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.
Note: At post time, AE is running a $75 off $250+ offer if you’re new to their “collectors” email list. Create an account, and they should give you a one time use code. Drops these to $180.
Allen Edmonds is going through a bit of a rebuilding process, not unlike my favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox (big oof to 2020!). If you’ve been paying attention to the Port Washington, WI firm at all over the past year or two, you will no doubt have noticed some interesting new designs in their ever-widening portfolio of footwear. From camp mocs and boat shoes to Shell Cordovan Oxfords on a sneaker sole, Allen Edmonds seems to be throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the wall to see what sticks in today’s market. It’s a valiant effort at the very least.
I think we can all assume this is a part of their effort to recapture the American menswear focus as more and more of us replace our formal cap toe Oxfords with a more versatile, “smart casual” option. They’ve already hit a Grand Slam with their Higgins Mill boots, but they’ve also struck out swinging with that silly Park Ave Oxford sneaker in Shell Cordovan. How do their new luxury sneakers stack up? Let’s find out.
Okay AE. Let’s see what you bring to the crowded sneaker game.
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.
Nice velvety suede and beefy laces.
- Brand: Allen Edmonds
- Style: Low-top suede “dress sneaker”
- Size: 10.5 US (~44.5 EU)
- Last: Unknown
- Construction: Cemented and Stitched
- Upper: Suede
- Lining: Calf
- Sole: Rubber cup sole
- Details: Flat waxed cotton laces, contrasting heel tab and tongue patch, foam insoles
- Extras: N/A
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Price: $245 USD
Made in the Dominican Republic. Not USA. Just a heads up.
My pair of Courtsides was ordered on a Monday and the package was delivered that Friday via FedEx SmartPost. All domestic shipments over $100 USD are shipped free, with an estimated 3-7 business day arrival. So, this is a perfectly normal delivery window and no issues occurred.
FYI: Allen Edmonds offers free returns with 90 days on all domestic U.S. orders with the exception of Factory Second shoes (those have a $25 restocking fee). As usual, shoes must be unused with no signs of wear.
Score: 5/5 Stars – Easy ordering, standard shipping, and a generous 90 day free returns policy.
Almond toe shape is reminiscent of their 65 last (Park Ave./Strand).
My pair of suede Courtsides arrived in one of the newer blacked out Allen Edmonds boxes. It’s an average shoe box overall, nothing worth writing home about. Inside, there was also nothing special to write about.
The shoes themselves were individually bagged and wrapped in a few pieces of tissue paper, but there were no cloth shoe bags, no spare laces, no brush, or anything else of value. At this price point, I kind of expect to see bonus shoe care items included. For what it’s worth, Gustin can deliver similar quality shoes AND include shoe bags and spare laces for 35% less cash. Am I asking too much?
Score: 3/5 Stars – Average at best.
Sneakers came with a box, and that’s all.
Suede on the toe boxes arrived matted down, but that brushed out a bit.
Fresh out of the box, I’m intrigued by the design of these sneakers. The last shape almost resembles their infamous Park Ave and Strand models with a narrow heel, wide forefoot, and rounded “almond” shape toe box. The suede looks nice, the laces are beefy, and I’m really digging the walnut tan tongue and heel accents that give these a much-needed pop of color. The puffy ankle collar looks comfortable.
In the hand, the suede feels plush and almost velvet like in texture. The shorter nap is evenly trimmed with enough length to give texture and some depth. Color wise, this darker shade of grey leans warmer with greenish or brownish undertones. I’d say it’s somewhere between Charcoal (Pantone 425) and Sardine (Pantone 418). In person the color looks a few shades lighter than represented on AE’s site. Visually, the suede and leather accents look elegant, which I think suits the more upscale, dressy nature of the Courtside model pretty well. While I personally won’t be wearing sneakers with a suit any time soon, I can definitely see these being paired well with slim, dark denim, an Oxford cloth button-down shirt, and a sport coat in a similar earthy brown, green, blue, or grey color. If you’re looking for “smart casual” sneakers, something like this should definitely be in your wheelhouse.
Interior is lined with a burgundy calf leather.
Overall construction seems to be very solid. The main upper stitching is single needle throughout, including the reinforced areas at the bottom of the facings. There are no noticeable faults anywhere, but the suede on the toe box of both shoes seems to be matted down a bit. Whether this is from the assembly process or just the nature of this suede, I’m not sure. It does brush out a little bit and I suspect a brass suede brush would be able to correct it better than my regular horsehair bristle brush. I will also note that the inner heel stitching, where the leather ankle lining meets the suede heel cup, may become a point of failure. I can foresee this single row of stitching becoming weak after many, many miles of wear. If that happens, the ankle lining could begin to split, separate, or pull up and away.
Pilllow-like insoles to cradle your feet.
Since we’re already talking about the interior, here are a few other things you’ll notice. First, everything your foot touches is made from plush, burgundy calf leather. This includes the full-length linings and the leather topped removable foam insoles. The FlyForm insoles are molded from a unique and dense open cell foam that should give you some support and shock absorption, but without falling to pieces within a year. They are much better than the cheap insoles you find in budget sneakers. Overall, everything is soft and squishy as comfort was obviously directive #1. Personally, I wouldn’t wear these barefoot as I can imagine them getting pretty sweaty with the layers of leather and no real ventilation to speak of. Underneath the insole, you’ll see some interesting engineering. The toe area is firm with a thin layer of generic looking fiberboard, but the midfoot/ball area has nothing like that. It’s a fiber or cloth material instead, which I assume is for added flexibility. Finally, the rear half of the footbed is made from a layer of stiff Bartoli fiberboard from Italy. This is some creative design work that allows for both a stiff, supportive shoe as well as one that’s comfortable and flexible from the get go.
Three piece construction under the insole for support and flexibility.
The outsole is an Allen Edmonds custom rubber cup sole with horizontal tread. It’s both glued and stitched to the upper leather. It’s a little slimmer and a little firmer than the de facto option from Margom that a lot of other brands use. Unfortunately, this model is too new to really know how long that sole will last, but with Allen Edmonds, that’s not really a problem. They now offer a recrafting service for their sneakers, too! For only $75 USD (as of March 2021), the factory in Port Washington, WI will replace the outsoles, refinish and polish the uppers, and provide a new set of shoe laces.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Overall, great. Above average materials and construction with few minor defects.
Recraftable soles with a horizontal tread.
Comfort, Fit, and Sizing
Comfort is always subjective, but you’ll be hard pressed to find more comfortable sneakers outside of dedicated running or athletic shoes. Seriously, the pillow-like foam insoles and plush leather lining feel great around your feet. The relaxed fit last shape is pretty good, too, with plenty of room in the toe box while also looking sleek and tapered. No complaints here!
The Courtside sneakers fit true to size, if not a little roomy, so stick with your usual Brannock size. This pair in 10.5 D fit pretty well with medium thickness socks like Darn Tough and Smart Wool. If you regularly wear thin loafer or sneaker socks, you may want to explore a half-size down or a narrower width. Speaking of width, this D width is wider than average and may accommodate most of you who need a slightly wider fitting. If you know you wear EE or EEE widths on a regular basis, go with your gut.
For reference, I am a 10.5 D/E on a Brannock device and usually take a 10 D in wider-fitting 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 – Snug fit that will break in over time. Go true to your Brannock size!
Subjectively handsome and very comfortable.
At the end of the day, I like the Courtside sneakers. Quite a lot, actually. They seem to be crafted well from above average materials and the design is subjectively handsome. They’re very comfortable out of the box, too. I could definitely see myself wearing these with dark denim, a clean white Oxford shirt, and a chunky knit cardigan or casual knit sportcoat in a charcoal grey, dusty navy, or hunter green. Allen Edmonds will charge you $250 for the pleasure, though, and that’s a lot of cheddar for most of us to spend on sneakers. You’ll need to check them out for yourself and see if the juice is worth the squeeze.
Avg. Score: 4.25/5 Stars – Comfortable, stylish, and well made. Recommended!