It was only a matter of time until someone did the whole online made to order shoe thing right. So, after a few years of waiting it has happened. Or at least, it is as good as it gets for now, and I mean that as a compliment. The ‘it’ I refer to is Awl & Sundry. Although admittedly, Awl & Sundry is far from the first company to do made to order shoes, they are the first that I know of to work on multiple lasts with multiple styles of shoes and do it solely online.
A few months back I shared about the ordering process at Awl & Sundry, which if you have not read, I advise you do so to get up to date. Now that I have had the shoes for a little and had the opportunity to wear them I would like to finish the review as well as talk a bit more about Nikunj (pictured below wearing some Awl & Sundry wingtips) who is the man with the masterplan.
When Nikunj first approached me about Awl & Sundry we talked on the phone for about half and hour. It was clear that the passion for both his business and its products was in tact. Fortunately, we were able to meet a few months later in NYC, where Awl & Sundry is now based (a logical place given the convergence of tech and fashion that only NYC can provide). Much like myself (and many of the other founders of the brands I have covered on these pages) Nikunj spent a few years working a corporate gig. However, he found himself longing for more. He also realized there was both the opportunity and ability to create a web based made to order shoe brand.
At the end of the first part of this review, I noted that my expectations were pretty high. I should say that upfront that one some fronts my expectations were met and others were not. But overall, I am extremely impressed with what Nikunj and his team has developed. In order to deliver what they do they have had to develop thousands of patterns. Which sounds crazy, but when you think about how shoes are made it makes sense. Stay with me for a minute while I explain.
Awl & Sundry has 4 different style of shoes on it (oxford, derby, monk and loafer). Within each style there are 5 different lasts to chose from. For each size within each last they have to develop a separate pattern for each heel counter, toe cap, loafer strap, eyestay etc. Take a simple toe cap. A different pattern needs to be made to each last and each size. Let’s assume 5 lasts and 10 sizes for each last. That gives us 50 different patterns just for a toe cap. Expand that over the entire population of options and we are quickly in the thousands of patterns. Anyway, enough of my babbling, onto the shoes.
As with any product and any brand, I have my share of critiques. Some of which are more about my personal taste, like wishing for more curvature on the strap across the vamp. Others are more objective like calling for a brown sole, not a black one. But at the end of the day, Awl & Sundry provides a product that is unique and of good value. The shoes are comfortable and are well made. But to me the primary value is the ability to create something that is unique and speaks to your individual style. It is an experience that is unmatched online as far as I know. I would go so far as to say that the whole thing is rather exclusive and luxurious. To me, choice and variety are some of the greatest luxuries there are. I think that particularly for a man who has unique tastes or likes to chart his own course Awl & Sundry will be an exceptionally comfortable fit. At a minimum I urge all of you to spend some time playing with the design site, there are literally thousands of combinations and I would have trouble believe you if you told me you couldn’t create one that you liked; if not one worth buying. If you have any questions, comments or experience of your own with Awl & Sundry I urge you to hit the comments.
Note: FYGblog did receive the pair of shoes referred to for the purpose of review. As always, the utmost care has been taken to maintain an unbiased perspective on the product and brand at hand.