Once upon a time, I could not care less about footwear. However, it was a necessary component of a gentleman’s attire. Because, when faced with the choice, commuting barefoot throughout the city was definitely not an option. However, after reinventing myself sartorially; assembling a distinguished collection of shoes was a high priority on my action list. At the time, I perhaps owned 3-4 pairs of shoes. And that is being generous. Present day, that number has expanded exponentially. I have acquired a myriad of varying styles throughout the years, and now my collection is suitably prepared for any situation and season. There is one style, however, that I have been reluctant to add to my closet – the wholecut oxford.
I have always held great admiration for its clean elegance and grace, but ironically, its simplicity was slightly intimidating. How could I incorporate such a simple dress shoe into my wardrobe? I’ve overthought the prospect for many years, but something great occurred. Fortuitously, I was presented an opportunity to explore and examine the world of direct-to-consumer luxury shoe brand Beckett Simonon. Launched in 2012, Beckett Simonon is a start-up brand created by founders Andres Nino and Nicholas Hurtado. Offering a modest array of footwear (oxfords, loafers, boots, sneakers), Beckett Simonon follows a pre-order, made-to-order business model.
A gentleman can participate in a select “campaign” that offers a variety of footwear models. Once he orders his choice of footwear, there is a 8-12 week lead time for delivery. The pre-order, made-to-order model reduces superfluous inventory and keeps prices low in comparison to the quality that a gentleman receives. I was given the choice of two models: the Valencia and the Durant. The Durant is a handsome calfskin brogue that would be the perfect business or business-casual dress shoe, but my closet overfloweth with brogue dress shoes.
Now was my opportunity to experiment with a wholecut – the Valencia. And so, I relayed the choice to my contact and eagerly awaited its arrival. Fast-forward, boom, right out of the box: the Valencia wholecut, additional pair of waxed cotton shoelaces, two monogrammed felt shoe bags, two removable insoles, and a Beckett Simonon booklet. My initial thoughts were positive. It was a damn good-looking shoe. So, let’s examine Beckett Simonon’s offering and determine if it is worth a nearly 3 month wait as their business model dictates.
- The Argentinian full grain leather utilized for the Valencia wholecut is remarkedly soft; seriously on par with similar offerings from Allen Edmonds at nearly half the price. Retrieving the Valencia from its box, a gentleman will immediately be greeted by the fine aroma of rich, full grain leather. Full grain leather is the best quality reserved for a gentleman’s shoe. It is the top layer of an animal’s hide that has not been altered or corrected. It is durable, rich, and luxurious. Here, the Valencia’s leather is best characterized as sublimely pliable and moderately thick with a beautiful luster. It received polish well to produce a nice glossy shine.
- The wholecut oxford itself is a unique model of gentleman’s footwear. Generally an oxford bears the mark of some ornate pattern or design. Here, the design is as simple as simple can achieve. Ironically, it is this simplicity that actually emboldens the wholecut with special distinction. Beckett Simonon achieves a streamlined silhouette with its version with a pronounced, curved slope along the vamp. The Valencia wholecut is equipped with 5 eyelets with shoelace strength and length appearing to be particularly hearty. To balance its quiet presentation, I recommend pairing with a trouser rich in fabric and design. Think tweed and Glen plaid for your choice of trouser.
- Of all things, I must reveal that the fit and comfort exceeded all my expectations. What good is a beautiful shoe if it constricts and hurts one’s feet? Although I wear a D width, my size 12 feet are moderately wide, and I anticipated a tight squeeze when sliding into the seemingly slender Valencia. I was incorrect with my assumption. The Valencia was very comfortable – not tight by any measure. Straight out of the box, the Valencia rejects rigidity with a supple insole and pliable body. There is certainly a lot of “give” to a Beckett Simonon shoe. I wore both thin dress shoes and slightly thicker cotton socks. The fit was still excellent.
- Over the last decade, the price of quality dress shoes have steadily increased. I have long held the belief that a quality pair of dress shoes will cost between $150.00 and $200.00. Nowadays, that range for some of my preferred brands have exceeded the $300.00 threshold, with even some approaching $400.00 and more. Beckett Simonon offers comparable quality at approximately half the price at $200.00. Absent the pre-order made-to-measure business model, Beckett Simonon would generally retail for $300.00. If you are lucky enough, you might be able to secure a 20% discount code online to further reduce the cost.
- Expanded price range for all footwear: dress shoes ($199), boots ($219), and ($149)
- The Valencia employs Blake-stitch construction with affords a lightweight quality, flexibility, and slenderness to its profile. In simple terms, Blake-stitch construction entails the shoe upper being attached the outsole and insole by a single stitch. The upper wraps around the insole and is sandwiched between it and outsole. The simple construction reduces the cost of the overall shoe when compared to a Goodyear welted shoe – which has the presence of a welt (an additional layer that the outsole, insole, and upper are stitched to).
- Unless you are a discerning gentleman that actively procures handsome selections of footwear – absent urgent necessity – you perhaps fall into the category of gentleman that only purchases shoes when you need them. That being said, a gentleman with an immediate need for a pair of elegant oxfords will be hard-pressed to wait 8-12 weeks for delivery. And still, even if an immediate purchase is not required, an average gentleman may be stubborn to part with the necessary funds to secure a product he won’t enjoy for nearly 3 months. Beckett Simonon is definitely suited for the dapper gentleman with patience and sufficient disposable income to acquire their product.
- For all intents and purposes, Beckett Simonon is still a young brand, and with its made-to-measure business model, uncertainty may provide pause for the cautious gentleman. Unlike purchasing footwear first-hand inside a store, or even ordering online from a proven brand in business for several decades, the consumer is trusting that this young company will fulfill and deliver all made-to-order shoes to the consumer. Seven years and counting in the business, they appear to be on the right track for longevity.
- Currently, Beckett Simonon only offers a medium width (D) for their footwear, so some of the slimmer models may present discomfort for wider feet. Comfort level will vary gentleman to gentleman.
- In the past, the opportunity to procure a wholecut oxford has presented itself multiple times over. However, I have been hesitant due to the potential high-risk of noticeable creasing. Now, creasing is a natural result of leather bending and flexing as shoes are worn. Its visibility can be mitigated based upon the decorative nature of the shoe. A wholecut oxford, however, is free of decoration. It is this naked simplicity that may lead to prominence of creasing that may be undesirable. Of course, this will depend upon a gentleman’s gait. I did notice that as I stepped, the Valencia did not flex around the vamp area. Neverthless, shoe trees are definitely recommended.
- The Blake-stitch construction doesn’t offer much resistance to wetness or temperature, as there is no barrier (a welt) between the insole and outsole. So a gentleman will need to factor weather into his sartorial plans for the day.
A Final Word – The Valencia
- Hand-made one at a time
- Blake construction that can be resoled at a reputable cobbler
- Full grain calf leather uppers
- Full grain leather lining for extra breathability
- Sturdy leather soles
- Extra durable leather heel stacks
- Rubber heel caps for better traction
- Waxed cotton laces
- Dust bags included
- 1 year warranty
- Free shipping, free returns, and free exchanges
Overall, I was very pleased with the Valencia from Beckett Simonon. The shape is beautiful, and it is very comfortable right out the box without a breaking-in period. This shoe is a perfect companion for the professional gentleman in and out of the office. For the quality you receive, the price-point is very affordable. Of course, a gentleman will have to exhibit the patience to wait on his order, but it should be well worth it. Beckett Simonon’s next campaign commences October 1st, 2019.
Please visit their website HERE for more information.
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