“Next Level” is a series that highlights individual brands and/or products that are beyond the normal Dappered budget, yet many readers might have heard about. Like our monthly “The Reach” list, it is not the norm for Dappered, but something supplemental for those with growing budgets. This guest review was written by Edward Couvillion. More on him at the end of the post.
Small batch. Bespoke inspired. Avoiding traditional retail middle-men and selling direct to consumer. This business model has exploded in today’s universe of online shopping. While it is far from a revolutionary concept at this point, there is no doubt that consumers are embracing the idea. Brands from every corner of the menswear market are touting this model, and Cobbler Union seems to be finding success with it.
First off, I know. They are NOT cheap. But does the product justify the cost? I think so. And unlike many of their competitors, Cobbler Union offers free shipping (over $75) and free returns for US customers. That is an enormous advantage for both the brand and the customer, since like much of their competition, they have little opportunity to impress in-person before purchase.
The Cobbler Union Winchester II Boot in “French Museum” Calfskin.
Cobbler Union has one brick and mortar store. It’s in Atlanta, Georgia. So if you’re not there, or headed there, you’d have to risk shipping charges if it weren’t for their free shipping and returns policy. But I was in the area, and dropped in for a look.
They emphasize their relationship with the people making the shoes as a foundation of their business. Find and rely on talented artisans making the shoes, and the rest will follow. And from this customer’s point of view, the construction and overall quality of their many models is exceptional. Handmade in Spain, Goodyear welted, and cut from top quality European calfskin, it’s incredibly difficult to find fault with any bit of the build quality. The stitching is clean and tight, and the leather quality looks and feels phenomenal.
The boots pictured in this post are Cobbler Union’s Winchester II boots which are Goodyear welted on their SOHO last (you can find descriptions of their different lasts here). A simple, quarter-brogue style cap-toe combines with open lacing to give the boot a lot of versatility. These boots look just as good with jeans as they do a suit. The leather quality is fantastic to start, and has seemingly improved with every wear. According to them, the stitched insoles have been inspired by supercar interiors. And while they could have gone with a standard, black rubber sole, they chose a brown Vibram option with short studs, to provide traction while still flowing with the shape of the last and the shade of the leather.
Refined dark-brown soles keep these boots looking sleek.
Not only are the shoes luxurious, the buying experience was one of the best I’ve encountered. One of the owners, Daniel, spent more than an hour talking with me. We spoke about everything from shoes, to other hobbies, to how he got into the shoemaking business. Mind you, this all happened while I was enjoying a glass of prosecco on the house. Afterward, I waltzed out of the store with a gorgeous new pair of boots for the fall.
Unfortunately, most guys won’t be able to make it to Atlanta just to buy shoes. But again, Cobbler Union offers free U.S. shipping and returns on orders over $75. They will even work with you to find a different model of shoe if you end up not loving the model you ordered. Not sure about the sizing? Call or email them and they will personally work with you to determine what size would work best. All shoes use UK sizing and in my experience these fit true to size. I generally wear a 9.5D in US sizing and the boots I purchased were a UK 8.5.
Ready for a lifetime of wear.
The price will be a deterrent for many, but the attention to detail, the superior quality of construction, and beautiful leather sets the Winchester II apart. It’s officially boot weather in most parts of the country, and if you are looking to make the jump to a more modern styled, and higher quality shoe, this is your ticket. Yes, they are expensive, but with proper care they should last a lifetime. Worst case, you can send them back to Atlanta. For free. Now, in terms of any prosecco you might enjoy while lacing up your new shoes? That bill’s on you.
About the Author: Edward Couvillion is a Charlotte based packaging designer with a passion for photography and all things creative, including craft cocktails. When he’s not stuck in traffic you can find him at a local coffee shop or backpacking through the woods somewhere. Check out some of his photography here: edwardcouvillion.com