About the Author: Adam Terry is Dappered’s resident shoe & denim 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!
UPDATE: Nisolo got word of the review and wanted to offer 15% off on the Nisolo with code DAPPERED15. Well okay then. That’s a nice surprise. Drops the price to $125.80.
Nisolo is a smaller brand that you might not have heard of. Based out of Nashville, TN, Nisolo got its start in 2011 when its co-founders visited Trujillo, Peru and learned that their talented craftsmen had trouble accessing the global market to make a fair wage for their families. Nisolo is a Certified B Corp that focuses on ethically sourced, well made, and beautifully designed shoes.
- Brand: Nisolo
- Style: Diego Low Top Sneaker
- Size: 10.5 D
- Last: N/A
- Construction: Stitched and bonwelted (glued)
- Leather: Nubuck leather upper
- Sole: Vibram Cup
- Details: Leather lining, soft leather insole
- Extras: Pair of wide cotton laces and two shoe bags
- Country of Origin: Mexico
- Price: $148 USD
My Diego low top leather sneakers in “tobacco” tan were ordered on a Thursday and were delivered the next day. Nisolo’s HQ is only about 30 minutes from my house, so that’s not really representative of the norm, but they shipped out UPS Ground. For anyone in the continental US, that means you should expect your order to arrive in 2-4 business days.
FYI: Unworn Nisolo shoes can be returned within 30 days of purchase, but you’re out $6 for return shipping. If you’re exchanging for a different size or wanting store credit, there’s no additional cost.
The box. The bag(s). The thank you note!
This pair arrived in a nicely textured, branded shoe box. Inside, you’re greeted with the shoes, two GIANT cotton canvas shoe bags, a spare pair of laces (either flat cotton or round waxed cotton), a shoe care instructions card, and a hand-written thank you note. Mine read:
“Thank you for your order! Your purchase provides a living wage for all of our producers and helps combat climate change through preserving forests in the Amazon Basin. Sincerely, Entissar + Team Nisolo”
From above. Nubuck leather uppers with plenty of natural characteristics.
After opening the box and removing the sneakers from the provided shoe bags, I thought for a moment that someone had mixed up the order and sent me a pair of leather Vans sneakers on accident. The silhouette looks almost exactly like the Vans Era low top sneaker and that’s a great look to emulate. The upper nubuck leather is finished in this warm tan shade they’ve dubbed “tobacco” and it pairs really well with blue jeans.
Pairs great with jeans.
The upper leather isn’t a highly polished slate of hide. Instead, lots of natural bovine character shines through – some wrinkles, crinkles, and variations in the color. Both shoes do have a bit of noticeable loose grain on the panel near the arch. Normally that’s something you’d really care about on sneakers at this price point, but it kind of fits the “natural” look and feel of the Diego low tops.
The inside is lined with smooth tanned leather (I think it’s pigskin?) and the insole is padded and wrapped with the same. You can see the sole stitching running around the interior, but you shouldn’t feel it.
Vibram soles similar to those found on shoes that cost twice as much.
Speaking of the Vibram cup sole, it’s a dang nice one. Cup soles are outsoles that have high sidewalls that cradle or “cup” the upper of the shoe. Cup soles provide protection for the toe, heel, and sides of the shoe – which makes them popular for sneakers and casual/athletic lifestyle shoes. This Vibram one is made out of tough, durable rubber and that’s important because they’re permanently glued and stitched to the upper. You cannot resole these. Rancourt uses a similar Vibram outsole on their Court Classic models that cost at least twice as much as the Nisolos.
Score: 4/5 – Would like to see a little less loose grain leather for this price point.
Fit, Sizing, and Comfort:
The Diegos fit exactly like my Vans Era and Old Skool sneakers, so a 10.5 feels like a 10.5. Nisolo recommends sizing down a half size if you plan on wearing thin socks or no socks.
For reference, I am a 10.5 D/E on a Brannock device and usually take a 10 D in most dress shoes, including Alden’s Barrie last and Grant Stone’s Leo last. I take a 10.5 E in Allen Edmonds 65 last, as that last runs too narrow for me. I also take a 10.5 in Vans and an 11 in most Adidas or Nike sneakers.
In terms of comfort, it’s entirely subjective. For me, the leather lining and cushioned leather insole feel like you’re walking on leather pillows. I’d compare them to a normal pair of Vans without any fancy insole. While I wish they were a bit more breathable overall, that’s not unusual for leather sneakers.
“Leather pillow” comfort.
Size down half a size if you plan on wearing them with thin socks, or no socks.
If you’re in the market for a refined, casual pair of leather sneakers, but want something with higher quality components and ethical construction, I’d highly recommend the Nisolo Diego Low Top Sneakers!
Avg. Score: 4.75/5