The Search for the Perfect Modern Wingtip | Field Test: The Rockport Hillandale
Rockport’s Hillandale Oxford was the first shoe featured in the search for the perfect modern wingtip, and immediately conversation was sparked. 16 comments in total. Frankly, that much conversation was a little unexpected. What was really unexpected was an email from Rockport’s PR department, saying they took notice of the feature, and that they wanted to send a pair out as a thank you for the inclusion of their Hillandale in the search.
Well that was awfully nice of them to offer.
I suggested instead a field test. And that in order to keep my unbiased opinion as unbiased as possible, I would wear them, write them up, and then give away that “game-used” pair on the site. To their absolute credit, they said that was a great idea. So don’t forget to enter to win these worn-for-a-day size 10.5 regular width Rockports at the bottom of the page. Now here’s what I found after spending approximately 10 hours in these things…
Have you seen that new Nissan commercial where the young couple finds out they’re going to have their first child, and the father to be finds himself standing in his driveway eying up his slick Nissan Z Coupe?
That’s the one. Right. That Nissan Z just isn’t going to work when Baby makes three. So the Dad-on-deck tugs his coupe into a boxier, bulkier, still good looking but honestly just not the same four-door “sport sedan.” Still fun, but overshadowed by an inescapable feeling of sensibility. That’s precisely what the Rockport Hillandale is. These shoes are built for comfort first and foremost. Style is certainly part of the equation, but the shoe would benefit from the aesthetics getting a higher priority. Comfort is priority number one. For better or for worse.
Thanks to the closed lacing, wingtip details, and a nicely shaped NON-SQUARE toe (applause), from the top the lines look pretty good if not great. But these things are a touch bulky in that sedan kind of way due to that attention to comfort. They’re just thicker.
Also, the Adidas three-line edging at the heel is distracting, and the Rockport name is inexplicably stamped, albeit with subtlety, on the cushioned tongue. But it really comes down to the weighty look of the shoe. When wearing dress lace ups, you want roadsters on your feet. Not sedans. That make sense?
Like I said. Built for comfort, not necessarily for style. They’re also right around $100 so you’re just not going to get the kind of leather that goes into a pair of shoes that costs north of $200. So the feel of the leather? It won’t blow your mind. But how they feel on your feet? Excellent. Great all around support, and say what you want about the potential gimmicky-ness of sticking Adiprene cushioning in the heel, but these things have some nice squash to them. I purposely walked around as much as I could during testing, and my feet felt great all day. That shouldn’t come as a surprise either, since plenty of New York City Doormen seem to swear by Rockport. And those fellas don’t have the luxury of kicking back in a chair during work hours.
No they’re not hand stitched or hand anything-ed. At least, not that I can tell. But I do feel like I could throw these things up against a concrete wall a thousand times and they’d come back asking for more. Sure the leather ain’t buttery soft… or really all that leathery feeling. But they feel like they can take a beating. The sole is entirely man made. But I bet it holds up pretty well in the rain.
I’ve got mixed feelings on this one because the search for the perfect modern wingtip is really about finding a shoe that can work with your favorite suit. And there’s no way I’d wear these with a suit. Many men will and that’s a mistake. But overall I really, in complete unbiased honesty… enjoyed wearing the Rockport Hillandale. And I’m disappointed to see the pair get boxed up and shipped off to whoever wins them. If they’d just smooth out that heel I’d probably go out and try to find a pair on sale for wearing to work with jeans or cords, or off to the bar for a happy hour. With a suit? No. With just about anything else when you don’t want to sacrifice an ounce of comfort? Yeah. I think so.
Want to win the shoes? Send an email to email@example.com. One entry per person. Entries are due by 11:59pm ET tonight (Friday Oct. 8th 2010). Winner will be drawn at random and notified by email. No need to explain why you want to win. Remember, the shoes are 10.5, normal width. No returns and no exchanges since they’re free. We’ll pick up the shipping as long as it’s within reason (so if you’re in Siberia, expect to pony up). And don’t expect them to get there overnight.