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$100 vs $500 Men’s Dress Shoes – Hallmarks, Quality, Differences & Cost Per Wear Cheap vs Expensive

$100 vs $500 Men’s Dress Shoes – Hallmarks, Quality, Differences &  Cost Per Wear Cheap vs Expensive


Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette! In today’s video, we discuss the $100 shoe
versus the $500 dollar shoe and everything in between. Just like with suits, there’s a huge difference
between inexpensive and the more expensive shoe. Unfortunately, price isn’t always a good indicator
of quality. I’m not just talking about Gucci here, and
other designers which automatically charge more because they have a name but even lower
end brands or less know brands oftentimes have hugely different proces for the same
quality shoes. In this video, I want to show you how to identify
what’s quality and what isn’t so you get the best value for your money. So if I show you those two shoes, which one
is the $100 shoe? Actually, both of them are. So even among the inexpensive shoes, there
are differences. Sometimes, people just don’t wear dress shoes
very often and so they don’t want to invest a huge amount of money. Other people have the money but they don’t
want to spend it or they simply don’t know the difference and they look at them and they
think they’re all the same. On the other hand, why would you buy a $500
shoe? A lot of people buy it for comfort. It may take a little longer to break it in
but they’re usually made of all leather which means you sweat less and they have a cork
insole which is soft and cushiony so even if you walk all day, it’s still comfortable. Another reason could be that you want shoes
that could last for years that develops a patina over time and then can be resold. With a $500 shoe you typically get a more
classic and timeless last that will stand the test of time and it’s overly more elegant
and stylish. Some people also want a higher end construction
method such as a goodyear welt or a norvegese welt. In Austria and Hungary, you even have Wood
pegged shoes that’s also a quality traditional method to do shoes. In the $200-$400 shoes, you find the blake
construction and the blake rapid. These are also sewn but less expensive than
goodyear welted. The advantage of blake construction is that
you get a thinner sole that is softer. The disadvantage is that when you’re outside,
and it’s wet, and it rains a lot, your feet may get wet. Also, the lack of cork in a blake construction
shoe makes it less comfortable when you stand a lot or walk a lot. So now, let’s talk about the features of a
$100 shoe. As you can see in the construction here, they
have something that looks like a stitch but more often than not, it’s simply glued and
it’s there merely decorative to make it look like a more expensive shoe but it’s all glue. Even though there are glues in the market
today that keep houses together, what they usually use for shoes is less expensive, cheaper,
and doesn’t glue as well, therefore, soles will likely come off after a year or two of
hard wear and then you can glue them back on but most of the time, the shoe overall
is in such bad condition that you just toss it and buy a new pair. Sometimes you can see a welt at the bottom
but don’t be fooled. That is probably just a blake stitch or a
blake rapid stitch. You can even see here, this looks like leather
at first sight but in fact, it’s just a composite material that is usppposed to look like leather
but it’s cheaper and it’s actually rubber. Something that you find a lot in $100 shoes
is that they try to fake higher end details but usually, the execution is not quite as
refined. For example, on this shoe here, you have a
stitched pattern at the bottom and you can see a stitched pattern at the top, however,
at the top, it’s just injection molded so it’s not a real stitch and it’s simply meant
to be deceitful. To truly understand the difference between
blake rapid, glued, and goodyear welted, please check out our in-depth guide here. Another hallmark of a $100 shoe is the inferior
leather quality. Usually, it’s harder and in order to sell
the shoe for a $100 retail, you can’t use the best quality, that’s simply not possible. Instead, you have to use a second or third
grade leather that is then sanded and pigmented with dye to cover up all the flaws. Even though it may not look very different
than a high-quality leather, when you have a new shoe, once you walk in it, you create
creases and the pigmented leather will just age very poorly. The pigments will come off and expose what’s
underneath. Also, the leahter won’t develop a nice patina,
it just looks cheap and worse the more you wear it. Apart from that, $100 shoes often don’t have
very refined lasts instead, they can be a little chunky, have kind of a boxy toe, and
overall wide so they fit every kind of foot. Another hallmark of a $100 shoe is the interior. Usually, the leathers are so stiff and hard
that manufacturers put all kinds of foam inside, so when you put on the shoe, it feels wuquite
ite soft, cushiony, and comfortable but that’s cheap foam the will wear out very quickly
and you just have a hard, uncomfortable leather left. You’ll hardly ever find a real leather sole
with a $100 shoe instead, you have either composite material that’s meant to look like
leather or you have a rubber sole. Apart from that, you usually don’t have much
color choice. You get black, brown, or tan, but you probably
won’t find a nice burgundy shoe. Basically, a $100 shoe is only made to be
worn for a year, maybe two, and then thrown away. Now let’s talk about the features of a $500
shoe. First of all, the leather is of much higher
quality, it is dyed all the way through. It has open pores that are often uncorrected
and you simply get a beautiful leather that develops a patina over time which is exactly
what you want because it looks classic and elegant. Sometimes, you also get a hand burnished finish
from the factory that gets darker towards the toe. In terms of construction, $500 shoes are almost
exclusively goodyear welted that means, you have a welt here on the outside, and another
welt that connects it in combination with the cork insole which makes it much more
comfortable to wear. For example, this old brogue shoe here has
been in my collection since 2003, it’s been to five continents and it’s still going strong. Something that you don’t really see in a shoe
but is important are heel caps and toe caps. On a quality shoe, they’re usually made of
thermoplastic leather. On a very inexpensive shoe, they are usually
plastic. Generally, the lasts on the $500 shoes are
just more elegant, refined, and timeless. You also get a much better finishing in the
details. The broguings are nicer, everything is more
thought through. Of course, they also have a much larger color
range; blues, tans, greens, reds, orange, and anything else you can think of. If you’re just starting out and you’re not
sure which dress shoes to buy, please check out this video here. In the $200-$400 section, you’ll find the
blake or blake rapid construction most often and you find leathers that can be very high-grade
or just medium-grade, or low-grade sometimes. Because blake offers a thinner sole, they
are often used for summer shoes or loafers. Now in terms of brands, it can be really difficult. For example, if you take a Jay Butler loafer,
it’s a blake construction, it’s a nice leather, it’s made in Mexico, and it’s about a $200
shoe. In my opinion, it’s great value for the money. On the other hand, if you look at Paul Evans,
they have the same blake construction, shoes are made in Italy, the patina is very nice,
however, the lasts are quite unrefined, and they charge $400 for the shoes. For $250 it would be a fair deal but for $400,
they’re totally overpriced. Especially, if you compare them to a shoe
like Cobbler Union which costs the same, is goodyear welted, has an actual channel stitch
at the bottom, has quality leather, has good leather interior, it’s quilted, and doesn’t
rub off in terms of color. Overall, you wouldn’t know that these shoes
are different by looking at the price tag. If you want goodyear welted shoes at a $200-$400
price range, you probably should go with something like Shoe Passion or Allen Edmonds. Of course, Allen Edmonds has a very specific
style, so if you like a more traditional style, Allen Edmonds is definitely the way to go. If you want to go higher than that with finer
details, there are lots of brands out there. For example, you get a fiddleback waist and
simply more refined overall look. Whether it’s worth $1000 or more, it’s up
to you and it’ll be subject to another video. If you want to learn more about recommended
shoe brands, I suggest you go to our shoe guides where we sort them by stlyle; oxfords,
derbys, and boots. Even if you have the nicest suits, a beautiful
tie, a good shirt, and nice cuff links, cheap shoes will overall bring your outfit down. If you want to buy a shoe and you don’t think
you can justify the high upfront cost, it makes sense to look at the cost per wear. Lat’s say you have $100 shoe and you can wear
it 200 times, that makes it 50 cents per wear. On the other hand, the shoe I bought in 2003
which had a retail price of $500 has probably been used for over 2000 times, that brings
the cost down to just 25 cents per wear which is half of the $100 shoe. Not only does it cost half as much, but I
also didn’t spend time on replacing my shoe. I had nice shoes throughout the years that
looked elegant, upgraded my outfit rather than downgrade it. You also just have to only break it in once
and you can even play with the patina. If it’s a lighter color and you want to make
it darker, it’s no problem because it’s open pore leather. So overall, I can’t give you a price range. It’s just important that you educate yourself
and you know: What’s the leather like? Is is aniline? Is it pigment dyed? What’s the sole like? What’s the construction like? What am I paying for here? To learn more about shoes, please check out
our extensive guides on our website here. And you can also find a more in-depth guide
about this topic, here. To get these right to your inbox, simply sign
up to our newsletter here.

100 comments

I got some shoes they look really nice and they’re perfect fitting they have a real stitch through the sole and the bottom is leather as well as the upper the price from them is only about 80$

Between December and March, all $500 dollars shoes 👞 go on sale up to 70% off, that’s the time I get quality shoes 👟. All shoe lovers know good quality shoes 👟

I see you have fall into the marketing trap. I will not argue that usually 500 USD shoes are better quality than 100 USD, however the difference is not as big as you made it out to be. The difference between the "high quality" materialis (including leather) and "low quality materials" (incl. leather) is actually no more than 10 USD. So the "highest quality materials" of a shoe is worth no more than 20-30 USD, the rest is cost for human labor. And yes, there will be difference in craftmanship, but if you actually think 500 USD shoes are not hugely overprices in comparison to the manifacturing cost, then you should think again.

Any day of the week
I choose 100. Shoes why? There so ACCESSIBLE 👍 Arnold has to wait two years for a custom pair of Boots. Can anyone tell me where to buy 500. Shoes?👊

In my country custom Blake skitch shoes cost only around $70 and bespoke Goodyear welted only cost around $350

thats the problem I find with this channel at times is how they rip the clothing the every day man can afford. like we're supposed to feel bad that we have "inferior" products. gets a bit snooty/arrogant at times in the Gazette house

i never know a leather shoe can be resold…..i just resold my AJ….what kind of business man want my used shoes??

Always buy the best you can afford… I have many pairs of 20-25 y/o dress shoes, from Allen Edmunds, Nettleton and Johnston & Murphy brands, most purchased in the mid-90s… most have been rehabbed at least once, all have endured the 4 seasons of heat, cold, rain and snow and yet they still look brand new…. always put cedar-wood shoe trees in after wearing them and during inclement weather, I always carry a set of foldable rubber overshoes, so that I am not trashing them when out in the elements… they were classics then, still classic now….

What $500 shoe!! Not a chance. If you have taste you will pull the look off, you don't need to broadcast everyone I'm wearing $500 this $600 that etc…

All of them are too plain looking for me. I prefer to wear cowboy boots. I have some roper work boots for when I am working outside or riding horses. I have some basic black and brown leather boots for everyday use. And when I go out for a night on the town I will wear my snakeskin, lizard, or crocodile boots. I love the crocodile boots the most. I paid $600 for them and they are worth every penny. They look way better then plain old leather shoes.

One of the most underrated and under-priced luxuries in life is a good shoe repair guy!

You can buy nice shoes and get them repaired / re-soled by a wonderful craftsman for a really good price.

Northamptonshire in the UK is one of the best places to buy quality shoes in the world. I have a pair of Crockett & Jones shoes (Used in the James Bond films and Kingsman films) that have lasted me over 4 years so far without even resoling them, yet still look better then a pair of cheap shoes 3 months in. If you buy cheap, you buy twice!

I can't decide if his nostrils or eyebrows are moving most. One day I will figure it out. For now, great content

Is it me or do others too think he speaks with difficulty in a choppy style. Feel stressed watching him speak.

Trying hard to be dapper and ala Bespoke kind of guy but mmmm meh’ doesn’t do anything, he doesn’t have that X factor! That mojo! That finesse! That “it factor”.

My Salvatore ferragamo oxfords are so tough to wear and my feet always hurt after a days wear.

Maybe it's me but I never heard anyone more passionate about shoes. Thanks for the detailed info. I was looking for a good-decent brand for a father's day gift for my husband. You saved me from spending $500+ on some Ferragamos!

Lol he bashes Johnston and Murphy. I like them though. I have bought quality products there. With the exception of some boots I bought, very disappointing.

If you go out to Jaipur (textile capital of the world) most of the tailors these big labels like HUGO BOSS, ARMANI, etc are indian men with large factories and small shops much like the ones you find at savile row. The work force is cheap and experienced, nearly all fabrics are made in india from linen, silk, kashmere to nylon and polyester so the cost of materials is a pittance. But most importantly they don't have famous names that they attach on a monograme to your suit which increases the prices 1000 times over. But the most important thing, they'll take your dimension 1 day, make the suit overnight, then do your alterations… and bamb there you have a suit made in 3 days. If you go there you can get a tailored bespoke suit for around £100, made from expensive clothe like linen, with all the fancy hullababloo that this guy is talking about. My advice spend £300 on a ticket out there, see some sites, go on holiday and come back with 10 bespoke suits, and the whole affair won't have broken £1000.

Rubber soles are not always an indication of cheap. There are plenty on 400-500 dollars shoes you can get with a rubber, Blake stitched sole.

Never thought about it till now ..I always bought rockport..but after a year its finished ..where I buy from top end shoes are in the 500$ range . I never gave them a second look till now ..if the shoes last as long as he says then its good value..only issue I got 4 pairs 2 black 2 burgundy with different style( pointed/boxed) it would cost me 2000$ up front just for the shoes…I pay 125per taylored dress shirt.unfotunate for me I'm stuck with the 150-200$ range shoe

I bought a pair of $250 Italian-made dress shoes. I wore them most Monday thru Fridays for 18 years.

This video is very annoying to listen to, his voice keeps fading. I stopped at three minutes.

All my dress n casual shoes are from Allan Edmonds. They're made just a few miles from home.
If you catch them on sale. Especially out of season you can get a tremendous value and have them twenty or more years.

Don't you want to tell us how leather sole shoes go with the rain? It's important to tell the disadvantages too. One can have a 100 dollar pair of shoes and use it on a very rainy day instead of destroying the 500 dollars ones.

After working at home for nearly 10 years my dress clothes had almost all gone – all but some old fairly worn suits and cheap old shoes. I mean like $30 at Sears 20 years ago. I went out and got some new clothes and three new suits but no shoes. I polished up my old cheap ones. I put on a new suit, took a picture, saw my shoes in the picture and threw them in the trash…

Shoes should fit your foot. Nothing else matters. I can buy shoes for $ 1000, but most well known brands do not fit really good.

There are good reasons to buy higher quality shoes, especially to get the nicer leather uppers. But I've not found they give better longevity. I had a pair of Allen Edmonds that I wore regularly for a few years. I took good care of them, e.g., inserted shoe trees between wearings. During this time they were resoled at least once (I don't recall exactly). But the last time I went to get them resoled the cobbler said he couldn't fix them because the heel counters had broken down. I sent them back to Allen Edmonds, and they also said they couldn't repair broken heel counters. So if your normal wear pattern can break down heel counters, you'd be best advised not to expect better longevity from expensive shoes. A high quality shoe's better leather longevity and better sole reparability isn't going to increase the durability of its heel counters. All the talk about how high quality shoes last longer seems to ignore this key point.

I calculated the cost per wear and bought a used pair of Crockett & Jones Pembroke. The new sole was 160€ (look it up on youtube. it's crazy how good the service is) and I realized that British shoemakers are pretty good when it comes to service. So Now it total I paid 300€ for a good pair of shoes that would usually cost around 550 € ( If you are lucky to find them in the Burgundy color ) and I will wear them for the next 20 – 30 years to come 🙂

When it comes to how much you're willing to shell out for a pair of shoes the most important consideration is…who are you? Are you a guy who wears a suit every day for work? Then no matter your financial situation investing $500 in a decent pair of shoes makes sense. Are you a guy who only wears dress shoes on Sunday for church and the rest of the week you're in sneakers? Then you can probably rationalize spending just $100 on some Florsheims.

Great video as always Sven.

I've never trusted trendy brands for shoes. The Amish have this right. If your really serious about a pair of shoes go to your nearest artsy-crafty town and have hand made shoes by a shoe maker. 2nd choice – see your nearest orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation of your feet and he or she will tell you how to get good shoes or sell them to you. Both these ideas have worked for me in the past.

I believe we can all agree that $500 shoes are in higher quality than $100 shoes, but he left out the important elements of "affordability" and "what is the purpose of those shoes?". If you are working at a place where everyone owns a $xxxx suit and your income can support the $500 shoes then, yea, get the $500 shoes. However, if you are an average joe who does not wear a suit and dress shoes on a regular day basis and your income can;t support the $500 price tag (because of rents, car payments, utilities, etc), then, of course, go with the best shoes that you can afford. Without considering the affordability and the purposing of buying, then it is like comparing Rolex to some average brands, like we all know Rolex is nice, but one has to justify the spending to be considered as spending wisely.
As for the cost per wear, he is making an assumption that the $100 shoes can only last 200 wears, but I am sure they can last longer than that if you maintain them regular like he has been maintaining his $500 shoes.

Mind you this man is not like Kirby Allison, this dude never has had a bespoke suit or shoe made and knows nothing about the saville row houses

I bought a pair of Black derby Cap toe style dress shoe from Nunn Bush (Leather uppers) for $75 and they have last over 7 years very soon 8. That is also used very heavily throughout the week. I bought a pair of brown Derby's from Florsheim for $110 and just after one month you can see that the shoe has more creases than my black pair, the shoe looks like its falling apart. The quality is no where near that of Nunn Bush. I think its just depends. Florsheim was recommended to me because they're an old company who has been around for a long time. Although the quality is sub-par. I have looked into Nunn-bush but it seems that they too have gone down on quality as well.

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