About the Author: Adam Terry is a thirtysomething salesman in the HVAC and hydronics industry. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, raw denim, and working on his
dad bod father figure.
I think J.Crew has righted the ship and is headed back towards greatness. Today we’re checking out their new Court leather sneakers in this lovely toffee or caramel shade. I know what you’re thinking, “Great, another pair of minimalist leather sneakers. Who would even wear these?” and that’s a great question. Lots of guys and gals could use a super solid pair of sneakers in their arsenal for those smart casual outfits where athletic sneakers are too casual and plain toe bluchers or dress Oxfords are way too formal. I’m thinking these kinds of sneakers are perfect for those staycation date nights with your partner or (safely) meeting your buds at the local beer and wings spot after work one evening. How do the new Court sneakers stack up against our usual favorites from Greats, Gustin, or Common Projects?
Three basic colorways. No need to reinvent the wheel.
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.
- Brand: J.Crew
- Style: Classic court sneaker
- Size: 10 US (43 EU)
- Last: N/A
- Construction: Side stitched and glued
- Upper: “Premium” leather
- Sole: Vibram rubber cupsole
- Details: Leather lining
- Extras: N/A
- Country of Origin: China
- Price: $148 USD (retail, but less with the frequent codes J. Crew runs)
Yep. They’re classic court sneakers.
J.Crew is effectively back up to speed post-Covid with minimal shipping delays. My Court sneakers were ordered on a Tuesday and arrived sometime during that weekend. Nothing to complain about, here.
FYI: Returns are as standard as it gets: you have 30 days to return for a full refund or exchange if they’re unworn/unaltered. Do note that you’re on the hook for $7.50 for a prepaid label if you mail them in.
Score: 5/5 Stars – Easy ordering, fast shipping, and a dead simple return policy.
A new addition to their shoes lineup for 2021.
My Court sneakers arrived in mint condition tucked neatly inside a plain, simply branded cardboard box. There were no fun surprises inside – no shoe bags, shoe horns, spare laces, or anything of note.
At full MSRP, these have stiff competition from Gustin, Greats, Clae, etc. with Gustin being a few dollars more, but also including a pair of shoe storage bags and extra flat cotton laces. The J.Crew sneakers have nothing to write home about. Kinda bland and boring, but that’s fine I suppose. Especially considering paying MSRP at J. Crew these days is, well, not many people are doing that.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Simple, but solid. I wish there were shoe bags or spare shoe laces at the least.
No extras. You get the shoes. And the box.
Fresh out of the box, I’m pretty impressed with these Court sneakers. The overall shape is spot on with a gently rounded toe and a slightly tapered heel. The leather is fairly soft and supple; not as fine as the stuff that Common Projects uses, but definitely better than the plastic-like leather on Adidas Stan Smiths. The color is a lovely caramel brown that J.Crew calls English Tan and it’s evenly dyed throughout the uppers. There’s a warm shine across the leather panels that’s just right. Stitching is clean and evenly done throughout. There is some visible glue residue along the cup sole edge, but it’s easily cleaned up with some tweezers and a quick brushing. The tonal cotton laces aren’t waxed, but they are wide and a pleasure to use. Way better than those thin, cheap polyester laces that usually come with fashion sneakers.
Nice leather! A little glue residue on the edge, but that’s easy to clean up.
The plush calf leather lining extends all throughout the interior and feels great against socked or bare feet. The tongue is slightly thicker than average, but personally I like that extra cushioning against my high arches. The heel cup leather is reversed so there’s more grip to limit any heel slip. The leather-topped foam insole is decent, but it’s a step down from the muti-density foams used in other brands. The insoles are removable in case you’d prefer an aftermarket insert. Underneath the insoles, you’ll see the firm midsole and cup sole stitching that runs the perimeter of the sneakers. Yep, the soles are both glued and stitched. That’s a feature you normally see on higher end sneakers from Greats, Gustin, and the range topping Common Projects. Well done, J.Crew.
Removable insoles. Stitched and glued construction.
Speaking of soles, J.Crew has a new love affair with Vibram. These rubber soles are molded in a natural gum color and feature grip zones at the front and rear. I wouldn’t expect these to handle snow and slush all that well, but for everyday wear and tear, these will be hard to beat. Shockingly, I prefer the grip of this sole to the infamous Margom soles that most other minimalist sneakers like to use.
Score: 5/5 Stars – Great! Nice materials, craftsmanship, and design. Seems durable.
Comfort, Fit, and Sizing
After lacing them up, you should be pretty happy with the out of the box comfort. The leather lining is plush, the foam insoles are pretty squishy, and the overall shape is neutral enough to fit a lot of feet. Over time, I do suspect the foam insole will collapse, so keep an eye on that and invest in a spare set.
Speaking of fit, that gently rounded toe box and tapered heel give you the right amount of space for all day comfort. They are plenty wide enough for your Average Joe; I don’t feel any pinching or tightness that I normally do with the much more expensive Common Projects styles that run narrow.
Leather lined. A little extra cushioning in the tongue.
As with most of these minimalist sneakers, you should usually take a half-size down from your Brannock measurement as they tend to run a little large. These in 10 (43 EU) fit just right for me.
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: 5/5 Stars – Great! Pretty comfortable out of the box and run a bit large. Size down a half size.
Comfy out of the box. Removeable insoles for later replacement.
At the end of the day, I think J.Crew is offering a great product at the right price point. Even at full MSRP, you have a very competitive product that is almost as good as some of the direct-to-consumer brands like Greats, Gustin, etc. With one of the frequent sales or coupon codes, you can expect the price to drop to well under $100. At that point, these are a clear winner. The leather is decent, the insides are comfortable, and the Vibram sole should last you a while. I think you’ll be happy with your J.Crew Court leather sneakers regardless. If you end up trying a pair, let us know what you think!
Avg. Score: 4.75/5 Stars – Overall solid and worth the investment. Try a pair!