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$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
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