NOTE: These Linden Sneakers dropped to as low as $72.49 during Nordstrom’s big Half-Yearly Sale and subsequent further Summer Reductions. That’s one of the reasons why we’re reviewing them… just in case they pop back up again. They’re now sold out at Nordy at that price, but can be had direct through Shoe the Bear, where 20% should come off at checkout since there’s no VAT for US customers.
Minimalist sneakers have been a part of the fashion world for decades. Common Projects, the modern gold standard by which others are judged, hit the market way back in 2004. Personally, I jumped in feet first in 2017 with a pair of grey suede low tops, quickly followed up by a pair of all-white leather ones. So, while the fashion world ebbs and flows between the latest Yeezy drop and whatever chugly (that’s chunky + ugly) silhouette just landed in Milan, you can find me in something a bit simpler. Shoe The Bear’s “Linden” sneaker is a familiar minimalist design with added suede accents that evoke similar imagery to the classic German Army Trainer sneakers made famous by both sport and high fashion brands over the last decade. Are they any good?
- Brand: Shoe The Bear
- Style: Sneaker
- Construction: Stitched + Bonwelted/Glued (see the stitch construction here, with the insole removed)
- Leather: “Genuine Leather and Suede”
- Lining: Textile and leather
- Sole: Faux Margom contrasting rubber cup sole
- Details: Foam-backed leather insole, white cotton laces, and a contrast backstrap
- Origin: Made in China
- Price: $145 USD ($72 – $97 on sale)
Two pairs were plundered during Nordstrom’s recent Half-Yearly sale. Both pairs arrived within a week without issue. Nordstrom’s free shipping and returns are much appreciated.
The shoes arrived in a pair of University of North Carolina “Tarheel blue” boxes with minimal design. That’s it. No spare laces, no shoe bags, no packing materials, no fancy tissue paper. Hell, no receipt either. Is Judge Smails moonlighting at Shoe The Bear’s design HQ?!
So, right off the bat I love the design of the Linden shoes, especially the suede patches along the heel cup and down the lace panels. Combined with the smooth white leather and gum colored sole, you get this unique hybrid of German Army Trainer replica and a modern, clean sneaker. The grey leather and suede pair is perfectly perched on top of a white rubber sole, leaning slightly less casual. You could definitely wear either of these with slim jeans and a tucked in button-down collar sport shirt for your weekly date night.
Looking closer, the main upper leather and suede panels seem to be on par with the stuff Adidas uses. It’s not anywhere close to the full grain Nappa that you would find on a pair of Common Projects, but we are dealing with a lower price point so that’s to be expected. You’ll also notice the top eyelet for both pairs is antiqued brass, adding a hint of warmth to the color palette. Out back, the fabric pull tabs blend in with the color scheme – white for the white shoes, dark charcoal for the grey shoes. Both pull tabs sport a pop of that Tarheel blue color down each side.
Initially I thought the lining was going to be full leather (per Nordstrom and the STB website), but to my surprise it’s mostly a soft twill fabric. They’ve used some thin leather to line around the opening, but it only extends about a third of the way down into the shoe. The thin leather and soft fabric lining feel great on bare feet, but I’m not sure that combo will have a similar durability to that of a fully leather lined shoe.
Comfort is entirely subjective, but the thin foam and leather topped insole really left a lot to be desired. They weren’t exactly uncomfortable, but I couldn’t imagine walking around Disneyworld for a full day in these. These are fashion sneakers first and foremost.
Fit and Sizing
Similar to most other minimalist sneakers, you’ll want to take your Euro size in these. A 43 EU fits similarly to a 10.5 in Vans and Converse. For those who need wider widths, I’m happy to say that they do run wider than Common Projects or other sneakers on a real Margom rubber cup sole.
For sizing 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 take an 11 in Adidas and Nike.
A Few Words on Quality
Aside from one small sole stitching issue near the toe (shown below,) both pairs of shoes were assembled surprisingly well. I failed to notice any other issues that would be a cause for concern fresh out of the box.
While I love the overall style of the Linden sneakers, I’m left slightly disappointed with the materials used, especially at this price point. At full MSRP, I believe that you can get a better value for your money elsewhere. It seems that you’re paying more for their social media marketing than actual materials and substance. If you like the style, check out these five alternatives to the minimalist GAT-inspired sneakers:
- Adidas Samba OG – Under $80
- Veja V-10 – $140
- Gustin Army Trainer – $156
- Greats Court – $179
- Maison Margiela Replica – $485 (wait for a sale)
About the Author: Adam Terry is Dappered’s resident shoe expert. He’s a thirtysomething Technical Trainer in the heating and manufacturing industry. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, and raw denim. He’s also a new dad!