NOTE: Full retail price on these bad boys is $180. A good buy at usually the perpetually on-sale level of $126 direct from Cole Haan. Now? You can find them for $80 – $100 at a few sources. Link above sends you to Zappos, but they have limited sizes. Head here to get them for $80 direct through Cole Haan, but those are final sale. Nordstrom Rack also has them for $99, but worth keeping an eye on because they could drop further with codes.
Springtime is when our footwear rotations can really begin to open up with more variety. Winter doldrums are behind us, so we can bid farewell to the weeks filled with nothing but boots and let some of our more fair-weather footwear friends out of the closet. Such as the versatile suede lace-up. Specifically, the Cole Haan Suede Feathercraft has been on such a deep discount lately, that it has caught a few eyes. Speaking of eyeballs, Cole Haan, as a brand, gets the side eye from plenty of shoe fans (mostly the snobs, but, whatever). But no one is paying full price on these things. Hardly. Plus inexpensive suede > inexpensive smooth leather. So let’s find out if these suede shoes are worth taking a swing at.
Looks great. Noticeably light in weight. Expect durability to be average?
Suede is beloved for a gentle touch, visual dynamics, and ability to take on unique hues. This “magnet” grey suede from Cole Haan is no exception. The material is quite soft, though not pillow-like. That’s a good thing. Brushing your thumb against the nap of creates a subtle change in shade of grey. And that grey. Oh boy. What a stunning color. Laid on top of an oak-brown midsole with tan stitching, this shoe is a standout when paired with dark wash denim or a darker shade of chinos.
In it’s entirety, the shoe is lightweight both in-hand and on-foot. The downside of this, however, is a fairly flimsy upper. The suede is cut thin. On the positive, this creates a light and airy shoe for warmer weather. On the contrary, the upper can contort out of shape if the fit isn’t perfect – particularly around the sockliner. Expect durability to be… average. Don’t go stomping through the woods* or jumping in puddles with these, but normal use around town shouldn’t cause any real problems.
Soft suede. Great for shoulder seasons and summer wear.
Triple-stitch construction on parts of the upper create a strong build, despite the thin material. Overall, construction was on-point; I saw no loose threads, nicks in the suede, or inconsistencies in the material. Nice stuff here.
For sizing, I wear a 9.5E in the Allen Edmonds Park Ave and a 9.5M in their Higgins Mill boot, which I believe is built on a wider last than the more traditionally narrow Park Ave. I went with a 9.5 in a medium width for these Cole Haans, and haven’t experienced any hot spots, pinching, or overly excessive roominess. All that points to the Feathercraft’s being a fairly true to size fit. I have a fairly wide, flat foot, and don’t feel the need for the extra width. So only pick their wide option if you’re a true wide, and not something in-between.
Slim sole, but still provides traction. Super flexible too.
The outsole is superb, with significant rubber tread featuring wavy-patterned grooves for flexibility and exceptional grip. You won’t slip in these. For cushioning, Cole Haan packs these with what they call their “Grandfoam.” I don’t know what it is, but the comfort is through the roof. Initial step-in and first wear comfort is terrific. The question with these foam-based cushions, of course, is their durability. Traditional shoemakers like Allen Edmonds opt for cork midsole that contour to your foot and provide ample comfort, and can be replaced time and time again. Cole Haan, however, cannot. That said, they don’t feel like they’re gonna fall apart overnight. Treat them decently, and they feel like they’ll treat you just fine back.
Squishy cushioning, lightweight (and pretty unstructured) suede upper.
Guys who are looking for a versatile, comfortable, spring/summer suede shoe could very well find themselves in love (or at least “in strong like”) with the Feathercraft. The fit is true, the outsole is great, and the cushioning is really pretty impressive. No one is going to pay full price. But the usual, on-sale low $100s price point seems worth it here. If they stay at the mega-sale price of $80? At that price, you’re making out like a bandit.
A bandit in smooth-suede shoes.
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.
*If you use these for hiking/outdoors duty, you deserve what you get. You might as well walk up to a wolf lair with a golden corral sign hung around your neck.