Top positive review
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Never judge …
on October 27, 2014
...a book by its cover. They call them "fashion sneakers" …whatever that's supposed to mean …but I just don't see it. These are a great pair of casual *shoes* …style-wise there is nothing "sneaker" about them.
I purchased the Cushe Pioneer because I wanted a lightweight comfortable shoe stylish enough to wear with "business casual" attire yet up to snuff for hiking the "wilds" of Venice, Italy. I also wanted a shoe with a sleek profile and a bit of stylish panache …that would be European stylish panache …and the Cushe Pioneer fit the bill perfectly.
Out of the box the shoes have a "pre-weathered" look to them …which I could take or leave …but the effect is not overwhelming and once the shoes do get some real patina to them they look very handsome indeed. I wore these shoes once before our trip to Venice; there weren't …and never were …any issues whatsoever with "break-in" …something you needn't worry about with most Cushe shoes …or dealing with blisters. First-time, fresh-out-of-the-box and they feel like you've owned them for months. In never judging a book by its cover, the Pioneers feel a lot more comfortable than they appear they should. Sizing …Cushe sees fit to only make whole size shoes. So what to do if you're the dreaded "half-size"? Go down …not gambling …but that half-size. I wear a mens 8.5 and the 8's fit perfect. Yes, they might be just a squosh snug at first but they will stretch a bit and fit perfectly. Socks? Yes. Thin ones. These shoes are not cut out for bulky socks 'less you buy them too big. A caveat here: if you have particular issues with your feet …you need strong arch support or ankle support or you have pronation issues or whatever …these shoes might not be the ticket for you. They are relatively minimal in construction and there is *not* prominent arch or ankle support.
The body of the shoe is made of very breathable, fine-nap real suede leather …sorry for the vegans out there. The interior of the shoe is completely lined with a smooth, soft nylon material. The insoles add to both the comfort and breath-ability of the shoes and have an anti-microbal treatment; you're not going to clear the house when you take them off after a day of walking. They weigh nothing. The soles of the Pioneer are flat …but the insoles make up for that a bit. And unlike a lot of "eco-conscious" shoes with supposed rubber soles, those of the Pioneer are "real" rubber …as opposed to some hybrid mix of recycled grocery bags, chicken feathers and sawdust …the result being a shoe sole with a negative coefficient of friction. No, the soles on the Pioneers provide ample traction and "stiction" even on fine Italian marble …even fine *wet* Italian marble. The "tread" consists of words. Words like "thinking", "low impact" and of course "environmentally". I suppose these words must offer better traction than other words …regardless …they work. Oddly, the Pioneers come with two sets of laces: a pair of "Republican" color-coordinated tan laces and a "Democratic" contrasting set of vibrant sky-blue laces …the latter reserved for that "walk on the wild side" I suppose.
Overall these are some great shoes. The Cushe Pioneers are sleek in profile, incredibly lightweight, very comfortable and compliment the modern slim-styling in mens jeans and pants. And yet they provide all day comfort …walking comfort …that belies their "minimalist" look. The materials are high-quality all around. But alas their one fault …and not really "their" fault at all; Cushe has seen fit to discontinue this style. So grab a pair, or two, while you can 'cause they ain't comin' back and …never … judge a book by its cover.