Wolf & Shepherd: The “World’s Most Comfortable Italian Leather Dress Shoe” In Review
Note: Wolf & Shepherd sent us this pair of shoes for free for the purposes of this review.
Wolf & Shepherd is a new online shoemaker that promises to deliver “Italian leather dress shoes that are as comfortable as a sneaker.” These days, there are a whole bunch of online shoe companies now, each with their own unique twist or selling point. For Wolf & Shepherd, it’s all about comfort. That is their competitive edge, that is how they position their products, and that is what they hope to do better than anyone else. They want to make dress shoes that look great, but feel next-level comfortable too. Let’s see how they do!
Style & Design
For this review we got a pair of the Senna Wingtips in Honey brown leather. The color is a very nice light brown, with the slightest burnishing towards the tip (which I am unsure as to whether I am a fan of). These shoes would work great with a nice navy, or even grey suit. More casually, they’d go pretty well with most colored dress pants except for black. The lighter brown will stand out a bit, though, so these are a tiny bit more of a statement shoe than a darker brown would be. They are also a closed-lace, or true oxford, shoe, which makes them a bit dressier and, like I said, able to be paired with dressier suit getups.
There is a small tab at the base of the lacing which is a detail I actually like (though, admittedly, some will not). The sole of the shoe is a light brown at the top, though is black on the bottom. The black/brown combo is not super noticeable, though, unless your foot is up so I wouldn’t worry about that too much.
The shape of the shoe is relatively sleek. While most “comfort dress shoes” are absolutely hideous, that is utterly not the case here. These shoe look just like genuine dress shoes, just as promised. Still, the toe box could be a bit sleeker. It comes to a somewhat squared off, almost notch-like tip which looks just okay from the side or top views. Now, to be fully honest, most dress shoes I see around are not much sleeker than this, if at all. So, these are certainly more than fine. Still, if you prefer your dress shoes to be super sleek, or come to a more rounded toe, you might not love the profile of these shoes.
These shoes are also available in a darker brown or black (and Wolf & Shepherd also offers other kinds of shoes, like boots and loafers as well).
Quality, Construction & Comfort
These shoes are well made, there are no two ways about that. The shoes all possess an intricately layered “system” that is designed to maximize comfort. And these shoes are super comfortable. The moment you put them on you feel a bit weird, as your eyes are telling you you’re slipping on a pair of dress shoes, while your brain is telling you that it feels like a pair of sneakers. It’s really true, and, in this regard, these shoes live up to the hype. The shoes are made out of Italian calfskin leather, and lined in sheepskin which gives added comfort. The insoles are made of a proprietary memory foam — and that is exactly what it feel like; it’s as if you are walking on a mini memory foam mattress just for your feet. I will say, though, that the rest of the shoe takes some serious breaking-in. While the soles will feel comfortable — and more comfortable than any other dress shoe you’ve ever worn — right away, the heel and upper will take a bit of wear before its smooth and contoured to your foot. This is pretty typical of dress shoes, and is no real cause for concern. But, if you were expecting these to have no break-in period, you’d be wrong. So, just a heads up on that. (In specific, the main issue I found was that they sew one side of the tongue to attach it to the inside of the upper of the shoe. I was told that they do this so that the tongue lays nicer when tied, which might be the case, but it takes a while to get used to this/break it in.)
As to the leather, it’s good, not amazing. It’s certainly a nice leather that moves, will break in, and is by no means cheap. Still, this is not the kind of rich, deep, thick, even heavy leather that a shoe like Allen Edmonds would use. This is largely by design, as these shoes are meant to be lighter and more comfortable. And this is true. Allen Edmonds shoes are tanks. Wolf & Shepherd shoes are not, nor are they meant to be. They wear far more comfortably than a shoe from Allen Edmonds. Still, these are not quite a classical dress shoe replacement. This leather creases not as nicely, does not have as nice of grain to it, and is just overall a noticeable step down from the higher end dress shoe manufacturers. Again, if you’re buying this shoe you’re not looking for top of the line leather — you’re looking for top of the line comfort, with good leather, which you are getting — but it’s something to be aware of.
Finally, the laces are nice quality and are not too long, and while the sole of the shoe is not Goodyear welted or anything, Wolf & Shepherd does offer their own resole program for about $70. (You can learn more about that, as well as a great overall perspective on these shoes from a friend of The Peak Lapel, here.)
Oh, and one last thing: they include some of the nicest shoe/dust bags I’ve ever seen included with a pair of shoes.
I had some difficulty finding a pair of these shoes that fit me well. I usually wear an 11.5 in most shoes, though the 11.5 was a big snug and was pinching my toes with these. I ended up swapping them out for a 12 which, in all honesty, is now a tad too big (so it goes), though still fits me pretty well overall. I have somewhat medium width, long feet. For me, these shoes fit me okay, but not perfectly. Of course, everyone is different in this regard, but it might pay to order two sizes and return the one that fits not as well.
These shoes also have a considerable amount of arch support, which is something I always look for and is something I deeply commend Wolf & Shepherd on. It adds to the comfort of these shoes quite a bit.
Price, Value, & Conclusion
These shoes will run you a pretty hefty $365. These shoes, then, are for specific kinds of people. If you find yourself doing a whole bunch of walking, don’t find your dress shoes to be comfortable enough, and maybe already have a more classic pair of dress shoes, this is your next shoe. You won’t find a more comfortable dress shoe on the market (at least that we know of). On the other hand, if you are looking for a super sleek dress shoe with very fine, beautifully rich leather, this is not your shoe — nor is it trying to be. When you design a product with a certain goal in mind, there are always tradeoffs. Wolf & Shepherd traded some leather quality and sleekness for extreme comfort. If that sounds like your ideal compromise, these are well worth the money. You’re getting a great shoe that will last a long time, and can be resoled for not too much extra cash. On the other hand, these shoes are, almost by definition, not for everyone. If you prefer sleekness, don’t find yourself being super active in your dress shoes, and want to go with a brand with some more heritage like Allen Edmonds or Alden, then that is the better route for you. If these shoes fit with your lifestyle, and you pick up a pair, though, you won’t be disappointed.