Hi everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! On this shiok Sunday, I’m reviewing a couple of new items from homegrown shoe label, Arden Teal.

The Arden Teal Carlota Blake Stitched Oxford in Walnut, priced at $179 (after promo code below). Photo credits: @zeitphoto

In this review, I’ll be taking a look at the Carlota Blake-Stitched Oxford, as well as the Loreto sneaker. They are some of Arden Teal’s latest designs – let’s see if they are any good.

Arden Teal – the Brand

I’ve covered Arden Teal as a brand in my previous review of their shoes. For those interested about the brand, or simply want to read more about their shoes, do read my review of the Calafate Oxfords and the Olavarria loafers here. I also reviewed their Cordoba Monk Straps and the Castillo belt here!

Arden Teal Carlota Blake-Stitched – Review

Firstly, I’m taking a closer look at the Arden Teal Carlota Blake-Stitched Oxford.

The Arden Teal Carlota Blake-Stitched Oxford, in Walnut.

Like most Arden Teal shoes, the Carlota oxford utilises full-grain Argentinian leather. Unlike lower quality “Genuine leather”, full-grain leather will patina and become even more beautiful over time. In contrast, the “Genuine leather” one finds in most departmental store dress shoes at this price will crack and peel with use. When buying leather products (be it dress shoes, watch straps, briefcases, etc), seek out full-grain leather items – it’s worth it.

The shoe is hand painted, and hand burnished.

In addition, most of Arden Teal shoes are hand-painted and hand-burnished. Shoemaking is an artisanal process – not two shoes should look exactly the same. Here, the hand burnishing is most obviously seen in at the tip of the shoes. It’s a nice touch that one don’t see in most of the $100+ shoes found in departmental stores.

The wholecut is one of my favourite designs.

The Carlota is a wholecut oxford, which is one of my favourite styles of dress shoes. The wholecut is probably one of the most formal styles of shoes out there. A wholecut is fashioned out of a single piece of leather, giving the shoe an air of refined sophistication. It is often hard to construct – many shoe brands (such as Earnest & Collective) do not carry a wholecut – as the leather used needs to be of consistent texture and unblemished. If you want to make an impression, a nice pair of wholecut shoes is the best way to make an impression.

Arden Teal now offers blake-stitched shoes!

The key upgrade here – as compared to the previous Arden Teal shoes I reviewed – is the blake-stitched nature of the shoes. For the uninitiated, dress shoes typically comes in 3 forms of construction: cemented, blake-stitched, and Goodyear welted. Cemented construction is the lowest quality tier, as it means that the sole of the shoe is simply glued on. Over time, the glue will weaken and eventually result in the sole of the shoe breaking off. Personally, I would not pay more than $150 for a cemented shoe. In blake-stitched shoes, the upper is wrapped around the insole and attached between it and the outsole. A single stitch attaches everything together. This enhances the durability of the shoe (as compared to cemented construction), and also allow for resoling once the outsole needs replacing. In essence, it’s a construction method that ensures that the shoe is made to last! On the other hand, Goodyear welted is generally considered the most durable (and also most expensive) form of construction, with many components of the manufacturing done by hand. It employs two-level stitching, which not only makes the shoe more durable but also allows for easier resoling, as well as waterproofing qualities. Personally, blake-stitched shoes are my preference. Blake-stitched shoes offer many of the durability benefits of Goodyear welted shoes, but at a much lower price point. In addition, blake-stitched shoes also tend to be more comfortable than Goodyear welted shoes, especially when fresh out of the box. I must say that for Arden Teal to be able to offer blake-stitched shoes for $179 (after promo code below) is amazing – in fact, I do not know of another local shoe brand that offers blake-stitched shoes for less.

Another upgrade is the leather outsole of the sole.

Another upgrade found on Arden Teal’s new line of blake-stitched shoes is the leather outsole. On their line of (cheaper) cemented shoes, the soles are made of rubber. Here, the outsole is fashioned from full-grain leather as well. Leather outsoles are generally only found on much more expensive shoes as the material cost is significantly higher. Not only is it more durable than the regular rubber outsoles, but it also makes an audible “tap tap” sound when walking – if you’re a fan of traditional dress shoes, you will love it. In addition, due to the blake-stitched nature of the shoes, the sole can be restitched if necessary as well. However, do note that shoes with a leather outsole often feel slippery when first worn, though its traction will improve over time (and friction).

A beautiful value proposition.

Overall, I love this Carlota Blake-Stitched Oxford from Arden Teal. I think the value proposition is unbeatable. I honestly don’t think you can find a blake-stitched dress shoe for cheaper. The fact that it features a leather outsole is the icing on the cake. For those who are more discerning in their choice of shoes – perhaps you’re a budding sartorialist – then I’ll definitely recommend you to opt for the blake-stitched variant of the Carlota wholecut oxford. It’s a beautiful pair of dress shoes (just look at the photo above!), and it will last you for years.

Arden Teal Loreto Sneakers – Review

While the Carlota Blake-Stitched Oxford definitely fits the bill for work, the Loreto sneakers will come in handy during your weekend outings!

The Arden Teal Loreto sneakers, in white. Photo credits: @zeitphoto

White minimalist sneakers are the hype lately – the immensely popularity of brands such as Common Projects and Axel Arigato is evidence of that. In my opinion, there’s good reason for that too, as white sneakers are extremely versatile and can be worn with anything. For example, white sneakers can be worn with suits for a smart casual look, while being perfectly at home with a polo tee and chinos on the weekend too.

Full-grain leather is again used on the Loreto sneakers.

Like the Carlota oxford, the Loreto sneaker is fashioned out of full-grain leather. I’m pleased to see Arden Teal using full-grain leather for their sneakers as well. It probably won’t show any obvious patina due to it being treated white, but I’m still heartened that full-grain leather is used here due to their inherent suppleness, which should translate to higher comfort and increased durability.

Lined with leather.

Unlike most other sneakers in this price range, Arden Teal has elected to use leather lining for the Minimalist. As compared to the synthetic linings commonly found on ~S$100 sneakers, leather lining – being a natural material – is more breathable, and durable. Ever get the feeling that your feet feel hot after long hours of walking? Chances are, the shoes you were wearing then used synthetic linings such as polyester. With the Loreto sneakers, the usage of leather lining ensures comfort, even after long hours of walking.

Adds a pop of contrast to any outfit.

In my opinion, everyone should have at least one pair of white “minimalist” sneakers – it’s a wardrobe staple. It adds a pop of contrast to any outfit. Personally, I’ve been wearing the Arden Teal Loreto sneakers a lot, as it’s incredibly versatile and can be worn with just about any outfit. It has become my “grab and go” pair of sneakers. I’ve found myself wearing it with a suit and a t-shirt too!

Again, it’s great value for money.

All in all, I have to say that the Arden Teal Loreto sneakers are great value for money. For $116 (after promo code below), you get a full-grain leather sneaker, with leather lining. For comparison, that’s a fraction (1/5) the price of a pair of Common Projects, and you don’t even get full-grain leather with those! For around the same price, you could get yourself a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths, but the build quality is definitely substantially lower with those. In my opinion, if you’re looking for a good-looking pair of white sneakers that will last you for quite some time, the Loreto sneakers by Arden Teal is one of the best options at its price point.

Comparison: Arden Teal vs W.H.Y & Co

To my knowledge, W.H.Y & Co is the only other local brand where you can get blake-stitched shoes for under $200. As such, I’ll be comparing Arden Teal with them today. For those interested, I did a review of the W.H.Y & Co Qi here.

The Arden Teal Carlota Blake-Stitched Oxford, priced at $179 (after promo code below).

In terms of build quality, I would say that both brands trade blows. Both brands offer shoes that are blake-stitched, and use full-grain leather. Personally, I have a slight preference for the artisanal nature of W.H.Y & Co’s leather – all their shoes are painted and burnished by hand, thus being able to feature more unique patina effects. That being said, Arden Teal’s blake-stitched shoes feature a full-grain leather sole, while the soles on W.H.Y & Co shoes are made of rubber. Nevertheless, I would say that the build quality of both brands are stellar, and their shoes should last you for years to come.

The W.H.Y & Co Qi, priced at $197 (after promo code below).

Where W.H.Y & Co differentiates themselves from Arden Teal is in the aesthetics of their shoes. In my opinion, W.H.Y & Co offers more intriguing designs, shoes that offers unique patina effects such as the Qi pictured above. In contrast, Arden Teal stocks more of the “staples”, classic designs that most dress shoe labels would have a variant of. If you’re someone who wants something different, then W.H.Y & Co is definitely the brand for you.

On the other hand, Arden Teal’s blake-stitched shoes are slightly cheaper ($18) than W.H.Y & Co’s. Ultimately, which brand is better for you depends on your attitudes towards dress shoes. If you view dress shoes as simply a necessity for work, then I would recommend Arden Teal – their classic designs are perfect for the office and the build quality of their shoes will hold up to daily wear. If you’re a sartorialist and sees dress shoes as an expression of your personality, then W.H.Y & Co fits the bill better. Nevertheless, I don’t think you can go wrong with either brand!

Conclusion – so Arden Teal “shiok” or not?

Definitely. I think Arden Teal makes the most bang-for-buck dress shoes – and minimalist sneakers – in the local market. The Carlota blake-stitched oxford looks superb on the feet, and is to my knowledge the cheapest blake-stitched shoe (with a leather sole, no less) you can find. Similarly, the Loreto sneakers is probably the cheapest full-grain leather sneakers available locally. I’m really impressed with Arden Teal’s ability to deliver value propositions, which is paramount in today’s economy.

Thanks @zeitphoto for these beautiful photos!

For those interested, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” will entitle you to 12% off all products on Arden Teal’s web-store! After the discount, the Carlota blake-stitched Oxford can be had for just $179, while the Loreto sneakers would be a mere $116. It’s refreshing to see Arden Teal putting in the effort to improve their product offerings, both in terms of quality and variety. Can’t wait to see what the homegrown shoe label has in the pipeline!

View the full range of Arden Teal shoes here.

Currently, I’m collaborating with Zeit Photo on a few product shoots. A local up-and-coming photographer, I think he shoots fantastic product photography – definitely much better than my photos anyway!

Specifications of the Carlota Blake-Stitched Oxford:

  • Waxed Argentinean calfskin full grain leather upper
  • Hand painted & hand burnished leather
  • Full grain leather
  • Leather lined
  • Leather padded insole
  • Reinforced stacked heel
  • Lace-up front, black lace
  • Machine stitched sole
  • Full grain leather outsole
  • Blake Stitched construction

Specifications of the Loreto sneakers:

  • Waxed Argentinean calfskin full grain leather upper
  • Hand painted & hand burnished leather
  • Full grain leather
  • Leather lined
  • Leather padded insole
  • Reinforced stacked heel
  • Lace-up front, white lace
  • Anti-slip rubber outsole
  • Cemented construction

P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!

P.S.S If you haven’t already, do follow my social media channels on Facebook here, and on Instagram here!

P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.