The California shoe brand Thorocraft owes its rapid rise to the unlikely design of its shoes, which are woven together from strips of raw, undyed Vachetta and full-grain leather. Dress shoes with warp and weft might not seem like a likely winner, but the grid effect on the toe box nicely complements the shoe's traditional shape. Thorocrafts don't look aggressively modern, just handsomely crafted and thoroughly considered. Put a pair on, and the effect is quite the opposite. These brogues are light and the give allowed by trading a single piece of leather for a baseball-glove style web makes them comfy on day one. No break-in period necessary.
Thorocraft's Ross, the company's most basic woven shoe, complements a decent pair of slacks, but they're at their best when dressing up a pair of jeans. Because their intricacy draws the eye, they quickly become the foundation of any outfit. The blue soles help as well – hardly garish, the outsoles are tacked to the body of the boot with a copper rivet at the heal. That one detail, the only element that might qualify as flashy, sums up the company's whole approach to cobbling. Original design is put to use in service of creating a better-constructed, better-looking product. Delicate as they may feel – and their weight makes them feel almost dainty – these kicks are designed for the long haul.
The new Troy, a monk strap version of the Ross, takes that original shoe to the next level. Like its evolutionary antecedent, the Troy has a fairly conservative silhouette. Still, the shoe looks substantially different because the monochromatic straps and buckles draw less attention away from the woven toe box than off-color laces. Effectively, these shoes look like straw hats for the feet. The formal straps have the paradoxical effect of making them look more casual, which is by no means a bad thing. The black version of the Troy is probably Thorocraft's most wearable shoe to date and bodes well for the expanding company.
The only catch: Thorocraft shoes are individually crafted and, as such, not particularly plentiful. To snag a pair, buyers have to watch the few boutiques that carry the brand or make regular visits to Thorocraft's website. Worth it. [$220; shopthorocraft.com]