Awl & Sundry

The watchword now is “diversity”

Awl & Sundry

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The black cap-toe era is dead. The times when the black cap-toe was held in high regard on the advertising posters of the shoemaking companies has ended. The watchword now is “diversity”. The RTW shoe palette is very wide, more and more producers having MTO programs available (see for exemple the MTO program of J.FitzPatrick Footware). Even if the production price may make unattractive some MTO model, price optimization solutions have been issued – MTO groups (see Carmina MTO or Meermin MTO)IMG_8621
If until recently some of the options were reserved for Bespoke, today you can order the color blue, Museum calf leather, or you can even personalize your loafers online. The down side is that most of the time the clients have inapplicable expectations when they choose the MTO programs. MTO gives you the possibility to make some aesthetic modifications, not structural ones, as is the case for Saint Crispin’s, for example, where you can customize the last (for Saint Crispin’s  this option is a life-saver, because their standard lasts are pretty annoying if they don’t fit perfectly to your foot). MTO is a good alternative when you want to spice up your wardrobe, but you must also consider the fact that there’s a long way to bespoke, even if your shoes look very nice.
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Despite the fact that I am not a fan of the exotic models, I must admit that having the possibility to use three types of leather in one shoe for an acceptable price is quite remarkable. Awl & Sundry is a company where mostly anything that you have in mind can turn into reality. Plus, the shoes are handmade. The shoes are produced in China, but to expect handmade in Europe for this price is a bit unrealistic. 5 lasts are available, but I find The Townsend to be more attractive. The model is a classic derby brogue inspired by Edward Green Cardiff.IMG_8594
And now let’s sumarize  Pros and Cons:
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Pros.
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The real product looks like the graphic rendering. The proportions stayed true.
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 The shoes felt great. I have nothing to complain about the last.
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A reasonable number of lasts – 5
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Large variety of patterns. Practically, you should be very picky should you not find your favorite design.  You can even chose the stiching color.
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You can chose traditional shoe size or to be more accurate enter your personalizes mesurments
IMG_8607The construction of the shoe, even if it isn’t very refined, conveys the fact that these are not machine made shoes. The small imperfections can be overlooked, considering that they feel like a pair of handmade shoes. You will find some not very tidy stitches, but that doesn’t make a bad shoe at all. Things like this happen when you work with your own hands. Chinese workers are not famous for their refinement. (see the  back of the shoes where the stitch was not well centered.
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Good quality for suede. (I was skeptic regarding the quality of the suede, but I must admit that I am quite pleased. But more about the calf and pebble leather in the Cons section)
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The lining is soft and supple.
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 It is an unmatched online experience as far as I know by now. The website works impeccably, and the customer support is very good. Technically, you can solve any problem through the online chat, which is quite effective. These guys do everything to make you a happy customer.
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Cons
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The quality of the calf and pebble grain is not the one I expected (I have 2 pairs – one is suede and one is a mix grained calf/suede). If I have only good things to say about the suede, the tannery for the calf should be changed in the near future.IMG_8605A little bit more attention in the finishing stage could improve significantly the feeling of satisfaction of the buyer then he holds the shoe in his hand for the first time. They should also have a new box supplier. My box didn’t resist very well.
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Metal toes  are not available which for a MTO shoe could be annoying. (mine were added later at a local cobbler)IMG_8600
The overall Awl & Sundry experience is pleasant. It is not easy to build the entire infrastructure in order to make every dream  come true. The small imperfections can be overlooked, considering the fact that they can be easily improved and after all I can live with them as long as the shoe is handmade. The most important one is the one related to the calf, but I believe that things will be fixed in the near future. IMG_8610