Think Magnanni, minus that Spanish brand’s (sometimes) spear-like over elongated toes, move production one border to the west (from Spain to Portugal), and know that you don’t have to wait for sales at LastCall or Nordstrom Rack to get a pair for under two hundred bucks.
From an outsider’s perspective… that’s Jack Erwin.
A definite step up in quality of leather + construction compared to DSW’s Mercanti Fiorentini. Not quite as indestructible feeling as Allen Edmonds. Nice and modern in shape and profile. Perfect toe shape. Lightweight. Closer to the ground and plenty flexible. At $195, Jack Erwin is a style-forward, web-based shoe brand that’s easily accessible for all, thanks to their greatly appreciated free shipping and free returns policy.
Each shoe’s sole is Blake Stitched to the upper, which helps make them lightweight on your feet, as well as lighter looking to your eyeballs. There’s not an ounce of visual “clunk” here. That lack of bulk and slim silhouette (if you’ve got a wide foot, forget it), gives even a basic cap toe, like their “Joe” model, a little sex appeal. And that’s something you won’t get from, say, Johnston & Murphy’s Goodyear welted (and cheaper) conservative Melton.
The leather has a good shine to it out of the box, but not in an unnatural way. This is real leather. Full-grain calfskin that smells like, flexes like, and feels like a medium weight leather that should serve you well.
One of the drawbacks is the small lineup. Not only in number of models (just five, two lace ups, two loafers, and one boot) but in available shades of leather. Each pair of shoes is available in black or a pre-determined shade of brown that varies by model. It’d be nice to have something as fashion-forward as their Jake single monk available in a more toned down brown. But, credit to the Jack Erwin guys for taking it slow and steady out of the gates.
A warning on sizing: The brand suggests you size down a full size to get the proper fit. That might be going a bit far. A 9.5 on my usually 10.5 feet were an awfully tight squeeze on both the Jake and Joe. A ten on the other hand? Probably would have done the trick.
Lace-ups come with a couple extra pairs of colorful laces, and each pair arrives with back-up insoles, as well as a dust bag inside the box. Awfully impressive that a brand this new has thought of all those little things. The packaging is nice and clean. No pre-paid return label inside though. If you want to return your shoes, you’ll have to email them for a pre-paid label that you’ll print out later.
Are they worth the $195? For many, that answer will probably be yes. The toes are perfect, the leather feels good, and the free shipping + returns is awfully nice to provide for their customers… since all of their customers are first time customers. Now some guys will probably stick to more tried + true brands for their basic day-to-day oxfords + wingtips, but when it comes to picking up an extra pair of shoes that could get worked into the rotation every so often? Like a monk strap or a jodhpur boot? Jack Erwin would be one brand worth giving a shot.
Anyone else give these guys a try yet? Would you go with these guys for a basic cap-toe or wingtip, or would you save up for, say, an Allen Edmonds sale? What styles do you think they could tackle? A chelsea? Maybe something in suede? Leave it all below.