Copied from my review on Styleforum:
First things first, I did not receive any type of compensation for this review. No cash, no discount, no free stuff, etc....nada; although if Ian (@brillopad) wants to buy me a beer next time I see him in SF, I can't say I'll turn it down :)
Ian contacted me a few months back and was looking for my opinion on a few prototypes for an Allen Edmonds project he was working on at Massdrop. I was pretty busy at the time but it didn't seem like it would consume too much time so I said sure, why not. A couple days later, I got a few samples of an unlined chukka in reverse calf 'Janus' suede (from CF Stead) on a couple different lasts, with different styling options (heel/sole type, welt stitch thread color, etc.).
Having started out with AE like many other guys here, followed by the natural SF progression to handmade shoes from the likes of Budapest and Brasov, I was pretty impressed with how the samples turned out. Not compared to the other makers I mentioned of course, but based on my experience and expectations with Allen Edmonds. Some of the sloppiness I have seen from AE in the past few years wasn't present on these pairs and the quality of the suede was well above their standard. Knowing what Ian hoped to offer a pair for, I was really excited to see how the final product turned out.
So, I got my hands on the final product a couple weeks ago (just to check out) and they turned out great. Just like the samples, clean stitching all around, quality suede, and the ideal (IMO) shape for an unlined chukka. Full specs are:
-Janus Calf uppers from CF stead
I think Ian and his team nailed it when it came time to decide on the small details. I can honestly say as someone who owns (and loves) Alden's unlined chukka, these are right up there and at half the price, an incredible deal. It's a boot you can wear with denim, cords, wool trousers, etc......pretty much anything other than sweatpants or a conservative suit. Already owning a similar pair in snuff, I'm considering a chocolate pair myself.