A few months back Scarosso shoes were discussed here on FYGblog. In particular, I reviewed a pair of burgundy suede wingtips. In that write up I noted that I hoped to review Scarosso’s custom shoes (also mentioned them here). That is, custom to the point where you can choose the colors of the sole, lining, upper and tassels. There is no customization on the shape of the last to change the fit of the shoe. Typically shoes where you can customize the leathers are priced closer to the $1,000 mark, not under $300. So as soon as I heard about the program I was quite excited. I was also curious what the trade offs would be. In other words, how do they keep the price so low?
First, a little more about the pricing. The tassel loafers cost 219euro (but will be more around 185euro for those outside the EU, as the 19% VAT is taken off). Shipping to the States costs around 20euro. So all in your looking at something around $270. But is it worth it? In short, if you are the type of person where you want to customize the colors of your shoe, then yes. However, if you are fine with a simple single color show then the value of the shoe is not as substantial to you. For me personally, I am the type of person that is rather particular about things (big surprise, right?) so the shoes are for me.
Although the Scarosso customization program offers 4 colors of calf leather and 7 of suede I could’ve opted for something to serve as a statement shoe (like a beige shoe with red tassels), I wanted to keep things elegant and subtle. I wanted a shoe I could wear as easily with a conservative suit as I could with khakis and corduroys. So I went for a cognac suede upper with dark brown tassels. And to be honest, I couldn’t be more happy with the colors. Although, I should say, it is hard to get a true read on the colors from the customization website, as they are all computer generated graphics, not pictures. But you can get a better idea by looking at the pictures of the ready to wear shoes on the regular site (I should also note than in person the brown on my shoe is a little darker than these photos).
The shoes were packaged well, they came in a nice sturdy box with a single shoe bag for both shoes. Out of the box the shoes look good, they have a nice shape and balance to them. The suede is soft and has a nice hand to it. The tassels are well proportioned to the rest of the shoe and I quite like how they sit on the upper. Most importantly, the shoes look good when on my feet and under a pair of trousers. I have worn them well with suits, khakis and corduroys; as I had intended. They have also garnered a multitude of questions and compliments, which is nice.
Now, onto the other important aspects of the shoe: fit and quality. Fit is relative, quality is more of an absolute. For my foot, which I think verges on the slightly wider side of things, especially at the toes, the shoe was comfortable out of the box. The only pressure point I have had is on the knuckle of my little toe, which is the case with every pair of dress shoes I have owned. The shoes have also broken in nicely, as the leather and sole are both soft and thin. However, this brings to the forefront the question of quality.
I am less enthusiastic on the quality of the shoe than I am the fit and the idea of customizing the colors. That is not to say the quality is terrible, but it is also not outstanding. And so, the aforementioned trade off has been found. As was the case with the burgundy wingtip I reviewed the tassel loafer is very light. Which is great when wearing the shoe. However, because of the thinness of the sole and upper I question the long term durability of the shoe. This concern was substantiated after a few wears when I noticed that the inner lining where the knuckle of my little toe hits has begun wearing away, this should not be happening. Now I am concerned that once I have fully worn through the liner that I will wear through the brown suede upper (if this does happen I will update and post photos accordingly).
My second concern on the quality of the shoe is the quality control, as was the case with the burgundy wingtips. Namely, there is the same issue where the sole coloring seems to also be painted onto the base of the upper. However, it is much less noticeable than on the wingtips. Another related issue is the upper parting from the lining along the opening (this can be seen in the first and third photos below). On better makes of shoe this would never be an issue as they usually have some type of piping or piece of leather that covers the edge at the opening of the shoe. I do not know if Scarosso constructed their shoes without this piece out of aesthetics or cost saving measures, but I foresee it as a potential vulnerability in design.
The third critique I have is that the heel cup is not properly curved. It sticks out and makes what should be a smooth and rounded heel have a slight bulge (as can be seen in the third photo below). I do not know enough about shoe construction to surmise how this should be fixed or the exact cause. However, I believe that it should not be this way.
The last, and perhaps most substantial issue I have is that the shoe seems to be glued together at the sole, not welted. This means that the shoe cannot be resoled and will not be as durable as a shoe that is welted. I doubt there would be anyone who would debate me on that statement. Normally, I would never wear a dress shoe that is not welted, especially at this price. But given the shoe is customizable, there are other factors at play.
It goes without saying, but I have spoken both very highly and also rather critically about the tassel loafer from Scarosso. On the one hand, we have a shoe that looks and feels great when worn (and one that the ladies have taken kind notice of). But then on the other there are legitimate concerns on the quality and longevity of the shoe (which I will post updates on as needed). So the dilemma is whether or not to recommend and endorse the shoe. And to this I say three things. First, if my concerns on quality and longevity turn out to be false I will wholeheartedly endorse this shoe, but time will tell. I have been wearing the shoes pretty hard since I got them a few months ago and they do seem to be holding up thus far. Second, the shoe does only cost $270. Which when compared to other mainstream commercial shoes in that price range (Cole Haan, Johnson Murphy etc) this Scarosso stacks up decently well, however, it is inferior to the quality of comparably priced off the rack Meermin shoes (although Meermins MTO shoes are twice the price of these Scarossos) . Third, and as I noted before, if you want to have any type of control over the color of your shoes on a small wallet, I think you need look no further. This is the most affordable option I have seen on the market to offer any type of customization. And to me, that is where the biggest value of this shoe lies. Because of that final fact, I would purchase another pair of these shoes in the future, however, I would not purchase them if they were simply off the rack. But whether or not the trade off between customizability and quality is worth it for you is your own decision to make.
Justin L. Jeffers
Note: FYGblog did receive a discount on this product in the course of review of Scarosso shoes. However, the greatest effort is always taken to provide an unbiased and objective review of the product at hand.