Our friends at Jack Erwin asked us for a favor and provide them with an impartial review of one of their boots models, the Carter. Of course, we happily obliged. After all, we are keen on supporting entrepreneurship and craftsmanship benefiting today’s gentlemen.
- Form = 4.5 of 5
- Function = 3.7 of 5*
- Cost = 2 (Approx. $200 retail)
- Return on Investment = >3x**
*A gentleman’s shoes should last years if he takes care of them. Thus we reserve the right for this rating to change. For now, we’re delighted with close to a four.
**We calculate a qualitative and semi-quantitative return on investment (ROI) as the sum of form and function less the price point (literally the point value, or cost divided by 100) divided by the price point. Given that the vast majority of gentlemanly shoes fall between a bell curve of $100-$500, this in fact makes a decent amount of sense. In such case, a gentleman’s shoes should at least generate a 2-3x ROI, and the Carter passes the test.
Jack Erwin was started 2013 by two gentlemen with a simple idea: combine finely manufactured shoes and affordable prices. Identifying a void between the lower priced models to be found in the department stores (e.g. Bostonians) and the more expensive, custom or handmade models (e.g. J.M. Weston), Jack Erwin’s founders wanted to bring together the craftsmanship and experience of Spain, one of Europe’s most storied shoemaking industries, and the ease of distribution of a 21st century online retailer, with all the distribution benefits that business model offers.
The result? Timeless, well manufactured shoes, at prices slightly above the American mainstream, but with well-balanced quality attributes that absolutely justify the small premium.
Our reviewer, not avidly wearing boots in his day-to-day routine (usually sticking to classic Oxfords or the occasional Driver in warmer days), was positively surprised by the straight-out-the-box look – he may have anticipated bulkiness, but found an overall very aesthetic, fine, and sophisticated pair of shoes. From the overall cut of the boot, the fine details of the stitching, all the way down to the choices made for materials, Jack Erwin seemed to have put a lot of thought into their Carter model. For example, the laces they chose, combined with the seemingly delicate hook eyelets, complete the boots’ refined look.
From a craftsmanship perspective, the Carter offers a great deal of refinement for its price tag. The sole is, unlike the ordinary department store shoe, not simply glued to the main body, but sowed on properly. Also, the nails used in the soles are testimony of how Jack Erwin values the proper craftsmanship behind their products.
An area of concern could be the durability of the leather sole. After only moderate use, it shows significant surface wear and tear. Understanding the manufacturing process and how it affects the overall longevity of a shoe’s life, it can be said that this should not be a problem when the shoe is properly cared for. Just like a tailored suit, a well manufactured shoe can easily be repaired and any decent shoemaker will not have any problem to simply replace the sole, without impacting any other part of the shoe.
The high quality leather is rich looking, though quite stiff, even after a few miles under its belt, and requires more wear for the shoe to be truly broken in. Well no complaints here for getting to wear them more. However, it did take some extended periods of time on-the-go to get these boots to a decent comfort level. Still, the rich, chocolate colored boots have broken in well now that they have been “loved” a good bit.
We do recommend that you consider the “wear them in” factor when choosing any boot, the Carter included. That may well be the main difference between Jack Erwin’s shoes and a truly made-to-measure model. Given the price difference, however, it will likely be a concession most are willing to make.
Bottom line – they still look great.
It is unlikely that our reviewer will change his loafer-loving ways entirely to become an advocate for boots in general (though certainly Nashville has many loyalists). He was, however, impressed with Jack Erwin’s product and can recommend the Carter to everyone looking for a well-manufactured boot without breaking the bank. As a true stamp of approval for the company’s products, our reviewer has made it known that the next time he’s in the market for Oxfords, he will visit their store again.