Grant Stone Shoes, is a new high-end shoe brand that I was very excited to get my feet into. Their current offerings have a very similar look to some Alden shoes and boots but with one very important difference, the Leo last.
Taken from their site description:
“The Grant Stone Leo last accommodates four major foot shapes comfortably. If your foot shape is high or medium arch, heavy splay or flat-flexible, you will experience a fit with proper support and stability, reducing foot fatigue.”
The combination of this well-fitting last, and the use of such high quality leathers, had me very excited about the brand. They also keep cost down by having the shoes constructed in Xiamen China, which translates to better pricing for the consumer. Not being made in USA may worry some, but after having tested 3 pairs of my own, I can assure you the construction quality of these shoes will not disappoint.
My first pair of Grant Stone Shoes, were the Saddle Tan plain toe bluchers. If I was to compare this to other brands the closest would be the Alden 990, or the Allen Edmonds Leeds. The stand out details to me are the more generous width in the forefoot area, and the way the toe slopes down like and Alden Dover. The stitching detail and overall construction seems as clean as Alden, maybe even better, and much nicer than Allen Edmonds. If I were to put these head to head with similar offerings from AE, Grant Stone would win hands down. The Saddle Tan leather is better for casual wear, and pairs perfectly with denim. The double oak sole and split reverse welt add just enough detail to display the quality craftsmanship, and also make for an easily re-soleable shoe that will last a lifetime. My first days out with this shoe were very comfortable with no hot spots or tight spots. The leather starts out a little stiff around the heel and vamp area, but that very quickly softens up after 2-3 wears.
After confirming the size and fit of the Leo last to be perfect for my feet, I went ahead and bought a second pair. I didn’t have any long wing bluchers in rotation so the Crimson Chromexcel was my choice. This leather is from Horween, and a proven staple leather of many shoe companies. It has a nice soft feel right out of the box, and a slight pull-up effect, so you get some nice highs and lows in the creases, as the leather breaks-in and the waxes migrate around the shoe. Grant Stone’s quality control must be excellent because the fit and details of all three pairs I have are perfect, and the fit is exact. I only mention this because I’ve had many pairs of AE on the same last that all fit slightly different from each other. The chromexel long wings seemed to need no break-in at all, probably because this leather is a bit softer than the saddle tan.
Finally, my most recent pair is the Cognac Shell Cordovan PTB. This is made with Comipel shell once again, which comes from a French tannery. Once again, they have the perfect fit for my feet. These were the tightest and most stiff to break-in of the three but I have no complaints because shell cordovan is known to be one of the toughest leathers. These were a bit more expensive at $550, but still a good value compared to how much you would spend on an Alden shell shoe. I’ve had them for a couple of months now and the durability and shine characteristics of the shell are similar to Horween. The main difference is it’s a little thinner, and it doesn’t crease as gracefully as Hoween’s shell (you can see slight micro creases). I’m really hoping Grant Stone can source some Horween shell in the future, as I would love to have a perfect fitting shoe in my favorite leather.
As I said above this Leo last, seems to be designed for my foot. The shoes are very comfortable right out of the box, and continue to provide excellent support after a couple of months of wear on even the longest of walks. For comparison purposes, I’m a 10D in Grant Stone, a 9.5 3E in Alden Barrie, and a 9.5 3E on the AE 65 Last.
These needed very little break-in if any at all. There were no hot spots or anything like that but they were much more snug on the first day, versus 2-3 days later. The chromexcel pair needed almost no break-in at all, most likely because it is the softest leather of the 3 shoes. The shell cordovan took the longest, feeling really comfortable by the 3rd day. All 3 of the shoes felt amazing after 2 weeks of rotation, because the sole compresses down a bit and really shapes to your foot.
It’s only been a few months so I can’t speak to the long-term wear but at their current pace, these are proving to be just as durable as an Alden double flex sole. I’m very tough on my shoes so the toes always wear quick for me but after the initial break-in, my shoes usually go 2 plus years before needing a re-sole. I expect these to have the same lifespan. The uppers I’m sure will last a life-time, and will only look better as the leather patinas and develops more character.
I treat the tan saddle and shell cordovan the same way. The really don’t need any care but if you want to give it a little shine, you can use neutral Venetian cream. I put on some latex gloves wipe on a small amount into the leather with my hands. By the time you finish doing both shoes, the first one should be ready to be buffed out. Just brush it up with a horsehair brush, and it’ll bring back the original shine. If you want a little more polish, you can use some Saphir cream polish. I would apply this after buffing out the Venetian cream. These cream polishes come in different colors so you can add a little tone to your shoes by going with a slightly darker color. A little polish goes a long way so make sure you don’t go crazy applying it.
For the crimson long wings, you really don’t have to do anything, but Venetian cream will always give it some extra shine if you can’t help yourself from babying your shoes. It’ll also take wax pretty well, but I’d be careful with that because you don’t want to suffocate the leather. Maybe just a dab on the toe to give the shoes some pop.
If you’re having second thoughts about these shoes because they’re made in China, don’t. I’ve had many pairs of AE and Alden shoes, and I can assure you the Grant Stone quality will not disappoint.