I’ve been wearing Saint Laurent’s 2013 classic leather lace-up boat shoe every day for the past 14 days.
The shoe retails for $US545 and is available in one material: black leather. From the price alone, it should be clear that this shoe isn’t for the average Joe. It’s for the gentleman with an expendable income, who cares about the way he presents himself.
If you fit that bill, read on.
I first learned of Saint Laurent’s classic boat shoe from GQ:
I wanted to see what would make the fashion Gods at GQ recommend a seemingly ordinary, albeit expensive, boat shoe, so I reached out to the company to see what all the fuss was about.
To the naked eye, it doesn’t look much different from a Sperry or Sebago, but all that changes once you slip the shoe on.
Saint Laurent (formerly Yves Saint Laurent) chose 100% calf-skin leather to craft the outside and inside of the shoe. This high-quality leather is then refined and tanned in France and Italy.
It’s also what separates the shoe from the rest of the pack, and allows them to mould seamlessly to the wearer’s foot.
After my second day of wear, I felt the innersole begin to slide and move around. Alarmed, I thought that the sole was detaching from inside of the shoe, but I quickly realised that the leather inside was actually malleable. It was beginning the process of forming to my foot.
My Sebagos never loved me back by shaping to the way I walked or stood.
Not only were the shoes supremely comfortable for short periods, but I didn’t even notice them on my feet during periods of extended wear.
Like all boat shoes, Saint Laurent’s shoes are intended to be worn without socks.
I assumed this meant I would have to voraciously powder the inside to prevent the stickiness that normally comes with a sans-socks experience, but with the Saint Laurent shoe, I did not.
During the two weeks I’ve worn the shoes, many people have remarked that it doesn’t look that different from a regular boat shoe, and they’ve wondered whether they are really worth the high price tag.
As far as the look, they have a point: I expected this criticism because honestly, there’s not much the designer could have done to innovate on the boat shoe design without making it into something else entirely. It’s a “classic,” after all.
But there’s something about the quality of the product that makes them feel noticeably different — they felt expensive. Knowing that these shoes will probably outlive the average boat shoe thanks to their expert craftsmanship, I do believe they are worth the investment.
As GQ points out, the Saint Laurent boat shoe can be worn for any occasion. It’s easily dressed up or down. The shoe pairs well with a suit, but is also appropriate for a casual Friday, helping making it simple to transition from day to night. Wearing this shoe with jeans isn’t a problem, either.
The designer’s take on a classic staple also reflects the brand and where company sees men’s style heading. These days, men care about how they look and what they wear, and pay close attention to detail. High-end brands like Saint Laurent are responding by making pieces like these shoes, which have more of a general appeal, instead of just high-fashion items.
Overall, I highly recommend Saint Laurent’s boat shoe. If $US545 is within your shoe budget, I believe they are worth the investment because of the quality and comfort that don’t come with your average boat shoe.
Yes they are expensive, but Saint Laurent knows it audience and is well aware of how deep their pocketbooks are.
The shoe is available at Saint Laurent Stores (212-431-3240) and at ysl.com.
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