If you are looking for comfortable dress shoes, explore this review of Amberjack footwear, designed for the hybrid future of work.
Dress shoes need to be comfortable
Men still need dress shoes for work, but post-pandemic, those shoes need to be comfortable. In this review of Amberjack’s “The Original” shoes in suede, I explore whether they live up to their promise of “obviously good style and secretly great comfort.”
Amberjack provided a pair of Original shoes in water-repellant suede at no cost for the purpose of a review.
Launched amid the COVID-19 pandemic in November 2020, Amberjack is a men’s fashion brand focused on comfortable shoes for work.
Founder John Peters told me in an interview around the time of the brand’s launch that his goal was to build a company “for the new world we live in.”
He added that,
As people head back into the office, we’re betting that there will be a more permanent hybrid working model (flexible days and hours and work styles), which we think will translate to different workwear choices.
In particular, we think this means increased casualization, an emphasis on comfort, and a growing importance of value.New Shoe Brand Amberjack Launches to Serve the Flexible Future of Work
“Obviously good style, secretly great comfort”
Amberjack advertises that its shoes are “obviously” stylish with “secretly-great” comfort-focused technology features, including a dual-density athletic outsole, a heat-activated insole that molds to your foot, and soft buckskin lining.
John has surrounded Amberjack with a deep bench of advisors including a former Cole Haan CEO, the past head of footwear design at Allen Edmonds, a prior VP of product development at Caleres and Cole Haan, and a manager of new footwear technology at Adidas, who have helped build a new shoe (and brand) from the ground up.
Amberjack is a great example of a stylish, direct-to-consumer menswear company helping men navigate the new normal of hybrid work models and dressing for your day.
How much do Amberjack shoes cost?
All of Amberjack’s shoes, known as The Original, cost $179.
Where are Amberjack shoes made?
Amberjack’s comfortable dress shoes for men are made in Portugal. (Founder John Peters told me that, while developing their shoes, Amberjack “made the difficult decision to delay [production] and switch factories from Korea to Portugal.”)
Does Amberjack offer free shipping and returns?
Amberjack offers free shipping and returns on its shoes.
Review: Amberjack makes essential business casual shoes for the new normal
Amberjack’s lineup of “Original” shoes are available in leather in honey (tan), chestnut (brown) or onyx (black) as well as in water-repellant Italian suede in stone (gray), slate (olive-green), cobalt (blue) or sand.
The company has other styles in the works, including a comfortable slip-on shoe and a boot.
John notes that Amberjack’s Original leather shoes in honey, pictured above, are the company’s best seller.
I had a chance to review Amberjack’s Original suede shoes in stone gray.
How do Amberjack’s shoes feel?
When I first slipped on Amberjack’s shoes, I admit to being a little skeptical. Their insoles were a bit raised on the perimeter of the shoe and felt a bit awkward.
I’m glad I persevered: I wore the shoes for a little at a time around the house to break them in, and noticed the heat-activated, memory foam-like insoles formed around my feet rather quickly.
After a bit of breaking in, Amberjack’s shoes now feel about as comfortable as the most comfortable sneakers I own.
They also run nice and cool: The perforations (aka holes) above the laces help to ventilate Amberjack’s shoes and kept my feet from getting too hot.
How do Amberjack’s shoes fit?
Amberjack’s shoes run about half a size larger than most shoes.
John noted that Amberjack “had a big issue with exchanges when we first launched. Now we try to steer folks to go a half size down and that has definitely helped.”
I normally wear a size 9.5. I ordered a 9, which fits very well. I’d guess that the shoes probably run a smidge wide, which is great for me, given that some regular-width shoes wind up being a bit too narrow for my slightly wide feet.
Appearance and style? Definitely business casual.
I really like the simple and relatively minimalist look of Amberjack’s shoes, which excel in smart casual and business casual settings.
John observed that, “there’s always a need to dress well – whether that’s going into the office a few days a week, going on a date, or just meeting some friends.”
Amberjack’s shoes are extremely versatile and can be dressed down or up — to a point.
I think that Amberjack’s shoes are dressy enough to wear with a blazer and jeans or chinos and a stylish button down dress shirt, but I would stop short of pairing them with a suit.
The perforations on the upper as well as the thick white or brown arch support sandwiched between the upper and sole make Amberjack’s shoes too casual for a suit and stylish tie (in my opinion).
Demand for smart casual and comfortable business casual shoes is skyrocketing, and Amberjack fulfills this need perfectly. But for truly formal footwear, I’d consider other stylish dress shoes for men.
As John notes, “dress codes are increasingly casual, but not everyone wants to wear sneakers and flip flops.” Amberjack is poised to serve a more casual future of work and life.
“Huge surge in demand” for business casual footwear
The biggest challenge at the moment may be getting your hands on a pair of Amberjack shoes.
Last I checked, Amberjack is currently sold out in 23 of 60 sizes. They are completely sold out of their dressier leather Originals in honey, chestnut and onyx. (You can pre-order styles that are not in stock.)
“There’s been a huge surge in demand for business casual footwear, and I think in particular for shoes that have a comfort component,” John observed.
“It seems like there is not a ton of customers who want to go back to wearing their old-school leather-soled shoes.”
John noted that, “our biggest focus is just keeping up with demand and getting more shoes in stock.”
About JakeJake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.
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