Spanish Crownhill Shoes is one of many new players in the lower price segment of classic quality shoes. They compete not least with offering impressive material specifications for the price. Here’s a review of a plain cap toe oxford from the brand’s Goodyear welted premium range.
Brand: Crownhill Shoes
Model: The Stewart
Color: Dark brown
Size: UK10,5 standard width
Sole: Single leather sole, J. Rendenbach
Price: € 260 (the shoes are review pair from Crownhill)
Crownhill Shoes is a young brand that only existed for a few years. The shoes are manufactured in Spain’s largest shoe district Almansa, in the Valencia region, in a few different factories depending on the type of shoe. It has in a relatively short time built up a large range of different types of shoes, everything from light summer loafers to heavy boots, and also a collection of women’s shoes. Construction methods vary, but the core consist of a line blake stitched shoes, and then a Goodyear welted premium range.
As many of the new brands that are now establishing themselves Crownhill sells only directly to the customer. By cutting the reseller they can keep prices down. They have their own physical store in Madrid, but for most people it is through their website that you can get your hands on the brand’s shoes. The homepage is reasonably stylish and filled with quite a lot of information. It shows many pictures of the shoes, talk about all their materials, has a flashy albeit perhaps well simplified size guide, and so on.
Since they are using European sizes and in addition half numbers you have a good opportunity to find a shoe that is correct in fit, even if it might be more delicate to know exactly what is right. The company provides free international shipping, which simplifies the change of size, although you still have to account for a possible return if you need to change the size. One can easily select the currency to see the actual cost. Crownhill has as mentioned a blake stitched range of shoes, which is priced at€ 160, and then the Premium Grade costing € 250.
General info about the shoes
The Stewart model is a classic plain cap toe oxford, made in dark brown smooth full grain leather from the renowned French tannery Haas. It has a single oak bark tanned leather soles made by German J. Rendenbach, closed channel stitching and a slightly bevelled waist. The last Faraday has a soft square toe with little chiseling on the top of the toe. It comes with two shoe bags, a small shoehorn in plastic and in my case also with their own shoe trees (which costs a bit above €20 when buying the shoes), which is not lasted, but fits nicely in the shoes.
Construction and materials
As mentioned, Crownhill has invested a lot to get quality materials at a low price. Their uppers are purchased only from reputable tanneries like Du Puy, D’Annonay and Haas in France, Weinheimer in Poland, Ilcea in Italy and Charles F. Stead in England. This also applies to their cheaper line, but in the premium collection the selection of hides and parts of the skin is a bit better. To add to that the premium line has the oak bark tanned soles of J. Rendenbach, which is rated as among the best leather soles in the world. The sustainability of these are clearly much better than what shoes in this price range usually have, in fact, better than shoes for twice the price usually have. Also the upper leather I experience as really good to be shoes for the €250. Even if you buy fine leather you can use inferior parts of them, but for my pair the selection has clearly been good.
If the material is really impressive for its price range, the level of craftsmanship and finish leaves more to be desired. It looks to be relatively quickly built shoes, with some smaller misses here and there. No major problems, and given the price not something that is a dealbreaker, but a bit of a shame that they didn’t manage to reach the same high level as in the material, which had made the shoes extremely affordable. At the same time it should be said that they aim quite high, higher than many competitors, with closed channel soles, slightly bevelled waists and tight cut sole edges, for example. So yes, they have not made it so easy for themselves.
Something that is different from many other Goodyear welted shoes is that they use a sock liner with a foam core. A matter of taste if it’s something to appreciate, it goes out over the breathability, but can certainly be perceived as comfortable for some.
The last Faraday has a soft square toe, and it is described by Crownhill as a bit elongated, which I would not call it at all. On the contrary, I find the it a bit short stubby. I have seen that there are several new brands that go for this look, so it’s possible that it’s something that is popular. Also this is a matter of taste whether you think it is neat or not. It’s fairly small in size, I use size EU45 and it was okay overall, but the toes were a bit tight. Compared to the reference last, Loake Capital, where I have UK10, this in the EU45 is slightly smaller, particularly in the length, but the instep is roughly comparable.
Crownhill Shoes offers great value for money, especially when it comes to the material which I feel has a quality that is on pair with the many brands that cost significantly more. If they continue to work on improving the level of the detail work in construction in their factory, they are up there among the brands that usually fight about the term “most bang for the buck.” Personally, I would also like to see lasts that are a little longer in shape.