The Sapphire collection – comprised of the Gianni Single Monkstrap, the Franco Cap Toe, and the Rafael Wingtips – is a limited edition series meant for those who are more adventurous in their style. As the name of the collection suggests, all of the shoes are hand-painted in a stunning sapphire blue shade. The brand kindly sent over the Gianni Single Monkstrap for me to review, so let’s check that out!
Gaius Walks – the Brand
I covered the brand story of Gaius Walks in my initial review of the brand’s shoes. For those interested, you can read the review here, in which I reviewed the regular Pecan coloured Gianni Single Monkstrap. I also reviewed the Romeo Cap Toe and the Andres Wholecut in a follow-up review here.
Gaius Walks Sapphire – Video
For those that would like to see some hands-on footage of the shoes, do check out the Youtube video below!
Gaius Walks Gianni Single Monkstrap Sapphire – Review
This is easily one of the most visually intriguing shoes that I’ve reviewed till date.
Firstly, the Gianni Single Monkstrap is fashioned out of full grain calf leather. For those uninitiated with leather, leather generally comes in 3 different grades – genuine leather, top-grain leather, and full-grain leather, in ascending order of quality. Full-grain leather essentially means that the leather used is taken from the uppermost portion of the hide, which also happens to be the most durable and supple. Unlike the cheap, genuine leather dress shoes one find in Bata or even Aldo, full-grain leather shoes will patina over time, developing a rustic look with age, though the patination may not be as obvious on this Sapphire variant. For me, I always strive to look for full-grain leather in all of my leather products.
The side stitching is done nicely as well, without any loose or fraying thread seen. You might notice that the stitching is minimal on the Gianni Single Monkstrap, with the only visible stitching between the vamp and quarter or the shoe, as well as down the heel. Gaius Walks states that this was a deliberate aesthetic decision, so as to create a “smooth, uncluttered and stripped back appearance”, thus being “better suited to a more formal appearance”. My previous pair of Gianni Single Monkstrap came with impeccable stitching as well, so I must applaud Gaius Walks for their consistency and quality control.
The Gianni Single Monkstrap features a full calfskin insole and lining, and is comfortable and breathable as a result. Here’s a tip: when buying a pair of dress shoes, look for those with natural linings, such as calfskin or goatskin. Often, companies will use synthetic materials such as polyester as the lining of the shoes to save cost. This results in less breathability, thus giving the sensation of our foot being “hot” in the shoes. Always look for natural linings in your dress shoes, especially if you’re planning on wearing them for a prolonged period.
By default, the Gianni Single Monkstrap features a cemented construction. This means that the sole of the shoe is glued together to the uppers, and is less durable than blake-stitched or Goodyear welted shoes as the glue may come apart over time and use. It’s par for the course for a ~$130 shoe – similarly priced shoes from other local shoe labels such as Earnest & Collective and Arden Teal use a cemented construction too.
However, what’s unique about Gaius Walks is that customers can actually choose to upgrade the shoes to a blake-stitched construction for an additional $40. 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 which ensures that the shoe is made to last. I highly encourage you to opt for the blake-stitching upgrade. After the promo code below, a blake-stitched shoe from Gaius Walks would cost just $169, which (to my knowledge) is the most affordable blake-stitched pricing in the local market currently.
The sole is rubberized, though there are some attempts to make it resemble leather for a more refined look. In particular, I like the engraved Gaius Walks branding – it’s a nice touch that elevates the look. I also appreciate the huge rubber swathe at the top of the sole, as it helps aid traction.
I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight the single monkstrap. It’s a style of dress shoe that’s fairly uncommon – in fact, main local alternatives Earnest & Collective and Arden Teal both do not (at this point of publication) offer single monkstrap designs. In my opinion, the single monkstrap is a great way for one to stand out from the crowd, a choice that shows conscious thought. It’s sleeker, and has a cleaner silhouette as compared to its double strapped sibling, and will undoubtedly be the dandier choice.
Finally, the star of the Sapphire collection is of course the stunning shade of sapphire blue. Just look at it! It’s aesthetically striking, something that will most definitely turn heads. Often, dress shoes are derided as boring, with most either opting for black or brown. Gaius Walks shows us that need not be the case here. Personally, blue is my favourite colour, and thus I naturally gravitated towards the brand’s Sapphire collection when it launched. Furthermore, blue dress shoes are pretty rare – again, local alternatives Ernest & Collective and Arden Teal both don’t stock blue dress shoes (at this point of writing) – and thus it’s perfect for those who dare to be different. I should also point out that the tips of the shoes are hand-burnished, thus creating this artisanal effect that’s absolutely delightful. These will be a conversation starter for sure!
Conclusion – so the Gaius Walks Sapphire Collection “shiok” or not?
Most definitely. I appreciate Gaius Walks bringing something new and different to the local dress shoe market. As mentioned, navy dress shoes are rarely seen locally (though more common internationally) – Gaius Walks saw a gap in the market and filled it with their Sapphire collection. In my opinion, Gaius Walks is doing a great job at positioning themselves as the style leader of the Singaporean market, offering colours and styles that their bigger competitors do not. Their shoes are affordably priced as well. In particular, I must highlight the fact that one can get blake-stitched shoes from Gaius Walks at a mere $169 – that’s terrific bang-for-buck, and is undoubtedly the cheapest you can find blake-stitched shoes for locally. Whether you’re looking for stylish dress shoes, or for blake-stitched shoes, Gaius Walks has got you covered.
For those interested, Gaius Walks has kindly provided my readers with a 10% discount, as well as a free horsehair brush (worth $12)! Simply use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” upon checkout to enjoy the discount off all products on their online store. After the discount, the Gianni Single Monkstrap Sapphire would cost $133.20, while a blake-stitched upgrade can be had for a mere $169.20. That’s great value for money, especially given the fact that this limited edition Sapphire collection is priced identically to the regular variants. Gaius Walks currently has a $20 off promo code available as well, but in my opinion getting the horsehair brush thrown in is a better deal, especially if you’re opting for the blake-stiched upgrade (which I highly recommend).
In addition, Gaius Walks has a physical location as well, so if you’re on the fence you can pop by their showroom to try the sizes and feel out the shoes for yourself. I really enjoyed these shoes, and I can’t wait to see what the brand comes up with next – perhaps a line focusing on patina would be nice!
View the Gianni Single Monkstrap Sapphire here.
View Gaius Walks’ full range of products here.
Gaius Walks Showroom Location:
1093 Lower Delta Rd, #03-07, Singapore 169204
Book an appointment at 87921068 beforehand!
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.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.
Photo credits: Yuki Goay