Dress shoes shouldn’t be an afterthought for men. In our view, these 13 innovative menswear brands sell some of the coolest men’s dress shoes online. These entrepreneurs are making it easier and more affordable for guys to nab super-comfortable and in many cases affordable dress shoes for the office. Here’s our essential guide to buying amazing men’s dress shoes for work on a variety of budgets.
If you’re looking for some unique and colorful socks to pair with your new dress shoes, see our guide to innovative menswear startups’ socks for men.
Affordable Dress Shoes under $250
The innovative menswear brands below are great options for gorgeous, comfortable and sturdy dress shoes and boots that won’t break the bank.
Andrés Niño and Nick Hurtado founded Beckett Simonon in Bogotá, Colombia in 2012 to offer a unique shopping experience that requires a bit of patience. Their pitch? “You pre-order, we manufacture, you enjoy.” The upshot from this Warby Parker of Shoes is you get high-quality, Blake-stitched shoes manufactured in Colombia or Portugal at an incredible price point. The catch? You have to wait up to 6-8 for the shoes to arrive. Modern Fellows reviewed their Durant oxfords, pictured below, and think Beckett Simonon shoes are extremely comfortable and definitely worth waiting for. Their ridiculously gorgeous Valencia Wholecut Calfskin Leather shoes are available for pre-order now for the low price of $199 with free shipping. Save an $20 off Beckett Simonon shoes, boots, sneakers or leather goods with coupon code MODERNFELLOWS at checkout.
Based in Portugal, Undandy co-founder Rafic Daud and his team do a spectacular job of peeling back the curtain on its journey, including addressing some of the challenges the men’s shoe startup faced along the way. Undandy also does a great job spotlighting the manufacturing process and the women and men who are responsible for crafting and hand-painting their visually stunning dress shoes with such glorious patinas. As for those shoes, they start at under $200, are fully customizable, hand-crafted and delivered to your door in two weeks. You’ll pay a little more for unique hand-patinas.
Thursday Boot Company
Connor Wilson and Nolan Walsh, who met at Columbia Business School, founded The Thursday Boot Company initially to design boots that are both tough and look stylish. The two leveraged their business background and Kickstarter to get the company up and running. While Thursday is known for, well, boots, they also make a gorgeous Goodyear welted Baron wholecut lace-up. The shoes are handcrafted and full glove leather interior Full Glove Leather Interior Lining and features a cork-bed sole, a hybrid outer made of leather and rubber. They have a fantastic Instagram community.
Launched in 2017, Moral Code features a slick range of visually-stunning, Goodyear-welted business casual and dress shoes, many with beautiful burnished finishes and patinas. The company urges men to “look formal even in informal settings.” Their Scrupulous wingtips are constructed on an elongated last for a modern look. The site also carries a range of attractive leather goods, including briefcases. (Warning: Not all of their shoes are under $200.)
Milan-based company Velasca pitches “passion and unique Italian expertise” as the defining qualities behind their affordable dress shoe brand that endeavors to make high-quality craftsmanship accessible to all. In 2012, founder Enrico Casati was disappointed with the quality and price of dress shoes available in Singapore, where he was working in banking at the time. He teamed up with co-founder Jacopo Sebastio to identify artisans in Marche, Italy, to create their first collection under the name Velasca. The two have grown their brand since then, branching out from lace ups and loafers to monk straps, boots and sneakers. At $195, their Imprenditor shoes strike an amazing balance of affordability and quality, featuring luxurious full grain leather and an intricate design that adds a unique flare. Shipping is free.
Pair of Kings
Pair of Kings Co-Founder Jacques Messeca took the experience he gained with his women’s shoe line Messeca, which he founded in 1992, and jumped into the men’s shoes business in New York City with fellow entrepreneur Isaac Ariel. The company’s shoes are made in Brazil, Blake-stitched, use vegetable-dyed leather, and feature modern takes on classic styles. Inside, the shoes sport the same kind of memory foam material used in mattresses for enhanced comfort. Check out their Straight Brandy Monk Strap Dress Shoes for $195 plus shipping.
Ariel Nelson and Lane Gerson began Jack Erwin in 2013 to produce quality shoes that are affordable and accessible for office-workers and creative-types. Their shoes, which start under $200, are handcrafted in Spain with a hand-stitched leather outsole.
Founded in 2016 by Roger LaGrone, Alexander Noel began in the American Midwest and established partnerships with companies in Italy, India and Spain to create small batch runs of shoes and leather bags. The company embraces attractive “fashion forward” designs that help men stand out from the crowd. While their dress shoes start at $150, like their sleek, maple-hued single-monk derby, their double-monk tweet and leather combo, the Sunday Best ($235), is an excellent example of their willingness to push the fashion envelope. Starting at $395, you can design your own bespoke dress shoes with rich patinas and endless combinations. See the video below for more background on an unique brand.
Alternatives to Allen Edmonds and Affordable Luxury: Where to Buy Men’s Dress Shoes Online for Over $250
Taft Clothing is the Martenero of footwear. Martenero, one of our favorite men’s watch brands, invented the hashtag #traditionrefreshed to describe its playful, modern takes on classic styles. So goes Taft, which offers a modern and wholly-unique line of footwear that somehow also manages to feel traditional at the same time. Kory and Mallory Stevens founded Taft Clothing out of Utah in 2014 to sell socks, but pivoted soon after to address a gap in the market. Forbes named them to their 30 under 30 list for their unique brand that helps men stand out. In particular, they offer a range of two-tone shoes with interesting patterns and textures that provide an amazing contrast with solid-color leathers. The outsides feature vegetable-tanned, full-grain leathers, all of which are painted, stained, and burnished by hand. Inside, all shoes are Blake-stitched, fully-lined with soft calfskin leather and feature a stacked leather sole with rubber injections. It’s no wonder men from Dwayne Johnson to Tim McGraw to Dwanye Wade are fans.
Wolf and Shepherd
Wolf and Shepherd founder Justin Schneider began testing the concept for Wolf and Shepherd by gluing sneaker insoles to dress shoes after hearing friends complain that their dress shoes were uncomfortable. “This seemed to be a consistent problem among my peers,” Schneider told Modern Fellows. By the end of 2014, he had a prototype and found a factory in Portugal to make his shoes. The company launched a pre-sale in July 2015 and has been refining its technology and expanding its selection, which now includes boots, loafers, driving shoes and monk straps, ever since. Also, runner Juris Silenieks set a record by running the Atlanta half marathon in the company’s shoes. We reviewed the company’s Closer cap-toe lace-up oxfords (disclosure: we received them for free), and found them to be lightweight, structurally sound, classic-with-a-little-bit-of-flair, and supremely comfortable. If I ever had to run a marathon in dress shoes, I’d pick these.
M. Gemi co-founder Maria Gangemi was born in Sicily and spent her whole life and career in service of the art of luxury, handcrafted shoes. Today, M. Gemi is an awesome option for men’s and women’s Italian-made shoes and boots. Men’s shoes feature hand-brushed calfskin leather uppers, an all-leather lining and footbead and Blake-construction. M. Gemi carries a nice range of oxfords, loafers and drivers appropriate for the office, like the Esperto oxford, pictured below, which retails for $278.
Photo credit: M. Gemi
After meeting in college, Marco Reiter and Moritz Offeney launched Berlin-based Italian shoe company Scarosso in 2010. The brand focuses on sleek, timeless designs at prices that won’t break the bank, manufactured by artisans in Italy. Their Federigo Oxfords ($255 with free shipping), an Italian-crafted shoe featuring black calfskin with half brogue and 5 eyelets with flat wax laces.
French entrepreneurs Marcos Fernandez and Mathieu Preiss founded Septieme Largeur early on in their careers in the fashion world. I fell in love with the brand on a trip to Paris. The company features a wide selection of gorgeous shoes, many of which cost around 275 Euros, and ships to the United States.
Launched in 2013, Paul Evans established itself as destination for Italian-made dress shoes that stand out for their intricate detailing, bold colors like oxblood, and unique touches like burnished finishes. Co-Founder Evan Fript told Modern Fellows that the brand has “certainly come a long way…Our product has improved significantly…with higher quality calfskin leather being used and closed-channel stitching being introduced this Fall.” He maintains that the focus has never strayed: “[It] has always been on producing the highest quality men’s dress shoe possible, and we’re proud to have achieved that.” Their Cagney II Stitched Cap-Toe Oxford are beautiful specimens, and the tobacco finish is hand-painted, with Blake construction, at $425.
Photo credit: Paul Evans
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