John Doe Shoes is a brand I’ve had my eye on for awhile – since my original search for decent shoes for my wedding. I originally passed them over in favor of trying other brands, largely because the product photography on the website wasn’t that great (sorry).
Since then, their photography has improved, as has their inventory, making them a more prominent player in the startup footwear category. I finally was able to get a pair – read my John Doe Shoes Whisky Box Calf Bonucci Oxford review below!
John Doe Shoes, so named in anonymous defiance of overpriced designer brands, specializes in affordable, full-grain leather products – mostly shoes but also other items like bags and briefcases. (I have one which I’ll review here soon. And here’s why you should carry a briefcase.)
In addition to their full-grain leather construction, John Doe Shoes uses Goodyear welting on all their shoes. For any of you catching up on good vs. crappy shoes: cheap shoes are glued together and peel apart after a year or so of daily use (sometimes even sooner). Higher-quality shoes, on the other hand, are stitched together with thread; a Goodyear-welted pair of shoes can be resoled over and over again, and can last a lifetime if cared for properly.
While their inventory was rather sparse a couple of years ago, John Doe Shoes now have a pretty decent lineup of shoes, from oxfords and brogues to loafers and boots.
John Doe Shoes Whisky Box Calf Bonucci Oxford Review
The Whisky Box Calf Bonucci Oxford shoes came shipped directly in their shoebox, completely wrapped in packing tape. This meant I had to basically destroy the box to open the package. No big deal – you’re here for the shoes, not the box, right?
Unlike some of the other brands we’ve reviewed at PRAKTICALA, who included extras like thank-you cards, shoe horns, dust bags, and extra laces, this package is bare-bones – just the shoes, and nothing else. That results in a slight reduction in the “wow” factor, but like I said… you’re here for the shoes, right?
Thankfully, the shoes do not disappoint. The first thing I noticed when taking them out of the box was they were heavy. Due to this summer heat, I’ve been wearing Beckett Simonon’s Blake-stitched Cohen loafers lately, and I guess I was getting used to the light weight. But even compared to my other Goodyear-welted shoes these might be the heaviest.
That’s actually a good thing, since the leather was as heavy a gauge as any I’ve seen on other shoes. All the important parts of the shoe are made from leather: the uppers, lining, insole, and outsole.
John Doe Shoes also did a fine job with the finishing of their product. The stitching is pretty clean and I really like the light whisky color (although I would have liked it even more if it was even lighter, like on the website).
I did see a small dark scuff on the inside heel area, possibly from when the sole polish was applied. Minor, but noticeable. But you’ll get plenty of other scuffs on them anyway in no time.
Sizing and fit
The Whisky Box Calf Bonucci Oxford sizes quite small for dress shoes, which is to say they are true to size for regular shoes. I wear size 10 or 10.5 US ordinarily, while with dress shoes I usually wear 9. However, these shoes in size 9 were way too small.
Thankfully, John Doe Shoes’ customer service was very attentive in getting me a replacement pair. Even the 9.5 just barely fit, so plan on sizing at least a half to full size up from your normal dress shoe size when you place an order.
As I mentioned, these shoes are heavy, and a little stiff. They aren’t uncomfortable, but they will take some breaking in, and if you will be on your feet all day, they might get a little tiring.
What John Doe Shoes lack in glossy presentation they make up for in delivering a high-quality product. Most of their inventory is in the mid-$100 range, which is quite low for full-grain leather, Goodyear-welted shoes.
PROS: Good materials and construction. Great looking. Affordable. Helpful customer service. Free shipping/returns.
CONS: Somewhat heavy/stiff; requires break-in period. Utilitarian packaging/presentation, if you care about that kind of thing.
If you’re on a budget but want good-looking shoes that are sturdy enough for daily wear, check out John Doe Shoes. Their wide variety means you’ll definitely be able to find something you like at a reasonable price.
If you have feedback on your own shoes from John Doe Shoes, leave a comment below! We’d love to hear from you.