Dress shoes pose a conundrum for many guys: On the one hand, you want your shoes to be comfortable and of high craftsmanship; on the other hand, you don’t want to have to spend upwards of $500 on a pair to get those features.
Paying for quality is smart, but not everyone can (or wants to) spend more than $200 on a pair of black lace-ups or loafers. This notion resonated with Ariel Nelson and Lane Gerson, co-founders of the wildly successful men’s footwear company Jack Erwin; so much so that they quit their day jobs to start this venture.
“We built Jack Erwin because we couldn’t find the shoe we wanted — so really we are the best representation of our customer. We focus on what we would want from a brand and go with it,” Nelson and Gerson told Business Insider.
Since launching the direct-to-consumer company back in 2013, Jack Erwin has come to offer 16 different “well-made, beautifully designed shoes at an affordable price” — ranging from suede driving loafers to leather bluchers and wingtip combat boots. In keeping with the mindset of company’s namesakes (Nelson and Gerson’s fathers, “two men who appreciate great shoes, but who will never pay more than $200 on a pair”), the most expensive three pairs in its collection are just $220. The other 13 are less than $200.
For today’s wolves of Wall Street, that’s a deal. For comparison’s sake, the average Salvatore Ferragamo loafer will set you back at least $500, if not $600 or $700. Even Allen Edmonds dress shoes, which are by and large what the majority of finance guys wear (or aspire to wear) on a daily basis, run closer to $400 a pair on average.
Accessibility is a very much an issue in the men’s dress shoe market; and it’s one Jack Erwin is tackling — not only by offering its customers affordable prices, but by accompanying those prices with style and comfort that can rival much pricier pairs. “After the break in period, comfort is very important,” Gerson explained to us. “To really look good and feel good you have to be comfortable. We have worked with our factories in Spain to find high-quality leathers that soften as they wear. We’ve increased the flexibility of our insole boards and leather outsoles, and we’ve introduced rubber sole options to further address comfort and durability,” added Nelson. They just look great on top of that.
If you’re in the market for new oxfords for work, or casual loafers for weekends, have a look. All signs point to Jack Erwin being a solid investment.
The ‘Archie’ is your classic penny loafer, which should go well suit suits and jeans alike. It, too, is Goodyear constructed.
The ‘Joe’ is your classic black lace-up — a staple for every guy’s closet. The co-founders told us 1-2 wears should be enough to fully break them in.
You may need up to 5 wears to fully break in these Goodyear-welted bluchers, but after that, the leather should begin soften and conform to your feet. Their a brogued overlay and traditional long-wing details are nice touches for the modern gentleman who’s concerned with style as well as comfort.
Suede driving loafers are a great choice for casual Fridays and weekends. The ‘Ernie’ comes in three colors, though the navy is our top pick.
Not every guy is a boots guy, but if you’re one, you could do much worse than the ‘Carter’. The military-style boot should work well with your jeans and chinos, and if you’re on the more stylish side, the burgundy color (they also come in black and chocolate brown) is a welcome department from the norm.