About the Author: Adam Terry is a 30-year-old Technical Trainer in the heating and manufacturing industry. He’s #menswear by day and #workwear by night. He enjoys raw selvedge denim, Scotch whisky, and working on maintaining his dad bod.
I’m a huge fan of the longwing blucher. I find that the style neatly fills the gap between formal Oxfords and casual plain toe bluchers, especially in today’s more casual-leaning business casual dress codes. While brogued bluchers would traditionally be worn in outdoorsy, sporting outfits (think of Scottish Tweed hunting jackets), I find that they can easily be worn with wool dress slacks, a pair of smart chinos, or even a pair of slim jeans given the right context. My current shoe rotation includes two pairs of Alden LWBs – one in suede and one in Shell Cordovan – with another pair (or two) on pre-order. Some could (rightfully) call it an addiction, but we’ll leave that to the therapists.
When J.Crew started offering Grant Stone Longwings in a beautiful shade of British Tan Calf at almost 40% less than what I’ve been paying for Aldens, I had to check them out.
- Brand: Grant Stone
- Style: Longwing blucher
- Last: Leo
- Construction: Goodyear Welted
- Leather: Annonay French calfskin in British Tan
- Lining: Full grain cow from Milwaukee, WI
- Sole: Antique, double bend vegetable tanned leather outsole
- Details: Hidden brass eyelets, cork filler, steel shank, full grain leather heel counter, leather and quarter rubber dovetailed heel.
- Made in: China
- Price: $350 USD
J.Crew has taken a cue from Amazon with their new J.Crew Marketplace; all orders will be fulfilled by Grant Stone. Returns will be sent directly back to Grant Stone as well, although they will honor J.Crew’s 60 day return policy and $7.50 return shipping fee. Grant Stone’s standard return policy is 15 days and it will set you back $15.
Editor’s note: After a little Dappered business credit card drama, which resulted in two orders being placed for the shoes (even though J. Crew’s customer service said one had been canceled), the guys at Grant Stone noticed the double order and actually called our Ops Manager’s cell phone to verify that it truly was one order. There had also been some mistakes made on J. Crew’s end regarding the shipping address, which Grant Stone took upon themselves to correct. It was unexpected, high quality customer service.
After slicing open the cardboard shipping box, you’re presented with a seriously impressive study of packaging and branded design. The sturdy, letterpressed Grant Stone box is nice on its own accord, as is the tissue paper emblazoned with their logo, but they also throw in some really neat extras: the shoes come snuggled in a pair of brown flannel shoe bags with lacquered wood ball toggles on the pull strings; a laser engraved metal shoe horn/bottle opener; an extra set of round waxed laces; and… get this… a hand signed thank you note. I checked; it’s real ink!
Right out of the box, I’m very impressed with this pair of shoes. Looking over the leather, I see no loose grain or excessive creasing which seems to plague other brands in this price tier. The warm shade of British tan dye is even across all surfaces and there’s no haphazard burnishing to be found. The punched brogueing and pinking along the edges is sharp and precise. The sole stitching is neatly tucked into the open channel that was carved into the thick slab of leather used for the outsole.
There are a bunch of other little details that only seasoned shoe nerds would care to notice. All of these small details add up to make a big difference and these longwings easily rival my more expensive shoes. As they should. The Grant Stone team has a few decades of history in the shoemaking business, even spending some time in Middleborough, MA where my usual suspects hail from.
Two of my favorite little details include the hidden brass eyelets and the wheeled/fudged welt. The brass eyelets on the underside of the lace stay reinforce the eyelet holes without standing out like a gold tooth. The wheeling/fudging around the welt is a little detail that higher quality ready-to-wear shoemakers use to add visual interest and decoration to an otherwise flat and boring strip of leather that gets stitched to the midsole and outsole.
Taking a closer look at both shoes, there are only a few inconspicuous faults. The left shoe had some excess glue residue around the leather heel stack, which was easily wiped off. It also had a small indentation on the leather upper near the heel. I assume this was made by the Goodyear welt rapid stitching machine during assembly. The third issue was a double stitch on the welt. The only noticeable complaint for the right shoe was that the leather storm welt was smushed a little, again probably caused by the rapid stitching machine. None of these issues will affect longevity, nor do they detract from the overall look at all.
Comfort is entirely subjective, but the leather lining feels very soft. The vegetable tanned leather insole looks to be cut from a rather beefy section of hide. There seems to be a small piece of memory foam cushioning underneath the heel pad which I like very much. After walking around the house for a while, there were no noticeable squeaks or groans coming from the shoes. Comfortable indeed.
Fit and Sizing
These ‘Wings are crafted around the Leo last, which features a snug heel and a slightly wider toe box. It’s a very comfortable and forgiving last, but it does run large. Most owners suggest sizing down a half-size from your Brannock and I would agree.
For reference, I am a 10.5 D/E on a Brannock device and usually take a 10D in most dress shoes, including Alden’s Barrie last. I take a 10.5E in Allen Edmonds 65 last, as that last runs narrow and I have slightly high arches. I also take an 11 in most Adidas or Nike sneakers.
A size 10D in the Leo last feels like a 10D in Alden’s Barrie last. The Leo does feel a bit snug at first. You may need a few days of wear for the leather insole and cork filling to break in and mold to your feet. I did notice that the laced “throat” wasn’t closing as tight as I’m used to, but I chalk that up to my high arches and these being new shoes.
A Few Words on Quality
Grant Stone’s footwear is made in Xiamen, China. While “Made in China” typically comes with negative connotations, especially in regards to the quality of materials and construction, you have to remember that every country has a wide range of manufacturing capabilities. One factory producing low quality goods for fast fashion retailers doesn’t necessarily represent the whole industry. As someone who works in American manufacturing, I’ve seen products from some brands made in the good ol’ USA that I would be embarrassed to put my name on. It takes all kinds.
Grant Stone produces their footwear in China because it affords them an opportunity to exercise their years of experience to bring a high-quality pair of shoes to market at a competitive price point without cutting corners in materials or craftsmanship.
I recommend these Grant Stone shoes without reservation. The quality of design, construction, and attention to detail is obvious and sets this brand apart from others. At this price point, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value for your money. With J.Crew’s free shipping and generous return policy, it’s never been easier to try them out if you’re interested.