The online men’s dress shoe space has been busy welcoming new brand after new brand over the past few years. This is a good thing for all of us men. It gives us, as consumers and menswear nerds, options. And we love options. Sometimes moderation and restraint are difficult to exercise. But, sacrifices must be made. To that end, if you could only have one dress shoe, what would it be? A burgundy double monk, a brown wingtip, a black oxford? Or something else?
Newcomer Owen Edward (link), unlike many other brands, has decided to start with just one shoe, a black oxford. No double monks, no derbys, no boots, no brown and no burgundy. Just a black oxford, The Owen. It is an interesting approach to starting a shoe brand. On top of that, Owen Edward is selling their Italian made shoes for $229, which is a stellar price for Italian made shoes if they are made well. Regarding price and costs, Owen Edward discloses the prices it pays for materials and construction, much like some other new-school brands are doing. They state the cost to be $175, meaning they only have $54 of margin to work with.
For the record, Owen Edward is not trying to tell guys that they just need one shoe, just that a black oxford is a great first shoe. They are trying to streamline the decision making process and make things easier on customers. Personally, I prefer brown and burgundy shoes over black ones, but I have no qualms against a nice looking pair of black shoes and there are certain situations in which only black shoes are appropriate; for instance, during a black tie affair. So brown shoes cannot be the only color shoes in your wardrobe.
At the end of the day, the business model or ‘pitch’ of a brand is irrelevant to me. What is important is the quality, value, style and price. So how does The Owen rank in those criteria? Let’s explore that subject and do a review of Owen Edward’s The Owen.
The style of The Owen, as previously noted is an oxford, more specifically a plain toe with hidden seams. The hidden seams give the shoe an unquestionably Italian look. Personally, I like hidden seams. I think they give a shoe a very formal and clean touch. The Italian provenance is further solidified by the Blake stitched sole and healthy dose of toe spring.
Aligning with the brand’s ethos of limiting decisions, the upper is only made of two pieces; the front (vamp) and rear (quarter) pieces. This gives way to an elegant, if not minimal look. The only style that is made of less pieces is a wholecut. For my tastes, the throat line on The Owen is slightly too high, only by a millimeter or two. But I will concede that Owen Edward did a good job of keeping the shoe in proportion with the throat line by how far they took the vamp back toward the heel. That said, the style of the shoe, like many dress shoes out there, is not terribly differentiated from other options out there; so where Owen Edward primarily competes is price. And they compete well based on that.
The construction of the shoe is well done, I have found no deficiencies in quality control. The leather used for the lining is soft and comfortable. The leather used for the upper is also nice. Admittedly, there has been a bit more creasing than I would like; but creasing is not always a sign of poor leather quality and I do not think this is leather of poor quality.
After wearing The Owen for half a dozen days I am happy to report that the shoe has worn well thus far (all of these photos were taken after those wears). No issues have arisen in the quality of materials or construction and the last is compatible with my foot. On that subject, the last has a nice shape with a good balance. The shoe has started to break in nicely, which I would expect after that many wears of a Blake stitched shoe. Regarding sizing, the shoes are sized on a European scale. I typically wear a US10 dress shoe, and went with a 42.5 in The Owen, despite the brand sizing chart recommending a US10 translates to a 43.
At $229 The Owen is definitely worth the money. I can think of no objective reasons to cite to dissuade someone from buying the shoe. It is a shoe that should last a number of years and the style is classic so you do not have to worry about the shoe looking dated in 5 years. As a bit of full disclosure, I have urged Owen Edward to increase their prices because I think their margins are too tight. Whether or not they do that is up to them, but if they do, it’s better to buy sooner rather than later and pay the higher price. It is also my hope that they will add to the line in the coming months, I think they are off to a nice start, but they are leaving a lot on the table with only offering one style in one color.
But maybe you guys will disagree with me. What do you think of The Owen and Owen Edward’s business model? Do you have any experience you’d like to share about Owen Edward, or any questions? I look forward to hearing what you guys have to say in the comments. Thank you for reading and supporting The Fine Young Gentleman.
Note: FYGblog received product and/or other compensation in effort to aide the production of this post. The utmost care was taken to remain unbiased in the review of the product and brand at hand.