Hello everyone, and welcome back to another Singaporean review! On this shiok Sunday, I’m reviewing a pair of Monkstraps from local shoe label, La Patine.
La Patine used to be known as CustomMade – in fact, I reviewed some of their transitional loafers here. The brand has since rebranded themselves as La Patine, and have recently launched their maiden line of shoes, the UNO Patina Collection. As I’ve already reviewed their CustomMade Oxfords in addition to their loafers, I decided to try out their Monkstrap instead. Let’s see if it’s any good!
La Patine Enzo Monkstrap – Video Review
For those who want to see some hands-on footage of the shoes, do check out my Youtube video below!
From CustomMade to La Patine
As mentioned above, La Patine used to be known as CustomMade, and specialized in offering made-to-measure shoes at an affordable pricing. If you would like to learn about their brand story in detail, you can read my initial review of CustomMade here.
Unfortunately, Don (founder of CustomMade, pictured above) found it hard to scale a made-to-measure shoe service. From a business standpoint, it was hard for Don to bring CustomMade to the next level, especially at CustomMade’s affordable prices. The economical ramifications of COVID-19 was the final nail in the coffin for CustomMade’s MTM model. However, rather than throwing in the towel, Don decided to stick with his passion for dress shoes and pivot to offering affordable patina shoes to the Singaporean market.
With La Patine, you’re getting a great pair of hand-crafted shoes. Don works with artisanal shoemakers in Vietnam (who have been in the business for decades) to ensure that all of La Patine shoes are beautifully crafted masterpieces. Like tailoring, shoemaking is a laborious, painstaking process, one that involves over 180 steps from start to finish. All of La Patine shoes will have a striking patina effect as well, one that can only be achieved when applied by hand. If you’re a fan of traditional shoemaking, you will definitely appreciate La Patine shoes.
Alright, without any further ado let’s delve into the review.
La Patine Enzo Single Monkstrap
For the lack of a better description, the La Patine Enzo Single Monkstrap looks and feels more expensive than it actually is.
Firstly, the Enzo Single Monkstrap uses full-grain Italian calf leather from renowned Italian tannery, Mastrotto. For those uninitiated in leather, leather generally comes in three quality tiers – genuine leather, top-grain leather, and full-grain leather, in ascending order of quality. More information about leather quality can be found in this terrific article here. However, not all full-grain leather are made equal. Those from established tanneries, especially Italy, would likely be superior to those from Asia. This is one of the factors that separates higher-priced shoes (such as this) from cheaper full-grain leather shoes from brands such as Arden Teal.
Of course, the main draw of the Enzo Single Monkstrap is its lovely patina effect, built upon nuanced graduation of the base colour. It features the brand’s “signature brush stroke effect”, hand-applied by head shoe artisan Mr Nha. Due to the artisanal nature of the brush stroke application, no two shoes will be identical.
The patina effect instils a sense of depth and texture to the shoes, and highlights its artisanal nature. It’s this unique patina effect that differentiates La Patine from the other local shoe labels. To my knowledge, there’s no other local brand that offers a similar patina effect on their shoes. Even internationally, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an equivalent for under S$300 – Berluti sells their patina effect shoes for over S$3000!
I would say that this is definitely a hero piece. If you want something striking that will make you stand out from the crowd (literally), then this is it. While the La Patine Enzo Single Monkstrap may be too flashy for everyday wear to the office, I find it great for special occasions such as weddings, events, etc. I’ve gotten tons of compliments on the shoe, and found it to pair well with a wide variety of clothing. This is one serious shoe.
The Enzo Single Monkstrap come in 4 colourways: Mahogany, Umber, Midnight Grey, and Tobacco (seen above). Out of the four, my pick will definitely be the Tobacco variant. I find it to be the most stylistically versatile out of the four, and it’s a colourway that best illustrates the unique hand-brushed effect of the shoe. I’ve paired it with a black suit, a brown suit, a grey suit, and a navy suit – the Tobacco Enzo Single Monkstrap looked right at home with all my outfits.
In addition, the tips of the Enzo Single Monkstrap are also hand-burnished, resulting in a darker shade of brown at the top. Burnishing is a finishing technique commonly seen on hand-crafted dress shoes, so here it further reinforces the artisanal nature of the shoe.
Furthermore, I love the rakish nature of the Enzo Single Monkstrap. Whilst double monks are common in the market, single monkstrap dress shoes are much rarer. In fact, main alternatives Earnest & Collective and Arden Teal both do not (at this point of publication) offer single monkstrap designs. If you’re looking for something a little more different, more sartorial, the Enzo Single Monkstrap offers a minimalist look that will fit the bill nicely.
The buckle is made out of brass, which will patina nicely over time, giving the Enzo Single Monkstrap a nice rustic look. I have no qualms with the material used, though I must say that sometimes it was hard to fit the strap into the buckle. Wearing and taking off the shoe can sometimes be a hassle, and I think La Patine will benefit from a redesign of the buckle design.
The lining of the Enzo Single Monkstrap is fashioned from full kid sheep lining, which feels great to the touch and is immensely comfortable on the feet. It looks and feels like velvet. 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 feet 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. That being said, I did find the full kid sheep lining of the Enzo Single Monkstrap to be superior to the full calfskin lining often seen more affordable dress shoes. There’s also a padded insole, resulting in a more comfortable wearing experience.
Lastly, the Enzo Single Monkstrap features a red patina “fiddle-back” close channel full leather outsole. That’s a mouthful, so let me break it down for you. Firstly, the sole of the shoe has been hand-painted in a royal red, to complement its red lining/insole. Secondly, the “fiddle-back” refers to the middle portion of the sole where you can see the leather has been bevelled, looking like it has been carved away. Generally speaking, the deeper the waist cut, the more sophisticated the shoe. Typically, this is an aesthetic design that can only be found in a handcrafted shoe – you certainly won’t see a fiddle-back sole in your regular departmental store shoes, or even shoes from online stores like Ernest & Collective. Thirdly, a closed channel design refers to a sole whereby the stitching of the sole to the welt of the shoe is hidden underneath the leather. This gives the sole a nice clean and sophisticated look, and is often a testament to quality craftsmanship. Again, you’re unlikely to find shoes with a closed channel design off the rack in departmental stores. Also, the sole is crafted out of full leather. Leather outsoles are generally only found on higher-priced 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. 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).
Conclusion – so the La Patine Single Monkstrap “shiok” or not?
Definitely so. When we met, Don shared with me that his vision for La Patine was for the brand to be the “style leader” in the local dress shoe scene. With the Enzo Single Monkstrap, I think he is off to a great start in that direction. I find the shoe to be both style and substance. It’s a well-constructed shoe – the shoe features full-grain Italian leather from an esteemed Italian tannery, a blake-stitched construction, full kid sheep lining on the inside, and even a fiddle-back close channel full leather outsole. It’s a handcrafted shoe that’s made to last. Yet, the shoe also possess a lovely hand-brushed patina that is not only stunning to look at but also differentiates the Enzo Single Monkstrap (and by extension, La Patine as a brand) from the other affordable local dress shoe labels. With a price tag of just S$290 (after the promo code below), I would say that La Patine is one of the best options that you can get for under S$300.
For those interested, you can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy S$100 off any La Patine shoes online! You can also quote the website when making an appointment (you’re highly encouraged to make a prior appointment), or simply flash this post whilst at La Patine’s showroom to get S$100 off if you’re planning on purchasing in person. After the S$100 discount, the La Patine Enzo Single Monkstrap (as well as the rest of the UNO collection) can be had for a mere S$290, which I think is a steal considering the workmanship and striking look of the shoe. Don shared with me that he will soon be introducing leather sneakers with patina effect – can’t wait to see how those turn out!
View the Enzo Single Monkstrap collection here.
View the full La Patine UNO Collection here.
La Patine’s showroom address:
71 Lor 23 Geylang, Singapore 388386
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P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned.
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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.