Zonkey Boot was not on my list of wanted shoes when I announced the opening of their new website. There were two resons– I am almost emotional with regard to traditional models, so I look mostly indifferently to the so-called “revolutionary” models or pointed lasts. I’m a classic guy and nothing can change that. The second reason was related to the fact that I had never held one in my hand in order to analyze it with a “magnifying glass”. The premises were good, Michael Rollig – founder of Zonkey Boot – being an appreciated name in the industry. Plus, from what I had seen he was appreciated on the Asian market, which means constancy and care for details. Nevertheless, I didn’t have the impulse of pressing the “buy” button.
Yet, at the beginning of winter, I felt the need for a more youthful shoe, which would still correspond to the quality standards. I needed a robust shoe, made from an easy to maintain leather. So my bloodhounds started sniffing around…
Although at first sight it didn’t appear to be a very difficult job, I realized that the offer was not that generous after all. To my mind kept coming a boot that I had seen on B&T, but I couldn’t remember its producer. I started looking for it on the net and I finally found it.
The producer: Zonkey Boot. The boot is named 048 and the last was very similar to what I had in mind. From that point on things were pretty simple, although Mr. Rollig doesn’t make the choice easy for you. The last is called Sailor and the offer for this last is quite wide. From 22 Sailor based models 17 are boots, witch indicates to me the fact that the last was initially developed for boots and then it was also used for shoes. For boot the last is very nice, giving it a pronounced casual aspect. Sailor last boots go very well with tweed and jeans, less well with suits. But that was exactly what I was looking for.
I’ve stoped at 5 models from the e-shop and decided to chose from them the one that would be more suited for winter : 048 – the model that was stuck inside my mind (very nice granulated skin, burnished tip, 698 Euros), 022 ( even if the colour was a bit too pretentious I chose it because of the Norvegese leather soles. If you are a fan of Cordovan and you can’t afford Horween, Bavarian Wax Calf could be the answer) and 033 (a versatile Chelsea boot from a very nice buffalo shoulders skin, a skin that is very resistant for not so pretentious wearing).
On the short list of shoes remained a derby 127 (burnished shrunken buffalo shoulders) and 144 . Eventually I have chosen a shoe not a boot (144) for practical reasons – the mixed leather-rubber thick sole is very useful in winter, and the shrunken calf leather is wearable (it doesn’t need special maintenance or extra shine). Plus it was black. You can never go wrong with black.
Did I make a good choice? I tend to think so. 144 is not a Mercedes S Klasse. It is a G-Cross Country combined with B-Klasse Sports Tourer – if you can imagine that. You can rely on it and it gives you that feeling of solid-made shoe. It has no small fabrication defects that would induce any doubts. The leather is splendid, it reminds me of a grey wholecut Maftei made from elephant leather for which I longed at some point (and which remained, until the day, an desire). After wearing the 144 I will give a serious thought on investing more in my future casual shoes. 144 prove to be a very reliable companion.
Summarizing, Zonkey Boot 144 is a fine shoe, with a comfortable last, and a leather that makes the difference. The price is a bit steep for a pair of casual shoes (720 Euro) but in the end quality is not cheap - handwelted shoe (flexibility) with vegetable tanned bovine leather insole and more it has a mixed sole. Not to mention a nice detail: rounded waxed leather laces.
Now, that I discovered that the Sailor last doesn’t offer any unpleasant surprises, I would like to try something that fits it better – the 033 boot. Shrunken buffalo shoulders reminded me of elephant or shark leathers. Talking about leathers it is amazing how many avaiable leathers one has at Zonkey Boot: Bavarian Calf, Bavarian Wax Calf, French Aniline Calf, Russian Calf, Shrunken Calf, Shrunken Buffalo Shoulders, Snow Calf, Elephant Leather, Bovine Leather, Water Buffalo Leather, Hunting Suede, Calf Suede. 13 leathers for RTW! That’s a performance. They don’t offer T-Rex leather but I don’t mind. I don’t like reptile leather shoes at all…
Michael Rollig proved to be a good businessman but I did not expect less from the man who founded Saint Crispin’s once.There are a few brands that offer casual shoes and boots at lower prices but if you are used to quality dress shoes such Gaziano & Girling or Edward Green and expect the same from a casual shoe, Zonkey Boot is a good choice (if not the only choice). Some of the models aren’t for everyone, and admittedly there are a few that I would not wear such as 147 model . But it is up to you to decide which models are for you and witch are not. If you are not satisfied with Ready-To-Wear go to the next level – Made-To-Order .
In his interview for Claymoor’s List he confesed “I consider myself rather a professional shoe tinker than a specialized expert in one part of the trade“. The ZB models prove his creativity and inspired vision in the shoemaking business focused on young people and their needs.
Wide range of leathers, handwelting process, good support of the foot, well-balanced shoe, clean designs and in the end good service (Michael Rollig and Alexandra Diaconu are very helpfull) . Those are the Pros. The Cons … I really don’t know what to say at this chapter. They are making their shoes in Italy . I know that some of you have a thing with Italian factory-made shoes but belive me Mr. Rollig is no newcommer in the business. ZB is a well structured shoe. The quality control is excellent. I could argue the price but again all the above things don’t come cheap. They worth every penny. I don’t know Mr. Rollig plans for next years but it is possible for the price to rise. He have few competitors on the market and I belive that ZB are cheaper than their value (at least for boots – take for exemple 048 - 700 eur including VAT – a marvelous handlasted boot).