you would like to read a guide about all the up-selling and cross-selling techniques they taught us at Suitsupply. I feel many of you often go to a store and the salesman pressures you to buy or tries to romance the product. Let me know in the comments. Next week we will be looking at a Triple Strap Monk Boot by a Vietnamese Shoemaker and I will let you know about my amazing experience in the Carlos Santos Factory! Subscribe so you don’t lose any article!

Thank you for reading,

Kostas Mandilaris,
Misiu Academy

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Comments (54)

I like this kind of article. As information provider, we should protect our readers.

Thank you Pei! I agree very much, it is not just the good things we should write about but also the truth!

Thanks for the great shoe review my friend.

Kostas Mandilaris

Glad you enjoyed!

This is awesome. Thank you! I agree with all points. It’s sad so many people think to buy a named “designer” will equate to quality. I work in the fashion industry and I see that things are made in the same factories of the same methods but with very different labels/brands/price points..

Hi Ashley,

Thanks for reading and commenting. Of course they are a business and have other costs built in their products, but the fact is that their quality is not up to par with things costing even half.

It is up to the consumer to educate themselves and not fall victim to such marketing.

I hope I am doing my part.

Have a great 2023.

Hi. What do you think of Santoni? I bought mine because they offer dress shoes with synthetic soles — a useful feature when I need to sprint for a train.

Hey Rodney!

Santoni is a tricky brand. They make some excellent stuff, however you need to be aware of their cheaper lines and constructions. The cheap RTW lines are cemented (Glued) and will not last as long. There are a lot of companies that offer dress shoes with rubber soles out there!

Thank you for your writing, very informative.

“Would you like to see an article on the sales techniques that they use? It could be controversial yet quite interesting. Let me know in the comments”.

Yes please, it would be very valuable for us, as customers.

On Florsheim shoes, they have an “European” line, “Made in Italy” that is not very different than their American counterpart. You will find it in their web page:

Hello Mercurio!

Thank you so much for your kind words and taking the time to write this! It means a lot to me to receive such comments.

I will check out the Florsheim link and will also make sure to write the article next month!


Good article and great points. One caveat for Ralph Lauren and other designer shoes, some RL, specifically the Marlow line, are made by Crockett & Jones including options in Shell, these are exceptional and have the pricing to match.

Completely agree on vintage Florsheim and Johnston and Murphy, back in the 80’s and earlier they made incredible shoes, I have 10+ pair.

Thank you Chris! Glad you found this informative!

Of course there are some good lines of shoes even for the designer brands. I was mostly talking about the base lines which are either cemented or Blake and have a very high mark up to cover the overhead costs.

Very informative article and thank you for being (painfully) honest!
Any feedback on entry level handmade shoes like Meermin and Undandy?


Stay away from Undandy. They are going bankrupt or have serious issues right now. Go to their Instagram or facebook and check the comments or visitor posts. They have not received their shoes after 3-4 months.

Meermin is fine for entry level, but nothing special in my opinion. You get what you pay!

Vasilis from Athens

Great article, as usual! May I have your opinion, please, on velasca and crownhill?

Kostas Mandilaris

Γεια σου Βασίλη! Glad you enjoy! I don’t have experience with crownhill. Velasca has some decent reputation for the price, but I am not a huge fan of blake stitched construction. They make some nice loafers though! I would love to review them in the future!

Do you have an alternative suggestion for a shoe like Undandy?

I bought a pair in November last year and I really liked them. So I ordered again in mid-May of this year. What a disaster! But I just got my refund from PayPal yesterday! I like the patina finish and the price was good, but I don’t think anyone who ordered since Spring will actually receive a product. Even when I ordered last year they were late and blamed their supply chain for not having soles.

I’d really appreciate if you could recommend a similar style and price point shoe from a proper, reputable company.


Hey Doran,

thanks for sharing your experience. If you are not a shoe enthusiast, you might not notice massive quality differences and Undandy might look like good value. However they make a lot of compromises in materials and shortcuts. If you ever decide to throw away your old pair, send it to me and I will perform a midsection cut and dissect it for everyone with explanations!

As for the problems, I already mentioned them since December/January. Now, Undandy runs at $200-250 if I am right.

If you are looking for customizable shoes at that price point, it’s very difficult. Plus, Undandy shoes are blake stitched which means not resole-able.

For 290$ you get into Carlos Santos territory with 20 Handpainted colors and 14 models to choose from and it is a massive leap in quality with 4-6 weeks delivery I would say. Click the link to get there! THey are also Goodyear Welted and will last you much longer.

I honestly find it difficult to recommend anything else for custom color shoes.

However if you also look for good regular shoes for under $250, you can check out Meermin, CNES Shoemaker, Fugashin, Allen Edmonds on discount and possibly J.FitzPatrick Footwear entry line.

Let me know what you think!

Your approach is misguided.

You want men to spend $400.00 and up, for a pair of shoes that look worn after a few years of regular use.

My approach is much better: I buy after season Cole Haan shoes for $125.00 on Amazon.

Last week I purchases a pair of waterproof, cap toe, Chelsea boots by Cole Haan for $59.00.

Who cares if they are glued? Certainly not me. These shoes are stylish and look sharp and on point.

After a few years of use they don’t look any different than the $400 (or more) shoes.

Your views on shoes are doing men a disservice and with today’s current COVID insanity, few men are willing to pay a much higher price.

Hi John,

while your opinion is respected, I do not agree one bit with it. If you are happy with shopping inferior shoes you can go ahead and do that.

I have shoes that are 2.5 years old and look great, I spent 290$ on them and haven’t even come close to resole them.

Since I also run a shoe business, you would be surprised how much more people are buying what you call “expensive” shoes especially now during covid times.

Of course, this is my blog, my hobby and my personal opinion owning shoes from $100 to $3000. I don’t expect you to agree with it or anything, however I do respect your opinion and taking the time to express it.

I wish you genuinely a happy holiday season and a good 2021!

tks for your article for the worst shoes. would you mind advising the best shoes you recommend?

Kostas Mandilaris

Hi Peter. You can start by reading this article:

Dr Martens can be resoled, there is a company in the UK that offers this service but they wont resole fake Dr Martens.
This information comes from one of the Dr Martens groups on face book.

Kostas Mandilaris

Thanks for sharing Malcolm. I had people ask the company directly for resoled and they refused it though.

Idk, I have a pair of Cole Haan leather street boots I got on discount for $45. They’re comfortable, I get compliments on them, and have gone 5 years of walking in every type of weather and street conditions and they still look new. And my Clarks are the most comfortable shoes I own, I’ve had them for 13 years and wear them to work every day. Are they the most beautiful shoes, no, but they’re reliable, comfortable, and I get my work done without worrying about them.

Would I also like a higher end pair of full grain leather, GYW shoes that will last forever and look amazing? Certainly, and eventually I will invest in a pair.

But I feel some of the brands on this list aren’t necessarily deserving of being lumped with some other brands, when considering quality for cost and discounts. Sometimes you just need a decent looking pair of beaters that hold up well with mindless abuse and won’t make you have a heart attack if you step knee-deep in a puddle because you paid a quarter month’s rent for them, know what I’m saying?

absolutely agree with you about Cole Haan. Worst shoes and not to mention inner cushion.

Thanks for reading! Always invest in a bit more quality than quantity! Foot health is also important.

How would you rate Beckett Simonon brand?

I don’t think they are good.

You can read my thoughts here:

Be warned it contains some foul language and humor.

Sharid Zulqarnain

What is your opinion about Twenty Eight Shoes and Arden Teal Shoes? I hope you can help me deciding whether I should get them or not.

Kostas Mandilaris

Hi I have never heard about these shoes. I would avoid.

You can try for yourself. They’ve been in the business since 2012.

Hi, I know this article is old so I hope you see this question. Are you familiar with any of the other brands that made this site’s “best of” list?

Kostas Mandilaris

Bespoke Unit is a sellout that doesn’t know what they are talking about.

Well, crap. Thanks for the quick response. So Taft is no good either?!

Kostas Mandilaris

I don’t consider Taft good shoes, they are more a fashion brand. Honestly if you like their designs, go for them. They are ok but not contemporary. I don’t want to say anything bad about them anymore because the owner seems like a great guy and has struggled with depression. So if you like what he sells, support him.

Dominique Eure

Thank you for your responses and your knowledge.

Sorry. But the cheap constructed. Cole hann with ugly sole are the perfect comfort shoes. No other shows compare to their confort. Just give them a try. I. Have 3 pairs on my regular rotations. And are with me at least. 6 years. And yes, they are not timeless recraftable leather sole. But the comfort is unique. Few sneaker can compare to the same level of comfort

Kostas Mandilaris

Hi Alex, if I want the comfort of sneakers, I will wear sneakers. A good shoe fits well, is comfortable and will look 100 times better than Cole Haan. If they work for you, do your thing I will not judge you.

So what are the good ones then??

I see this sort of article often.
I have been buying GYW shoes since the early 1990s and now own an embarrassingly large collection of boots and shoes including Cheaney, Carmina, Crockett and Jones etc. though I have given away about 50 pairs to charity shops in the last few years due to retirement.
And I actually have to disagree with much of this article.
I used to buy cheap (though not the bottom of the barrel) shoes from companies like Clarks and Saxone back in the 1980s and though they were cemented construction with plastic soles I only owned a few pairs and live in very rainy Scotland and used to get a couple of years out of them. The uppers were leather of modest quality but were probably better quality than the equivalents today.
Then I switched to leather soled GYW shoes from Jones shoe shops own brand mostly but occasionally Barkers or Loakes and expanded to about 8 or 9 pairs and found I was resoling my shoes about three times a year (each time at twice the cost of my previous shoe purchases) and that the uppers never really lasted much longer with salt stains or water damage.
Eventually I switched to Dainite soles for much of the year and that helped but the uppers still used to get damaged quite easily.
I recently chucked away a pair of Dainite soled Jones shoes which were 15 years old and were on their third Dainite sole (and were getting thin) but were now a bit tight. And the reason this pair of shoes did last so long and were still very presentable was that they were corrected grain, high shine shoes.
So forgive me when I disagree that cemented soles and corrected grain shoes are terrible as people make out and from my experience they may not be as nice as more expensive shoes to look at and wear but they are very cost effective.
I will also add that Dr Martens can be resoled in quite a few places in the UK at least, that the traditional Timberland boots are very tough and hard wearing and will outlast most GYW leather boot uppers at a far cheaper price and that most mountaineering boots from companies like Meindl, Scarpa, Zamberlan etc are made with cemented soles, PU foam midsoles and silicon impregnated leathers yet they not only take the sort of abuse that would destroy a pair of C&J very quickly but they often can be resoled.

Kostas Mandilaris

Thank you for taking the time to write such an elaborate comment Ian, but also have a respectful discussion about our disagreement.

In 4 years of collecting and living in snowy Sweden I never have resoled any pair of shoes from the brands above, though I must admit I am more careful with my shoes.

I don’t know how the quality was in the 80’s but for a lot of brands it has declined for sure.


Interesting article. I am so surprised and shocked to hear this about Johnston & Murphy shoes. Of course, I would reconsider Florsheim shoes a second chance. I work at a retail store and most customers just love their leather made shoes from Florsheim. Some customers speak to me about how much they worn it for years and have never experienced any trouble with them. By the way, what do you think of Lacoste shoes and Hugo Boss shoes? I think Lacoste is into sneaker shoes only though.

Kostas Mandilaris

Hi Alex,

I am sure they are not horrific right now, but compared to what they were (both J&M and Florsheim) the quality has tanked a lot.

Hugo and Lacoste shoes are basic construction and leather and not worth the money as you can buy better shoes.


Hello Kostas,

I really wish I had read this article sooner. I always thought that Cole Haan was a quality shoe brand. I purchased a pair of their sandals this summer, and was happy to have gotten them on sale for about $100. I got to wear them three times before a defect in the material caused the vinyl to split. I contacted the company, and they wouldn’t give me a return, but offered a 30% discount on a future purchase (online only). When I contacted their recommended cobbler, and they said the damage was caused by a manufacturing defect, I called them back. They still wouldn’t budge. Never trust a company that won’t stand behind their product. Thanks for your great reviews.

Unfortunately most companies that used to be of good or ok quality have become exactly how you mentioned. Invest a bit more in quality footwear (I have multiple lists) to last!

Great article. Recently read about a minimalist approach to dress shoes and it mentioned selection. It’s said to have a black, brown and burgundy shoe. It mentions how these 3 colors can be used with suits to elevate appearance of style. Do you agree with this?
It also mentioned that camel or cognac color shoes are not dress shoe appropriate. The color was introduced more for fashion not for business or professionals. Your thoughts?

Kostas Mandilaris

Hi Ricardo, with a mix of dark brown, black and burgundy you have colors for all outfits.

I don’t agree that light brown and tan shoes are for fashion, but they are much harder to pair and far more casual. They will work with suits but only those that have a lighter color since a dark suit will make too much of a contrast.

I swear that first image always reminds me of an anteater. The shape of the shoe is the same as an anteaters long nose. Same color and texture.

Thought I’d come here. I had a pair of Barker shoes that worn out really fast. The pair retailed for £200 but I got mine for £89 or so from Jones Bootmaker on a sale. It wasn’t an outlet piece… Anyways, it was black oxfords with lots of brogueing. Worn it probably a total of 17 times. It had a rubber sole so worn it when it was raining. The leather started to peel away from the near where the brogue is. Really unhappy about this. Don’t think I’ll be getting their shoes anymore…

I think the leather was incredibily stiff to begin with, took lots of times wearing it. I walk on average 20K steps, so out of those few select times, I do wear them out a lot.

I have another pair of Barker single monkstrap which is their anniversy collection I think, the one with the grey box. That lasted me super long time and those shoes has easily gotten something like 600K worth of steps I bet. I still have them and love them. But they were more expensive comparatively then the brogue shoes I do walk a lot because I’m slightly overweight and need a reason to get out of the house lol. I started to putting topy plates on my shoes due to this reason. May not make quite the same elegant sound. But I can’t go around paying £90 in resoleing every 9 months or so. May as well pay £40 for the Topys, and then walk forever in them!

If patrick bateman, a can wear topy soles shoes, then I can damn well too! Google “patrick bateman shoes” lol.

I think I’ll get a pair of Bridlen, black monkstraps, the Blakestiched collection and ask if they can have a rubber injected leather sole. Or may just pay the £60 extra for the GYW with the 2/3 rubber sole shoe. I want the cheapest pair of shoes that’s good too, that’s black, so if I want to go clubbing, then it’ll be very easy to maintain then. Gets a big scratch? Easily overapply black shoe cream. That cannot be said for other colored shoes.

Kostas, my experience with Rockport has been excellent. It all depends on which type of shoes you get from them. It’s gotten to the point where all my dress shoes are Rockports. I no longer wear hard leather soles. I am sold on rubber-comfort dress shoes and no one make them better than Rockport. I wear wingtips or penny loafers. I find the construction quality to be very good, considering I’ve been wearing the same pairs for the last 4 years and they are holding up well. What surprised me has been their comfort shoes – various types of sneakers and walking mochs. I own close to two dozen different style. Their waterproof hiking mud bluchers are the absolute best hiking and climbing shoes I’ve ever worn. Not only are they absurdly comfortable, but the rubber grip sole is unlike anything I’ve ever worn. I can climb on wet rocks and they do not slip. Many I’ve told of these hiking shoes laughed when I told them they were Rockports. Then a few took a chance and purchased them, then I received apologies after they fell in love with them. I also love Rockport’s easy ship back at no cost if they don’t fit or if you simply don’t like them. Like I said, I’ve been pleased so far. But, I still appreciated your article and reviews and agree with you on 98% of what you said. Peace.

Hehe I see shoes from a completely different viewpoint and wouldn’t judge anyone just because they like or enjoy rockport or others.

But overall, they are not the best shoes to invest in.

Hi , John .
This kind of shoes is a tragedy – exceptionally for young people . – NO WAY ! – I would prefer to get out barefoot instead of wearing this kind of shoes . No aesthetics no construction no of anything . Imagine going out for a walk with your girlfriend and suddenly your girl looses her confidence at you . wearing almost fake shoes , this is unacceptable for a right guy .
Imagine going for a meeting where the first impression matters ( Every body things , what a cheapy guy , is it? ) .

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