In Review: Shoepassion Jodhpur - What's in a Name?


First thing's first:  "______passion" is a horrible name for anything in general, and likewise "Shoepassion" is a horrible name for a shoe company. It's a bad enough name that I'd be almost embarrassed to tell it to someone who asked me who made my shoes, and it's a bad enough name that it should have been nixed at the start with a simple "no, that's horrible" by any number of people involved. Now that that's out of the way, I can say they make a quality pair of boots at a very competitive price.
Shoepassion Captoe Oxford
Shoepassion was founded in 2010 at first as an online-only storefront for Spanish made, German sold Goodyear-welted shoes in the mid-range market. They now make a huge line of shoes, including a whole range of "contemporary line" shoes that can only be described by me as "a whole lot of crazy sh*t." However, their "formal shoes" and boots line offer many classic options and attractive lasts (the three dimensional form a shoe is built on), including an an attractive, classic Jodhpur boot.

Jodhpur boots, named for the city in India they're associated with, originated alongside the Jodhpur pants which allowed men to ride and play polo without wearing knee high boots at a time when playing polo was something normal guys did. Over time, the ballooning pants were relegated to the history books, but the Jodhpur boot carved out its own place in the lineup of what we now consider classic mens boots. For more information on the subject, Gentleman's Gazette has a great article worth a read.

Materials and Construction


The No. 641 Jodhpur is made on Shoepassion's standard "British" last, a tasteful round toe form in tight grained french full grain calfskin, softer in hand with a slightly different, more brushed feel than the calf used on my various Allen Edmonds models. The insole is made from stiff leather (which for some reason is actually stamped with "REAL LEATHER SOLE"), and the interior is lined with supple tan lambskin and a soft lambskin-covered heel pad.

Inner Lambskin Lining Detail

The most recognizable characteristic of the Jodhpur is the two piece strap and buckle that wrap around the ankle to tighten the boot. The straps are sewn to the single piece vamp (the front top piece of upper), and wrap around a loop at the heel before joining at the buckle on the lateral side of the boot.


The hardware at the buckle is matte silver with rounded edges and a low profile, aiding to minimize visual clutter on the boot and keep the aesthetic fairly streamlined. The strap and buckle articulate and fasten easily, though obviously not with the same ease as something like an elastic Chelsea boot.

Buckle and Strap Detail

Stitching on the upper is clean and confident, with the same level of stitch density as Allen Edmonds - that is to say very good, and better than a rougher boot like Wolverine, from my experience. The welt stitching structurally solid, though it wanders ever so slightly following the contour of the leather outsole. The outsole itself is stamped with the Shoepassion brand, as well as "Rahmengenaht & Handgefertigt" (welted and handcrafted) and the size of the shoe.


The heel is a combination leather/rubber and built up with a stacked leather and rubber construction, finished with a standard gentleman's corner - a notch on the heel that functions to stop a pant leg from getting caught on the heel. The heel has a classically low profile compared to some of the more aggressively styled Jodhpurs around, which often utilize a much higher heel and subsequently can have more of a feminine or dandy appearance.

Gentleman's corner - as seen above

Overall, I think materials and construction are very good for the price point and compete well with leaders in the market segment.


Sizing and Fit

Also pictured: Pants - Dries Van Noten (thrifted)

Shoepassion generally uses a UK sizing system, though they also have a sizing guide you can print out and measure your feet on specifically. I decided to try this system out, which put me at a size 7 from my normal 8D US sizing.


One important thing to note, however, is that lasts are three dimensional forms, while simple measuring systems only measure width and length. The Shoepassion British last is more voluminous than other lasts like the 511 or 222 last many AE boots are built on, but it's also aided by the strap and buckle system used on Jodhpurs. The line of the shoe is sleek and the toe isn't stubby or bulbous in any way, even with my smaller feet. I've found that the medial/inner side of the last, however, has a too much width for me above the waist of the shoe compared to my other comparable dress shoes/boots, which takes away from the sleekness of the form and more importantly has caused a bit of unsightly creasing on the right boot at that point after a few wears - my biggest sticking point and a real disappointment in that respect. I don't think I could have fixed this problem by sizing down further without running into length issues as well, unfortunately.

Also pictured: Pants - Giorgio Armani

Creasing visible on the right foot

The Jodhpur tends to style well in situations similar to its simpler cousin, the Chelsea. They share the same overall profile, with the most visual difference being near the ankle. As such, the boots pair best with slim proportioned tailored wear or skinnier streetwear, leading to Jodhpurs' adoption as a cult favorite in the lean, rocker style championed by Saint Laurent Paris - usually stretched out with a more pointed toe, a more minimal blake stitched or cemented sole, and sometimes a higher heel compared to this more conservative shape.

Also pictured: Pants - Banana Republic Fulton 


Impressions and Value


In the US, the mid price quality shoe market is dominated by giants such as Allen Edmonds and other direct-to-consumer companies like Meermin, although Allen Edmonds has been inching ever upwards in pricing. I think that Shoepassion makes a good product (aside from my personal fit issues), but even now they have a relatively small footprint in America - including with those who follow the shoe world closely. I think there are a few reasons for this.

What. Is. This - No.
First, their product line is very broad but it lacks a consumer base for much of it. That's a nice way of saying I think some of their shoe designs are awful. What on earth is this? Or this? Doing crazy things and calling them "contemporary" does not automatically make them stylish, and it dilutes the integrity and reputation of brand design putting out nonsense like that. Ever been to a restaurant that is famous for something? Very rarely do they have 300 items on the menu. They focus on a couple things and do those things better than anyone. And even though the product Shoepassion makes is good, they aren't clearly better than Allen Edmonds (or Meermin, I suspect) - in fact, I still prefer the general build of my AE boots as well as AE's incredible customer service (although they no longer share the same price point).


Furthermore, it does not seem that they market very strongly in the US, and they basically do what Meermin does with less of a following. Truth be told, I emailed Meermin months ago as my first choice to see if they were planning on making a black version of the oak antique calf Jodhpur they've brought out a couple times for their made-to-order program, but to no avail. And finally I have to come back to it again, that godforsaken name. You may consider that petty or inconsequential, but names really do matter, and this name lacks the requisite level of class and sophistication to be taken seriously. I feel like I've passed strip malls with stores named something like "Hair Passion," "Style Passion," or "Yogurt Passion," and none of them were particularly classy establishments.

If you look at what AE charges now for their boots, most start easily above $350 and sometimes into the $400's. I bought my boots on sale from Shoepassion for 197.18 Euro, or $215.83 USD shipped. That's a very good value for cost (less than what AE charges for most of their seconds quality shoes). That value also comes with the added risk of not having a brick and mortar available for trial sizing or being able to handle the shoes prior to purchase, remember, though customer service at Shoepassion was easy to communicate with on my end during this purchase. And though they have discontinued the No. 641 model and put it on clearance, there are still scattered sizes available at a great price. They've also since added a red-brown calf model No. 642 Jodhpur which otherwise looks identical in build. Prices listed include the nasty VAT for European customers that's deducted on checkout, so that helps offset the shipping costs to the US.

It's yet to be seen what sort of impact Shoepassion will have on the US market. In the meantime, if considering Meermin or another online shoemaker, I would still recommend consideration of their more serious offerings - even with the reservations and issues above I have with my shoes. At the core, they still seem to make a good product at an excellent price. The real question, and one I hope to answer sooner rather than later (wife willing), is how they compare to Meermin, now considered the gold standard in the online shoe market.

I've been enjoying these boots for a few weeks now, and will be interested to see how they do with time and use. Notable updates to follow here as warranted.

Shoepassion No 641 Jodhpur

Things I Liked

Classic design
Quality materials
Solid construction
Competitive pricing

Things I Didn't Like

Last caused me some fit problems
Shipping costs substantial from Germany to US
Too many bizarre designs
Poor branding

Others to Consider in the Range

Conservative
  • Meermin - no Jodhpur in their standard line, though they make a beautiful oak antique calf in their made-to-order program from time to time
  • Herring - the George model is another classically designed Jodhpur, made and sold in Great Britain by a long-respected shoemaker
  • Scarosso - Made in Italy, this company produces mostly Blake stitched Jodhpurs, though they are available for customized order with a Goodyear welt if wanted
Trendier
  • Saint Laurent Paris - these are not in the range at all, actually, though they represent the current trend of the ultra-sleek, more pointed Jodhpur, including a shorter ankle-high model
  • Story Et Fall - though based in Stockholm since they opened for business in 2014, Story Et Fall houses its MTO production in Vietnam which helps keeps its costs very low. The site is bare bones to put it nicely and lacks even simple pictures for reasons that have yet to make any sense to me, making forum threads the best way to follow the company. However, the general aesthetic follows the same pattern as the SLP above at a fraction of the cost

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