Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! On this shiok Sunday, I’m reviewing two pairs of dress shoes from local shoe label, Gaius Walks.
The affordable online dress shoe space has been exploding recently, as brands such as E&C and Arden Teal vying for consumers’ hearts. Gaius Walks is a relatively new entrant to this market, having only been set up this year. Nevertheless, the brand is confident of their stylistic prowess adding something new and different to the industry.
Gaius Walks – the Brand
To learn more about the brand, I sent over a few interview questions!
1) How did Gaius Walks start?
GW: Shoes are one of the first things people (especially ladies) notice about a guy in businesswear. Impressions are formed and you only get one chance to make a good one. Back when we started a few years ago it was really hard for the average guy to find a great looking pair of dress shoes without burning a big hole in his wallet. A run of mill departmental store pair of shoes can cost up to $300 and yet look mediocre. We decided that we had to change this.
2) What does the brand represent?
GW: Our styles are heavily influenced by classic artisan Italian shoemakers. Gaius is Latin for joy. It was also the first name of Julius Caesar, one of the most successful men in ancient Rome so Gaius also symbolises charisma and class for us. We want every guy to be able to afford a stylish and luxurious pair of Gaius Walks to ace that interview or impress that hot date.
3) In your opinion, what should one look out for when buying a pair of dress shoes?
GW: The shoe last is the personality of the shoe and last shapes can vary greatly between different shoemakers. It is what visually makes or breaks the shoe. You would want the shape of the toe to be neither too squarish nor too pointy. We carry two different lasts in our collection, the round toe last which is slimmer and the chiselled last which has a wider fit.
Another important aspect of the shoe is the leather. Our shoes are carefully hand burnished by master craftsmen to achieve that patina normally found in very high end shoes. We insist on using only open pore full grain calf leather. It is much more durable and supple. It also absorbs leather creams more easily and the patina improves over time.
4) What differentiates Gaius Walks from the other brands in the market?
GW: Being the traditionalists, we pride ourselves on keeping all our in house designs timeless and simple with focus on quality and details such as the leather patina, the hand burnish, stitchings, laces etc. We produce 7 carefully selected tones including unique colours such as slate, indigo and sangria. Best of all, they are extremely affordable and easily within the reach of everybody. This allows anybody to own an impressive collection of handcrafted shoes for different outfits and occasions.
5) Finally, do you have any new designs coming up?
GW: We have plans to come up with a few more unique shades of colours but we are still in the process of fine tuning.
First up, we have the Gianni Single Monk Strap in Pecan.
Firstly, the Gianni Single Monk Strap 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 upper most 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. 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, with nary any loose or fraying thread. You might notice that the stitching is minimal on the Gianni Single Monk Strap, 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”. Personally, I’m a fan as it allows the beauty and patina of the full grain leather to shine.
As per the norm for $100+ dress shoes, the Gianni Single Monk Strap features a cemented construction. It basically 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. However, blake-stitched and goodyear welted shoes generally cost $200+ – if you’re on a budget, a cemented dress shoe should last you just fine. The sole is rubberized, though there are some attempts to make it resemble leather for a more refined look. I like the huge rubber swathe at the top of the sole, as it helps aid traction.
The Gianni Single Monk Strap features a full calfskin insole and lining, and is thus 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, and gives 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!
In addition, the buckle is fashioned out of brass! If you are a frequent reader of my watch or tailoring reviews, you would know that I love brass as a material due to its patina effects. Like the shoe’s leather, the brass buckle will patina over time, developing a nice rustic, darker hue.
Lastly, most of Gaius Walks’ shoes are hand-burnished, thus ensuring that no two pairs of shoes are identical. It’s a nice artisanal touch that I appreciate. Overall, I rather liked the Gianni Single Monk Strap from Gaius Walks – whilst double monks are common in the market, single monk strap dress shoes are much rarer. In fact, main alternatives Earnest & Collective and Arden Teal both do not (at this point of publication) offer single monk strap designs. If you’re looking for something a little more different, more sartorial, I think the Gaius Walks Gianni Single Monk Strap fits the bill nicely.
Gaius Walks also sent me one of their best sellers, the Paolo Nappa Leather Tassel Loafer.
Unlike the Gianni Single Monk Strap, the Paolo Nappa Leather Tassel Loafer utilises nappa calf leather. Nappa leather is a specific form of full grain leather, fashioned out of the hides of young animals – in this case calf – and is prized for its softness. Commonly seen in luxury handbags or the interiors for luxury automobiles, nappa leather is supple yet durable, and very breathable. As it is a form of full grain leather, nappa leather will also patina over time, developing a nice, aged hue.
As aforementioned, Gaius Walks prides themselves in introducing designs and colourways that are more uncommon. One of those colourways is Indigo, as seen here in this variant of the Paolo Nappa Leather Loafer. It’s a lovely colour that one does not see often elsewhere, and paired with the tassels, it exudes a debonair aura. If you’re the type who likes to go down the road less taken in fashion, these will certainly be up your alley.
Again, the lining on the Paolo Nappa Leather Tassel Loafer is made from a natural material – nappa leather. As Gaius Walks opted to use nappa leather for both the exterior and interior of the shoe, the result is an extremely comfortable shoe that I can spend hours walking in. By far, it is the lightest, and most comfortable pair of loafers I have ever worn. I was genuinely staggered – it feels like I’m wearing a pair of Toms slip-ons!
Like the Gianni Single Monk Strap, the Paolo Nappa Leather Tassel Loafers feature a rubber sole with a cemented construction. However, the sole of the Paolo loafers looks a tad more refined and sophisticated than the Gianni Single Monk Strap. In my experience with the loafers, there is sufficient grip and traction and I never really had any issues with slipping or the such.
I’ve reviewed a number of loafers, but I have to say that the Paolo Nappa Leather Tassel Loafers is the most enjoyable pair I’ve worn till date. It looks great, it comes across as refined and different, and most importantly, it’s just so damn comfortable. As compared to the regular calfskin leather loafers, the Paolo Nappa Leather Tassel Loafers are significantly more supple, breathable, and light. Gaius Walks describes the loafers as “maximum comfort and style” – and they aren’t wrong.
Shootout – Gaius Walks vs Earnest & Collective
As aforementioned, Earnest & Collective was really the first one to burst into this “affordable online” dress shoes market, and in many ways paved the way for newer brands like Gaius Walks to follow. Given that both brands are very similar in price, I decided to compare them together for today’s shootout!
In terms of build quality, both brands are very similar – they use full grain calf leather, both for the upper as well as for the inner linings. Both also use a cemented construction, as well as rubber soles. They even come packaged similarly, with dust bags and a complimentary shoe horn. From a quality standpoint, I believe both brands to be quite similar – except when it comes to loafers. The Nappa leather loafers from Gaius Walks are a game changer for me, and are significantly more comfortable and breathable than the regular ones from Earnest & Collectives.
Where Gaius Walks has the edge is in its aesthetics. The Earnest & Collective designs are more mass market, cookie cutter – designs one would expect from a shoe label. In contrast, Gaius Walks has more unusual colours such as Slate and Indigo (pictured above), as well as uncommon designs such as the Gianni Single Monk Strap reviewed above. In addition, I prefer the more sophisticated “faux-leather” soles of the Gaius Walks shoes, as compared to the “faux-Dainite” soles of the Earnest & Collective shoes.
Both brands are similarly priced, and to be honest I don’t think you can go wrong with either brand. However, if you’re someone who prefers to stand out from the crowd with more striking designs, I think Gaius Walks shoes has the stylistic edge over their competition.
Conclusion – so Gaius Walks “shiok” or not?
Definitely. I really appreciate Gaius Walks bringing different designs and styles to the market, such as the Gianni Single Monk Strap and the lovely Paolo Nappa Leather Tassel Loafers in Indigo. Furthermore, their nappa leather loafers are by far, the most comfortable and breathable pair I’ve tried till date. There’s a nice low to the ground feel that makes you feel like you’re wearing a pair of Toms instead! Whether you’re someone who’s more adventurous in their style, or perhaps someone who prioritise comfort, Gaius Walks ticks a lot of boxes.
For those interested, Gaius Walks has kindly provided my readers with a 15% discount! Simply use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” upon checkout to enjoy the discount off all products on their online store. I really enjoyed my shoes from Gaius Walks, and I can’t wait to see what designs they come up with next! Lastly, Gaius Walks has a physical location as well, so if you’re unsure you can pop by their showroom to try the sizes and feel out the shoes for yourself!
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!