NOTE: These are currently on sale, but hanging out for a future code might save you some serious cash. Even at 30% off, which is usually a baseline discount for BR, these drop to $124.60.
UPDATE: And just like that, BR has launched a 40% off code, COZY, that also gets you free 2 day shipping at $75+.
There are just two noticeable changes between this year’s “Louis” Chelsea, and the well loved (for good reason) “Ty” from 2015. And neither of which, to most, should impact the fantastic value these things deliver.
Here’s what’s different when compared to last year’s “Ty” Chelsea:
#1. The length is slightly longer
They are a quarter to perhaps almost a half inch longer than last year’s version. But somehow, at least on my normally 10.5 D feet? A 10.5 doesn’t feel awkwardly long or slop about. Hardly. Just like last year’s, they’re snug going on, and gently hug my borderline wide feet.
For normal widths to slightly wide feet, I’d caution against sizing down. Doing so might leave you feeling a little cramped. But if you’ve got narrow feet, then perhaps dropping down a size might be worth a shot. With the 10.5 test pair, there was no pinching, rubbing, or slipping on my 10.5D feet. Nothing. So full honesty: I don’t get where the reviewers on Banana Republic’s website, who absolutely slaughter the shoe’s fit in the reviews, are coming from.
Left: The current, 2016 “Louis”. Right: Last Year’s “Ty” Chelsea. Both are a size 10.5.
This year’s version is slightly longer, but fit is still super comfortable. (At least to me?)
Are they elongated? Yes. Are they atrociously, clown-shoe stretched out? No. They aren’t. Sure, I’ve got room between the ends of my toes and the end of the boot. More so than a more conservatively shaped shoe (say, an Allen Edmonds Strand). But during a test drive, that didn’t effect comfort or wear-ability in any way. They looked like a Chelsea. A little bit rock-star. A whole lot of simple, smooth leather.
#2. The Soles are slightly thicker/shaded a bit darker
Last year’s chelseas came with dark, almost toasted-brown soles. Even the black versions came with a brown sole. And those soles were extra slim. This year, the soles are black, and a tad thicker looking. Think the difference between a Blake Stitch and a Goodyear welt. Pretty sure both last year’s and this year’s version are cemented, not stitched. So take that comparison with a grain of salt. But even with the thicker by comparison sole, they’re still sleek as hell. Doc Martens they are not.
A darker sole this year. A bit thicker too. Still a Chelsea through and through.
Other than that, everything seems to be just about the same. Same soft, Italian leather uppers in a brilliant shade of cognac (or black). Same rounded toe, without a hint of chiseling. Same even marbling through the leather, with (thankfully) no heavy burnishing to speak of.
Italian leather uppers are, once again, surprisingly nice. Shoe is made in China.
It’s just the proportions that seem to be just a bit different. And that’s got some in a tizzy. But I honestly can’t say it impacted the way my feet felt in these things. If you’ve got relatively normal/average proportions to your feet, they should fit snug (which you want in a chelsea) and be comfortable right out of the box. If they don’t? Good thing BR, like the rest of the GAP inc brands, have a super easy, and free, returns process.