Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
Looks and fits great--but poor leather
on October 25, 2016
I landed on these shoes after a months-long quest to find a good-looking balmoral shoe with a nice wide toebox. Nearly all my other shoes are ECCO, for comparison.
4.0 stars for looks. Both ECCO and Rockport make some truly hideous balmoral oxfords, but these look great! Nobody with a discerning eye would mistake them for Allen Edmonds or anything, but any casual observer wouldn't know the difference. I'm subtracting a half-star for the odd number of eyelets, which makes straight-lacing impossible.
5 stars for fit. I like minimalist shoes. My feet are wide and meaty with splayed toes, the way nature intended. In other words, my feet are shaped like feet instead of the slender little points that "classy" folk bind their feet into over their lifetime. So it's damn near impossible to find a "classy" shoe that fits. Anything I tried previously that was wide enough in the ball and toes area was too loose around the ankles (particularly AE Park Avenues). These Almartins are perfect. No loose material around the ankle, and I have enough room in the toes to play piano. Now on to the cons...
2.5 stars for comfort. The footbed is too squishy, and my weight doesn't get distributed very well. My heels sink right down into the hard outsole, resulting in pressure points on my heels. There's noticeable heel slippage when I walk (due to the squishy foodbed) and the absurdly hard and sharp heel leather rubs on my Achilles tendon. I managed to survive a couple of days doing substantial walking in these, but barely avoided breaking the skin on my heel.
3 stars for construction. About what I would expect for a $75 shoe. Doesn't polish very well. The cheapness is apparent upon closer inspection. The heel piece is hard as a rock, and the edge is stiff and jagged so it tears up my Achilles tendon with a lot of walking. There is a very noticeable drop in quality compared to my ECCO shoes.
Last word: these shoes will tide me over until I find some nicer balmorals that fit my wide, splayed feet. They look nice unless you inspect them closely. For desk jockey use, they'll be just fine. I'm not thrilled with them, but for $75 I can live with them. No way would I ever pay MSRP.