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 brown, beige suede or honey, the Jude Chelsea boot in a grey wool, and the slick Saint Boot in camo.
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.
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.
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.
With comfort & durability 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.
The Taft Rome Boot comes in at $275, and as far as I know, they don’t offer any types of sales online, but have the occasional warehouse sale in select cities. Finally, they have factory seconds available with prices ranging from $174-$209 for both shoes and boots.
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
- 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
- Durability concerns for the long haul (TBD)
- Growing rapidly, so QC may be an issue moving forward
ARE TAFT BOOTS WORTH IT?
Durability concerns aside, I’d say that Taft is well worth the price tag. At under $300 with exception to the Dragon boot, they’re still considered entry level.
Along with Thursday Boots, Taft is an excellent choice for men or women looking to invest in their first pair of quality boots that get all of the style points too.
I’ll be updating this article in late 2019 most likely to showcase how they held up over the course of the year. Stay tuned.
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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