NOTE: DSW currently has the gum colored sole option for $99, and they’re running a 20% off code YAYDAZE. You do have to sign up for their email club to use it though. For other colors, check Nordstrom Rack. They have a few colors there for around $79 as well.
At long last, a hands-on review of the much-ballyhooed Cole Haan GrandPro Turf Sneaker. Unless this is your first time on the Dappered site, it’s likely you’ve seen a mention or two of these sneakers before. They’ve long been of intrigue for their classic gym-class aesthetics that play equally well with a quarter-zip or sport coat, gym pants or chinos. I decided to take them for a spin to see what all the fuss is about and if Joe’s musings on this shoe bear fruit on my feet. (Editor’s Note: If your feet bear fruit, see your podiatrist immediately.)
Materials used are surprisingly nice.
Right out of the box, the first thing I noticed was the material quality. The leather on these is supple and far superior to most options in the sale price range. More on that later. The build quality is top notch, at least on my pair. Stitching on both the suede and leather was tight, with no superfluous strings or frayed pieces. “Cole Haan” is cleverly imprinted into the leather at the top of the side panel. Over-branding is common on casual sneakers (looking at you, overrated Nike Killshots), but subtle branding is nice. This is very well done.
Fine details and flourishes on this pair help it stand out among other casual sneakers. A winged sand-colored suede toe and vamp (the piece running up the lace holes) produces depth and creates a nice contrast to the smooth leather of the side panels. It’s an exceptionally smooth suede, with very little nap to it, but it works with the slim silhouette. It really is a beautiful shade of beige, if there is such a thing as beautiful beige.
Sand suede. Ivory Leather. Navy heel accent. Gum sole.
The leather side panels are in an ivory white, supplemented with a deep navy blue heel for another rich pop of color, while a traditional gum bottom rounds out the build. Overall, the color combo is executed in classic gym wear fashion. The shoe does come in other colors, but this is the one I believe most will want.
Another note on the suede wings: you need to have some confidence to pull these off, and the aesthetics are highly subjective. When I first laced them up, my wife asked, “why did you buy bowling shoes?” Because of the wings and vamp standing out so much on the shoe, these can look a bit bowling alley-esque. It will be a matter of personal taste. In full disclosure, I’m not the biggest fan, but do find them unique. If you’re on the fence, the material quality alone makes it worth the effort of a home or store try-on.
Attractive sole, plus proprietary “Grand.Os energy foam.” Whatever that is.
And whatever that is, it feels great.
The fit was a bit odd. I went for my usual size 10 in both athletic and casual sneakers, and these ran long. The width was good, but there was a significant amount of volume above my toes in the right shoe. My right foot is a touch smaller than my left, but the volume was significant. This caused a looser fit, but considering these are athletic-inspired and not actual gym shoes, I didn’t mind too much. If you have narrow feet, be mindful of this if you order a pair. You might be best served going down half a size.
Comfort is through the roof compared to other casual sneakers, especially straight out of the box. Part of that is the leather quality of the upper. The other part is the foam cushioning in the midsole. Cole Haan has what they call “proprietary Grand.Os energy foam,” and whatever that is, it feels great. Every athletic footwear manufacturer seems to claim energy return, some to varying levels of success. I wouldn’t classify this as a cushioning setup with energy return, but it doesn’t feel dead. There is a certain level of liveliness not present in other casual sneakers.
A few different colors going on, but they all play off each other nicely.
The outsole itself increases the effectiveness of the foam cushioning. Diamond-pattern cutouts throughout the sole deliver unexpected flexibility, while providing an added benefit to the foam. When your foot compresses the foam, having space for it to expand will aid in the rebound – or energy return – process. My guess is that the foam compound itself plus these cutouts create the liveliness I felt when walking. And in motion, they almost disappear.
A bit on the long and lean side in terms of fit.
Shockingly light for a pair of leather-built casual sneakers, I was impressed by how naturally the shoe moved with me. We have all experienced seeing something online, making the purchase, and then having our expectations dashed. As far as build quality and comfort, these exceed my expectations, especially at the $80 I paid. At $150, I would be hard-pressed to recommend these over a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths for almost half the cost. But, if you like the wingtip styling and can work with the fit, they’re a steal at $80 (what I paid), and a solid purchase at $99.99.
There are a lot of casual sneakers to choose from, and you’ll see options from Nike, Banana Republic, Suitsupply, Nordstrom, Adidas, and more on this site. But at the right price, and if you get the fit right, none provide the best bang for your buck in terms of style and all-day comfort like the Cole Haan.
About the Author: Jason P. is a Dappered devotee, having curated the majority of his wardrobe through the site. He is an enthusiast of wool sweaters, chino pants, and affordable automatic watches. In his free time, you can find him at his boxing gym or antiquing with his wife.