Editor’s note: In 2023, Benzein’s name was changed to Briselblack. We edited the text, but the video still says “Benzein.”
Could the world’s best Chelsea boot be Indonesian? I finally got my hands on one of the top contenders and filmed an unboxing for you — perhaps you could help me decide.
Indonesia is an absolute hotbed of leather goods — even if most people don’t know it. Due in part to the nation’s history of Dutch colonialism, a wealth of knowledge about leather crafting and shoemaking exist there, and at Stridewise we’re dedicated to bringing them to a broader audience. We named an Indonesian company as the makers of the best men’s leather bag on Earth and we’ve taken hard looks at multiple Indonesian boot brands, even interviewing the founders of popular mainstays Sagara and Santalum.
But although it’s a newer brand, there’s no doubting that one of the most up-and-coming Indonesian shoe companies is Briselblack. (That’s why we named it one of the world’s most underrated boot brands.)
Fortunately, they were able to send us their ultra coveted Chelsea boot, The Seventh.
Briselblack’s “Seventh” Chelsea
This is a completely customizable boot. When I spoke to the folks at Briselblack, I was just after a grey Chelsea and would have been happy with any leather they suggested. As it turned out, the only grey they had happened to be one of the world’s best leathers: vegetable tanned horserump from Italy’s famous Maryam tannery.
Here are the specs on my boots:
- Last : Kujang
- Size : 44
- Upper : Reverse Waxed Black Horserump Maryam
- Lining : Red
- Midsole : Single
- Outsole : Dr Sole Black Supergrip Half Sole
- Welt Color : Black
- Edge Color : Natural
- Welt Stitch : White
- Construction : Flatwelt 270°
- Toebox : Unstructured
- Heels : Regular Heels
- Elastic : Black
- Note : Modify Small Ankle
It’s important to note that in addition to the laborious hand welting and curvy Kujiang last that’s ideally suited for a slip on, the Seventh is a whole cut Chelsea boot. This means the entire upper is made from a single piece of leather.
This is much more rare and difficult to produce than most Chelsea boots, as the craftsperson needs to secure a very large piece of leather that’s suitably unblemished and usable. (It’s much harder to find a big piece of leather without scars or discoloration than it is to find a little strip.) Once finished, though, a whole cut boot is generally considered more comfortable than any other kind of Chelsea, doing a better job of molding to the shape of the foot and becoming “sock like” with time. (Don’t worry, that’s a good thing.)
Ticho Blanco breaks down his pair of Seventh boots in the (helpfully timestamped) video below.
[Related: The 9 Best Indonesian Boot Brands]
How to Order Briselblack
What throws a lot of guys off is the fact that Benzein doesn’t have a website. You can only order by DMing them on Whatsapp; their number is +62 811 225 8998, or you can e-mail [email protected].
For starters, you need to know your measurements, and for this you need to use an actual tape measure. Even after years of buying boots, I had no idea that I require, as you can see in my specs above, a “small ankle” modification.
Fully customizable, I was able to modify a dozen different elements of the boots, from lining to welt stitching, though I left most of the specs up to them. “Do what you think looks best,” I said.
The price of Briselblack Seventh Chelsea boots starts at USD345 for boots made with local Indonesian leather to USD500 for the very high end, imported leathers like mine.
Were they made in North America or Europe, these boots would be at least $300 more expensive, but in addition to navigating the tricky ordering process there’s another hitch: the wait time. Expect to wait three to five months for your boots to arrive as Briselblack churns through their always mounting backlog of orders.
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Expect a full review once they’re broken in, but after a week of wearing them I’ll say this: they’re unbelievably comfortable, versatile, and attractive. I can’t wait to see how this leather ages and feel how the upper and sole conform to my foot.