About the Author: Adam Terry is a thirtysomething salesman in the heating and manufacturing industry. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, denim, and working on his
dad bod father figure.
Banana Republic is going through a bit of rebranding exercise, shedding their old “nice Gap” aesthetic for a much richer and more vibrant collection of clothing. Their 2022 New Arrivals section is chock full of warm khaki, brown, and green Earth tones. Their shirts and pants are cut in more relaxed fits, echoing menswear’s general preference over the past few years. I’m really digging their sweaters, knit blazers, and fantastic looking outerwear. Today we’re taking a look at their latest shoe addition in these Reace suede shoes. Are they worth the investment?
Nice silhouette over all to these oxfords, er, derbies?
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: Banana Republic
- Style: Four eyelet derby/blucher
- Size: 10.5
- Last: N/A
- Construction: Glued
- Upper: Suede
- Sole: Rubber
- Details: Antique nickel eyelets, round waxed cotton laces
- Extras: Spare laces
- Country of Origin: China
- Price: $160
Extra laces come in that box!
My pair of Reace suede derbies was purchased online on a Thursday afternoon, they shipped out on Friday via UPS SurePost, and arrived on Saturday afternoon. In today’s economy with ever looming backorders and shipping delays, I was shocked these arrived so fast. Not bad!
FYI: Banana Republic has a 45-day free returns and exchanges policy, which feels like it’s better than it used to be. As usual, all items must be like new and in a resalable condition. If you buy shoes over the internet, make sure you try them on at home on carpet first!
Score: 5/5 Stars – Easy ordering online, quick shipping, and a solid return policy.
This pair arrived in a standard, black Banana Republic shoe box that was shipped inside of a poly mailer bag. As such, the box was in rough shape and looked a little worse for wear. Luckily, the people who packed the order wrapped the box in a larger rubber band to keep things inside the package; nothing had spilled out or gotten lost during shipping. Inside, the shoes were wrapped in a few layers of tissue paper that helped separate them in transit so they didn’t receive any noticeable dents or dings. Each shoe was also stuffed with ample tissue paper to help maintain their shape. Thankfully, an extra set of laces was thrown in on top!
Score: 3/5 Stars – The unboxing experience was average with nothing major to note.
A darker brown faux-welt insole contrasts nicely with the lighter suede.
Fresh out of the box, I really like the overall silhouette of these Reace derbies. Yes, I said derbies and not oxfords (even though BR says oxfords). These shoes have open lacing, two quarters sewn together, and a vamp with a tongue. You say I’m being pedantic? Yes, absolutely. Technically correct is the best kind of correct! Moving on, these remind me a lot of the Tricker’s “Daniel” tramping shoe, minus that chunky English sole. I have a similar pair of tramping shoes from Tricker’s and they’re fantastic for dressing up a touch during Spring and Summer. Sometimes you want to throw on something other than a t-shirt and sneakers, but you don’t quite feel the need to get fully suited up. That’s where the Reace derbies come in.
The upper suede looks and feels good, especially for being a “budget” leather. Generally speaking, suede at this price tier tends to look and feel better than cheaper smooth leather and that’s especially true for shoe leathers. There’s just enough nap and texture to set these apart as something inherently a little more casual. The “vintage tan” color leans towards a light to medium brown, almost khaki tan shade in the hand. I wish it had a bit more depth or richness.
Good “derbies” for a summer look.
Style wise, you should dress them up with a Summer-weight sport coat, Oxford shirt, and dress chinos for an upscale, smart casual style for work dinners or dates with your significant other. For casual nights with the family, dress them down with a Harrington jacket, knit polo shirt, and clean denim for a retro, preppy style. As always, add in some personal accessories to tweak the outfit and make it your own. For a bit of inspiration, look through our Style Scenarios.
I like the darker brown faux welt, midsole, and outsole that contrast well against the lighter tan suede up above and the white faux welt stitching below. Throw in some antique nickel metal eyelets and brown, round waxed cotton laces. All of these little details pop and help elevate these derbies a little bit above similar models you’d find at stores like Kohls or JC Penney.
Basic “buck” shape. Also available in a summery off-white
The interior is a mixed bag of materials. The back two-thirds of the shoe is mostly lined in a relatively thin layer of pig suede. Pig suede is usually cheaper than cow suede, so that’s one corner that got cut. The heel cup is lined in something that feels like some extra thin suede or fabric, which is used here to help eliminate heel slip. Moving forward, the front third of the shoe is lined in a twill fabric lining, which is notorious for holding onto moisture. This can exacerbate a stinky shoe situation, unlike leather that tends to breathe a bit better. In addition, fabrics tend to wear through faster than leather, so I wouldn’t expect these Reace derbies to last too long.
The insole or footbed is a non-removable, multi-layer sandwich of natural and manmade materials. The topmost layer is made from that same pig suede. That layer gets glued down to the main layer of cushioning Ortholite foam that’s about as thick as a golf tee is wide. Ortholite foam is fine for initial comfort but tends to compress and lose the shock absorption after a while, so be prepared for this down the road. Underneath all that is a firm layer of fiberboard that helps to keep everything solid, glued down, and grounded.
Don’t be fooled; that’s rubber, not leather.
The outsole is a molded rubber unit that’s painted and textured to look like a combination leather sole. It’s not a bad representation, but from my experience, this paint or coloring tends to flake off after a year of regular wear and you can’t simply dye the rubber parts back with edge dressing. The heel block feels really dense like plastic or wood. Unfortunately, I can’t find out for sure without destroying these shoes and that’s just not worth the effort to find out. Finally, the heel stack is finished off with a rubber heel block that’s glued down, no nails inside.
Score: 3/5 Stars – Average materials and construction make for a solid, short term shoe.
Sizing, Fit, and Comfort
In terms of sizing, I recommend trying your true-to-size Brannock measurement. While wearing my tried and true Darn Tough medium weight socks, I tried this pair in a 10.5 US and that feels like the correct choice. With my heels snug in the heel cup, the widest parts of my feet match the widest part of the shoes.
In terms of fit, the heel cup is comfortably snug and there’s a bit of breathing room in the toe box for some growth and expansion on longer or warmer days. I did notice a bit of tightness in width at the widest part of the shoe, so if you normally take a wider width, you are probably out of luck with the Reace derbies.
Non-removeable Ortholite sole will be fine for most.
Comfort is always subjective, but initial comfort out of the box feels OK to me. As mentioned earlier, these have a non-removable Ortholite foam insole and that’s probably fine for most people. Personally, I’d like to see a bit more cushioning or have the footbeds removable so that we can pick and choose how much squish, comfort, or arch support we actually want.
For size 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/Jordan/Yeezy sneakers. Have a size question? Email us!
Score: 4/5 Stars – Sizing is spot on true to size, but comfort could be a bit better.
All in all, I actually like these suede shoes a lot. The suede feels great for being a “budget” leather shoe and the initial comfort feels OK. I can’t honestly say that these will last you a lifetime like a pair of Aldens, Allen Edmonds, or Grant Stones, but these Reace derbies from Banana Republic are also a lot cheaper, especially when you stumble onto a 40% off code!
For the majority of us, they’re going to be just fine for semi-regular day to day wear. If you’re in the market for some fantastic smart casual shoes and you’re working within a certain budget, you should definitely check these out in person. I think you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I was.
Avg. Score: 3.75/5 – Not bad! These are OK casual dress shoes, especially for the price.
Not a bad pair of shoes for the price.