The Jack Erwin Shoe Review

The Jack Erwin Shoe Review

jack erwin shoe review

One of the my favorite parts of this whole men’s style blogging/reporting thing is that I get to see brands grow.  Most of the time I learn of a brand it is soon after its launch, or soon after it starts growing.  But every so often, I will start following a brand before it launches.  In the case of Jack Erwin, I started following them when they were in the fundraising stage.  After hearing their pitch and brand concept I was rather excited.  With their affordably priced shoes they presented a simple solution to a persistent problem in #menswear: aesthetically pleasing and well built shoes at said affordable price, $195 including shipping and returns.

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Fast forward a few months and Jack Erwin launched (the beginning of October).  The spread consists of 5 rather classic shoes; 1 loafer, 1 boot and 3 oxfords.  Each comes in black and one shade of brown; either a dark brown (see wingtip above) or cognac brown (see loafer above).  Different from many shoe brands, Jack Erwin only sells directly from its website.  So yes, they are an online direct to consumer business model (but if you must try on/see the shoes before purchasing they do have a showroom in the Garment District that can be visited and I believe from time to time they will also have open houses).  Looking forward, I have seen sketches for some upcoming models which look quite good so stay tuned over the coming months to see what else they bring to the table.

Although I am reviewing the Joe (cap toe), I have seen all of the other shoes in person and between the 5 models there is pretty much a shoe for any occasion and style.  My personal favorite of the line is the Adam (wingtip).  I think its lines are the nicest and the pattern sits very well on the last.  But I opted to review the cap toe because I do not own a simple black cap toe (my other cap toes have brouguing on the cap) and I like the simplicity and sleekness of the shoe with its single line of stitching on the upper.

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But before we really get into talking about the shoes, let’s step back a bit and talk about Jack Erwin and how it started.  It is the brainchild of Ariel Nelson and Lane Gerson.  Like many of the gents I have met who have started menswear brands, neither Ariel or Lane have much experience in the field.  Ariel worked in beverage distribution and Lane worked at one of the Big 4 accounting firms before working on a few start up projects.  But what they did (and do) have is a passion for both shoes and men’s style.  Which has become apparent over the few times I have met with them.  I feel like now is a good time to ask if anyone else thinks these guys look a little bit like E (Ariel) and Vince (Lane)?

jack erwin shoe review

But anyway, back to the shoes.  What Jack Erwin offers is a quality dress shoe for less than $200.  The question is is do they deliver a good value?  In short the answer is yes, but as always, to really assess the situation we need to have a closer look.  Fortunately, the guys at Jack Erwin were nice enough to send me a pair of the Joes in black for purpose of review.

The shoes are produced in Portugal, which has a longstanding and respectable reputation as a shoe producer, it just does not receive as much attention at England, Italy, America and to a lesser extent Spain and France.  So I do not view the shoes being made in Portugal as a strike against.

All of their shoes are Blake welted and use full grain leather.  As I have said before, Blake construction does not mean a shoe is inferior to a Good Year welted one, it is just a different aesthetic and with that comes a different feel to the shoe (as a sidenote, Blake welting is often associated with the Italian style of dress shoe).  Typically, and as is the case with Jack Erwin’s shoes, the shoes are lighter and more flexible out of the box.  I should also note that Blake welted shoes can still be resoled and will still last for years if they are made well.

So far the shoes have worn well.  They fit my feet well and have required little wear to become comfortable, in fact, they were quite comfortable right out of the box.  Which to me means that the last they use for the shoes works well with my foot.  Unfortunately, I cannot say how well the shoes hold up over time as I have only been wearing them around for the past few weeks.  But there have been no serious issues with them and the quality control and finishing on them seems to be pretty solid so there is nothing to make me think that I will not be wearing them for years to come.

jack erwin shoe review
The inside from the side.  Note how the stitching around the cap and vamp is only one line of stitching.  This is an aesthetic, and not functional choice.  It draws less attention to the stitching and arguably creates smoother lines which I like for this shoe.
jack erwin shoe review
The overhead.
jack erwin shoe review
The outside from the side.  Note how far back the vamp extends.  Whether you like that or not is a matter of personal preference.  But I do believe it is one of the details that Jack Erwin decided to use to differentiate its cap toe from others.  Personally, I would’ve liked to have seen the corner by the lacing to be a little bit softer as I think it would be a better line going into the extended vamp, but again, this is a personal thing and you may like it more than I.
jack erwin shoe review
Cow leather lining.  It is important to note that they use UK sizing.  I wear a 10 for US brands (Allen Edmonds and Alden to name a few) but a 9 for Jack Erwin.

jack erwin shoes

jack erwin shoe review
Clean on the backside.  From what I can tell the heel is made of wood, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but leather is preferable as it is supposed to wear better.
jack erwin shoe review
The visible stitching around the sole is purely aesthetic, as is the case with all Blake welted shoes that have this.  Personally, I like the faux stitching as I think it adds a little elegance and visual balance to the shoe.
jack erwin shoe review
More of that faux stitching.

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jack erwin shoe review
Clean on the front. I prefer a 5 or 6 eyelet shoe to a 4, but that is a personal preference. The number of eyelets, as far as I know, have nothing to do with the quality of the shoe. What is important is that the quarters come together evenly, which they do.
jack erwin shoe review
I noticed an abnormal amount of creasing on the shoe. Mostly at the point where the shoe bends on the vamp. This can result from a number of things (none of which necessarily mean the shoe or leather are of poor quality) and it doesn’t particularly bother me and it should not be a reason to not purchase the shoes.  Generally speaking, the leather is soft and thin (as I have found with some other Italian style shoes), which I believe partly leads to the shoe being soft, flexible and comfortable out of the box.  Shoes are meant to be worn, and they will inevitably crease.
jack erwin shoes
Although it is hard to see, there is some creasing in leather of the quarter on the shoe to the right. This does not come with wear, this came as is.  Which some people may like the natural creasing and others may not.  But to be honest, for $200, one should not expect the leather to be absolutely flawless.

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It would be appropriate to compare Jack Erwin’s shoes with the Meermin Classic Collection or some of the lesser Herring Classic shoes.  I can’t speak for the Herring’s but the Jack Erwins do hold up well next to Meermin.  The Meermins feel like a more solid shoe, but that makes sense because they are good year welted, whereas the Jack Erwins are Blake welted.  From an aesthetic perspective, what you may prefer is really a matter of personal style and taste.

So to answer the real question, do I recommend Jack Erwin shoes?  Yes, I do.  As I said before, they offer a solution to that oft pressing dilemma of ‘where can I get good dress shoes for $200?’  And their offering is better than any other I can think of at that price point and in fact they could compete at a higher price point (Meermin being slightly more expensive when you factor in shipping).  Although some of the lines of the Joe could be smoother (again, that is a personal preference and some of the lines on the other shoes are smoother) and the leather have less creasing the fact that they can bring to market a shoe of the caliber they do at the price they do is worthy of respect and note.  Much better than the garbage that Cole Haan, Johnston & Murphy and Florsheim peddle.  It would be unreasonable for us as consumers to expect perfection for $195.  And what Jack Erwin delivers is a solid buy.  So if you are in the market for some dress shoes I highly recommend you check out Jack Erwin.  If you have any experience with the brand or questions and comments please sound off in the comments section.



Note: FYGblog did receive a pair of shoes for the purpose of this review.  However, as is always the case, the utmost effort is put forth to maintain an unbiased and objective point of view on the product being reviewed.


    • Hey Brock, I was going through this review on Jack Erwin to see how they hold up in relation to Wolf & Shepherd. If you think you’d like a performance/dress shoe you may enjoy what Wolf & Shepherd is offering (

      Let me know what you think.


  1. Welcome, Jack Erwin! My sentiments: Your Ike (ankle boot) as well as the Abe, penny loafer, both black and brown, will be added to my shoe collection, and each pair will be worn “proudly” to any/all type functions. Thank you so much for providing quality at an affordable price; proof, quality doesn’t have to privileged, everyone should be able to enjoy such beautiful creations. Again, Thank You, Jack Erwin!

    • Actually, the Ike is known as the jodhpur boot; once upon the time a riding boot (still is), subsequently and until today a part of the spophisticated gentleman’s wardrobe. Nearly unobtainable in the U.S. (Allen Edmonds manufactured a superb set nowadays occasionally available on eBay), and with the VERY substantial price of the British made jodhpurs,Erwins are to be congratulated for both the bravery in bringing the boot back to the American shore, and for its very elegant, classical rendition.

  2. Justin,

    As I commented on a previous post, thanks to your bringing this brand to my attention I bought a pair of Joes (the espresso brown). I’ve also had a similar experience to yours: the shoes barely needed any breaking in, and even without shoe trees the leather is creasing much less than other shoes in the same price range. I like the shoe’s feel due to its Blake welt, and I experimented between using the accompanying innersoles with a thinner sock or without the innersoles but with a thicker sock. I found the latter to be more comfortable for me personally.

    The only thing I want to point out is that ordering for delivery in New York City adds over $25 to the shipping fee, so I ended up paying about $212 for the shoes + shipping.


  3. I like everything about the whole line, EXCEPT the chisel toe. It’s a deal breaker for me on a shoe that costs more than a day’s pay for most Americans.

  4. I just got a pair of the loafers, and so far so good. I haven’t worn them much, but I agree that you can immediately see a much higher quality than Cole Haan. They seem much more solid, have very clean lines, and the stitch finishing is flawless. The only high end shoes I own are Bally, and at first glance I think I’d give my nod to the Jack’s. Although that may be because the Bally shoes have a good 4 years of almost every day wear, plus my excitement to have a new pair of shoes.

  5. I received a pair of the Adams today. Received in 2 days. Great looking shoes, leather feels nice and I like the lines. Sadly as I’ve seen in a few reviews of them going a full size down (to an 11) was a bit tight. So I will be taking advantage of the free returns and going a 1/2 size up. Thanks for turning me on to the brand. Customer service has been very good so far.

  6. I received a pair of the Adams today. Received in 2 days. Great looking shoes, leather feels nice and I like the lines. Sadly as I’ve seen in a few reviews of them going a full size down (to an 11) was a bit tight. So I will be taking advantage of the free returns and going a 1/2 size up. Thanks for turning me on to the brand. Customer service has been very good so far.

  7. Hello,
    I m faced with the dilemma about buying dress shoes online. I need to look professional for my new career but from my past experiences oxfords( and most dress shoes i ve tried) tend to be very tight for my high arch foot. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I enjoyed reading the posts on here

    • Vladimir,
      To be totally honest, I an not sure what brand will work best with your high arch. I would recommend emailing some brands that have shoes you like and asking them about their different lasts and how each last works with a high arch.

      • Hi Vladimir, Hi Chase,

        I’d like to suggest you both take a look at Wolf & Shepherd shoes. They do support high arches. We also give free shipping and returns. So if they don’t satisfy your needs, then no need to keep them. I’m just heading lots of comments on discomfort and think that it’ll be worth giving the shoes a try.

        Happy to answer any questions you’d have on the shoes.

  8. Bought a pair. They looked nice, but going down a full size to a 7 was not a good idea. I had to trick it via someone in the US to Norway and when trying to return the shoes disappeared. So now I’m about $300 lighter with no shoes. Oh well. If I ever buy JR again I will buy them in my normal US size (8).

  9. I really would like to buy some JE Joes but I am hesitant on the sizing and creasing mentioned. I typically wear a size 12D in allen edmonds so I was informed that I should order a size 11 in Jacks. I just don’t feel right going a full size down, any advice?



  10. I just got my Carter’s in the mail. It’s a great fit! I was worried because I’m flying overseas in two days, and wouldn’t have time to go through returns unless I got a family member involved.

    The only thing that worries me is this: I’ve never owned a dress shoe that comes in a boot style before. Pretty sure this has to do with breaking them in properly, but whenever I walk, it seems awkward from heel to toe – feels like I am cloming around…not sure if that explains what I’m going through, but I can definitely tell that it’s going to take some getting used to before I can walk comfortably.

    • Peter, I got my Carters and had the same reaction – I think the reason for it is the height of the heel. I held them next to my Lucchese ropers.. and it’s the same! I also noticed that the size is on the tight side – I ordered size UK9/US10, and they feel more like US9.5, plus the toe box is very low profile which also doesn’t help. I expect that when the boot breaks in all those issues will diminish/disappear. On a more disappointng note, I noticed that the cordovan finish on the tongue started rubbing off on the first day of wearing.. WTH???

  11. Worst shoes I’ve ever bought. Fit toe to heel was nearly correct, but slightly long. However, the taper in the front just never got comfortable. I thought after breaking them in they would, but just as uncomfortable as when I started. Probably past return policy at this point so are it as a complete loss.

    • Hi Vladimir, Hi Chase,

      It might be worth looking at Wolf & Shepherd shoes. They do support high arches. We also give free shipping and returns. So if they don’t satisfy your needs, then no need to keep them. I’m just heading lots of comments on discomfort and think that it’ll be worth giving the shoes a try.

      Happy to answer any questions you’d have on the shoes.

  12. The shoes are manufactured in Spain not Portugal. I have just ordered the Archies which are made on a Goodyear welt. I am really looking forward to getting the shoes. I have been eyeing them for a while now. I got the Cognac. Since they are Penny Loafers and a little more casual I intend to wear them mainly with jeans occasionally with a suit. I will leave a comment when I actually wear them.

  13. I was looking forward to liking the Cap Toe Oxfords that I recently bought from Jack Erwin, but I have to say I was disappointed. I personally found the shoes to be insubstantial and am certain that they will not last, they are also quite tight in the toe box in spite of my having narrow feet.

  14. Any follow ups? I bought two pairs a year ago and wear neither pair full time, but I’m finding the durability to be poor. The soles tend to tear away from the rest of the shoe easily and on one pair the bottom of the sole is breaking. Given part time wear I find this to be disappointing in relation to the cost. I think the shoes are aesthetically high quality and generally comfortable, but ultimately don’t hold up to wear.

  15. I purchased a pair of the Jack Erwin Hubert (lace up blucher) and Archie (loafer) in early February 2015. Both are goodyear welted and have held up well. Each pair has been worn an average of 2+ days/week since I purchased them. I recently had to have the Archie’s resoled, as the sole had worn through on one shoe. The finish has held up quite well, the leather has held its shape, and there has been minimal creasing, certainly nothing more than one might expect. (Of note, I am a big guy: 6’1″, 260#, so they earn their keep and this should help to put their performance in perspective.)
    I was able to try them on in their showroom in NYC, and while initially skeptical when I was handed a pair of size 11s after just having stated clearly that I wore a size 12, it turns out that their “full size down” recommendation was spot-on. I was fortunate to have been able to try them on, as I’m not certain I would otherwise have been able to bring myself to order a full size smaller online.
    While these may not be $1,000 shoes, I’m not a $1,000-shoe guy; on the other hand, a $200 pair of Jack Erwin’s is far superior to a comparably priced pair of Cole-Haan’s or Johnston & Murphy’s any day in one man’s opinion.