6 Ways to Spot a Quality Pair of Men’s Shoes

How do you identify a pair of quality men’s shoes? Let’s put your knowledge to the test.

When it comes to buying a pair of men’s shoes, can you tell the difference between quality high-end and mass-market fast fashion?

Knowing the answer to this question is integral in owning a look and making the right first impression in any setting. A man’s fashion sense is judged on his outfit choice. Sure, you can invest in a tailor-made plush suit, but if you fail to complete the look with beautiful footwear, the whole outfit will be tarnished.

You can tell a lot about someone’s personality by looking at their shoes too. An old grubby pair of dress shoes says you don’t take pride in your appearance, whereas a well-crafted equivalent sends out a statement of intent that you mean business.

So, what’s the key to identifying quality men’s shoes over a run-of-the-mill substandard pair? Here are six things you need to check before parting ways with your hard-earned cash.  

Shoe stiffeners

Shoemaking in Northampton - shoe stiffener

An instant way of checking whether the footwear is quality or not is to see if you can bend them back or toe. If you can and it isn’t rigid, you should refrain from buying.

All well-made dress shoes, such as our range of Percy Strides, will have stiffeners in them to prevent them from bending and losing shape.

A common example of this is a toe puff stiffener, which is made from thermoplastic material and inserted (using heat) between the lining and the upper of the shoes to help maintain the shoe’s shape.

Construction quality

Goodyear Welted Men's Footwear

As we’ve mentioned time and time again, there’s nothing better than a Goodyear welted construction. This timeless process consists of running a lockstitch through the upper, insole and welt before adding another stitch to attach the outsole.

This double-stitch process makes footwear more durable, robust and long-lasting.

So, when you look at a pair of shoes, check if you can see a stitch. If not, it probably means the components are glued together, which means you can’t re-sole and repair them for a lifetime of use.

Shoe shank

Similar to stiffeners, all quality men’s dress shoes will have a built-in shank, which is part of a supportive structure between the insole and the outsole.

The shoe shank is essential in maintaining the durability and rigidness of footwear. If you choose a bad pair, you’ll notice it loses its shape and will become increasingly less comfortable over time as it doesn’t have the support of a shoe shank.

The best way to test if it has one or not is to try and bend the shoe in half. If you can, step away!

Upper material

Shoemaking in Northampton - Footwear Upper Material

A shoe upper refers to anything above the outsole and its quality often determines how long your shoes will last.

Bad examples of footwear will use plastic, low-grade leathers and thin suede for the upper. Whereas a good example will use full-grain leather for an everyday pair, and calfskin, scotch grain or authentic patent leather for formal dress shoes.

Before you buy, always read the small print or ask someone at the company about the upper materials.

Production process

Shoemaking in Northampton - Quality Footwear Making

The next way of spotting a quality pair of men’s shoes is to do your research on the production process. The highest quality footwear brands will handcraft their shoes and boots either in small batches or made to order.

They’ll also be constructed in prestigious factories by the finest shoemakers, such as the NPS Factory in Northampton.

Once you know who makes them, enquire about the processes. The best shoes will go through several stages such as clicking, closing, lasting, levelling and finishing. And that’s not even including the design process!

In contrast, bad quality footwear will be made on a production line in a land far, far away! As a top tip, look out for shoes that state they are ‘handmade’ or ‘handcrafted’, as this indicates they’ve been made with care using premium processes.

Cost

The final consideration before purchasing a pair of shoes is the cost. It should come as no surprise to learn that a small price tag doesn’t always give you long-lasting products.

It pays to consider shoe shopping as an investment. Yes, the initial cost of a quality pair might be more substantial, but if you make a smart choice and look after them well, you’ll make your money back in the long-run.

For examples of quality men’s footwear, simply head to our online shop.