$400 Shoes vs $1300 Shoes | A Black Cap Toe Oxford Comparison | Kirby Allison
What’s the difference between a 400 dollar pair of Allen Edmonds and a thirteen hundred dollar pair of Edward greens in today’s video. I’m going to show you just how different for black cap toe oxfords can be. I’m Kirby Allison and I love helping the well-dressed acquire and care for their wardrobes. Join me as we explore the world of quality craftsmanship and tradition. We’ve got four exceptional black capped two oxfords here with us today. We’ve got the three hundred ninety five dollar black cap to a Park Avenue from Allen Edmonds. The four hundred ninety five dollar black cap to Oxford from Carmina a twelve hundred dollar black cap to Oxford from Gazza unknown Girling. And finally a thirteen hundred dollar black cap toe Oxford from Edward Green. Now the question you might be asking is just how different can for black captive oxfords be. And in this video I’m going to go into the details that really separate these shoes from one another. Whenever it comes to dress shoes a black cap toe Oxford is as classic and as timeless as you can get. The reason a black cap to Oxford is probably the best selling dress you ever is because it’s a shoe that’s never gonna go out of style. This shoe looks as good today as it looked fifty sixty seventy five years ago and it will look just as good fifty sixty or seventy five years from today as it does now whenever it comes to dress shoes. It’s just hard to get a more beautiful more classic dress shoes than the black cap to Oxford. And it’s because of that reason you’ll find a black cap to Oxford as a part of every Shoemaker’s collection. We’ve got a huge range of shoes here. We’ve got the 400 dollar Allen Edmonds all the way up to a thirteen hundred dollar pair of Edward greens and I would tell you that both of these shoes represent a good value at their respective price points. That’s why each one of these shoes has made its way into our shoe review series because here at Kirby Allison we want to review shoes that we can recommend to you depending on your budget and how much money you have to spend on a pair of dress shoes. Each of these options is a great value for what they offer at that particular price point the three hundred ninety five dollar Park Avenue is probably one of the best selling dress shoes in America. Alan Edmunds is a quintessential American shoe brand and whenever people think of their first pair of nice dress shoes we hear more people speak of Alan Edmunds than any other brand. They’re easy to find available in a huge range of sizes and really represent made in America. Whenever people email us and ask us what type of shoes that they should invest in or what type of shoes warrant using good polish like the shoe polish we offer here at Kirby Allison I always say that you need to be an Alan Edmunds or better. And the reason is is that Alan Edmunds is still a finely made leather dress you know. Is it a pair of gassy Alan girl rings or Edward greens. And the answer is unequivocally no. But it’s still a respectable dress you for the money. There’s a few key details I’ll point out. First and foremost it’s Goodyear welded. That means that the outsell is attached to a well with stitching that allows these shoes to be easily repaired and resold. The reason that that’s important is that if you’re going to invest in a high quality pair of leather dress shoes you need to be able to resell them because the outsell will always wear out before the shoe wears out itself. So a good pair of dress shoes should easily be able to go through three four or five outsells before they reach the end of its lifetime. Alan Edmunds is a 100 percent Goodyear wilted shoe and they have something they’ve trademarked as the 360 degree Goodyear well where basically that welding goes all the way around not just the forward part of the shoe but passes the instep all the way around the heel and really 360 degrees around the shoe. The other thing that’s nice about a pair of Alan Edmunds is that they use a full grain open poor genuine calf skin it’s a high quality capsicum that’s going to produce a great shine and especially with a pair of Allen Edmonds I would recommend that you shine them out of the box because this leather with all honesty needs the Polish really to bring its shine up and look even now is it the highest quality leather No but it’s a good quality leather for what you get at three hundred ninety five dollars and most importantly you can rest assured that the leather is dyed properly and you don’t have to worry about the finished coming off like you do at some less expensive shoes. It’s a great shoe and it’s a shoe that unequivocally I can recommend here. Kirby Alison Hanger Project. Now if you have a little bit more money to spend for only a hundred extra bucks you really jump up a to a whole nother level in terms of quality Whenever you reach Carmina at four hundred ninety five dollars Carmina is an exceptional value. And if anyone can stretch a little bit above and Allen Edmonds I would absolutely recommend a pair of calmness because you begin to see a lot of the finer points of shoe making that you don’t with a pair of Allen Edmonds just looking at these two shoes together you can really see the difference just in terms of finishing and finesse. Let me point out some of the technical details of this Carmina that really set it apart. Now I’m going to compare it just to this Allen Edmonds since we’re working our way up in terms of the price of shoes. So for four hundred ninety five dollars one of the things that you get that immediately changes the look of the shoe is a higher stitch density on the Outsell. So with Carmina you’re probably getting somewhere between 10 and 12. Whereas with this pair of Allen Edmonds at best you’re getting four or five. Now what I mean by stitch density is what is the density of stitches that is used to stitch the outsold to the welt. Now this isn’t something that’s obvious. So if you’re wearing these. Allen Edmonds and someone’s looking down at your shoe. Nobody is probably gonna notice the stitch DENSITY OF YOUR outsell and if you have these shoes repaired or resold your cobbler should easily be able to restage the outsell at a higher stitch density than what comes from the factory. But there’s no question that the stitch density on the outside is one of those things that just creates a finesse to the finishing that you immediately see when you look at these communists. Now if you look a little bit more closely at the well you’ll notice another detail here that really elevates the level of finish and that is something called wealth fudging. Well fudging. Are these small indentations that you see pressed on top of the welt and at Shoemaker uses a wheel to press those in. Now traditionally the wealth fudging would be used to mark the points at which the outside would be stitched to the welt. And so that would control the stitch density. But here since this is a good year welded shoe its primer. It’s primarily decorative but there’s no question that this elevates the level of finesse. Next. If you look at the overall shape of the last. You have more shape of the shoe around the last. Now this small definition takes a little bit more time and a little bit more skill to produce but it allows you to produce just more shape into the shoe itself. That again creates a more elegant more beautiful shoe. Kamin it without question uses a higher quality calf scan for the upper. And another detail when you look at the bottoms not only are the bottoms finished but there’s another important detail that I think is really important whenever it comes to a high quality pair of leather dress shoes. And that’s something called an invisible channel stitch. Whenever you look at the outside of these calmness and you compare that to the alcohol of the Allen Edmonds you can see that the outsells stitching is hidden and that is called invisible channel stitching where basically this leather is sliced peeled back and then the outsell is stitched and then that leather flap is glued down. Now the result is invisible to most eyes because very rarely does someone else see the bottom of your shoe. But if you’re someone that really appreciates craftsmanship and love shoes just having that highly finished bottom with no visible channel stitching is just one of those nuanced elements of shoe making that really elevate the shoe itself. Now again with the pair of Allen Edmonds if you’re having them resold like two hour Kirby Allison certified shoe restoration program we can easily do it. An invisible channel stitching but from the factory you don’t receive that. Another detail that you’ll see on the current Mena is just a little bit of tacking at the toe and around the heel. And again it’s just a small nuanced detail that without question sets you apart. Also on the Kamin as you have a full leather heel stack whereas on the Allen Edmonds is particle leather. And then also the heel sits more cleanly and tighter on the shoe itself so there’s less of a gap right here. So it’s just a tighter cleaner and more elegant finish. The Goodyear welding goes past where the heel starts up a little bit but then it stops and it doesn’t go all the way around. Now whenever you compare that to the Allen Edmonds you absolutely see a difference just in the quality of the finish on the rear of the shoe. Now is this something that everyone notices. Probably not. But if you’re someone that loves shoes you probably will. And one last detail that you only begin to notice whenever you compare these shoes together is not only do you have a higher stitch density across the outsell but you also have a higher standard density across the upper where the patterns are joined together. And again it’s that precise single needle stitching here in two parallel rows here just in one single row as higher periphery nation rate just produces a cleaner sleeker look and there’s no question the higher in the shoe the higher the stitch density could be so moving up. We come to Gatineau and Girling there’s a huge jump in price between a pair of Kamin as Gazza unknown Girling and Edward Green’s. And at this point you really begin to hit the point of diminishing marginal return. There’s no question that more finishing and finesse goes in these shoes and I’m going to talk to you about that. But the price difference that you have to pay in order to receive that level of finishing is much more significant than what you get going from a pair of Allen Edmonds to Cardenas. Now. Kamin as are made off the Spanish island of my orca whereas Gatsby unknown girl rings and Edward Green’s are classic British shoes both made in North Hampton which is the birthplace of really the modern dress you now whenever you get to these Gatsby unknown yearlings you see everything that I’ve talked about with these two pairs really elevated to an even higher standard. You get a higher stitch density on the outs so you again have well fudging you get an even higher stitch density on the uppers. You get more definition to the last. You get a tighter fiddle back waste. You still have the invisible channel stitching. But now you have even more finishing to the outside itself. And as we turn the shoe around you really begin to see some of these finishing details at the heel the heel is smaller and sits tighter on the upper right. It has more shape to it got cyan on Girling puts a soft pitch into the heel. You have more shape this back heel and one of the other things you can’t see but you can feel is that there’s more structure and hard countering into the shoe itself and what the hard cantering is is a deep hard piece of leather that is placed in between the upper and the entire lining that produces a stiffer structure that is used to create support and control creasing. You see all that with this Gazza unknown Girling Oxford shoe. So like I explained earlier with the good your welding we have the Goodyear welding all the way around the forward part of the shoe but you’ll see that got C.A. and Girling is very precise and having it stop right here where the heel begins and then on the back quarters of the shoe you don’t see any of that Weld stitching and the heel sits very tightly or the heel blocks it’s very tightly on the heel itself. Now the heel is made from 100 percent leather. And all of the leather on the bottoms are oak bark tanned leather outsells in heels whereas on the Camino is it’s just regular Italian Tanned bottoms. Now you can’t get J are bottoms and they’re caught. And if you do there may Daub order program you can specify a jar when the bark bark and leather outsells also. But on the gassing on on Girling these come standard now Oak Park tanned leather outsells what does that mean. Well there’s different ways that leather could be tanned and we actually had the privilege of visiting J.R. Wyndham back in Germany which is a tannery that specializes in oak bark tanned leather out soles and basically oak bark tanning. You have the leather outsells sitting in pits for up to nine months and only tree barks are used to tan the leather. Now it takes a lot longer than what you get and say a fast tan to a drum with Italian leather but the result is a much more durable abrasion resistant and water resistant leather out so that is going to outperform and outlast a normal outsell by several factors. Now the result is you just have to restore your outsells less often and it’s more water resistant and that makes a big difference. And just how long your shoes are able to go in between wrestling’s. It also allows for a much cleaner finish on the bottom and as you can see with these Gazza on Girling as the finishing work on the bottom of these shoes is just as beautiful on the uppers and is really one of the things that set Gazza on Girling apart whenever they first came to the market was this bottom finishing. And of course this tight waist with the fiddle back now the fiddle back is a small kind of shape an indentation that you get on the waist of the shoe. Now if you look at these Kamin s you don’t have a fiddle you have something of that is just called a square waist. Right. So it still has a little bit of shape but it doesn’t come in as much here at the waist as the get gotten on on girls do. And it’s flat right across that it doesn’t have this fiddle built up right here. Now does that affect how the shoe wears. Absolutely not. But it’s just one of those finishing details that really separates a beautiful well-made pair of got down on girls really from other shoes out there that are generally available at lower price points and it’s just one of the details that really brings people to Gazza and on Girling now this shoe is absolutely beautiful. It’s made to the highest standards the upper is hand clicked. So that means that it’s being cut out by hand. They use the same grade calf skin for the uppers that they use in their bespoke shoes which is the highest grade. And because all the pattern pieces are hand clicked they can move those pattern pieces around the hide to ensure that they are using only the best parts with no blemishes. Now if you want to see everything about how a pair of got down and girls are made we were given exclusive access to their factory and we have an entire factory tour that we’ve filmed that goes through step by step how they make their Goodyear welded leather dress shoes. I could speak about all the details in this shoe for an entire hour but this is an overview so I’m going to move on to the next pair of shoes. Next we have the Edward Greens. This is their black cap toe Oxford Edward Green is without question probably one of the most iconic luxury English shoemakers and they’ve been around a lot longer than Gazza on Girling. And a pair of shoes from Edward Green is a pittance with luxury English made dress shoes. They’ve been around for a long time and they have really separated themselves with the highest Commitment to Excellence whenever it comes to making their shoes. And there’s no question that a pair of shoes from Andrew Green is an investment piece that will be sure to last decades if. Cared for properly. Now what you get with a pair of Edward greens is an incredibly well-made English dress you. That is good your wilted. It’s a factory made shoe just like the rest of these but you can be certain that they’re using the highest quality materials and really the best techniques to make their shoes. Edward Green and Gazza unknown Girling really are in the same class that upper echelon of factory made Goodyear welded leather dress shoes. A lot of the same details that I discussed in these gutsy girl girls you find in the evergreens also you have a high stitch density to the outsell its fudged. You have of course only the highest quality smooth calf skin being used. It has a beautiful shape to the shoe. Great last definition a high stitch density to the uppers a beautiful heel that sits tightly on the back of the shoe. The welding stops at the heel. You’ve got great definition you’ve got hard countering. Of course they use Oak Park tanned leather outsells in heels. Also you can see that the outside in the heel is finished and it has an invisible channel stitching. This is an absolutely beautiful shoe and just like got down on Girling they have several different at last that you can have this you made on with a wide variety of sizes and widths to ensure that whenever you invest in a pair of Edward Greens that they are gonna fit your foot is as close to perfectly as possible without going bespoke and for twelve hundred and eighty five dollars. Of course it is an expensive shoe but it is well worth the investment if you want something that is going to look beautiful for decades. One of the things that you’re paying for with that question whenever you invest in a pair of Edward greens is for the heritage that none of these other shoe makers have now got S.A. to a lesser extent because you know these are still incredibly well made. You know English Northampton shoes with a pair of lower priced dress shoes you just don’t get the provenance that you get with a pair of gassy unknown girl things and especially a pair of Edward greens. So as I mentioned earlier one of the things that you see in terms of differentiating one of these really high end pair of leather dress shoes from some of the more standard ones is the amount of last definition. Now the last definition is how much shape that is given to the shoe as it is lasted whereas the leather is pulled over the last when it’s being constructed and it’s a really really really important characteristic that just produces the sculpture that you would expect from a really finally made pair of leather dress shoes and one of the best ways to illustrate that is to just set the shoe down. And then to take a pencil and just drop it straight down on the arch right so you can see the amount of space you have right here between the pencil and the arch is quite significant so look how much shape is being built into this arch as it comes underneath the shoe so you compare that to this pair of Allen Edmonds. We drop this down and you see that there’s almost no shape here at all right. So look at that. Nothing. Can even fit my finger in there. You look at this. It’s huge. You know I can put two fingers in there and so that again is just a sculpture. You know we see it to a certain as you know on these Edward Greens. Now Edward Green has a slightly more square waist but we still have quite a bit of definition right there at the waist. And then to a lesser extent but certainly still there on these Kamin is also. So again it’s just those small details that kind of all combine together to create a beautifully sculpted pair of shoes that really provokes. Emotion. So the amount of last definition that you get and some of these higher end shoes are. And and it’s not just last definition but it’s just a really beautifully inspired last shape that then they’re able to produce last definition in as just one of the things that all combined together to create beautiful shoes that are striking elegant and that you enjoy wearing at the end of the day. Now I’ve spoken about the technical differences between these shoes and if you have any questions or anything to add by all means please ask them in the comments section below. I enjoy getting back to as many of those questions as possibly. And I really enjoy hearing your thoughts on these different shoes. But next I want to speak a little bit more personally about just my opinions in terms of the style differences of these shoes. Technically they’re different but in each brand’s approach towards shoe making. There are certainly differences in terms of style. And then there’s also just practical differences in terms of how the patterns are done. So we’re going to start here and work our way up and you know these are really my opinions. And so you know you may disagree and that’s totally fine and if you disagree let me know in the comment section. So Allen Edmonds there’s no question that these Park Avenues are great shoes. But what you’re really missing here is the finesse that you find in the rest of these. They’re great shoes and they’re a fantastic value. If all you have is three hundred ninety five dollars or if you want to shop one of their sales where these go on sale this is an excellent quality leather dress you have that if properly polished and care for it will last decades and look great. There’s no question that with a pair of Allen headbands you are looking better and wearing better footwear than ninety five percent of all the guys out there. And so if you’re a professional that wears a suit and you haven’t invested in at least a pair of Allen Edmonds or better I would encourage you today go out and buy a proper pair of shoes because it’s one of the first things people notice. Now whenever we talk about the pattern I find a certain degree of heaviness to this pair of shoes from Allen Edmonds the triple stitching across the facing the double stitching across the toe cap and the spacing just produces a heavier look. Now I enjoy some of this stitching as I’ll talk about whenever we get over to these other shoes because you want some visual separation between the pattern pieces because this isn’t a whole cut Oxford but I just find that the combination of number of rows of stitching in the stitch density just produce a heaviness to this shoe. Another thing is immediately whenever you look at the outsell the low stitch density of the outside stitching again just lacks the finesse that I really appreciate. And a leather dress shoe. Another thing is that if you look at the positioning of the cap there’s it’s pitched slightly forward especially whenever you compare it to these calmness. And so I’ve always thought that the Park Avenues were slightly out of balance because the cap was too far forward. Now there’s benefits to that because you don’t have to worry about
creasing the cap because it gives you more room in the vamp and you might need that room for the trademark six islets which you get on the Paramount and Edmunds. But to me you know this facing right here is too long and this is too narrow. So that’s my opinion on this issue. These comments are absolutely beautiful and I think they’re expertly made here you’ll see a double Rose stitching across the facing and across the cap single stitching here with the traditional arc and there’s really nothing I would say about this I really enjoy just the aesthetic of the pattern. This is a great shoe and you know it’s really nothing I would change. Now looking at the Gazza honor’s you’ll see that Graziano took a slightly different approach to the way that they constructed the wrapper where they used just a single rub stitching at a very high stitch density that did a lot of ways reflects the ethos of the brand. They’re sleek slightly fashion forward British aesthetic. And so I like that. But I think that it lacks a little bit of the visual separation that you get with the double roses stitching between the calmness and the Edward Green’s. Now when we look at the Edward Greens again you’ll see the same double stitching that you have in the calmness which again I think create nice visual separation. This is a slightly larger shoot than the other one so it’s a little bit hard to compare apples to apples but the pattern here just has an incredibly beautiful well-balanced. Aesthetic between the different pieces the pattern the cap the vamp and then the quarters. But another visual cue that you get on the Edward Green’s that really separate this from the rest of this shoe is this little pattern piece right here. It’s not a pattern piece it’s actually just stitching into this pattern element that’s called a swan’s neck. Now this was resurrected from shoes that Edward Green had made in the 1930s and it’s just a nice little subtle visual cue that separates the shoe it gives a little bit of slickness and elegance to an otherwise very conservative classic dress you need to be totally honest. I liked the swan’s neck so much that my bespoke cap to oxfords that Dominic Casey made for me incorporate the same element into them. Now the swan neck isn’t a unique or proprietary to Edward Green because there’s really nothing you can do in shoe making these days it hasn’t been done before but as far as these shoes that I have here today it is the only pair of that’s one mix and it is a detail that I like. So each of these four pairs of shoes I have today are really excellent examples of a black cap to Oxford. Each is at a different price point. We have a three hundred ninety five dollar pair of Park Avenues from Alan Edmunds. We’ve got a four hundred ninety five dollar pair of shoes from Carmina. We’ve got a twelve hundred dollar pair of shoes we’ve got to go on Girling and we have add thirteen hundred dollars or one thousand two hundred eighty five dollar pair of shoes from Edward Green. Now are these the same shoe. No. And that’s one of the things that I love about shoe making is that each of these each have their own uniqueness that are going to appeal and just connect with you differently. So someone might prefer the slightly fashion forward classic English aesthetic of a Gatsby on on Girling. They’ve got twelve hundred dollars to spend on a pair of shoes and they want the best and they love the fiddle back waste in the detail and you know maybe they really enjoy GoT Seattle’s made order program got Seattle and Girling is a fantastic shoe. Maybe you want a more classic English shoe that’s safe for the boardroom but you still want to walk into that boardroom knowing that you’re wearing one of the finest pair of shoes in the room. You can’t do anything better than a pair of Edward Green’s maybe you don’t have that much money to spend on a shoe or you’re a little bit more budget conscious but you still want really finally paid made pair of dress shoes that has a lot of the same elements that you see in these for less than half the price what Carmina is fantastic and they do an absolute great job making their shoes. Or maybe you’re someone that just needs a good high quality pair of leather dress shoes and don’t want to blow the bank really a pair of Allen Edmonds is a completely respectable fine shoe that I don’t want to disrespect my first high quality pair of leather dress shoes was in fact an Allen Edmonds and not just one pair. I had four pairs of Allen Edmonds in college. The other point I want to make about the Allen Edmonds is again what’s important about this issue is that they use a non corrected grain on a calf scan. It’s a full grain open paw leather that’s the small indentations you see in the leather. The reason that is important is because it means that the leather is open and is able to be fed with good quality Polish so a pair of Allen Edmonds polish with high quality polish like what we sell here at Kirby Allison is a totally different pair of shoes than the Allen Edmonds you get out of the box. These aren’t polished but if I were to polish these shoes which every new pair of shoes need to be polished the finish of these would elevate even farther. And then the other thing is that whenever you go to have these shoes resold if you know the way that the bottoms are finished is really important to you you know through the Kirby Allison certified shoe restoration program. You know for as little as you know two hundred twenty five dollars we can replace this otherwise generic leather out sole and heel with it. J.R. Wyndham Bok oak bark tanned leather out soul which is the same quality you see used in the Gatsby on on Girling and Edward Green’s if you want the inking in the invisible channel stitching on our sovereign great certified shoe restoration program we can take that jar in the back. Leather outsell and we really can make it look almost just like this pair of shoes from Edward Green on the bottom. So there’s no question that with proper reselling again we can rework this heel and we can change the leather out so and we can elevate this even further. But that may not be important to you. And that goes back to one of my fundamental philosophies which is to be really important not to get into a moral conversation about shoes or clothing or anything because there’s nothing good or bad or right or wrong about any of these shoes. Both are fantastically made and of a high quality for their respective price point and depending on who you are where you like to spend your money. How you’re gonna wear these shoes one might be right for you. Versus the other. I hope you’ve enjoyed this review of these four black cap toe oxfords. I really enjoyed seeing all four of these shows here together because it allows us to juxtapose a lot of the things that we’ve been discussing in our shoe review series. If you haven’t checked out our shoe review series we have an extensive series of videos that we’re filming reviewing shoes at various price point by various makers where we point out some of the differences that go into the construction in the make of the shoe. Do you have any questions about anything we discussed in this video. Please ask it in the comment section below. I enjoy getting back to as many of those comments and questions as possible and if you have any opinions about these shoes or if you have any other shoes that you think we should review by all means please offer them in the comment section. I love reading those comments. I’m Kirby Allison and I love to help the well-dressed inquire and care for their wardrobes while exploring the world of quality craftsmanship and tradition. Thanks for joining me.