NOTE: BR (and Gap, and Old Navy) is running a 50% off sale right now. There are some exclusions, but these are very much up for the half off. Sorta surprised at that. Anyway, deal runs through the end of the day today, 10/19. Usually they go for around $110.
About the Author: Adam Terry is a thirtysomething salesman in the heating and manufacturing industry. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, raw denim, and working on on his
dad bod father figure.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. What is a pirate’s favorite work boot?
The Banana Republic ARRRLEY of course!
The last time I reviewed (a version of) this boot was almost two years ago, back before my wife and I had our wonderful kid and before this global pandemic turned the world into a sh!tshow, but I digress. This time we’re back for round two with a new pair of Arleys in a smooth dark brown leather. First impressions? Pretty good! Read on to see how these differ and (might) be even better now!
The Adam Review Scale of Excellence (A.R.S.E.)
- 5 – Excellent! No issues and highly recommended.
- 4 – Good. Above average, but not perfect.
- 3 – Average. Minor issues, might be good at the right price.
- 2 – Fair. Below average due to defects, flaws, or imperfections.
- 1 – Poor. Significant issues, not worth purchasing at any price.
BR’s Flagship, Basic Boot.
- Brand: Banana Republic
- Style: Plain toe “workwear inspired” boot
- Size: 10 US (43 EU)
- Last: n/a
- Construction: Glued (Bonwelted/cemented)
- Upper: “Genuine Leather”
- Sole: Mini lug rubber sole
- Details: Tonal metal eyelets, flat waxed laces, and
- Extras: Spare laces
- Country of Origin: China
- Price: $178 USD, but usually around $110 with the standard 40% off BR discount
(Jolly) Rodger Dodger. They’re boots allright!
My leather Arley boots were ordered way back in early September, but a small backorder saw them get delivered just a few days ago in early October. Normally I’d be pretty upset with a month-long wait for a pair of boots, but this being 2020 and us being in a global pandemic, I’ll chalk it up to international shipping delays. Plus, it’s not like I really *needed* another pair of brown boots anyways.
FYI: Banana Republic is offering free shipping and a 45-day return policy on all items, with returns and exchanges being free when you use their prepaid return label or return the items to a store near you.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Easy ordering, small backorder delay, but great return policy.
Nice looking (faux) stitched welt
My 2020 Arleys arrived in the standard black Banana Republic boot box stuffed with a load of tissue paper. This helped them arrive scratch and scuff free. There was also a pair of extra flat waxed cotton laces inside the box, to my total surprise. Maybe they read my last review? Hah!
Score: 4/5 – Box is fine and the spare laces were a nice touch.
More comfort than a bowl of chicken soup.
Adam’s Shoe Box Shot™
When you close your eyes and imagine a “brown boot”, you’re probably thinking about the Banana Republic Arley. I think Gap’s design team really nailed it on this boot design. It’s simple and stylish without being plain. The dark brown leather is smooth with a hint of depth and color variation. The upper is stitched together cleanly without any noticeable issues. The flat waxed laces running through the antiqued copper eyelets are surprisingly nice, too, as these are what you’d typically find on more expensive boots. A faux leather welt with contrasting off-white stitching runs along the upper and blends in nicely with the brown rubber midsole. The pull tabs around back are reinforced with fabric so that Cinderella Man doesn’t rip through the thin leather tab when he’s putting on his slippers.
Surprisingly nice details, like the antiqued copper eyelets and flat waxed laces.
On the inside you’ll find a thin layer of pigskin lining stretching from the heel cup forward to about mid-foot. The toe box is lined in some kind of felt or fabric. This is one of the few areas that looks and feels cheap. Fabric linings like to trap moisture and that typically turns into stinky shoe funk with time. I’d *highly* suggest you use a pair of shoe trees or stuff the boots with newspaper after each wear and give
them ample time to air out between wears if possible. Also, merino wool socks can help with this, too!
Ortholite insoles. Wish they woulda lined the whole thing in pigskin, but, ah well.
The mini lug sole and heel topper are essentially budget versions of the infamous Vibram 430 kit that’s used on much more expensive boots. This is a good thing! They offer plenty of grip in most conditions but also won’t look out of place if you’re pushing these into more “business” leaning “business casual” outfits. No one should be wearing chunky hiking boots to the office with your dress shirt and slacks. Interestingly, the black front outsole and the brown midsole are one single piece of rubber. Gap has accurately (and exceptionally) produced this to look like they are two separate pieces in two different colors, but it’s one single piece. The downside of this means that should you wear through the sole, you’re replacing both the outsole AND the midsole AND heel block. Perks of the lower cost of the boots.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Surprisingly nice for a simple/basic pair of boots.
Comfort, Fit, and Sizing
Comfort is always subjective, but I feel like the non-removable Ortholite insoles and thin leather lining are adequately comfortable. They’re not going to blow your hair back or anything, but they’re soft and the whole package is comfortable enough fresh out of the box to wear them to work on Day 1. Speaking of the insoles, the open-cell foam insole material should breathe pretty well, too. I do have some doubts about their long-term durability, but you’re also not spending Red Wing or Allen Edmonds money here.
Mini lug sole and heel topper. Grip without being visually overbearing.
Banana Republic doesn’t disclose what last/form that these boots are crafted around, but they run slightly narrow and have a rounded toe and tapered heel. They fit very similarly to my Clark’s Originals Desert Boots, which isn’t a bad thing. One minor complaint – these wear like a work boot/chukka boot hybrid. They’re a hair too short (and too thin) to have any real ankle support. The opening also tends to bow outwards when walking, but that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Odds are you won’t be doing any heavy manual labor in these anyways.
Size wise, I recommend taking a half-size smaller than your normal Brannock shoe size. Sizing down to a 10 US gave me the best fit out of the box without any noticeable heel slip or hot spots.
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.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Comfortable. Normal fit/sizing.
Pretty, pretty good for $90 – $110 depending on sales.
I think Banana Republic has a good thing going with these Arley boots. Personally, I think the dark brown leather version is the pair to get – it’s simple, elegant, versatile, and should be durable enough for a few seasons. If you’re in the market for something like that and you like how these look, I highly recommend them over something from other fast fashion brands or something chunkier like Timberlands. Plus, Gap
Inc. runs regular sales that can drop the price to under $100!
Avg. Score: 4/5 Stars – Perfectly average. Nothing wrong with a simple pair of brown leather boots.