Founded in 2015, Undandy experienced a 2 million dollar turnover by 2017 with only 26 employees. Undandy has been steadily gaining momentum ever since, and with the shoe industry having long-time successful companies like Allen Edmonds, this is a feat not many have achieved.
So, does Undandy deserve a spot in your collection?
Let’s find out.
In this comprehensive review, I will delve into the customization and unboxing experience and critique the product under the following terms: style & design, quality & craftsmanship, comfort & durability, shoe sizing, price to performance, and conclude with my purchase recommendation.
Undandy was co-founded in 2015 by Rafic Daud, as a made to order, direct to consumer (DTC) business. Undandy’s customizable footwear is at a price point of around $200.
Their crafting process takes two weeks, and then it is shipped directly to you. From your computer screen to your door — about a month for hand-crafted, custom designed shoes is not too shabby in my opinion.
There are a multitude of benefits to a made-to-order (MTO) & DTC business’ like Undandy. More cost effective practices and less overhead alone greatly improve sustainability.
And when you factor in less waste/overstock from not having to stock store shelves, it’s no wonder why this model greatly reduces their carbon footprint and boosts sustainability.
Furthermore, this model has shown success in other upstart companies like Beckett Simonon, but their shoes take upwards of three months to produce. Undandy has their process dialed in, you can personally design your shoe with a plethora of options and they ship in only 2 weeks!
Where are Undandy’s Shoes Made?
All of Undandy’s shoes are crafted in São João da Madeira in Portugal, also known as the “Capital of Footwear”. Undandy’s pop-up shop is located in the capital of Portugal, Lisbon, where co-founder Rafic Daud grew up.
Undandy’s roots are in the “capital of footwear,” with experienced cobblers who deliver a 2 week custom made shoe for around $200. It is no secret why they have been growing so rapidly, as I cannot think of another brand who offers anything like Undandy does at this affordable price point.
- Founded: 2015 in Portugal
- Based in: Lisbon, Portugal
- Crafted in: São João da Madeira, Portugal
- Website: https://www.undandy.com/us
Undandy Shoes: A Custom Experience
When I first heard about Undandy, I was pretty intrigued by the idea of an affordable, customizable shoe. Immediately I thought about all the unique colors that I have always wanted in a shoe, like blue, burgundy, navy, grey, and the list goes on.
I also thought to myself: What color combinations could I play with? What would I dare to wear? Is this what it’s like to be a shoe designer? Design must be a difficult career, there are so many choices! Okay, before I get off track, let’s just jump into the designing process.
Designing The Shoe
After going to Undandy.com, I clicked on the “design your own shoe” button. Then I was directed to choose the base of the shoe that I would like to build. There are three dress shoe bases to choose from, a dress sneaker, a casual loafer/slip-on, and a tennis shoe base.
Most styles when explored usually have multiple types of shoes/boots within that style to choose from, aside from the tennis shoe which has just one style of shoe.
I knew I wanted the Undandy ‘48 “Heritage and Traditional” dress shoe base as I felt that this style’s shape would best complement a shorter, slimmer man like myself. From there I went down the rabbit hole of trying everything that I could.
There are lots of good choices, from Chukka boots to Oxfords to Chelseas. I was already in option paralysis, and the color combinations hadn’t even started yet, but let’s get to that later. First let’s choose a shoe.
Initially, I had no idea of what I wanted, so it took a bit to land on something. After I slept on it, I eventually jumped for the Chelsea boot. Fall was quickly approaching, I knew a casual boot would be a smart choice for me.
Choosing The Shoe Details
So now we get to the really fun part. I tried all the combinations I could on these boots. Not only is the color customizable, the material can be leather, suede, or patent leather.
Any section of the shoe can be any color or material you want. Even the stitching, sole, laces, and elastic are customizable. The only time customization was limited was when I selected the patina finish.
A patina finish at this price point sure does sound nice. Imagine a blue patina double monk strap shoe. As awesome as that would be, I don’t think I could wear something so bold. Maybe once my shoe collection is big enough, I could afford to take that risk.
After I landed on the Chelsea I knew I was going to make it suede. There is nothing quite like a suede Chelsea boot. Now I just needed a color combination and color placement that I liked.
I spent a few nights looking over my options when it finally hit me. I am a simple man. I like my Chelseas to be for the most part monochromatic. Although, I am still adventurous enough to get a less popular color. Grey. Okay, maybe I am not that adventurous after all.
All jokes aside I made a completely unique set of grey Chelseas. What was unique about mine was the light sand rubber soles, and the dark grey suede backstay for some contrast in the shoe.
Moral of the story is; even if you are a simple man like myself, you can still create a completely unique and satisfying shoe with Undandy.
Once I had my boots figured out, I had a few more decisions to make: Insoles (Yes), and a two line engraving for the bottom of the sole. I had the choice of adding a leather accessory or a shoe care kit for complimentary express delivery.
This means anyone who orders a belt gets express delivery. I imagine a lot of people will be doing this, as even Anson Belt devotee’s like myself will be ordering belts to match their unique, custom shoes after creating them. Now if they only made watch straps too.
My overall experience was great. Designing my own shoe was something I had never done before, and I really enjoyed this experience with Undandy. Their website is very easy to use, navigate, and save creations, however there is always room for improvement.
Design Process Room For Improvement
Here are some things I found during the design process that could use some work. The rendering of the materials looks a little “fake” and not quite color accurate, they do compensate a little by showing you a realistic photo below each material/color selection.
However, it would be nice to have the whole shoe look more realistic while customizing. Also, there were a few color options for the elastic midsection of the shoe that the website did not allow me to view, I am sure that this minor glitch will be corrected by the time you read this.
The most pertinent piece of advice I can offer is the following: Have a rough idea of what you want before starting. Otherwise you may suffer from option overwhelm like I did, if you couldn’t already tell.
I received the boots late at night on the 30th, which was only a few days after they shipped. I was surprised with how quickly they arrived from Portugal to the Pacific Northwest (PNW). It took around three weeks to receive custom shoes, even a two-day Amazon shopper could be happy with that!
Opening the box I was impressed by the attractive, black shoebox with their golden stamped brand on top. The interior of the box was in Undandy’s signature yellow. The contrast of black and yellow along with precise wrapping was all reminiscent of unboxing much higher price-point items.
Afterwards, I unwrapped the shoes and smelled a chemical scent drifting from the shoes. I know that they were only manufactured a few days before, but it did throw me off a little.
When I took the boots out they looked great all around — the suede felt nice, the stitching was clean, and the form was attractive. I took out the inserts, and they slipped right into place.
The yellow leather lining did not look quite as nice as the interior of the box. I am not typically a fan of yellow but I decided to overlook this for now. I know that you need to walk in a shoe before you can judge how you feel about it.
Quick note: If you’re enjoying this Undandy Shoes Review then you’ll probably like this Taft Boot Review of the popular Rome boot.
Undandy Chelsea Boot Review
So now, let’s get to the real juicy part, I will be going over these five things in this review:
- Style & Design
- Quality & Craftsmanship
- Comfort & Durability
- Shoe Sizing
- Price to Performance
Style & Design
The boot itself is has a slim, sleek silhouette. This makes it look very elegant, especially in contrast to my more rugged President Thursday boots. This is due to their custom ‘48 last, and their blake stitched sole, which is the long debated competitor to the goodyear welt.
The colors are pretty accurate to the website, and I am happy I went with the white stitching as it created some extra definition in the shoe. Again, I cannot say that I am a fan of the yellow inner shoe, especially when they first arrived.
The yellow is a little “plasticy” in color, and makes the shoe look funny to me. At first I was really thrown off by the color, but after careful consideration, I realized that their yellow just didn’t pair well with the grey suede that I chose.
I understand that Undandy has this yellow color as somewhat of a “trademark” although I think at least a few options like Burgundy, Navy, and Yellow for interior leather color would greatly improve the customizability, and their overall product. I do also wish that the pull tab for the boots was the same color as the elastic rather than their yellow color.
Overall, the boot has a nice construction, and elegant profile that makes these seemingly casual grey suede Chelsea’s something I can dress up or down, pairing well with black, grey, or even dark blue jeans. With this I know that in many levels of formality they look stellar.
Quality & Craftsmanship
Undandy uses custom made lasts that were created in house by their head cobblers for all of their shoes. The ’48 that I went with fits very similar to my Thursday boots, just marginally narrower with a slightly more defined point.
Undandy sources all of its full grain calfskin leather and suede from French & Italian tanneries. Suede is made from the underside of calfskin, which is what gives it its unique velvety texture.
Patent leather is the same as full grain leather, just with a gloss finish. Once their leather and suede arrives, it is then inspected to ensure quality, and moved to the next stage for crafting.
Quality Control (QC) Check
The outer shoe is suede with 4 distinct cuts to make up the shoe, the suede feels soft and velvety to the touch. Their supple yellow leather makes up the interior of the shoe. The Blake stitching can be seen from the inside, and it looks very well done, no noticeable loose threads or uneven cuts.
While inspecting the boots after a good amount of use, I still found intact, clean stitching inside and around. There were some uneven lines on the outside of the rubber sole, but other than that, I didn’t find any imperfections at all.
The craftsmanship is great, although I do wonder how much of them is handcrafted for this price point and time for crafting. Regardless, they are a solid shoe that I am sure will last a long while.
Are Undandy’s Footwear Goodyear Welted?
No, Undandy uses Blake stitching, it is the happy medium between a Goodyear welt and glued soles, as they are slim like a glued sole, but the soles can still be replaced.
Goodyear welts are known for their durability and water resistance. They are also very easy to replace the re-sole as well, but they tend to be a little bulky, especially when compared to the more commonly found glued-on sole.
Blake stitched soles are not quite as water resistant or durable as the goodyear welt, so that is the trade off there. I could go into all the advantages of each, but that is for another article. Both definitely have spots in a gentleman’s wardrobe.
- Hand-made in Portugal, with French & Italian leathers
- Resoleable Blake construction
- Choice of suede or full grain calfskin upper
- Full grain leather lining
- Choice of rubber or leather sole
Comfort & Durability
Comfort is largely decided by the fit, which for me was great. My feet are on the slightly narrow side of average, and with a medium or thick dress socks, they fit like a glove.
Someone with wide feet may not have the same experience as me, as they only offer “D” width shoes currently. Let’s all hope that as they continue to grow, there might be some more width choices.
The interior is lined with supple, full grain calfskin leather. Wearing them for long periods of time proved that these Chelsea’s are very comfortable. The insoles at first seemed pretty average, some foam on the bottom with their signature supple yellow leather on top.
After wearing them, I have concluded that they are a must have for these shoes as they are very comfortable, as they conform to the feet nicely. I cannot imagine using them without the Insoles, I selected them to have insoles, and I got two pairs. It is worth checking if they come standard with a pair because it is a must have for comfort.
As for US sizing, they have sizing from 5 ½ to 18 ½ , and they say if you are in-between sizes, to size down. I agree with this statement, as with my normal size, I have just a little more room than normal, but not too much more. So most people will be able to find their size with Undandy.
I say most because as previously stated, they do not yet offer width customization, although I hope that they do someday offer it as that would be one of the last steps to getting as close as you can to a truly custom shoe.
Quick note: If you’ve been enjoying this Undandy Review, 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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Price to Performance
Undandy’s shoes are pretty affordable at around $200. This is why I was directly comparing to my Thursday boots for reference. After reviewing them with my Thursday boots as the standard, I have decided that they are all around about the level of quality that I would expect from $200.
Is Undandy Worth It?
It depends. The thing that really sets Undandy apart is that you can get exactly what you want with their customization options. Undandy showed me that with the freedom of choice you lose a little bit of the amazing value you can get from other brands.
In my opinion I would select staples and basics from other brands and rely on Undandy for footwear with unique colors & color combinations.
Next time I use Undandy I would be interested to compare the regular leather to the quality of the suede. When I am ready for those blue patina monk straps or something else fun, I will definitely order from them!
Throughout my review, I was directly comparing Undandy’s Chelsea boot to my Thursday boots at the same price point for reference. I believe that my Thursday Boots beat Undandy’s Chelseas with their quality & craftsmanship, and the price to performance.
These boots are more comfortable than my Thursday’s, but they are Chelseas, so I think that’s to be expected. Honestly, If I could change the interior color I am sure that my thoughts on Undandy would’ve been even more positive.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience with Undandy, and I will consider a purchase next time I need something that’s more unique. I would like to see more options for their interior leather color, as well as an updated texture rendering for their website. With these two minor changes, I will definitely be using Undandy again.
A note: This review is not sponsored, and I wasn’t told to say anything positive or negative about Undandy — however, they sent me this pair to provide an in-depth honest review. Gentleman Within holds all control over editorial content.
After getting married and having a child, Chris’ life was put in perspective. He learned that if he wanted to become the person he wanted to be, he needed to continually improve. From self development, he entered the realm of men’s fashion and found that improving his style gives him the confidence he needs to be his best self.
What are your thoughts about custom shoes from Undandy?
Let’s continue the discussion over in the Gentlemen Within Private Facebook Community.
Looking forward to seeing you in there.
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