Review: Paul Evans Dress Shoes
Disclaimer: Paul Evans was kind enough to send The Peak Lapel these shoes for free for the purposes of this review.
Ah, yes, the famous Paul Evans. You’ve likely seen these shoes on many Instagram posts and feeds. Most of you have noticed them before, and likely recognize the name. If not, you have surely seen them even without knowing them. Somehow or other, Paul Evans shoes just seem to be everywhere. Which, seemingly, is both good and bad. Good for obvious reasons, but bad because they seem to have a serious stock problem, and can’t seem to keep most styles or most colors in stock. Some of their most beloved styles will sell out never to return (as of yet). Even browsing the site can seem a bit stark and empty when you click on a section for a certain type of shoe, and see only one or two options (especially when there used to be six or eight).
Still, what they do have available for purchase is super good looking and enticing. There is a reason these shoes are everywhere, and it is because they offer high quality construction with Blake stitching handmade in Italy. And they do that all at a price that, while expensive, is next to nothing compared to some of the higher end brands that are far more famous. And that is really the key here. The silhouette and designs of these shoes look like they might be made by Santoni. They are super sleek and clean and, well, truly Italian. For this review we took a look at The Stewart Penny Loafer in Oxblood ($450) which is one of their current loafer offerings. Here is what we thought.
Packaging & Experience
The site is clean and easy to use — if a bit sparse at times. Shipping is fast and free, as are returns. Can’t ask for much more here. What we really do not like, though, is that they seem to play a slight bit of games with out of stock shoes, sometimes accepting an order, and only later informing you that it was a “pre-order” of sorts for when the shoes come back in stock. Or just the fact that it’s really hard to tell what shoes, sizes, and colors are indeed in stock without selecting each one individually and testing for it. Other that that, though, we have no complaints in this department. The shoes also come in nice black boxes, which include shoe bags as well as a nice, metal shoe horn. A-
Style & Design
As mentioned above, these are truly Italian style shoes. They are sleek and sexy and look killer. Shoes like this are hard to find anywhere, at any price point. Many are clunkier, thicker, or less perfectly shaped. Everything from the heel to the toe box is wonderfully shaped and contoured, and if an Italian style loafer is what you are after, these are some of the best looking out there that we know of, no doubt about it. Especially at this price point.
They also come in some amazing colors, from black (which not all loafer manufacturers make, to my great chagrin) to most every shade of brown you could want. They even have their signature Oxblood color which is even more magnificent in person. That is the shade we got the loafer in, and it’s really quite a sight to see. It’s rich and deep and works with just about anything that brown would, but adds a unique punch way beyond what any standard brown could do. Again, these shoes are really quite something, and bring a whole lot to the table in the looks department, right down to their awesome stark red sole. A
Quality & Construction
There is a misconception out there that a Goodyear welt is an objectively better shoe than Blake stitched. This is simply not true. It is perhaps a bit more rugged and might be easier to re-sole, but Blake is still a very high quality construction and allows for a much sleeker, slimmer profile. This is why it is favored by many Italian shoemakers. The end result is a shoe much slimmer and sleeker than anything one could accomplish with a Goodyear welt. And that is exactly the case with these loafers.
As far as creasing: all leather creases. It’s how and where it creases — and how prominent — that is what truly matters. In our testing, it’s there is some noticeable creasing to the shoes, but nothing too terrible. This sort of thing might be a bit better with some higher end shoes (like Allen Edmonds, etc), but it’s certainly respectable here. Nothing egregious at all.
Really, there is not much to say negative about how these shoes are constructed. They can go toe-to-toe with shoes twice times the price. They are full-grain calfskin leather and are painted by hand as well. You are getting more than what you pay for.
So what are you missing out on from a shoe twice the price, then? Well, there are some slight imperfections to the shoes. Some extra paint in tiny places on the sole of the shoe, and perhaps some slight imperfections on the inside of the shoe, etc. Meaning, if you look real close, you’ll see tiny, tiny imperfections. Is this a big deal? Not at all. Most shoes have it far worse. A-
I wish this was better, here. I usually wear a size 11.5, especially in loafers. Their website proclaims that you should order a full size down. I found this to be ludicrously small, and ended up with my actual size, and 11.5. This might have just been my experience, but we tested a few shoes from Paul Evans, actually, and found this to be the case with them all. Not sure what is going on here, but they should investigate that.
Still, the 11.5 is a bit roomier and looser fitting than I would like. Paul Evans promises that the shoe, even if slipping a tiny bit at the beginning, will mold and contour to your foot and achieve a better fit with time, though, so here is hoping for that to be the case. (In our two or three serious wears, we have not yet experienced too much of this, but most shoes do, indeed, fit you better with time. Plus, the shoe out of the box is not uncomfortable, I just wish it fit me a bit better.)
Finally, they do not really offer different widths, or much information on their different lasts, resulting in it being quite difficult to find a shoe that really fits you very well without doing some experimenting. B-
Value & Conclusion
The Stewart Penny Loafer in Oxblood — $450: Paul Evans is one of the biggest companies out there nowadays when it comes to higher end, direct to consumer mens dress shoes. And they do bring an excellent value, and something quite unique and stunning-looking for the price. Still, it’s not without flaw. If you love their shoes, though, and you like this look, you’ll be hard-pressed to find it elsewhere, and the downsides of Paul Evans are not nearly enough for us not to recommend them. We think they are great, and they have our stamp of approval, with the caveat that you should afford some trial and error to find a size and shoe model that works best for you, as well as wait for a sale or find and use their many coupon codes to get that price down a bit. $450 is pricey for these shoes. If they come down to the low $300’s or high $200’s, they are more than worth it. In the end, while imperfect, they are some awesome-looking shoes. If you love them, go for it. We don’t think you’ll be disappointed.