Product Review: Beckett Simonon “Nolan” Boots

A few months ago I was contacted by the folks at Beckett Simonon about putting together a review. I don’t take review requests very often these days, but the company had been on my radar for a while as a young brand putting out aggressively-priced menswear, so I decided to take a closer look. I should note that a good amount of this review will be dedicated to the process as a whole and not just this pair of shoes, since Beckett Simonon has a large range of products.

The idea behind Beckett Simonon is one that I’m quite familiar with – products are not available for purchase from stock, but are rather pre-ordered during various campaigns. In doing so, no inventory is needed and the end cost of the product can be reduced. This is a concept I worked with all the time when I ran the apparel part of Massdrop, so I’m quite familiar with the idea. Beyond that, though, it’s something we see fairly regularly wherever style nerds hang out – for instance, a half dozen styleforum members will group together to order a “GMTO” (group made-to-order) product from a popular vendor, and in doing so won’t have to pay the upcharge that an individual custom order might face. Similar concept here, basically.

Of course, the biggest disadvantage with this process is that the customer must pay upfront for a sight-unseen product and then wait a while (weeks to months, depending on the product). This can be especially dicey with sized products, since it can be near impossible to confirm sizing beforehand (it’s worth noting that Beckett Simonon has a solid return policy, so most of this risk is alleviated). Because of this significant downside of the made-to-order model, it’s generally only worth it for one of two reasons – either it’s a product you can’t get anywhere else (like a custom suit or a special pair of Crockett & Jones boots) or the price is very aggressive. With Beckett Simonon, the company is all about the latter.

Since the only product I’ve handled is the boots shown here, it should be noted that Beckett Simonon makes a wide range of products (which I assume will continue to grow), from sneakers and watches to leather jackets and belts. All these products require different materials and aren’t all made in the same factory, so my familiarity with one product won’t necesssarily translate to the rest.

Anyway, on to the boots. The boots shown here are the Nolan, which is currently open for orders (I believe the campaign closes at the end of the day, but they’ll be back at some point). The style is a classic wingtip boot on a Dainite-esque sole (not branded Dainite), with a Blake welt and full-grain calfskin uppers. They’re made in Portugal and sell for $219. You can ignore the crossed-out price numbers on their site ($350 for this boot) – I assume that’s the “traditional retail model” price, but it has no real relation to the price their products are sold at. Note that there are often sales and discounts (I think you can get 20% off when signing up for the email list), so it shouldn’t be too hard to get these under $200.

These are built on the “Adelmo” last, which they describe as their casual, rounded last. To me the last appears a bit elongated and curvy, giving it a somewhat dressy, European vibe. That can totally work for a pair of wingtip boots, but these are definitely a step or two more formal than wingtip boots you’d find from a brand like Alden or Crockett & Jones. The boots are also a bit shorter than what I’ve seen from other brands, too – about 0.5″ – 1.5″ lower than the other 8-eyelet boots I own. The difference is purely aesthetic, but just something I noticed.

The leather used on these boots left me with a fairly neutral opinion – I could tell that it wasn’t on the same level as my more expensive shoes, but there’s nothing bad about it either (time will tell, of course, but I have no reason to expect any problems). The leather was also a bit dull out of the box, but I think a little bit of conditioning would take care of that.

The most impressive quality that I noticed on these was the lack of any loose threads, jagged edges, or any little imperfections that seem to often slip through QC. The construction appears solid and was very clean – much cleaner than work I’ve seen from many higher-priced brands.

As for sizing, one thing I noticed about Beckett Simonon’s footwear is that the size options are a bit limited. Half sizes are only available in 9.5 and 10.5, so the many other half-sized individuals (like me) have to make the decision of going up or down. My initial hunch was to go up (since I’m closer to a 9 than an 8, and boot socks are thick), but I was advised that sizing down would be better. I was hesitant, but it actually worked out fine. The boots are snug but not problematically so. I would recommend sticking with your normal size if it’s available, and if not then sizing down a half.

At the end of the day, I think these boots from Beckett Simonon are well-priced and are better than much of what you’d find in the “$200 and under” category. The customer service and return policy will also likely be better than Meermin, another popular brand at this price. If that’s about where you’re budget is, I think these could be worth looking into (assuming you’re not in a rush to get them). If your sights are more on mid-tier brands like Alden, Carmina, Crockett & Jones, Alfred Sargent, and so forth, I don’t think that you will find these on the same level. All those brands are 2-3x the price, though, so I think the difference is justified. If you’re keen on finding brands that are putting out value-driven menswear products, keep your eye on Beckett Simonon.