In Review: The New JC Penney Stafford Kent Boot

In person with the Camlin's replacement.

JC Penney Stafford Kent – $80.00

One of the earlier signs that JC Penney was serious about attracting a new, male customer base (which in the end proved to do more harm than good) was the debut of the Stafford Camlin Boot. A perfect shape, construction that was plenty solid for the $60 price tag, and good quality leather that was soft and receptive to shoe creme. The Camlin even won the “Dappy” (dreadful name)  for best shoes of 2012.

But they’re gone now. Gone. Like, Ron Johnson gone. There appears to be some lingering stock in a few brick & mortar stores, but it sure feels like they’re not going to make another run of Camlins for fall 2013. At the JCP closest to the Dappered offices, there’s a fat sticker on the bottom of the Camlin boot on display that says “LAST ONE”. Subtle.

But thanks to the long tail of design and supply in retail, the Wooster/Johnson influence still lingers. And a new winger boot just hit JC Penney shelves. Enter the “Kent”. Here’s how it stacks up to the endangered (if not extinct) Camlin:

What stayed the same

  • The shape of the boot: Still excellent. Slightly elongated with a perfect toe.
  • The wingtip + perforations: Not a longwing like the CH Jayhawker.
  • The Sizing: These things still run huge. Like, at least half a size too big.
  • Country of origin: Still Bangladesh.

kent vs camlinTop: The Camlin after a couple seasons of use. Bottom: The new Kent.

What’s different

  • The Leather

The size of the font there ^ signifies the severity of the shift in leather used to make the boot. Gone is the malleable, ready to soak up shoe creme leather. The Kent’s leather is so smooth and shiny it’s edging up on patent-like. To the touch, it has more in common with a pair of rubber galoshes than an animal hide. And if there’s one thing we touch a lot of around here, it’s the hides of animals who are wearing galoshes. But the differences (good & bad) don’t end there.

  • The eyelets: Now seven instead of six, & reinforced with metal instead of simply punched.
  • The sole: The lug sole is gone. It’s now a very well done rubber w/ micro traction. A nice improvement.
  • The toe medallion: A little more compact. Dressier.
  • The height of the boot’s shaft: About a half inch taller than the Camlin’s.

kent soleThe sole is great. A nice upgrade there, but…

The Bottom Line:

Damn. This is disappointing. If the Kent and Camlin were to be judged on the Mohs scale, the Kent’s glass-smooth, plasticky leather would be up there with the unscratchable diamonds, while the Camlins pliable butter-uppers would sit somewhere near the gypsum. But unlike the minerals, for these boots, increased hardness doesn’t increase their value. It’s just the opposite. The Kent’s leather and diamonds might be brothers-from-another-mohs-mother, but most shoppers are going to be disappointed as dirt.

These ain’t the Camlin with a fresh coat of paint. These are the Camlin under some sort of alien exoskeleton.

Welcome to earth.

leather trioFrom Left: The Camlin, Kent, and a Wolverine 1000 Mile Addison.