In one corner we have Allen Edmonds, a fan favorite, and American classic that stands the test of time. And in the other corner we have the fast growing, and relative newcomer to the men’s shoe category, Beckett Simonon.
In this comprehensive review and brogue battle, we’re taking a look at a few popular brogue styles — namely, the Beckett Simonon Durant in Bordeux, the Allen Edmonds Strand in Walnut and the Allen Edmonds Fifth Avenue in Dark Chili.
I’m going to be comparing the shoes in terms of the style & design, quality & craftsmanship, comfort & durability, shoe sizing & price. Then finally I’ll wrap things up with the pros and cons for each shoe.
But before we get into all of that lets first set the stage for this inaugural brogue shoe battle of Beckett Simonon vs Allen Edmonds, two shoe companies with similar aesthetics.
ABOUT ALLEN EDMONDS
When guys get into the menswear game and start caring about their appearance and the shoes they wear, there’s a good chance that Allen Edmonds (AE) is one of the first brands they learn about. AE is an “American Original” founded in 1922, that offers classic men’s apparel in addition to their ever popular line of upscale dress shoes and boots.
Like many other American made brands, Allen Edmonds owes much of its popularity to the US Army and US Navy where they provided military personnel with footwear during World War II.
Where Are Allen Edmonds Shoes Made?
They proudly manufacture their shoes in the United States, something only less than 2% of companies can claim. Their shoes are also manufactured in Italy and the Dominican Republic (DR).
In 2006, AE shut down operations at their Maine factory moving handsewn production to the DR. And so their shoe uppers are now shipped to the DR, hand-sewn and cut and then shipped back to HQ in Port Washington, Wisconsin to complete construction, thus qualifying for the “Made in the USA” label.
- Founded: 1922 in Belgium, Wisconsin
- Based In: Port Washington, Wisconsin
- Factories In: U.S.A., Italy, Dominican Republic
- Website: www.allenedmonds.com
ABOUT BECKETT SIMONON
Compared with Allen Edmonds — online e-commerce retailer — Beckett Simonon is the new kid on the block, coming on the men’s dress shoe scene 90 years later. They launched in late 2012 under a made-to-order, direct-to-consumer model which means is that they hold no inventory and only make what the customers buy.
This allows for the company to avoid overhead of carrying inventory to provide shoes and other leather goods at a cheaper price point. They’re also able to make and fulfill batches of shoes that are carefully inspected for Quality Control.
Where Are Beckett Simonon Shoes Made?
They manufacture directly from their own factories in Europe and South America. The downside to this business model is the lengthy wait period of 3 months during which the pre-ordered shoes are crafted. That’s a lengthy period, but from the looks of things, many men are willing to wait for it.
Furthermore, Beckett Simonon has an in-house design team that creates unique styles every month which is why their collections often change throughout the year as campaigns refresh.
- Founded: 2012 in Bogotá, Colombia
- Based In: Bogotá, Colombia
- Factories In: Colombia and Portugal
- Website: www.beckettsimonon.com
WHAT IS A BROGUE SHOE?
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First before we get into the brogue battle and dress shoes comparison, let’s define what is a brogue shoe?
The term “brogue” is derived from bro, the Gaelic word for shoe. Brogues are characterized by the unique punching or decorative perforations along the shoe’s leather uppers. Technically, both an oxford and a derby can be considered brogues if they have the distinctive “broguing” along the leather uppers.
Did you know? Brogues were originally added to leather shoes to serve as drains for muddy water. Pretty cool, right?
There are also different variations of brogue shoes. A quarter brogue is typically minimal broguing along a shoe’s cap toe. A semi or half brogue has even more broguing along the shoe’s vamp and upper. And finally, a full brogue has the most decoration, which is also known as a wingtip.
I love a pair of brown brogues. So much so that it’s on my list of essential shoes for men.
Now, ladies & gentlemen, let’s get ready to rumble!!!
STYLE & DESIGN
Aesthetically, the Beckett Simonon Durant looks similar to the Dean Oxford, one of their cap-toe dress shoes without any broguing. And if you were to compare the Durant to the Allen Edmonds Strand and Fifth Avenue, you’d see striking similarity. The lasts are nearly identical.
What Is A Shoe Last?
FYI: A Last is a foot shaped form that provides shoemakers with a foundation for building a shoe.
Allen Edmonds has styles and designs for days with dress shoes built on over 20 different lasts. The AE Strand and Fifth Ave uses a 65 Last, also known as the 5 Last. It’s their most popular and classic fitting last and the longest in length which creates a more narrow silhouette. Thankfully the toe box is still rounded off, not pointed, and definitely not squared.
Let’s break down the AE Strand and Fifth Avenue brogue style and design first.
The Allen Edmonds Strand Style & Design
The Allen Edmonds Strand is a semi-brogue or half brogue which is distinguished by dotted perforations running along the cap toe, vamp, shoe upper and around the back. The shoe is essentially covered in brogues like rockstar musicians are covered in tattoos. Not the best analogy, but you get the visual. It even has a medallion brogue pattern on the cap toe for embellishment.
Additionally, The Strand has a beautiful silhouette that’s classic and modern at the same time. It’s considered an oxford (English) or balmoral (American) with closed lacing, and so it’s more formal than its derby counterpart which has an open lacing system.
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Although the AE Strand comes in a myriad of colorways, I opted for the bold, yet versatile walnut or cognac shade. I love that it stands out without screaming. It’s a much lighter brown shade and color that can work with everything from dress slacks to khakis, and rolled up dark wash denim. I’d go as far to say that they are the perfect smart casual shoes.
The Allen Edmonds Fifth Avenue Style & Design
As for the Allen Edmonds Fifth Avenue cap toe oxford — instead of a semi, half-brogue — it sports a quarter brogue which only has decorative punching across the cap-toe. The rest of the shoe is clean as a whistle.
Just like the Strand, the Fifth Avenue’s silhouette is timeless. Since they’re built on the same last, the Fifth Ave looks identical to the Strand with exception to less broguing and darker color.
I opted for the dark chili colorway which is a shade of brown and has slight burnishing towards the toe box. Overall I’d say its more of a mid-brown with dark brown undertones.
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Similar to the AE Strand, the Fifth Avenue is just as versatile due to its sleek shape and color. But I’d say it’s a level up in terms of formality due to less broguing and a darker brown shade. This makes them perfect to be dressed up with a grey or brown Prince of Whales check suit, woolen trousers or even dark wash jeans.
Now onto the Beckett Simonon Durant Oxford’s design.
The Beckett Simonon Durant Oxford Style & Design
My initial impression of Beckett Simonon dress shoes is that they are surprisingly similar to a few of the Allen Edmonds models. A head to head comparison of the Durant with the Strand and Fifth Avenue, you’d think they’re all from the same brand.
The Beckett Simonon Durant is a semi or half-brogue just like the AE Strand. The only difference is that the Durant has slightly less broguing along the leather upper.
I chose a bordeux or oxblood colorway for the Durants which is a beautiful color that’s rich and vibrant. Bordeux is essentially a dark shade of red (burgundy-esque), but has hues of dark brown and some subtle purple mixed in as well.
As with both Allen Edmonds shoes above, the Durants are versatile oxford dress shoes prime to be worn with everything from dress pants to chinos and slim dark blue jeans.
STYLE & DESIGN WINNER: TIE
If it came down to variety of styles and models, AE would win hands down. They’ve been around for nearly a century and so they’ve had decades to build out their collections.
However, when it comes to the style and design of the Strand and Fifth Avenue vs the Durant, I’d have to call them equals because the shoe silhouettes are so similar. I’m almost inclined to tip the scale in favor of Beckett Simonon’s Durant here, but since Allen Edmonds came first, let’s call it a draw.
Next up let’s talk quality and craftsmanship.
Quick note: If you’re enjoying this brogue battle featuring Beckett Simonon and Allen Edmonds, then you’ll probably find my other writing on all things men’s style useful. Each week, I share updates, style tips and other things not shared on the blog through my free email newsletter.
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QUALITY & CRAFTSMANSHIP
Great style starts from the bottom up and one way for men to dress well while presenting themselves head and shoulders above the rest is to invest in quality shoes.
And when it comes to men’s dress shoes, the quality and craftsmanship is just as important as the style and design. The key is finding a pair that’s built to last for years or even decades to come.
Allen Edmonds already has a reputation for high-quality dress shoes — let’s see why.
Allen Edmonds Quality & Craftsmanship
As mentioned earlier in this review, both the Strand and Fifth Ave are built on the welted 65 Last which is their most popular and classic shape. The shoes remain in the last for 24 hours to ensure they hold their shape for a lifetime.
They’re completely leather lined and feature a small cut-out on the inner left side of the right shoe where the Allen Edmonds logo is stitched. It’s all about the little details.
In addition to their imported leather, the shoes’ premium hides are sometimes sourced from the Horween factory in Chicago.
The AE Strand and Fifth Avenue are built with a welted construction:
A welt is a strip of leather sewn around the upper and insole of the shoe to which the outsole is then attached. Apart from its durability, one advantage of stitching the components together using a welt is that it conserves the leather’s natural flexibility and allows it to breathe. A welted construction also allows for the shoes to be recrafted and therefore extends the life of the shoe.
Quality Control (QC) Check
A quick QC check and there are some noticeable loose threads here and there, which is surprising since they seem to take pride in their QC. And while loose threads aren’t the worst thing, it shows that there was some oversight in the QC process.
As for the leather, it was clean, soft and supple from the start with no blemishes on the shoes or along the outsole.
Are Allen Edmonds Good Year Welted?
Yes, all Allen Edmonds dress shoes are crafted with a 360º Goodyear Welt (GYW), the gold standard to some. 360º means that the leather is stitched completely around the shoe making it more durable than shoes that are cemented together.
Additionally, a GYW makes it much easier to recraft the shoes after the soles have worn thin. And another benefit of a goodyear welt is that it provides more water resistance than other types of welts.
Do Allen Edmonds Have Cork Midsoles?
Yes, in fact this is one of the selling points that AE sales representatives tout if you ever find yourself in one of their physical locations. I remember my first visit to the Allen Edmonds brick and mortar store in downtown Philadelphia a few years ago when purchasing my very first pair.
The sales rep made sure I knew that there is a shock-absorbent cork between the insole and outsole that will allow for the sole to form and mold to my feet overtime, making for a custom and more comfortable fit. It turns out the cork midsoles do indeed form to your feet overtime.
- Handcrafted in Port Washington, WI of fine imported leathers
- Premium European calfskin leather upper
- Built on the welted 65 Last
Now that we’ve covered the quality & craftsmanship of Allen Edmonds, let’s see if Beckett Simonon is up to snuff.
Beckett Simonon Quality & Craftsmanship
Beckett Simonon shoes are handmade one by one from luxurious Argentinian full grain leather. To be honest, I can’t tell much difference between Allen Edmonds and Beckett Simonon’s leather shoes. They feel about the same level of thickness and softness.
If there was one slight distinction it’s that the Durants are more prone to creasing than the Strand and Fifth Avenue. I’ve had my AE’s for much longer (several years) and the Durants for about 4 months and they already appear to have more prominent creasing, comparatively speaking.
Like the Strand and Fifth Ave, the Durants are fully leather lined with soft full grain leather for extra breathability. And just like AE’s, they are also equipped with durable rubber heels for grip since full leather soles can be quite slippery in wet conditions.
Quality Control (QC) Check
A quick inspection of the Beckett Simonon Durants, I found it very difficult to find any physical flaws. There are no loose threads, the leather is soft, supple and clean.
And though I don’t think it’s a QC issue, but the way that the triangular brogue stitching is cut, it feels and looks to be fraying outward a bit, instead of laying flat like the AE Strand. Not a big deal, just a small detail that I noticed.
Are Beckett Simonon Good Year Welted?
No, Beckett Simonon shoes are all blake stitch constructed, including the Durants. A blake stitch isn’t any worse than a good year welt (GYW purists would say otherwise), in fact blake stitched dress shoes can still be recrafted, albeit through a much more difficult process that requires the help of a machine.
Interestingly enough, although the B-S Durants are blake stitched, they look strikingly similar to the Strand and Fifth Avenue’s good year welt. If I didn’t know better, I’d surely mistake them for a GYW.
A benefit of a blake stitched shoe over a GYW is that blake stitch shoes tend to have a sleeker appearance, thus make for a more refined looking dress shoe. Whereas good year welted shoes can have a more rugged appearance, making them the perfect welt construction for many boot styles.
Do Beckett Simonon Shoes Have Cork Midsoles?
No, there is no cork mid-sole in Beckett Simonon shoes. Instead the soles are lined with vegetable tanned full grain leather. There’s a thin padded layer that adds to the comfortability of the shoes.
- Hand-made one at a time.
- Resoleable Blake construction.
- Full grain calf leather upper.
- Full grain leather lining for extra breathability.
- Sturdy and resoleable leather sole.
- Extra durable rubber heels.
QUALITY & CRAFTSMANSHIP WINNER: Allen Edmonds
AE wins quality and craftsmanship by the slightest of margins. After all they’ve upheld a reputation of delivering quality shoes in America for over 90 years.
Beckett Simonon is no slouch here, however because AE has been in the game for so much longer and have been consistently delivering quality-made dress shoes for nearly a century, I have to give them the nod.
Next topic is comfort and durability.
COMFORT & DURABILITY
The key to comfort is fit and Allen Edmonds has a leg up when it comes to providing the perfect fit. Primarily because AE offers an extensive range of sizes and widths from AAA (narrow) to D (medium) all the way to EEE (wide). Allen Edmonds has the ability to fit a multitude of foot shapes and sizes, whereas Beckett Simonon only offers the standard D width.
In terms of durability, my Strands and Fifth Avenues have held up exceedingly well over the course of 3-4 years now. I haven’t polished or cleaned them up much at all. There are scuffs and streak marks that inevitably occur with regular wear. Though I’d say that they’re just about ready for a shoe shine any day now. I’m impressed with how little creasing there is on my AE’s. It goes to show that the leather quality is on point.
I haven’t had my B-S Durants for nearly as long, but they’re holding up well after double digit wears and a run around the block. There’s minimal creasing and the rubber heel is proving just a durable as the AE heels.
Are Allen Edmonds Comfortable?
Yes, even with just the CustomCork™ insole. There’s no cushion like with Beckett Simonon’s shoes, however its ability to naturally mold to your feet for a custom fit, provides comfort.
Are Beckett Simonon Comfortable?
Yes, since there is a light padded leather cushion on top of the cork bed that will form to your feet over time. Just like the AE Strand and Fifth Avenue, the interior leather lining is soft and supple.
COMFORT & DURABILITY WINNER: TIE
Both Allen Edmonds and Beckett Simonon’s shoes wear extremely comfortable right out of the box. There’s not much of a break in period needed. Bonus points to both brands for featuring a cork insole to ensure an even better fit the longer your wear them.
Let’s move on to shoe sizing and price.
SHOE SIZING, PRICE, ETC.
When it comes to sizing, both Allen Edmonds and Beckett Simonon run true to size. When I was fitted in-store, the AE rep told me that I was a size 8, which fits fine, though slightly roomy. I’m certain a 7.5 would fit me even better without being too tight.
I would have gotten 7.5 for my Durants, however it seems that they don’t carry 7.5, but do carry half sizes for 8-11. Beckett Simonon has sizes ranging from 7-14 compared to Allen Edmonds 6-16.
Are Allen Edmonds True To Size?
Yes, they run true to size and so you’re safe to go with your normal dress shoe or boot size or a half size down from your regular sneaker size.
Are Beckett Simonon True To Size?
Yes, their shoes fit true to size according to a Brannock device in standard D width.
SHOE SIZING WINNER: Allen Edmonds
Allen Edmonds gets the nod here because of the wider array of shoes sizes available in a myriad of widths from narrow to medium and wide. I think Beckett Simonon would benefit from offering at least a wide to accommodate men with wider feet. You can’t just size up or else the shoes will be too long.
Are Allen Edmonds Expensive?
Most of Allen Edmonds oxfords retail for $395 so they aren’t cheap dress shoes, however they can be found on sale for up-to 50% off. I got my Fifth Avenues for around $200 during their popular Rediscover America Sale and the Strands from Nordstrom for $250.
Keep in mind that you can shop Allen Edmonds factory seconds for AE shoes at a fraction of the cost, the caveat being that they have slight blemishes, both visible and invisible to the eye.
Shoes with defects that aren’t considered “first quality” are sold as factory seconds, which is usually a great deal considering they’re still handcrafted with the Made In America label.
At $395 they’re pretty expensive for most men, however on sale they’re a steal.
Is Beckett Simonon Expensive?
No. Beckett Simonon is one of the best bang for your buck shoe brands that I’ve tried. The quality is equal to brands twice their price. You can get B-S dress shoes for $199 year round.
And if it’s your first time buying from them, there are codes (GENTLEMANWITHIN20) for 20% off and they often have flash sales like two pairs for $319 which is a fantastic deal IMO.
PRICE WINNER: Beckett Simonon
This one’s pretty clear, as Beckett Simonon is nearly half the price of AE at retail. On top of the already great price of $199, you can snag an extra 20% off your first pair with my custom code GENTLEMANWITHIN20.
PROS & CONS
Before we wrap things up, let’s get into some of the pros and cons of both of these brands.
Allen Edmonds Pros & Cons
- Have a wide variety of styles and colorways
- Over 50,000 lasts in over 20 different shapes, lengths and widths
- Carry a myriad of shoe widths for all types of foot shapes and sizes
- Over 78 locations that you can visit and get fitted in person
- Factory seconds available at outlet stores across the country
- Recrafting service available to repair and restore your shoes
- Potential QC issues because of the high volume of orders fulfilled every day
- Retail value is double the price of Beckett Simonon shoes
- Made In America is slightly misleading since they have factories overseas
Beckett Simonon Pros & Cons
- Much more affordable than competitors with similar styles & quality
- Full one year warranty offered against defects in materials and workmanship
- Wide variety of dress shoe styles and colorways to choose from
- Free shipping and free returns in the US
- Dress shoe aesthetics are sleek and sexy
- Lengthy 3 month wait period is not for everyone
- Certain products come and go without mention or notice
- No brick and mortar locations to get fitted in person
Both brands carry a wide variety of shoe styles from cap toe oxfords to split toe derbies and penny loafers to double monk strap shoes and even whole cuts. They both also carry rugged cap toe boots, jodhpur boots and brogue dress boots.
Beckett Simonon even carries German Army Trainers (GATs) and minimalist white and black sneakers. For a young brand they have quite the selection of stylish shoes to whet any shoe lover’s appetite.
I’d say if you have the budget and don’t have the patience, then go for Allen Edmonds. And if you want to save about $150, and are willing to wait the 3 months to receive your shoes, then go with Beckett Simonon.
I can see both brands lasting for years, maybe even decade to come so long as I take care of them.
Are Allen Edmonds Worth It?
Of course. Even at retail price, I’d say Allen Edmonds is worth the investment, however I would never buy at full price considering they run sales year round. Or if you don’t mind slight defects or blemishes, factory seconds are a great option.
In addition to my Strand and Fifth Avenue, I own the Dalton brogue dress boot in dark chocolate and it’s one of my favorite pair of boots to wear.
Is Beckett Simonon Worth It?
Yes, hands down. Beckett Simonon is one of my favorite shoe companies at the moment because they’re doing things the right way. Not only is everything sourced directly from their own factories, but they’re still small enough to ensure top notch quality control which makes for a great pair of shoes.
Sure the wait is long, but I think it’s well worth it because of how much you can save on high-quality dress shoes that could easily sell for double the price.
In addition to my Durants, I own the Dean Oxford in black and two pairs of their sneakers, the (now discontinued) Reid in black with white sole and navy Morgen trainers. All 4 pairs look great and wear extremely well. In the end, It think Beckett Simonon shoes are well worth it.
That New Leather Shoe Smell
This review wouldn’t be complete without a smell test. Since I use shoe trees on all my dress shoes, they still have that fresh new leather shoe smell. My Durants even more so. I think it’s an addictive smell, as weird as it may seem. I like it.
If you enjoyed reading this brogue battle, then I think you will like this sustainable sneakers battle featuring Greats Royale Knit vs Tread By Everlane.
WHICH OF THESE BRANDS WIN THIS BATTLE IN YOUR EYES?
Let’s continue the discussion over in the Gentlemen Within Private Facebook Community.
Looking forward to seeing you in there.
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