Canvas isn't the chosen medium of many shoemakers, so it was a bit exciting and a bit confusing when Toms Shoes, purveyors of the ever-casual espadrilles, announced its intention to make brogues. Now that the new shoes – a more casual take on classic wingtips – are available, they seem like less of a stretch. That's because Toms hasn't made a genuine attempt to create a dress shoe; instead, the brand has created a lightweight, wearable low top that passes for business casual. Not a bad idea.
The brogues are detailed with the saddle and wingtip stitching native to leather shoes (as well an Oxford toe box for some reason) and an appropriately thick sole to match. But the shoes aren't trying to pass for the real thing, and the grain of the monochromatic canvas gives away the game. Still, it doesn't much matter because they look good in their own right. What's more, Toms' dress shoes look absolutely great – and feel great – without socks, an impressive feat.
Because they don't need to be broken in, Toms brogues are comfortable on the first wear, well matched to a pair of jeans, chinos, or even shorts, if not a bespoke suit. They breathe well and retain their shape, thanks to a perforated lining, and elastic tongue straps make laces a choice rather than a necessity. The burlap style looks particularly good when worn with this sort of abandon.
The only questionable touch is the blue and white patch on the heel that reads "Toms." The patches were originally intended as a way for Toms owners to spread the good word about the company, which donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair it sells, but they look a bit odd on a more structured shoe. Fortunately, there is a very simple fix. The patch stitching can be cut off with a small knife or a needle. The process takes no more than a few minutes.
And that's the joy of Toms Shoes, brogues or otherwise, summed up. Nothing about them is complicated. [$98; toms.com]