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There’s a good amount of thought that should go into any bigger purchases you make for your closet. Buying a custom suit in an impractical colour for work or a pair of poorly constructed dress shoes you only wear a few times a year because they hurt your feet so much might as well be same as pouring your money down the drain.
For those in the know, like Paul Evans’ CEO and cofounder Evan Fript, these sorts of purchases are not just ill-advised, they are easily avoidable.
You need to think more long term and consider the overall value of the product you’re looking to purchase.
Why would you spend $US150-200 on a pair of leather lace-ups you’ll maybe get a good year’s use out of and then discard when you can buy a $US400 pair you’ll have for many years to come? That’s the question Fript’s direct-to-consumer men’s dress shoe venture poses to guys of all stripes who are looking to get the best bang for their buck.
Paul Evans doesn’t simple pose the question, though, the company provides the answer with its selection of exquisite Italian leather dress shoes. Its oxfords and loafers retail for $US350-$US400 and its boots go for $US400-$US450, though they’re often confused for luxury Berluti shoes that retail for upwards of $US2,000, according to Fript.
There are a number of factors you should take into consideration when buying new dress shoes; comfort, durability, quality, and price are all crucial. Paul Evans’ best-selling Martin Wholecut Oxford in Marrone, in particular, looks and feels like it should cost a lot more than $US400. You can thank the company’s “the consumer is always first” ethos for that: “Traditional brands that sell through retail stores have a 60% IMU (initial mark up). Were [Paul Evans] to wholesale our shoes (which would never happen), they would wind up costing $US1,000 in department stores,” Fript told Business Insider. “So, they look like a $US1,000 pair of shoes, but because we go direct, we save our customers 60% right off the bat.”
I have an aunt who impressed upon me at a young age the practicality of buying quality over quantity. I’d much rather own five truly fantastic pairs of shoes that look as good as they feel on my feet than 20 pairs of shoes that just miss the mark in some key area. You may be paying more for those high-quality shoes upfront, but you’ll save yourself money and more than a few painful blisters over time.
With this in mind, the Insider Picks team has been testing out Paul Evans’ Martin Wholecut Oxford for the past month, and we’re all on the same page about the dress shoe — namely, that it’s one of the best investments you’ll ever make for your feet.
Reach on to see what four guys with varying shoe sizes and widths, and personal styles, had to say about them:
Tester #1: Breton Fischetti, senior director, commerce:
Without question, these are the best-looking shoes I’ve seen and touched in person. I have the Marrone colour (brown), but both the oxblood and black versions look equally good. The black, especially, looks like it belongs in an important meeting or with a tuxedo.
To me, they look and feel way more expensive than their price. I’m glad I followed the company’s suggestion to size down, as I wasn’t the size I usually am in shoes. It’s important to note they don’t come out of the box ready to wear, but this is common among pricier leather shoes. I took them to a shoe repair shop and they were able to add rubber treads like these to the sole for about $US35. One could wear them without the treads, but it means the shoe will wear more quickly and need to be resoled sooner, as well as making the wearer more prone to slipping. Once I got that done, it only took a few days to break in the leather.
I wore them with both dress pants and jeans and they paired appropriately in both cases. The wholecut design, meaning the upper is one continuous piece of leather, is very clean and the silhouette of the shoe is elegant. Several people who I know are shoe geeks immediately asked me who made them when I had them on. These are absolutely my go-to shoes for any formal events I have coming up.
Tester #2: Tyler Lauletta, commerce reporter:
When it comes to dress shoes, three factors stand out as important to me: look, comfort, and danceability. The look on these is pretty undeniable; they are objectively attractive shoes, and wearing them, I felt good about the version of myself I was presenting to the world. In terms of comfort, I was a bit nervous about the sizing because Paul Evans recommends going a size lower than your normal dress shoe size and I’ve always had a problem with width in shoes, but their recommendation was right and my pair was a perfect fit. And while I haven’t gotten to take them to a wedding yet, based on the results of a preliminary danceability study conducted on my roof this weekend, these kicks pass with flying colours.
Tester #3: Brandt Ranj, commerce reporter, tech:
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with dress shoes. I love how they make me look, but after a little while, they start to really hurt my feet. These Paul Evans shoes are the only dress shoes I’ve ever worn that don’t suffer from that problem.
I wore them nonstop for well over half a day at a wedding and they were as comfortable as an everyday pair of slip-ons. That alone makes them worth the price of admission, but they look good enough that the groom himself complemented me on my footwear. Easily the nicest shoes in my collection, Paul Evans’ shoes get my recommendation by nailing both form and function.
Tester #3: Spencer Lambert, commerce intern:
As someone who has never spent much on dress shoes before, wearing these was a bit of a shock. I was lucky enough to wear them for a wedding and, for the first time, was complimented on my shoes, disproving my uneducated theory that no one looks at your shoes anyways.
If you’re the type of person who notices others footwear, you should definitely invest in your own stylish pair. You very well may find yourself thinking that your shoes look better than your suit. I recommend ordering a size down as Paul Evans suggests, I ordered a size down and they were still quite roomy.
Paul Evans’ Martin Wholecut Italian Calfskin Leather Oxford retails for $US499 and is available in four great colours: Marrone (the #1 best seller), Oxblood, and Nero. There’s also a Cafe Suede version of the shoe.
This article was originally published on 7/26/2016.
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