Ace Marks is a direct to consumer (DTC) company that creates handcrafted, luxury Italian shoes. After launching in 2016, Ace Marks has continued to build out its collection and now offers everything from minimalist leather sneakers to sleek chelsea boots.
In this comprehensive Ace Marks review, I’m going to talk a little bit about the brand and share my experience wearing the Duke White Leather Sneaker and Diablo Antique Troy Chelsea Boot over the past 6 months.
I’ll touch on the quality & craftsmanship, comfort & durability, shoe sizing, price to performance, where to buy them, where I see room for improvement, and finally wrap things up with the pros & cons.
Let’s get started.
ACE MARKS REVIEW
First up, a brief company rundown.
Ace Marks Company Rundown
Ace Marks launched in 2016 after they found success through a Kickstarter campaign. By embracing modern technology, they set out to eliminate the middleman by providing handcrafted sneakers and dress shoes on par with top luxury shoe brands, at reasonable prices.
Ace Marks focuses on delivering standout shoes that are both beautiful and functional by combining unique colors and materials. All their shoes are made in Italy in a small factory owned and operated by a family of 4th generation artisans.
Today Ace Marks offers everything from wingtips to monkstraps and loafers to wholecuts. Now that we have a rundown on the brand, let’s get started with the style & design.
STYLE & DESIGN
Ace Marks offers a collection of bold, yet classic styles. You can get a pair of blue wholecut oxfords or brown wingtip brogues. They even have two tone leather cap toes and leather suede combinations.
Overall Ace Marks shoes have a crisp, clean design aesthetic. According to them, each pair is hand dyed and hand burnished which is what gives their shoes depth and such rich, vibrant colors.
First up is the Ace Marks white leather sneakers design.
Ace Marks Duke Dress Sneakers Style & Design
A low top, white minimalist sneaker has become somewhat of a wardrobe staple of mine over the past couple of years. I feel that every stylish man owes it to himself to have at least one in his closet.
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The Ace Marks Duke sneaker in white is minimal with a sleek profile which makes it perfect to dress up with slim trousers and a blazer or dress it down with a floral print shirt and distressed denim.
It also looks great paired with white pants and a chambray shirt. I’d say white leather sneakers are most at home with casual styles.
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I opted for the classic white colorway among a handful of other versatile colors of navy/gray, black, brown, gumsole and even a blue/brown suede option.
There’s no branding with exception to the Ace Marks logo leather patch on the tongue and the logotype printed in gold foil on the insole with the words “Handcrafted in Italy”.
The Duke sneakers are all-white from the leather upper to the outsoles. No off white or beige contrastic like some other white sneakers have. Inside, the leather lining is brown.
All in all, the Ace Marks Duke sneakers have a slick profile and slim design that’s every bit as versatile as it is stylish.
Ace Marks Troy Chelsea Boot Style & Design
The Ace Marks Troy Chelsea is one of the sleekest and stylish chelsea boots I’ve seen. It features a slim profile, much slimmer than my Thursday Duke Chelsea. It’s got more of a pointed round toe which gives it an overall slick look.
The Troy Chelsea is built on their own proprietary ACE last and so it’s guaranteed to be a unique silhouette. The blake stitch construction is clean and tight which is also another reason why it’s so sleek.
Personally, I love the shape of the shoe and the “U” pattern of the elastic band on the sides of the shoe. It’s got a subtle curve that again adds to its sleekness.
Since it’s such a sharp shoe, I would wear them with slim fit chinos or jeans with a button up, maybe a quarter zip or crewneck sweater and a light blazer to finish off the look. It’s smart casual at its finest.
I opted for the Diablo Antique colorway which is a rich brown color with a subtle burnished finish. The Chelseas have a luster that doesn’t look cheap, in fact it gives the shoe an even classier look and feel.
Just like the sneakers the boot is void of any branding with exception to the logotype on the cushioned leather insole.
All in all, the Troy Chelsea boot is as sexy as any boot that you’ll find on the market.
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QUALITY & CRAFTSMANSHIP
Now that we’ve assessed the shoes’ style and design, let’s talk about the quality and build of the shoes.
Duke Sneaker Quality & Craftsmanship
The Ace Marks Duke Sneakers are crafted with full-grain calfskin leather for the uppers and lined with supple calfskin leather for breathability.
The outsole is stitched to the leather as opposed to being glued (a hallmark of a cheap shoe). The leather feels soft and supple like it will last for a long time and get even better after longtime wear, just as full grain leather should.
Ace Marks also utilizes Margom rubber for the sneaker outsoles which is what other brands at similar price points offer as well as the prized Common Projects Achilles Low. It’s a durable, weather-resistant sole that should last for years to come.
Duke Sneaker Details:
- low top dress sneakers in white
- Leather dress sneakers made from full grain calfskin leather upper and lining
- Pillow padded cushioned Tongue and Collar
- Durable rubber outsole stitched to upper (not glued)
- Modern and versatile men’s dress sneakers
- Hand-made and dyed in Italy
- Luxury dress sneakers
Troy Chelsea Boot Quality & Craftsmanship
The leather upper looks almost like a wholecut, but is crafted with two pieces of leather and third, small strip of leather along the back of the shoe for reinforcement.
The boot stitching along the upper is minimal and clean, I counted 11 stitches per inch. It’s crafted with a blake stitch construction which allows for the boots to be resoled after the soles have worn down.
A difference between Blake stitch and Goodyear welt is in the construction; a Goodyear (GYW) can be done by hand whereas Blake has to be stitched with a special machine. Additionally with a Blake stitch, the outer sole is directly stitched to the insole. Blake stitched shoes are typically lighter, sleeker, more flexible and easier to break in than GYW.
The outsole is leather for a classic look and features a split rubber and leather heel for added grip. Although in my experience, the half rubber doesn’t do much for grip when the entire outsole is leather. I’ll still be slip and sliding on certain types of floors, but that’s just the nature of shoes with leather bottoms.
Troy Chelsea Boot Details:
- Supple, breathable full-grain calfskin lining from heel to toe
- Leather outsole with sealed stitch channels
- Low pressure last and elastic side panels
- Cushioned leather insole and warm lining
- Hand dyed & burnished
- Standard D width with wide E width option
- Italian crafted premium ankle boots
- Loop tab for easy slip on
- Blake Flex Construction for extra flexibility (resoleable)
COMFORT & DURABILITY
Comfort is an important part of the shoe buying and wearing experience. Without comfort, a shoe isn’t worth buying, and so let me share my experience with Ace Mark’s sneaker and boot comfort starting with the Dukes.
Duke Sneakers Comfort & Durability
Sneakers are usually pretty comfortable out of the box, especially more so than a pair of oxfords. The added cushion inside of the sneakers gives it natural comfort. They’re just a hair over 1 pound in weight.
Right out of the box, the Ace Marks Duke feels comfortable. I don’t recall feeling any type of discomfort during my time with these sneakers even during the initial wearing in process. I didn’t get any blisters or tightness, it was smooth sailing from day one.
The shoes are fully leather lined and there’s a removable (or is it? More on that later) cushioned insole for added comfortability. All in all, the Dukes performed well in terms of comfort & durability, how about the Troy Chelseas?
Troy Chelseas Comfort & Durability
Chelsea boots are inherently a comfortable shoe. There’s no laces to deal with, you simply slide them on and off you go. Of course you have to get the right size as any pair of shoes that are too large or too small will be uncomfortable no matter how high quality it is.
Glad to report that the Troy Chelsea boots are ultra comfortable from day one. There’s virtually no break in period with these boots which is always a bonus. I can’t remember how many times my feet get torn up during the break-in process of some really rugged boots (I won’t name any names).
In terms of the weight, they’re super light for a pair of boots coming in at just over 1 pound, about the same weight as the Duke sneakers. Additionally, just like the Dukes there is a memory foam cushioned insole for extra comfort.
The full calfskin leather lining is buttery soft to the touch and feels comfortable against the skin. Usually I’m wearing thicker socks that go over my calf, but there are times in the summer that I’ll wear no show socks with my boots. The boots are also breathable which is good for a shoe that’s completely enclosed.
How The Duke Sneakers Have Held Up
My Duke sneakers have been through the worst of it. The first week with my Dukes, I took them with me on a trip to Chicago for a conference.
It rained nearly the entire weekend and I was caught up in a major rainstorm that lasted the entire day, massive puddles and all. All I had were my Ace Marks sneakers or Chelsea boots, I decided the sneaks would fare better.
Between hopping from the Bean to the modern art museum and puddles, it was a fun day. Happy to report that while the leather did soak up a good amount of rain, the shoes made it through the mess and didn’t have any lasting water stains. I wiped the leather down with paper towels and let them air dry.
After that trip, I didn’t wear them in the rain again, but they’ve gotten plenty of wear in the city and suburban streets where I live. The margom outsoles are proving to be quite durable. Stitching is still clean and the leather remains soft and supple on the outside and inside the shoe.
Creasing on the leather upper is minimal. And while the outsoles are stitched onto the leather upper it seems that there is some sort of glue/brown residue on the edges of the outsoles near the stitching. They look like small stains, but is definitely some sort of glue substance, I can’t tell what it is, but they’re minor blemishes on the white leather and soles.
Overall, while the leather does have some scuff marks (nothing out of the ordinary from regular wear), the Ace Marks Duke have held up exceptionally well over the past 6 months of wear.
How The Troy Chelsea Boots Have Held Up
Just like the Duke sneakers, the Troy Chelseas have held up exceptionally well over the past half year.
There’s very minimal creasing and I didn’t use any shoe trees early on. If anything, it’s a beautiful, elegant kind of shoe crease if there’s such a thing. Compared to my Thursday President boots which are crafted with chromexcel leather — it’s no question which looks better.
The leather seems to have aged well and feel softer after wearing the boots for the last handful of months. There’s natural wear on the outsole, nothing out of the ordinary. And the boot’s natural shine and luster is still there. The full grain leather has some scuff marks and regular wear and tear, but still look great in my opinion.
Just like my Duke leather sneakers, I wore my Troy Chelseas in wet weather. Granted, the leather is not waterproof it is water resistant, and you can apply waterproofing if needed. The boots will; however, hold up to light rain no problem. Just wipe off the droplets and no damage done to the leather.
All in all, my Troy Chelseas are going strong and I have a feeling they’ll continue to age well over the next couple of years, but of course only time will tell.
CARING FOR YOUR ACE MARKS SHOES
Ace Marks has put together this handy short video on how to care for your leather shoes. Just hit the play button below.
Quick note: If you’re enjoying this Ace Marks review, then you’ll probably like this article on 7 Awesome Boot Styles and Sneaker Trends for men.
The white leather sneakers come in sizes 5-15 with some half sizes available. The sneakers run true to size. I’m normally a size 8 and that’s what I got for the Dukes.
The Troy Chelseas come in sizes 5-14, also with some half sizes. There is also an option for a wider E width shoe which is good news for men with wider feet. I also went with size 8 for the boots and they fit like a glove.
Ace Marks’ shoes are built around the foot’s natural curves to reduce common pressure points around the heel and mid-foot. And their sizes go according to the U.S. Brannock sizing system. You can check out their sizing tools for further guidance in picking the right size for you.
ACE MARKS PRICE TO PERFORMANCE
When it comes to price, Ace Marks is in the mid-range. They offer affordably priced shoes for what you’re getting which is high-quality luxury shoes that rival the more expensive companies.
At $330, $275 on sale for the Troy Chelseas and $224, $199 on sale for the Duke dress sneakers — Ace Marks is just above the likes of Thursday Boots and about on par with Taft Boots. Other brands at similar price points and sneaker quality are Koio, Beckett Simonon, Greats and Oliver Cabell.
Collectively, the Dukes and Troy are exceptionally stylish and durable footwear that punch well above their weight class.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Nothing’s ever perfect and so here’s where I think Ace Marks can improve. The first is to add a wider option for the sneakers just like they have with their boots.
Secondly, it’s more of a shoe construction critique. While the insole is removable, there’s actually a bit of glue on the heel of the shock absorbing insole, as if it wasn’t meant to be removed.
And so in terms of the construction of the sneakers, if they are removable, they shouldn’t apply any glue at all. And if they aren’t to be removed, they should be attached more securely to the midsole. That’s about it as far as my concerns go.
ARE ACE MARKS SHOES GOOD?
In the end, are Ace Marks shoes any good? I’d say emphatically, yes. Not only do they carry sleek and stylish silhouettes made in Italy, but they also do so at affordable prices.
Did you know: Ace Marks has a buyback program? When you purchase a new pair of Ace Marks shoes, just send your old ones back and they will issue you a $50 Credit towards your new pair. They’ll make sure the shoes are in good condition and donate them to Career Gear.
ACE MARKS PROS & CONS
- Free shipping & returns
- Crisp and clean shoe and boot styles
- Blake stitch construction for replaceable sole
- Hand-crafted, hand burnished in Italy
- Excellent price to performance
- Carries wide E width boots
- Sneaker insole is glued on the bottom
- Sneaker leather is a bit rough at first
WHERE TO BUY ACE MARKS SHOES
As a DTC company, you can find Ace Marks shoes on their website online. They currently do not have any brick and mortar locations.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Ace Marks is a brand that flies under the radar, but my experience with their leather sneakers and chelsea boots over the past 6 months have been stellar.
I’m thoroughly impressed with their entire collection of shoes, from the comfort and durability to their pleasant customer service experience.
For men who are in the market for a pair of leather sneakers or chelsea boots, Ace Marks is not to be overlooked. I recommend them highly.
Has Ace Marks shoes been on your radar?
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