Blake McKay Double Monk Strap – $89.99 w/ SUMMERSOLE ($109.99)
Want the cliff’s notes version? They’re better than DSW’s budget brand Aston Grey, they’re cheaper than DSW’s made in Italy brand Mercanti Fiorentini, and they’re a very, very nice value when they drop under $100 with a code.
Turns out that while Blake McKay is now a DSW exclusive brand, they don’t seem to be a DSW creation. Unlike Aston Grey, Blake Mckay has their own website, and according to this press release, was launched in 2017 by the same person behind Gordon Rush and Crosby Square. Two brands that maybe you fellas wouldn’t reach for first thing, but names that’ll be familiar to some.
Made in China, but not super cheap feeling, looking… or smelling.
Anyway, this isn’t their founder’s first rodeo. Blake McKay produces some shoes in Italy, but it looks like most are “imported.” Like these double monks, which clearly state inside the tongue that they’ve been “handcrafted in China.” And while they probably aren’t gonna last a lifetime, they are oddly nice. Especially for the $90 – $120ish price point.
The leather they use for the uppers is particularly nice. Super soft and very pliable. They honestly remind me of a pair of Doucal’s Italian Made Double Monks I picked up during an East Dane sale last year. I’m sure the leather quality isn’t the same, but still. I think the fact that these remind me of the Doucal’s says something. That, and when you open the box they don’t stink like chemicals. They don’t pass the Mrs. Dappered smell and sigh pleasantly test (she likes the smell of high quality shoes), but at least they don’t sting the nostrils.
Newish brand. Classic shape.
The shape and design is perfect. Timeless. Not overly elongated and not stumpy either. The lighter tan welt (assuming it’s made to look like they’re stitched and they’re actually glued) makes them lean slightly a little more smart-casual than dressy, but I don’t see why these couldn’t be paired with a light grey or true blue suit for the warmer months. They’d be a perfect match for dark jeans and a sportcoat (AKA the business mullet) in the cooler months.
Soles gotta be glued, right? Subtle traction on the sole = no slippage.
Fit and comfort are good, straight out of the box. My normally 10.5 D feet fit well in the 10.5 I ordered from DSW. The interiors are mostly lined in leather, and there aren’t any super thin or sharp/uncomfortable edges. Everything is nicely rounded off, and padded without being dumpy or overly squishy.
Leather is strangely nice. Good depth, and plenty flexible. Not the plastic stuff.
They aren’t Allen Edmonds quality. Of course they’re not gonna be. But if you wanna dip your toes, literally, into a style (like Double Monks) that you’re unsure about, before investing heavily? Or, you’re on a tight budget and want some good looking but not overly trendy shoes that can serve you decent for a few years but not forever? Then this new brand is worth a shot. Add Blake McKay to the pile of brands who prove you can get a pair of good looking, comfortable shoes for under $200 (or in this case, even under $100) which should last long enough with decent care.