Kenton Plain-Toe in Black or “Burnished Tobacco” – $131.40 w/ STYLE2015 ($268)
NOTE: Sizes for the black option are limited at post time, but as is often the case with J. Crew sale items, sizes can come and go. So if you’re interested, might be worth keeping an eye on em’.
When J. Crew started to crank out their own, in-house line of boots, a lot of us were pretty close to thrilled. After all, their spring & summer ready Kenton Suede bucks are fantastic, especially when on sale. Those have a Goodyear welt, are slimmer through the toe than the traditional buck silhouette, and have a lightweight, shock-absorbing EVA sole.
The good, and also bad thing about their boots upon release… was that they kept everything the same. The toes weren’t clunky (good!) they’ve got Goodyear Welt construction (good!) and… the sole still kinda looks like it’s made out of yoga mats.
And that WORKS on a casual, warm weather shoe (like the Kenton, these from Express, and many of Banana Republic’s shoes). But it looks a little off on boots? It’s not the slimness of the sole. That’s terrific. A lot of guys don’t want to (wait for it) lug around a chunky lug sole. A thin lug sole, sure. But if Indy made flat soled boots work, then so be it. Plus, that lack of visual nubby-traction on the bottom of your boots looks a heck of a lot better with jeans and a blazer, as opposed to boots you’d wear while working at the top of a telephone pole. Total design win for J. Crew there.
Look, this quibble is based solely on aesthetics. Functionally EVA is better in many ways than leather. Sew a leather sole on there and the price would have to go up (and it does, just see their “Ludlow” boot collection). Leather also doesn’t have the best traction, and it’ll soak up water on ugly days. But why not something less… foamy looking?
J. Crew chose to put the exact same “brick” colored sole that they use on their bucks on their entire line of Kenton boots (except for the black shade seen here). That red brick sole is a traditional look for summer bucks. But to many, it’s going to look out of place on boots. It’s too warm in shade and too matte in finish compared to rubber/something rubber-like. And that mismatch, to some, will undercut the rest of the shoe. The carpet just doesn’t seem to match the drapes.
But it’s much, much less noticeable on the black option, since, y’know… they made the soles black instead of the brick red/salmon color. And the toasted tan contrast of the welt looks real good. More than a few of us are suckers for that black & tan combo. Dirty em’ up and even those who are too damn picky about the sole (hi!) probably won’t care anymore.
Fit feels true to size. Maybe slightly narrow. The shape is perfect (not clunky, but not tight through the toe box) and the leathers feel better than decent. Nice and flexible but still with a decent shine out of the box. Reinforced eyelets and eyehooks are also a plus. Made in China. Price with the extra 40% knocked off is plenty fair if you’re good with the sole.
Maybe next fall they’ll keep all their upper designs (Leather & Suede, Plain-Toe & Apron Toes) but sew them to something that doesn’t look like leftovers from making their bucks. If they do that, many more of us will buy in. And probably at a higher price.