Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! This Sunday, I’m reviewing products from local fashion brand, Design & Comfort.
In this article, I’ll be reviewing 2 pairs of formal shoes from them, as well as a briefcase. Are they good value for money, or should you save up more for something better? Let’s find out.
Design & Comfort – the Brand
Design & Comfort has made a name for itself offering affordable shoes since 1989. It also has a sprawling retail presence, with 19 physical stores as of 2018. According to its website, “D&C’s main motto is to provide not only trendy and stylish footwear for all age groups but also ensure utmost comfort and durability for all of its products. D&C’s motto is predicated on its STEPS (Sustainability, Trendy, Economical, Prestige, Support) principle to its customers. D&C’s design and comfort assurance is attained through vigorous and stringent quality examination and construction by D&C’s founder and top corporate management.”
I’m going to be honest – D&C didn’t necessarily have the best brand image. Most of us (even now) know them for their affordable shoes, and think of the brand in the same category as Bata. We know that their products are cheap, but style and quality aren’t usually aren’t what we perceive the brand to be known for. That changed however, when Nicholas Chan – son of D&C’s founder – took over operations in 2017. Since then, the brand has pivoted to rebrand itself as “sexy”, and was even one of the sponsors for Manhunt 2018! They have also managed to enlist the help of popular influencers such as Mongchin Yeoh (@mongabong), and their social media pages are filled with beautiful pictures of models wearing their products currently. Certainly a far cry from their brand image 10, or even 5 years ago – I applaud D&C for trying to keep up with the times.
But while there are now loads of online influencers posting themselves wearing D&C’s products online, there aren’t really any in-depth reviews – until now. Are their goods any good? Let’s find out.
Design & Comfort – the Briefcase
Priced at just S$75.90 MSRP, I was quite impressed by the build quality of the briefcase!
The B4913 briefcase comes in either black or brown, with the exterior of the briefcase being made of nylon/polyester.
Firstly, the zips on the D&C briefcase work great. In my 2 month usage of the bag, I encountered no issues with it whatsoever, which is pretty impressive. Zips are usually the most common area of defect on bags, especially lower priced ones, so I’m glad that isn’t the case here!
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the handles on this D&C briefcase are attached using buckles and reinforced stitching. This should add durability to the briefcase, and it’s quite a good sign at this price point. Usually, cheaper briefcases have handles that are simply glued, or stitched, to the main body of the briefcase – these come apart easily over time, especially with heavy load. In addition, the stitching is quite consistent here, without any visible fraying or loose threads.
For those who prefer to sling their briefcases, the D&C Briefcase comes with a nylon sling strap as well.
Inside, the interior of the briefcase is decently spacious too. There’s the usual laptop compartment, a central space for all your documents/books/files, as well as some small pockets for your pens/keys/earphones/etc. As expected of a briefcase at this price, the inner lining is made of polyester.
If you require more space, there’s also zippered compartments on the front and back of the briefcase!
My main knock against the briefcase would be the handles. The handles feel thin, and a tad cheap – it seems to be padded with foam inside. Whilst carrying, the handles just don’t exhibit the sturdiness found on higher-end briefcases. Furthermore, the handles seem to be made from either faux or genuine leather, meaning that unlike leather found on more premium briefcases, these won’t patina with time.
Overall though, I am pretty impressed with the build quality and storage capacity of this D&C briefcase. For those looking for a work bag on a budget, this, or the B4913 briefcase, should do the trick very nicely.
Design & Comfort – Loafers
However, shoes have been the brand’s raison d’etre for three decades, and it continues to be what the brand is known for today. Design & Comfort’s loafers are generally priced below S$50, and for a sub-$50 loafer, I’m pretty impressed by the quality!
Firstly, I have to say that they are very comfortable – certainly keeping true to the brand name! I walked around the entire day with them on, and they remained comfortable throughout most of the day. It got to the point where I consciously chose to wear them – instead of the more expensive dress shoes I own – when I knew I had a lot of walking to do that day. I think D&C nailed down the comfort part – they were almost as comfy as a pair of Toms slip-ons!
In terms of build quality, the biggest drawback is probably the quality of leather used. On higher end (and more expensive) shoes, you tend to see either top-grain or full-grain leather, which will patina beautifully over time. There’s a richness and depth to full-grain leather that makes it so desirable. On the D&C loafers here, that’s missing as the loafers uses only genuine, or perhaps even faux leather, which will not patina over time and do not have that same richness. However, the stitching is decent here, done quite evenly and without much fraying.
Unsurprisingly, the D&C loafers feature rubber soles, as opposed to leather soles which are typically only found in shoes that are much more expensive. I actually quite like the rubber soles here – they provide good traction and grip.
For some style, this D&C loafer includes steel tassels. Again, I personally quite like it, and the presence of some chrome hardware makes the loafers look more expensive than its actual price tag.
Overall, I absolutely adore these loafers. They are comfortable, and look great on the feet. When taking the photos, my photographer was actually shocked that it costs just ~S$40 – he thought it was twice that amount! For anyone looking for a pair of affordable loafers, I think they are a great value option. For S$40, I don’t think you can do better anywhere else.
Design & Comfort – Oxfords
I also took a look at a pair of oxfords from D&C!
Currently, oxfords from D&C currently retail around the ~S$50 mark. Again, I would say that these are quite good value for their price tag!
Similar to the loafers, the D&C oxfords uses only genuine/faux leather in its construction. Again, the lack of premium leather used is probably the biggest difference between these oxfords, and its more expensive counterparts. As explained earlier, the leather here will not patina with age, and lacks a richness full-grain leather possess.
Elsewhere, the stitching is decent here, with a bit of fraying seen on the edges. As compared to the loafers, the stitching is unfortunately poorer here.
Design-wise, I’m not quite sure about the textured design that D&C decided to go with on this pair of oxfords. Personally, I think it’s a tad old-fashioned, and perhaps a little tacky. I don’t think I’m a big fan of the perforated design.
Similar to the loafers, the D&C oxfords comes on a rubber sole as well. While it may not be as luxurious as a leather sole, I like the grip and traction that it provides.
Lastly, the Oxfords were quite comfortable on the feet – in fact, comfort is probably the Oxfords’ best quality. They weren’t as comfortable as the loafers were, but as far as oxfords goes, the D&C oxfords were one of the most comfortable oxfords I’ve worn. For those on a budget, or perhaps in need of a dress shoes just for a special occasion (interview, presentation, attending weddings) and don’t want to spend that much, I think these would be a good option at ~S$50.
Shootout: D&C vs Frank Williams
In this shootout, I’ll be comparing D&C shoes to those that can commonly found in departmental stores, such as Frank Williams shoes.
In terms of build quality, I find D&C shoes and Frank Williams shoes to be about the same. Both brands uses either faux/genuine leather in the uppers, a cemented construction, and have rubber soles.
From the design standpoint, both brands are pretty similar as well – some products look better than others, but overall perfectly acceptable in formal settings. What I think D&C has departmental stores brands such as Frank Williams beat though is in the value. While Frank Williams shoes sell for typically S$80-S$120, D&C shoes retail for half of that! As such, in terms of value, I think D&C shoes have the clear upper hand, and therefore wins for me in this shootout.
Conclusion: are D&C products “shiok” or not?
Ultimately, I think that D&C products are great value propositions, being able to compare well against products twice the price point that one can find in departmental stores. For those on a budget, or perhaps don’t have a need for dress shoes often, I think D&C products fit the bill nicely for the formal occasions that you need it for.
For those interested in getting a D&C product, you can use the promo code “DNC29” for 15% off all products on their web-store, or simply visit them at any of their 19 stores island-wide!
Photo Credits – Dion Toh
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!