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.
Today we’re taking a look at this gorgeous pair of Cobbler Union longwing bluchers. While I’m no stranger to well-made shoes, I hadn’t heard about Cobbler Union before a few weeks ago. Perhaps they keep a low profile, or perhaps I’ve been living under the proverbial rock. Either way, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about Cobbler Union’s products and their dedication to preserving the craft and artistry that is shoemaking. Founded in Barcelona, Spain back in 2014, Cobbler Union is a direct to consumer brand that seems to focus on craftsmanship and design over pure price point. They certainly have a lot of competition within this $300-$500 price tier, but you should read on and find out why they may be the best looking needle in the haystack.
Pebbled leather from French tannery Du Puy.
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.
A classic example of a longwing blucher with clean lines, neat pinking, and accurate broguing.
- Brand: Cobbler Union
- Style: Longwing Blucher
- Size: 10 US (9 UK, 43 EU)
- Last: 312
- Construction: Goodyear Welted
- Upper: Full-grain French calf from Du Puy
- Sole: Vibram Studded Gumlite
- Details: Full-grain calf linings, blind metal eyelets, flat waxed laces
- Extras: Two cloth shoe bags/polishing mitts
- Country of Origin: Spain
- Price: $395 USD
Classic fleur-de-lis medallion punched into the leather.
My pair of longwing bluchers was ordered and sent out on a Friday afternoon and they were delivered, literally, the next day via UPS Ground. I’m chalking this win up to the fact that Cobbler Union’s HQ is in Atlanta, GA, just a few hours South of where I am outside of Nashville, TN. Speaking of which, you should definitely visit their HQ if you’re passing through.
FYI: Cobbler Union has a simple 30-day return policy. Here in the US, they offer free exchanges or returns within those 30-days, so long as the items are in pristine, resalable condition.
Score: 5/5 Stars – Easy ordering, FAST shipping, and an easy return policy. Nice!
My Alex uR longwing bluchers arrived in a sliding shoe box, where the “bottom” of the box slides out from the “top”. While it isn’t as pretty as those used by other DTC brands, it feels sturdy enough for me. The shoes were shipped nestled between a few layers of tissue paper, sleeping inside their lovely soft cotton flannel shoe bags. While there were no spare laces, shoehorns, or other accessories inside (boo), there was a thank you note and a return policy guide postcard. At this price point, I’d like to see an extra set of laces tucked in there, as brands like Grant Stone and Gustin manage to do that for less money. However, I can’t complain too loudly about those, seeing as how the shoes themselves are stunning.
Score: 4.5/5 Stars – Box is plain, but neat. I appreciate the individual shoe bags.
Finally, two shoebags!
Fresh out of the box, I’m instantly impressed with the heft of these shoes. They’re not unreasonably heavy, but your brain tells you that you’re not dealing with cheap, glued dress shoes. The Alex uR model (uR being their “urban” line with a studded rubber outsole) is a classic example of a longwing blucher with clean lines, neat pinking, and accurate broguing.
Starting with the upper leather, the Alex model employs a warm shade of pebbled calfskin that Cobbler Union calls “cognac”, which I do find fitting. If you’re a whiskey drinker, these LWBs are a similar color to that of a well-aged, neat pour of your favorite bourbon. There’s also some lovely mottled tones blended in throughout the upper, probably achieved during the finishing process that’s done by hand. Cobbler Union’s designers source this “Country calf” from the French Tanneries Du Puy. Those folks are roughly three hours Southeast of Paris and have been turning out some of the best cow and calf hides for well over 70 years. In fact, the luxury goods giant Herm¨s purchased the tannery back in 2015 and has been slowly updating their facilities for more production ever since. This full-grain calf leather may be pebbled, but it has an overall smooth, polished texture to it that feels both soft and hearty at the same time. The uppers aren’t too stiff, so I foresee an easy break-in process with this type of leather.
The heft of these shoes clues you into the quality.
The toe has the classic fleur-de-lis medallion punched into the leather. My only complaint about this particular pair is that the pebble grain has been slightly smoothed out during the lasting process. You can see this at the tip of the toe, where the grain pattern slightly disappears and the color gets a bit lighter. I feel that a quick burnish here with a darker shade of brown would really help fill in this spot. This is a very minor gripe, though. Moving on, the broguing is neatly finished throughout and I also love the pinking done to the edges of the layers. While you won’t notice it at first, there are hidden metal eyelets backing the lace holes, helping to reinforce those areas so that the laces don’t stretch or rip the leather on the facings.
The Alex uR model also uses a leather storm welt and is stitched with a 360° Goodyear welt stitch. One of the hallmarks of high quality shoes is the finishing around the welt and welt joint, where the two ends of the “rope” meet. I’ll give this Cobbler Union craftsperson a solid B+, which is certainly better than I could ever do! The subtle light brown edge dressing neatly finishes the welt, leather midsole, and ties in the brown rubber outsole into the package.
Vibram outsole is what gives this blucher it’s uR (urban) designation.
That outsole is a studded Vibram Gumlite unit that runs the full length of the shoe. I find these to be noticeably more comfortable than the harder, denser Dainite soles that upmarket brands tend to use. The heel block is a stacked leather design that’s finished off with a studded Vibram heel topper. I can’t tell whether the heel block is glued and nailed or simply glued down, but it feels very secure. Either way, a cobbler can easily swap out the heel topper should it wear out.
Red leather lining, reminiscent of Euro sports cars.
The interior lining is also full-grain calf leather. The heel pad is made of quilted leather, extends past the arch, and exudes luxury. Cobbler Union designers chose a fantastic shade of ruby red for their signature color, which really helps this stand out. The overall aesthetic is very similar to those supple seats that you would find in a sporty Audi, Aston Martin, or Bentley. The tanned leather insoles are a little thinner than those used by Grant Stone or Alden, but overall, I’m very impressed with the inside of these shoes in both looks and feel. Hidden between the insole and rubber outsole is a high-density layer of cork filler that will mold to your feet like custom insoles over time. While I don’t have any real miles on these LWBs, they feel great on carpet!
Score: 5/5 Stars – Fantastic materials. Finishing is great! Love the luxury details.
Comfort, Fit, and Sizing
In terms of fit, I recommend trying your natural Brannock size first. Cobbler Union says their 312 last is their “widest and rounded” last, but I find that it runs a little narrow for me, especially at the toe. The heel feels solid, but the toe tapers into a rounded almond shape. Eschewing their recommendations, I’d say start with your “true to size” Brannock measurement and make adjustments as needed if you muck it up. If you’re an Allen Edmonds fan, go with your normal Park Ave or Strand sizing. If you’re an Alden fan, go with your Plaza last sizing.
Note: At this time, Cobbler Union only offers medium D width shoes. If you are in between sizes or widths, they recommend that you size up or try a different last. Some of their lasts take inspiration from more sculpted French or Italian designs, while others are closer to those more rounded and generous British styles. You may need to try a few different lasts or sizes to find one that will work best for you. If all else fails, visit their HQ for a fitting. Atlanta is fantastic in the Fall!
Lux quilting on the heel pad leather.
Comfort is always subjective, but I find these to be pretty dang comfortable (aside from fitting too narrow for me). The red calf leather lining is very smooth and I love the look and feel of the quilted leather, foam backed heel pad. I can tell that if these were the right fitting for me, there would be minimal break-in time.
For reference, I am a 10.5 D/E on a Brannock device and usually take a 10 D in most roomy 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 Converse/Vans and an 11 in most Adidas/Nike sneakers.
Score: 4.5/5 Stars – Runs a little narrow, but comfort and the squish factor are great!
Have you ever been pleasantly surprised to find out something doesn’t suck? That’s how I’m feeling right now. I don’t know why I hadn’t heard about or researched Cobbler Union before now, but I am pretty impressed with their products. These Alex uR longwings look great, feel great, and look to be made very well to last a long time. The overall aesthetic has a subtle, Euro flair without looking like you just stepped out of a Parisian discotheque. The materials and finishing are well above average, and I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase a pair for myself as I think Cobbler Union offers great value for your money. Cheers!
Avg. Score: 4.75/5 Stars – Shockingly good. Worth the investment, IMO!