Company Spotlight: Awl & Sundry Review

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Awl & Sundry Review

I first heard about Awl & Sundry via Sabir's excellent style blog and decided to give them a try as well. Getting great shoes online is increasingly becoming an interesting alternative to shopping big brands and very often the customisation aspect is an important part of the selling point.

Mantorii is probably the oldest and maybe the biggest doing this professionally, but there are a number of new entrants into the market that promise to deliver an even better deal. One of the biggest challenges for smaller start-up is always finding a reliable production partner that will take you serious even with a smaller volume, but it seems Awl & Sundry have done a great job and their shoes arrived exactly on time.

Awl & Sundry Review - Customisation Process

A clear interface and a great configurator leads you through the customisation process step-by-step.  You can either decide to use an existing design and just add it to your shopping basket, adapt it a little bit, or just start from scratch and select from Oxford, Derby, Monk etc. and your preferred last. Every change you make is reflected in the graphics, there are a tons of different design options and leathers to choose from. You can even choose from different coloured laces and contrast stitching options. Your Awl & Sundry pair can look anything from classy to Frankenstein (blue snakeskin double monks with red suede sides, anyone?) with different leathers and designs combined. Prices start at $350 incl. shipping and shoe trees, but can go up to $600 if you choose snake leather, for example.

Awl & Sundry Review

One thing you can't customise is the interior of the shoe (only one lining leather) and the soles - it would be nice to have an option for a layer of rubber, for example. You can also have your shoes monogrammed, but the position of your initials is on the upper leather, at the heel and that position screams for attention a bit too much for my taste. 

Sizing is always an issue and Awl & Sundry is trying to make this as easy for customers as possible. In the end, it is also very much in their interest to keep return rates low and satisfaction rates high. The measurement method Awl & Sundry provides is not yet perfect (it needs you to print and align to papers), but in the end it worked liked a charm for me. The problem is that most people think they know their shoe size, but in reality they don't - in addition, most brands use different lasts, so a size 8 at one brand might very well be a size 7 at another.

Awl & Sundry Review
High quality looking suede leather and blue laces

My Awl & Sundry pair is kept rather simple. I chose a rather casual brown suede pair of Derby Wingtips with blue laces - these are great to wear with a pair of jeans and also work with some suits, depending on the colour and the formality.

The first impression was very positive. The shoes feel very solid and heavy in a good way. They certainly do need some time to be broken in, but that is also due to the Goodyear construction (meaning the shoes can be resoled) that simply makes the shoes a bit more bulky and sturdy. New shoes should be worn carefully, if you have sensitive feet (like me), then ideally you just wear it for a few hours per day at home. I still got blistered on my toes from the first few wears, but everything's fine now and they fit like a glove. I said my first impression was positive, my experience now after a couple of wears certainly confirms the great quality.

The shoes even come with cedar shoe trees, which is a great and very useable extra. These shoe trees will remove any moisture from the shoes and keep the shape of the shoes. You can also use them to stretch your shoes a little if you go for an adjustable shoe tree.

Overall, a clear recommendation for Awl & Sundry. You get to fully customise your pair of shoes and I definitely think you are getting great value for money. Anyone here who owns a pair already? Always interested in hearing other opinions.

Awl & Sundry Review
Carefully crafted leather soles - nailed heels, channeled stitching