Taft Clothing is a direct-to-consumer brand that’s succeeding in a BIG way. Starting with no-show socks then pivoting to shoes and boots — the rest as they say is history.
This in-depth Taft boot review features the popular Rome boot style in the oxblood colorway. I’ll cover the brand’s background, the unboxing experience, quality & craftsmanship, comfort & durability, shoe sizing & prices, pros & cons, how they compare with similar brands, and whether or not they’re worth your money.
Let’s get started!
TAFT BOOTS REVIEW
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About Taft Clothing
Founded by Kory and Mallory Stevens — husband and wife — Taft Clothing was born out of a small 2-bedroom apartment in 2013 from an idea conceived while walking down the steps of the Sacre Coeur.
What started with no show socks evolved into a wildly popular and successful shoe company, known for their eclectic yet modern (boot) styles. The Utah-based (Provo) Taft comes from their son’s middle name. Speaking of their no-show sock beginnings, I actually have a pair from when they originally launched. And I believe the subreddit Frugal Male Fashion had a little something to do with Taft’s meteoric rise.
5 years later, the bootstrapped Taft is now making over $20 million a year, with celebrities like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and NBA players like James Harden wearing Taft because they just like them. Among the company’s investors include NBA Champion MVPs Andre Iguodala and Dwayne Wade.
They have quite the illustrious story from humble beginnings, and they’re still a small and nimble team. But enough about that, you’re here for the Rome boot review.
So let’s jump in, starting with the unboxing experience.
Taft boots come double boxed to ensure a clean and proper unboxing experience. Inside of the box flaps they hit you with “WELCOME TO THE TAFT FAMILY” along with the #wearTAFT hashtag, and where you can find them online.
Inside of the shoe box you’ll find two canvas, shoe bag inserts and an extra pair of laces. Also included is a hard plastic shoe horn and finally the Rome boots carefully wrapped with plastic.
Not much else to say here, let’s move on with the style & design.
Style & Design
From a style standpoint, it’s hard to top Taft’s sleek aesthetic. If you think Thursday Boots has modern, sleek silhouettes, Taft’s are even sleeker.
Taft stands out where other brands choose to play it safe. Many of their styles are made with interesting textures, mixing wool with leather and even woven designs. The shoes and boots are truly stand out which I’m sure helped them to gain traction and grow their fanbase on social media.
People WILL ask you about these boots. Every time I go out I get comments and compliments, mostly asking where they can find them cause they look “so fresh”. Taft recently dropped a myriad of boot styles to the collection. My picks are the Viking Boot in stone or beige suede, the Jude Chelsea boot in a tonal, and the slick Saint Boot in espresso.
The Taft Rome Boot Design
I opted for the Rome boot in an oxblood colorway. It’s a deeply rich, burgundy-esque tone with a very subtle hint of purple. The shade sort of changes depending on the lighting situation, but the purple can be seen at certain angles. But to non-discerning eyes, they’ll call it brown.
The cap toe decoration dials down the formality slightly while the highly contrasting Blake Rapid stitched sole is rather stark, a little too much for my liking.
I chose the Rome boot primarily for its versatility. It prime to be worn with both more formal and casual looks. They’re definitely right at home with a smart casual aesthetic.
How to Style the Rome Boot
Though I wouldn’t call it a dress boot, given its sleek shape, it sure looks like one. Feel free to rock it with a blazer over a button down shirt and chinos or jeans, take your pick. I wouldn’t, however recommend pairing it with a complete suit ensemble.
And if I wasn’t going for versatility, I would have gone with the more casual, rugged, and perhaps Taft’s most popular pair, the Dragon boot, which is the first Goodyear-welted (GYW) boot in their collection. Another pair I’d consider, though not as versatile, but certainly unique, is the Jack boot which features a two tone, woolen fabric upper and leather contrast. It’s Taft’s signature product.
Now that we’ve gone over style & design, let’s get into the boot’s quality & craftsmanship.
» Related: You might like this visual demonstration on heel lock lacing your boots to help prevent blisters.
Taft Quality & Craftsmanship
All Taft boots and dress shoes are crafted in Spain and more recently Portugal.
Since all Taft footwear is painted, stained, and burnished by hand, each pair is different from the next. According to Taft it takes four different coats of paint and finish to achieve the rich finish seen in the Rome boot’s leather.
Additionally all of their patterns are hand-cut as opposed to being cut by lasers or molds. And the leather outsole is stacked with rubber inserts which offer durability, comfort and grip.
All Taft shoes and boots with exception to the Dragon boot have a Rapid Blake stitch construction which makes them resoleable, though not as easily as a GYW. The benefit of a Blake stitched shoe or boot is that it offers a sleeker silhouette. To the untrained eye, however Blake or GYW, doesn’t make a difference.
Quality Control Check
For a quick quality control check, there are no loose threads and no visible imperfections. The leather upper is soft and flexible with a pebble grain appearance which is a nice contrast against the smooth leather of the cap toe and back heel.
The smooth leather of the cap toe and along the back heel of the boot is almost too soft, which makes me question its durability. More on that in the next section.
- Soft vegetable tanned, full-grain leather upper
- Leather outsole with rubber inserts
- Thin round waxed laces
- Standard D Width
- Rapid Blake stitch construction
- Leather heel loop to helps putting on the boots without damaging the heel counter
Moving on to comfort & durability of the boots.
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Comfort & Durability
Comfort wise, the Taft Rome boot feels great on my feet, and didn’t take long to break them in. They’re fully lined with calfskin leather that feels soft to the touch. Keep in mind, a fully leather lined shoe or boot helps speed up the break in process, which the Rome boots are actually quite comfortable right out of the box.
Furthermore, they’re form fitted to my feet with the standard D width, not too loose and not too tight, but just right. The boots are fully leather lined with a comfortable leather footbed and insole which makes them a good boot for standing and walking around all day.
I am a little bit concerned about the soft leather on the back of the heel and cap toe especially. My first couple of times wearing them, the leather somehow caught the metal in the backseat under the car seat and created a visible gash along the toe box of the right boot. It surprised me how fragile they could be considering I didn’t even realize they were scratched until after I had gotten out of the car.
Since then, several more scuff marks and minor marks have appeared, though not as bad as the initial one. This leads me to believe that I may have to be careful with these boots. I’ll have to see how they hold up over time, but based on the first few months of wear, and the visible blemishes are a bit concerning. I’ve also read online in reviews that some people encountered similar issues.
Three years later, and it’s safe to say that the leather aged quite gracefully and is still as soft as ever. They are far from beater boots and so I haven’t run them into the ground, but the boots have held up pretty well without any new, considerable marks or blemishes on the leather.
Taft Rome Boot Break In
As mentioned above, the Rome boot’s leather is soft and flexible making it quite comfortable from day one. There’s not much of a break-in period compared with my other more rigid boots like the Wolverine 1000 Mile, Allen Edmonds Dalton or Thursday President Boot.
After the first couple of wears, they should feel right at home in your rotation.
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You can watch the original Taft Rome Boot review above.
With comfort & durability covered, let’s get into how they’ve held up over the past 3 years of wear.
Three Year Update (How are they Now?)
What’s there to say about the Taft Rome boot? Besides being one of Taft’s most popular boot styles, it’s a beautiful cap toe boot that’s equal parts refined and casual, appropriate when worn day or night. The Rome boot in the oxblood colorway is dressy enough to wear with a blazer and chinos and casual enough to wear with a flannel shirt, puffer vest and wool trousers.
As for how they’ve held up over the past 3 years of wear: My Taft Rome boots have seen numerous bars and nights outs as well as more casual outings, running errands, grocery shopping and definitely worn on plenty of dates. If you’re wondering — yeah, they still get compliments all the time.
Are They Still Comfortable?
Safe to say they’ve only gotten more comfortable over the years. While there’s no custom cork insole like with my Allen Edmonds Dalton boots, the insoles are still well cushioned and don’t cause my foot or heels any discomfort at all.
It’s one of the more comfortable boots and lighter boots in my rotation which is refreshing since some of the more rugged boots I have are weighted like bricks. Additionally, the interior leather is soft as ever with that smooth glove leather lining. The Taft Rome boot gets an A grade for long-term comfort.
How’s the Leather Holding Up?
One of the boot’s highlights is the super soft and supple full-grain leather upper that’s pebble textured blended with a smooth leather that’s emblematic of Taft’s overall “unique” aesthetic, just not nearly as wild as their other pairs like the Jack Boot for example.
The leather is clearly quality stuff as there’s no cracking, in fact it’s softer than ever especially around the creases which is natural looking and not one bit unsightly like my Thursday President’s creasing on the leather.
Moreover, the oxblood color hasn’t faded, but you can see plenty of light and dark gradients of brown and purple which is kind of like a car’s chameleon color shift wrap and distinctive in its own right.
Finally, that gash along the cap toe hasn’t gotten progressively worse and there’s no new prominent marks or scarring on the leather. Granted I don’t beat these boots up, but I don’t baby them either. All in all, good stuff with the leather’s longevity.
What About the Outsoles?
Now the boot’s outsoles are an area for some concern. The rubber studded grips for traction along the balls of the feet have worn down a great deal, and worse yet, they’re no longer grippy. The rubber has hardened and is more slippery in wet conditions which is the opposite of their intended purpose.
I’d recommend a new type of rubber be used for these outsoles, something like a vibram rubber that’s proven to be much more durable and weatherproof. All in all, the soles are wearing down naturally and I can see them lasting another season or two before it’ll be time for an potential upgrade.
Any Issues with the Construction?
All Taft boots are constructed with a rapid blake stitch which actually looks like a Goodyear welt on this pair. Thankfully they’re able to be resoled once the soles wear down, just not as easily as a GYW. I haven’t yet had to resole them, but in another year or two, it may be time.
The construction is still solid and the stitching remains firmly intact. The wood construction, besides natural wear and tear over time shows no signs of cracking or breaking apart either. And thankfully there are no sole splits which is problematic with many Thursday Boots. All in all, these are a well-built pair of boots.
With the 3 year update covered, let’s jump into the shoe sizing and price.
Taft Shoe Sizing & Price
According to Taft, their shoes and boots run slightly big and so they suggest to size down if you’re between sizes. Keep in mind that their footwear does not come in half sizes.
All of their shoes and boots come in standard D width. My boot size is 7.5 and so I naturally sized down to 7 and it’s a perfect fit. Keep in mind that they still do not offer wider widths which is a shame considering a competing DTC brand like Thursday Boots does.
Today the Taft Rome Boot comes in at $295 (a $20 increase from 3 years ago) and while they didn’t really offer online sales 3 years ago, Taft does markdown their prices typically around the holidays, for Black Friday, and Cyber Monday from what I’ve noticed. Finally, they have Last Chance sales available on shoes and boots with some pretty decent discounts.
It’s a competitive industry, now let’s discuss how Taft compares with its competitors.
How Taft Compares with Competitors
Competition is fierce out there with other DTC companies and brands with over a hundred years of American heritage making waves in the industry. This begs the question, how does Taft stack up?
Taft vs Thursday
Founded just one year after Taft, the Thursday Boot Co. has seen tremendous growth, especially among the millennial demographic. Both brands currently offer shoes and boots as part of their collection. Taft is slightly more expensive with sleeker and more unique styles and designs.
The President Boot are made with proprietary Thursday chrome leather that have proven to be durable over 1.5 years of wear. No gashes or major blemishes, although the creasing is a bit of a problem. It’s worth mentioning that I didn’t use shoe trees in the beginning, so that could have helped prevent the unsightly creases.
Additionally, the President’s outsole features Thursday’s proprietary rubber that’s similar to a Dainite sole. For the laces, the President boot has flat waxed laces which give off a more casual vibe than the Rome boot’s thin round laces.
In terms of quality, my Thursday Captains, President and Dukes have held up really well over 2+ years. I can’t make a complete comparison yet because I’ve only had these Taft boots for a few months. But I like both Taft and Thursday and think either make for a great first boot choice.
Taft vs Allen Edmonds
The Allen Edmonds Dalton boot is a wingtip dress boot that retails for $445, about $170 more than Taft’s Rome boot. Hand-crafted in America, AE has a reputation of quality heritage footwear that’s stood the test of time.
The Dalton’s leather is premium calfskin with a 360º Bench Welt construction and as is typical with all Allen Edmond’s footwear, a CustomCork insole that molds to your feet over time.
The waxed round laces are thinner than Taft’s round laces, making them dressier in my opinion. Both pair of boots can be dressed up, but the AE Dalton can be worn with a suit no problem, whereas I wouldn’t wear a suit with Taft’s Rome boot. Both pair of boots have a leather heel loop to make it easier to slip into the boots.
The Dalton’s leather is high-quality, but it does squeak pretty loudly while wearing, and I’m not sure how to get rid of the noise. On sale, you can get the Daltons for $300 which makes them a great value play compared with the Rome boot.
Taft vs Wolverine
Wolverine is a brand that’s been around for over 130 years. With this kind of American heritage, they’ve become a mainstay in many men’s boot arsenal. The Wolverine 1000 Mile like the Thorogood Moc Toe, is a rugged work boot that is the perfect pair to wear with cuffed jeans for a work wear vibe. It’s more versatile than you’d think though, as I’ve worn mine with jeans and a blazer for a rugged/smart casual style.
My Wolverine 1000 Mile boots are the Adrian variant from Nordstrom a few years back. It’s made with Horween Chromexcel leather that’s aged quite nicely. As mentioned above, they’re much more rugged than Taft’s Rome boot. They both feature a cap toe and full-grain leather. The Wolverine 1000 Mile like the AE Dalton and Thursday President have a Goodyear-welt whereas the Rome boot is Blake stitched.
The 1000 Mile boots come in at around $390 retail and can be found on sale for $250 which is tremendous value for the price. Check out my Wolverine 1000 Mile Boot Review.
Let’s wrap things up with some pros & cons and whether or not Taft boots are worth your money.
Taft Clothing Pros & Cons
- Super stylish aesthetic
- Fantastic customer support team
- A myriad of unique styles and designs
- Pretty affordable price point for the quality
- Boots hold up exceptionally well over the long haul
- Worn by celebrities & athletes (non-paid endorsements)
- Well designed, easily accessible website with all the information you need
- Leather is easily prone to scuffing and gashes in certain areas
- Growing rapidly, so QC may be an issue moving forward
- Still does not offer wider width shoes and boots
Are Taft Boots Worth It?
My concerns about durability have gone away in the past 3 years that I’ve been wearing my Taft boots, I’d say that Taft is well worth the price tag. Three years after my original review, the popular Rome Boot is still under $300 — and with exception to the Dragon boot — Taft is still considered entry level.
I hope you enjoyed this updated post on the Taft Rome Boots, 3 years later. So yes, they are still going strong and continue to be one of my most worn pair of boots almost year-round. Great job, Taft!
A note: Taft sent me these boots. These are all my thoughts and opinions based on my experience. Gentleman Within holds all control over editorial content.
Onto you. What are your thoughts about Taft Boots?
Let’s continue the discussion over in the Gentlemen Within Private Facebook Community.
Looking forward to seeing you in there.
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