Kent Wang Shoes Review - A Handgrade Half-brogue by DC Lewis

The Kent Wang Story.

Before we hop into the Kent Wang shoes review, let's take a short look into the story behind brand and company Kent Wang.

Kent Wang founded the company in 2007 when he couldn’t find the hand-sewn pocket squares he wanted in local stores. He has since expanded into every corner of menswear, from suits to sneakers, umbrellas to polo shirts, even dinnerware, all with the same ethos as when he started, making things he wants to wear himself.

Their website says the company comprises of only two employees dedicated to making high quality, classic menswear at reasonable prices. But that seems a bit outdated, on LinkedIn, it shows they have grown to six employees at the time of this writing.

Kent Wang has a great reputation on Styleforum regarding his pocket squares, cuff links, polos and made-to-measure suits, but seems to fly under the radar a bit on his shoes.

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The sockliner is stamped with "DC Lewis Handcrafted for Kent Wang" which led to the question, who is DC Lewis? The answer: it's a brand started by two well-known styleforum users David and Logan. So they're not actually a maker, but another brand which seems to have been licensed or acquired by Kent Wang in some fashion.

So without further ado, lets dig deeper with the in-depth Kent Wang shoes review.

We guarantee the quality rivals shoes twice its price.

— Kent Wang

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Kent Wang Shoes Review  Specifications.

  • Brand: DC Lewis Exclusively for Kent Wang
  • Line: Handgrade
  • Model: The Porter
  • Color: Medium Brown Museum Calf
  • Last: 101 soft square chiseled
  • Size: UK 7.5, ~US 8.5 Equivalent, regular width
  • Sole: Single leather, fiddle back waist, chestnut tanned
  • Construction: Goodyear Welted 270°
  • Price: $475 USD
  • Origin: Made in Asia (Taiwan/Laos)

Unboxing. 

The Kent Wang shoe box is rather plain and simple. Fine by me considering that this is one way they keep prices low and reduce the impact on the environment. On the inside, you're greeted with two cloth shoe bags, shoes inside them and a short note from Kent Wang. There are minimal packaging materials and branding with just a single Kent Wang logo on the shoe box lid. All shipped inside a tightly fitted USPS box with no padding, which didn't seem to affect the condition of the shoes upon arrival.

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Kent Wang handgrade half-brogues unboxed. Minimally presented with cloth shoe bags and a simple box.

First look.

Initial impressions of the shoes were quite impressive. It's a half-brogue oxford sans the heel counter pattern brogueing. It presents a slightly more formal feel to it compared to something like Allen Edmonds iconic Strand which has the brogueing detail at the heel counter.

It’s a pretty elongated, well-proportioned shoe. I thought I may have sized it wrong as it looks quite long. But fortunately, the fit is true-to-size.

After taking just a quick look, one could easily mistake these as coming from an English handgrade maker such as Crockett & Jones, Alfred Sargent or even Edward Green (I don't own those brands yet, but have handled them in person). What was a dead giveaway that these didn't come from a European maker was the smell. It's hard to describe, but these simply don't smell the same as their European counterparts.

If you're looking for handgrade features and details at benchmade prices, Kent Wang certainly delivers on that promise.

Material matters.

The smooth leather preliminarily looks to be of good quality given its feel and visual tightness of the grain. As mentioned above, it does smell different, though. The brown museum calf has great depth of color and I'm really looking forward to how it patinas over time. In my opinion, the museum calf used has just the right amount of the "mottling effect" that has been highly sought after these past few years. It's not overdone, which I enjoy.

The leather is sourced from tanneries in France, Italy, and Germany which is a good sign. Vegetable tanned leather is used from what I gather, but that information is years old at this point and am not sure if it has changed or not. On the Kent Wang website, it states they use full grain Italian box-calf.

The color varies greatly depending on the lighting situation, quite a delightful characteristic of the leather. In darker environments, they look like a regular medium brown leather, but under direct sunlight is where brown museum calf really shines with its character on full display. There is no extra burnishing or hand finishing touches applied,  very appropriate for enabling the museum calf's intrinsic beauty.

The leather wasn't all perfect, though. The leather on the quarter of the medial side of the right shoe wasn't up to snuff compared to the rest of the leather used. It was already a little creased, showing wrinkles and wasn't holding its shape as well as the left shoe. It's not a major flaw in any way, but it is noticeable when inspecting the shoe. Thankfully that area on the quarter near the heel prominently visible when being worn.

Looking beyond the really well-executed museum aesthetic, the leather is soft and supple to the touch. After trying these on the for the first time, these are a very comfortable shoe straight out of the box. The break in period will be much more forgiving than the cheaper shoes I own and is comparable in out-of-the-box comfort to my Enzo Bonafé austerity boots. That's saying a lot as I found the aforementioned boots to be my most comfortable footwear during break in period!

Stitching and construction details.

The stitching on the shoes is impeccable! I cannot find any stitches out of the whether looking at the upper or the sole stitch. I could say that the stitch across on of the cap-toes is 1/4 of a mm too close to the gimping, but that REALLY nitpicking and really quite unfair. So really, the closer did a tremendous job with the stitching - the best I have on any of my shoes thus far even better than my Enzo Bonafé pairs.

All the broguing and gimping is cleanly done. Nothing looks to be out of place on that front. The stitches are close to the gimping so it's less likely to find any of those fine tips sticking up instead of flat as the shoe sees more wear.

The toe cap features Kent Wang's signature ram's head medallion. At first, I feel the medallion is too big on this shoe as it's already a strong medallion with 89 smaller punches and 5 larger punches. But it has grown on me and the more I look at it, the more the medallion seems to suit the overall aesthetic of the shoe. I think I would've preferred the design more if it was a little less punch heavy. The toe-cap could have been straighter, something that lots of people like to point out in online reviews. But I've seen bespoke shoes with toe caps that aren't perfectly straight either, so I'm quite okay straightness on these. Take a look at the pictures to decide for yourself.

On the inside of you'll find it's fully lined as expected. There is a 1/4 sockliner with little padding at the heel. I think I would've liked to see more padding here. On the insole there are many visible nail holes throughout, this suggests that the insole was nailed to the last and seems to have been partially hand-lasted.

The welt sports fudge-wheeling detail through the forepart of the shoe until it reaches the waist where the welt is then rounded off to match the look and feel of the fiddleback waist. The outsole stitching is done at about 7-8 SPI (stitches per inch) with not a single stitch out of place!

Now we look at the focal point of this shoe, it's gorgeous fiddle back waist. This is a detail you typically won't anywhere near its price point. The waist is very well sculpted, but it's a bit hard to capture in the photos. There is a matte black finish on top of it, although, I think a highly polished black finish would have accentuated it's shape and silhouette much better. I may go ahead and convert it as a future project.

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While I wouldn't call it an extreme fiddleback waist like the ones I've seen from some bespoke makers, it's damn near close. It'll be very difficult to find a more sculpted fiddleback waist on any RTW option and maybe even some bespoke options regardless of price!

On the heel, you'll find a dovetail styled toplift with 56 nails holding it to the leather heel stack. Quite a nice touch of elegance, but I would've preferred to see a row of nails on the rubber part of the heel where it wears most quickly. That would've helped to prolong having the heel top lifts replaced. Another interesting detail about the heel is that the leather stack is slightly concave at the rear. It's another subtle touch of elegance that only the owner will notice!

At the toe, you'll find seven nails to help prevent premature toe wear. The problem is that they aren't placed close enough to the edge of the sole, so I don't think these nails will help with how quickly I tend to wear the toes.

The nail ornamentation is done neatly, but could be neater - I'm really splitting hairs here, though.

Fit. Kent Wang/DC Lewis 101 Last.

The 101 last used on this porter model is quite elongated, with a chiseled soft square toe. It's now the longest shoe I own, longer than Bonafé's 804, Carlos Santos 316 and Allen Edmonds 222 lasts. Width wise seems to be normal in both forefoot and heel. I was a little worried during unboxing that I should have gone down half a size, but that wasn't the case.

For my size US 8.5, it's nearly 12 inches in length and 4.25 inches at its widest point measured on the outsole. The weight sits at 17.5 ounces exactly for each shoe.

Heel height: 1.17 inches / 29.72 mm
Sole thickness (including welt): 0.3 inches / 7.62 mm
Leather thickness measured at the quarters including lining: 3mm

Given its length, it was a concern that they may make my feet look like clown feet, considering I'm not the tallest man in the world at 5'7". I'm glad to report that these shoes don't have the "clown feet" effect though I think it also depends on your how slim you tailor your trouser legs. I think the last and pattern cutting are so well proportioned that it doesn't look to be too long at all.

*If you click the image above, it'll take you to the full resolution of this shot. Print it out at full size on legal-paper, that will be the actual size of the shoe in UK 7.5 (US 8.5). If you're close in size to me, it may help to put your foot over the printed actual size image to get an idea for fit!

While it's a long last, overall it fits true-to-size. I'd definitely recommend getting your normal size in this last. The instep is average or maybe even slightly below average which works better for me. I’ve experienced a little heel slip after wearing them only once for a short time, I expect this to subside after the break in period.

The good arch support was something I immediately noticed when first trying on the shoes, that was a pleasant surprise. I think there's a common misconception out there that a good high arch support is only suited for people with high arches. That couldn't be farther from the truth. I'm very flat footed and actually own several custom orthotics which provide my feet with the arch support it naturally lacks. So a good arch support is good news for nearly all feet. For those with flat feet that haven't experience good support before, it can take some getting use to. Your arches may be sore after wearing until your feet get accustomed to it.

For those with flat feet that haven't experience good support before, it can take some getting use to. Your arches ma become sore after wearing until your feet get accustomed to it. I look forward to how the support holds up my flat feet after further wearing.

I do experience some gaping of the uppers just below the ankles. To be honest, this isn't the shoe's fault. It's something I experience to some degree with almost all my shoes. It just means I have weird shaped feet that don't suit RTW lasts all that well!

My true size is a US 8EE (wide) in the forefoot and 8C (narrow) in the heel. Since almost no makers offer this size in RTW, I typically order a US 8.5 or equivalent (~UK 7.5) to accommodate my wider forefoot. I have a low volume/instep foot as well which tends to affect fit adversely.

Here’s a last comparison photo, you can also see how straight the cap toes run from the different brands.

Availability.

I received these shoes from Kent Wang as a pair to review for them. All the thoughts and comments written in this review are mine in their entirety with no filter whatsoever from Kent Wang.

DC Lewis' shoes are available exclusively through Kent Wang as their handgrade line. This particular model goes for $475, with $19 shipped to me in California putting the grand total at $494.

There are a few other models available in their handgrade line including single monks, double monks, a loafer and a boot in addition to the half-brogues in this review. These all fall within the $450 - $525 range with the boot being the most expensive model. To be honest, the photos on their website don't do the shoe their justice, they look much better in person.

Kent Wang isn't your typical retailer that has regular sales or any discounts for that manner. So no need to try and wait for a good deal, they will be the same price and, in my opinion, well worth the cost. I'll update that thought if it ever changes as the shoes see more and more wear.

Summary.

If this half brogue model is representative of Kent Wang's whole handgrade line, which I assume it is, I must say it's a really good value for what you receive in return for $500 or so. The build quality, leather, and features seem to be on par with shoes costing hundreds more. I believe Kent Wang's statement about these handgrade shoes rivaling those costing double its price is pretty accurate, depending on which maker you compare them to, of course.

If you're looking for a shoe with a very well sculpted fiddleback waist while keeping the cost reasonable this absolutely fits the bill. It actually may be your only option out there in this price range for that matter.

That's of course if you don't mind a shoe produced in Asia. I certainly don't mind as long as the construction, material quality and aesthetics are up to par, which seems to be very much the case here. I own a pair of Meermins (made in China) and have been very happy with those as well given the expectations at their low ~$200 price point.

While I’ve highlighted just the one imperfection of the leather used on one shoe of the medial quarters, I don't find it too distracting given the other qualities of the shoe you receive. Namely, it's the beautifully executed fiddleback waist. I can't speak to Kent Wang's quality control, but given the attention to detail on this pair, I don't see it being a major problem and, perhaps, was unlucky to receive a pair that wasn't 100% perfect.

This post will be updated once I've put some more miles on the shoes and will document how they wear over time on Instagram. I hope you enjoyed the Kent Wang shoes review!

Disclosure: Kent Wang sent me this pair of shoes for free in return for this unbiased review on my blog. All opinions expressed are exclusively mine and mine alone with no influence from Kent Wang. I've decided to keep the shoes to wear myself because I genuinely enjoy wearing them.

Have any questions or suggestions for the review? Drop me a comment below after browsing the gallery!

We end with the best part: shoe porn.