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.
Chukka boots are effortlessly cool and can be an invaluable, extremely versatile tool in any man’s wardrobe. Banana Republic recently launched their Arturo model leather chukka boot and its design on the screen looks to be quite a bit nicer than your average pair of chukkas from fast fashion mall brands:
Pictured on the BR Site. These could be interesting?
Made in Portugal, textured Italian leather, and what appears to be a “museum” style finish.
These boots feature a more elegant three-eyelet upper design, a textured Italian leather upper, and Portuguese construction. They look to be well designed and should pair well with upscale business casual outfits or tailored suiting. However, the elephant in the room is that $250 MSRP price tag. Let’s find out how Banana’s latest offering stacks up against our standard bearers from Allen Edmonds and Grant Stone and see whether or not they’re worth it.
The Adam Review Scale of Excellence (A.R.S.E.)
- 5 – Outstanding! Very nice and well worth the price of admission. Highly recommended.
- 4 – Very satisfactory. Above average, may have very minor issues but still worth it.
- 3 – Satisfactory. Average at best. May have notable issues, may be OK for some.
- 2 – Unsatisfactory. Below average due to defects, flaws, or other imperfections.
- 1 – Poor. Significant issues, not worth purchasing at any price. Avoid!
- Brand: Banana Republic
- Style: Three-eyelet dress chukka boot
- Size: 10.5
- Last: N/A
- Construction: Glued? Blake? Hard to tell.
- Upper: Italian leather
- Sole: Faux Dainite rubber stud sole and heel
- Details: Leather lining, padded leather insole topper
- Extras: One boot bag
- Country of Origin: Portugal
- Price: $250 USD
Pictured in real life.
My pair was ordered through the main Banana Republic website on a Friday morning. The package shipped out from Gap’s Skokie, IL warehouse on Saturday evening via UPS SurePost. They finally arrived on my porch the following Wednesday afternoon no worse for wear. I think free shipping with three days of transit time (during what was at the time the holiday season) is pretty solid.
FYI: Banana Republic has a pretty normal 30-day return and exchange window for most items, including free return postage. Note that items purchased during the year end holiday season (October 15th through December 24th) qualify for their extended returns policy which allows you an additional ~15+ days to get stuff boxed back up and shipped back to Gap, Inc.
Score: 5/5 Stars – Easy ordering, quick FREE shipping, and simple FREE returns.
The buffing process was not kind to this particular pair
as they feature angular, odd shapes/lines where the top coat dye was removed.
This pair of chukkas arrived in Banana Republic’s black shoe box that has some neat printing on the interior that reminds me of the maps of Middle-earth from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. Inside the box, these boots were wrapped in a single sheet of tissue paper. Each boot was stuffed with a glob of tissue paper to help keep the boots from collapsing in transit. For bonus accessories, we have one boot bag that barely fits both boots. No spare laces, no leather coasters, no thank you card, or any other piece of ephemera. That’s pretty weak even amongst mall brands as the folks at J.Crew usually plan for some of those extra bits.
Score: 3/5 Stars – Uninspiring. This unboxing experience will not surprise you in any way.
Nothing new with the BR unboxing experience.
Fresh out of the box, I can already tell that these boots are different and may not be for me. They supposedly have a “handcrafted, multilayer staining process” that gets buffed to create a unique “museum” antique finish. However, instead of that marbled finish that has lots of depth and character, these boots look mottled and sickly. The buffing process was not kind to this particular pair and they feature angular, odd shapes where the top coat dye was removed. Worst of all, some of this dye looks to have been removed during shipping as the boots rubbed against each other in the box. You can tell that this is true from the spots of missing dye along the highpoints of the boot – along the beltline, at the heels, etc. This dye job was not done well.
“Museum” leather is supposed to look pleasantly marbled.
These look more like “the mess of a large holiday meal” (nsfw language)
Design wise, I do like the overall aesthetic of the Arturo chukkas. I enjoy the taller, three-eyelet design as it looks dressy and would pair very well with business casual suiting and smart casual outfits with sport coats and slacks or neatly pressed chinos. Design wise, these are certainly a step or two more formal than your typical casual chukkas like Clarks Desert Boots.
Ignoring the… “unique” finish on this particular pair, the uppers feature a slightly glossy pebble grain texture. I do enjoy this texture on my business casual boots and shoes as it adds another layer of visual interest in a world filled with a bunch of boring and flat, matte leather footwear. I also need to note that the right boot in my pair has some unsightly creasing on the inside panel. I’m chalking this up to poor cutting during the hide clicking process. I can’t tell if the panel is slightly misaligned to cause these wrinkles or if it’s truly some loose grain leather.
From the top things look fine, but looking closer at the inside panel of the right boot, there’s something weird going on.
These boots do have hidden metal eyelets on the inside of the facings, which add some reinforcement to the leather. The laces are thin, waxed cotton or cotton/poly and are a few inches too short to be comfortably used. You’ll need the hands of a toddler to tie these well. At the back, there’s a small tab that covers the rear stitching seam. Unfortunately, this piece of leather looks like an afterthought. Maybe they originally designed this boot to have pull tabs?
Was there supposed to be a heel tab there?
Peering inside, these chukkas are fully lined in a soft cowhide. It’s surprisingly nice considering all of the other areas where the designers skimped to save a few bucks. The heel cup is lined in suede or a split layer to help cut down on heel slip. Your foot will sit atop a non-removable sock-liner that’s composed of a layer of leather about as thick as a credit card and a layer of open cell comfort foam that’s about as thick as a quarter coin. Peel up a corner of that sock-liner and you’ll discover the truth about these boots and how they’re yet another example of lipstick on a pig. These boots feature cheap, compressed fiber/paper insole boards that look to be stitched to a lightweight rubber or foam midsole. At the back, the insole is nailed through to the pre manufactured rubber and synthetic heel block. This is a major layer of cost cutting by Banana Republic and will have a direct impact on long term durability and initial comfort.
Underneath is an inexpensive Dainite sole copy, with vanity stitching for looks.
Note – I’m fairly certain these boots are glued together and the stitching you see on the inside just secures the leather upper assembly to the insole/midsole unit. The stitching does not line up with the outsole stitching, so I doubt these are Blake or Blake/Rapid stitched and they are certainly not Goodyear welted. If we assume shoppers are paying full retail price, I think you would be better served by spending a bit less for Thursday Boots or a bit more for Grant Stone.
The outsole is an inexpensive copy of a Dainite studded rubber sole and heel combo. This set is made from a softer, less durable grade of rubber but should serve a similar function for a bit. The pre-stitched storm welt is not functional; it’s simply a homage to well-made boots.
Score: 2/5 Stars – Form over function. Style over substance. Cheaply made and not good.
In terms of fit and sizing, I recommend trying your true-to-size Brannock measurement. I tried this pair in my usual 10.5 and they fit OK. The length is correct for my size, but the fit feels weird because they have a tapering, almost narrow almond-shaped toe box and a wider, loose fitting heel. That’s pretty much the exact opposite of what a well-fitting shoe should have – my pairs from Grant Stone, Allen Edmonds, and Alden have a combination last with form-fitting heels and wide tox boxes that help your toes splay out. Plus, these chukkas look and feel to be low volume; there’s some light to moderate pressure on the top of my instep on both feet. This last shape just doesn’t work for my feet, but maybe I’m weird and they’ll work great for you.
Heels seem to fit wide…
For size reference, I am a 10.5 D 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 D/E in the Allen Edmonds 65 last, as that last runs narrow for me. I also take a 10.5 in Converse/Vans and an 11 in most athletic sneakers from Adidas or Nike. Have a size or fit question? Email us!
…while the toes taper aggressively/narrow.
A good fit usually comes from the opposite (you want form-fitting heels & tox boxes with adequate room)
Comfort is always subjective, but the initial test fit comfort is alright. The smooth leather lining feels pretty good with socked feet. The insole topper has a layer of leather on top of a thin layer of open cell foam, so actual comfort walking around is OK and average for mall brand store shoes. However, I am concerned that this thin layer of comfort foam will compress down rather quickly and you’ll lose that initial “out of the box” comfort. You can already start to feel the stitching that runs along the perimeter of the inside if you push down hard enough. Not a fan.
Score: 2/5 Stars – Runs true to size, but fit and comfort aren’t great for this user’s feet.
At first glance, the Banana Republic Arturo chukkas looked to be really promising. On paper, these had massive potential – hand stained leather uppers, a nicely tapered silhouette, and a three-eyelet design that leaned more dressy than casual. However, as lately seems to be the case with BR’s shoes, this pair did not meet my expectations at this (seemingly inflated) MSRP. The upper leather does have a decent pebbled grain texture, but the hand stained finish leaves a lot to be desired. Quite a bit of it rubbed off in the box during shipping and I fear that, given some proper wear and tear, this finish would end up looking splotchy or more sickly.
In the end these just didn’t live up to their potential.
The overall construction and quality control both leave a lot to be desired as well. From loose grain on the uppers to a cheap, compressed fiber/paper insole and very thin cushioning foam. These boots were made to look good and hit a price point that provides good profit margins. They were clearly not designed to fit well, be comfortable for very long, or to be durable. For me and my money, I believe that there are far better options out there in this price range.
However, with all of that said, these boots may still have a place in the market. For the younger guys who are just entering their career field, you may need a sharp pair of boots to pair with slacks or upscale chinos for the trips to the office. Maybe you’re working with a limited budget and understand that these boots may not last you a year of frequent wear. In that use case, these boots may be a good solution when you find them on sale. For those guys who are a bit more established in life but may have lost focus on dressing well for some reason (career changes, working from home, kids, etc.), these boots may be an inexpensive experiment. Maybe you would like to try some new styles or a whole new aesthetic without breaking the bank. In that use case, these boots would be a good entry point when on deep discount.
Avg. Score: 3/5 – Overall, I would not entertain these boots unless they were sub-$100.