Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! On this shiok Sunday, Im reviewing a new pair of Arden Teal shoes, their new line of belts, as well as a couple of Wren’s shoe care products.
Arden Teal recently introduced a new shoe model in the Cordoba – a double monk strap with brogue detailing. They graciously sent their new shoe model over, along with one of their recently launched line of belts – 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!
Arden Teal just launched their new monk strap, the Cordoba – and I must say I rather like it!
Like most Arden Teal shoes, the Cordoba monk straps 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.
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.
Furthermore, the stitching on the Cordoba is exquisite. One don’t see fraying or loose threads, which is great! Awesome handiwork on an affordable shoe.
Perhaps the biggest change (apart from design) of the Cordoba from the older variants of Arden Teal shoes which I previously reviewed is the sole. Arden Teal went back to the drawing back with its sole design, and re-engineered a sole that not only looks more premium, but also provide more traction. The sole is now machine stitched, intentionally designed to mimic a leather sole, and features slight burnishing on the edges for a more sophisticated look. Personally, I definitely prefer the new sole on the Cordoba to the soles on the older Arden Teal shoes. However, the team at Arden Teal has informed me that moving forward, all models (even the old designs) will be equipped with the new soles, so that’s great news!
Now, double monk straps are a staple in the shoe market – all major shoe label should have at least one variant of a double monk, and all gentlemen should have at least one double monk strap in their collection. However, double monk straps with brogue detailings are much less common. I think it’s a great combination – monk straps are seen as more casual than Oxfords, and brogue detailing on monk straps just makes sense. It gives the shoe a more rugged, casual look, making it appropriate to be worn with something as simple as a pair of jeans and a bomber jacket.
On the feet, the Arden Teal Cordoba is comfortable due to its leather padded insole and leather inner lining. I’m personally a big fan of monk straps – they are extremely versatile, and the perfect compromise between formal Oxfords and more casual loafers. If you’re looking to dress up, but don’t want to look like you’re heading to a business meeting, I think monk straps (especially with brogue detailing!) is a great pick.
Arden Teal Castillo Belt – Review
Whilst I personally prefer side adjusters, I do know that many still wear belts to appear “professional”. If you’re wearing belts, you got to stick to the rule – your belt should match your shoes. With this in mind, Arden Teal decided to launch their own line of belts so that customers can buy a belt in the same/similar colour to the Arden Teal shoe they just bought!
As aforementioned, the most important aspect of every leather product (including belts) is the quality of its leather. Luckily, Arden Teal’s belts are crafted from the same full-grain Argentinean leather that is used for their shoes. As such, the belts should patina in a similar fashion to the shoes, appearing more beautiful over time.
The stitching on the belt is nice, without visible loose or fraying threads. In addition, there’s a slight gloss finish to the leather of the belt, giving the belt a bit of a subtle shine. I quite like this slight touch, as I personally find it to complement a shined shoe perfectly. Lastly, the buckle is polished too. However, I would have preferred for the buckle to be matte – it would be less of a scratch magnet, and also matched the matte finishing of the monkstraps’ buckles.
Overall, the Castillo belt from Arden Teal is a very decent option that won’t break the bank. It utilises full-grain leather, with the Coffee Castillo belt (pictured above) matching the Walnut Cordoba monk straps nicely. If you have been scratching your head on where to find a belt to match your shoes, Arden Teal now provides a convenient solution to your woes!
Shootout: Arden Teal Cordoba vs Earnest & Collective Mayfair
As aforementioned, double monk straps with brogue detailing are relatively harder to find in the market. The closest I could find online to Arden Teal’s pricing is the Earnest & Collective Mayfair.
I’ve compared Arden Teal shoes to Earnest & Collective shoes before (in my previous review), and my sentiments remain the same. In terms of build quality, both brands are pretty similar – full grain leather uppers, hand-finished, cemented construction, rubber sole, etc. Both brands even come similarly packaged, with dust bags and a free shoe horn thrown in. In my opinion, very little separates both brands from a quality standpoint.
Despite being near identical, there’s a stark difference between both shoes – the soles. Earnest & Collective uses rubber soles that are clearly inspired from Dainite soles. However, they are NOT legit Dainite – genuine Dainite soles will have the “Dainite” branding on them. As such, I do not think they are anywhere as durable as the legendary Dainite soles are. Traction wise, I personally think that both shoes are on par with each other – I never had any major slippage issues with either. However, aesthetically speaking, I definitely prefer the more sophisticated looking faux leather sole of the Arden Teal Cordoba. The functionality of both soles is the same, but the burnished leather appearance of the Arden Teal shoes edges out the Earnest & Collective Mayfair for me.
Given that the Earnest & Collective Mayfair is about 20% more expensive its Arden Teal counterpart, I have to declare the Cordoba as the winner of this shootout.
Wren’s Shoe Care Products
Wren’s, one of the most established names in shoe care, was kind enough to send me some of their products to review, and I promptly applied them on my (by now) well worn Arden Teal Calafate Oxfords!
Since I started reviewing dress shoes, I’ve been constantly getting queries about shoe care. After all, most millennials barely own a pair of dress shoe, much less shoe care products! To set the record straight, I would say that all the essentials you need are pictured above – 1) a bottle of leather lotion, 2) a can of leather cream, 3) leather wax polish, 4) waterproofing spray, and of course 5) a pair of mitts for you to apply most of the aforementioned products with. Without further ado, let me take you guys through how I take care of my leather shoes.
Firstly, one starts by using the mitts (pictured bottom right) to wipe down the shoes – ensure that the shoes are free from dust, dirt and debris! Once the shoes are clean, apply a substantial portion of the leather lotion (pictured top right) to the mitts. The leather lotion serves as a conditioner, and helps to replenish the natural oils inherent to leather, thus moisturising it – pretty similar to what a conditioner does to our hair, or our face actually!
Notice how the leather looks more supple as compared to the previous picture! However, the work is still not yet done – merely applying conditioner is not enough. After applying the leather lotion, I usually use the leather cream (pictured bottom right) to restore the natural colour of the leather. Leather cream are sold in differing colours, so you need to get one that matches the colour of the shoe you have. Unlike the leather lotion, one doesn’t need to apply leather cream to the entirety of the shoe – I personally use it to fill in scruff marks, and thus only apply it to specific areas where the colour has faded. Thereafter, I apply the wax polish (pictured top right) to add a nice finishing gloss to the leather. For Singaporean males, this should be a familiar process – it’s exactly like kiwi-ing your boots! (“Kiwi” is a brand of wax shoe polish, for those uninitiated with the product) However, NEVER use “liquid kiwi” on your dress shoes. While liquid polish may save some time, it is extremely damaging to the leather.
Finally, you might want to use some waterproofing spray if it’s raining outside, or if imminent rain is forecast. The functionality and application method of the waterproofing spray is quite self-explanatory, so I won’t go into details. I’ll say this though – given Singapore’s penchant for rain, a waterproofing spray is extremely useful in scenarios where you still have to drag yourself to work despite it pouring outside!
Leather lotion, leather cream, wax polish, waterproofing spray, and mitts – these are all you need to prolong the longevity of your dress shoes. If taking care of your leather shoes sound is something that you’re interested in, I highly recommend Wren’s shoe care products. They get the job done (very well), and more importantly, are also very affordable – Wren’s products are significantly cheaper than Saphir’s. I’ve used both, and honestly speaking I don’t think there’s a substantial difference between both brands. Get the cheaper one (Wren’s)!
Conclusion – so the Arden Teal and Wren’s products “shiok” or not?
Both brands share a common trait – value for money. Arden Teal shoes are probably the most bang-for-buck options on the market currently, and the Cordoba is no exception. I like the smart casual nature of the brogue monk straps immensely – they are very versatile stylistically, and I found myself wearing the Cordoba very often. The Castillo belt is decently built, though its most compelling trait is probably the convenience factor of being available for purchase alongside the Arden Teal dress shoes. Lastly, I also really liked the Wren’s shoe care products – they get the job done very nicely, despite being significantly cheaper than Saphir’s products.
For those interested, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” will entitle you to 10% off all products on Arden Teal’s web-store, including the various Wren’s shoe care products shown above! After the promo code, the Cordoba would cost just S$116, the Castillo belt S$49.50, with most of the Wren’s shoe care products coming in at well under S$20. If you’re looking for a convenient one-stop shop, Arden Teal offers shoes, belts and shoe care products on their web-store for very compelling prices.
Visit Arden Teal’s web-store here.
Specifications of the Cordoba:
- Waxed Argentinean calfskin leather upper
- Hand painted & hand burnished leather
- Full grain leather
- Leather lined
- Leather padded insole
- Reinforced stacked heel
- Machine stitched sole
- Anti-slip rubber outsole
- Cemented construction
Specifications of the Castillo Belt (Coffee):
- Full grain Argentinean leather
- Leather lined
- Chrome alloy pin-buckle fastening
- 5 pin-buckle holes
- Adjustable length
- Belt width 2.9cm
- Buckle length 6.5cm
- Length of belt is measured from start of the leather to end of belt
- Pairs well with our walnut & pecan shoes
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!