Gustin is an online direct-to-consumer brand focusing on value and high quality use of materials and construction via a crowdfunding model. They make a prototype, receive orders for it, then start making them. It keeps things inexpensive and eco-friendly at the cost of convenience: you’ll wait months for your product.
Goods such as clothes are shipped in typical USPS shipping envelopes and shoes arrive in a white, Gustin labeled box with nothing else inside except for the shoes and tissue paper. Unboxing experience leaves much to be desired, but rest assured, the value went all into the product itself.
Gustin specializes in tops, bottoms, accessories, and shoes for men, sourcing its materials from well-known mills in Japan, U.S., and Italy — but they make almost all of their products in the U.S. Their style is timeless and vintage inspired, focusing on shirts, knits, jeans, chinos, accessories, and shoes made with the kinds of materials and construction cues that recall the days of the past — when products were made to last.
Gustin Sneakers Pros and Cons
So how do their sneakers measure up? Here’s a quick summary.
- Italian made
- High quality materials and construction
- Value; this is the only pair of minimalist sneakers using Margom outsoles and Horween leather for less than $230
- Made-to-order means shipping time can be between 4-7 months or longer
- No arch support
- Can be expensive if you buy it from stock inventory
[Further reading: The 10 Best Leather Sneakers for Men]
Gustin Sneakers Look & Feel
- Simple and minimalistic
- High quality, boot grade leather from America’s most famous tannery
The overall design of the sneakers is minimalistic and traditional. There’s no design feature that uniquely stands out. In fact, you wouldn’t even be able to tell that these are Gustin sneakers unless you look inside the shoe.
Horween (chromexcel) CXL #8 leather is incredibly beautiful and unique. Depending on the light it can be burgundy, red, or even dark brown. The color is more versatile than you might think, as it matches just as well with an all-black outfit as it does with earthy tones.
CXL is a unique tanning method developed by Horween (a famous tannery in Chicago who provides leathers to popular brands. Even the NFL uses Horween leather for its pigskin. Unlike vegetable tanned leather, CXL is combination tanned, using elements of old world vegetable tanning and newer chromium methods to create the leather.
It’s the most popular boot leather because it ages well, is more comfortable than veg tan boots, and is so full of oils and greases that you can often rub out the scuffs with your fingers.
The leather feels amazingly supple and smooth to the touch, and unlike boots, the leather isn’t as stiff and structured.
The interior of the shoe is unlined, which people may or may not prefer. Some like it because it breathes better and allows you to wear them without socks more easily. Some don’t because they’re harder to put them on and take off — that’s because the “nap” of the leather’s underside does a good job of gripping the foot, reducing heel slip. I don’t mind it either way.
As an owner of many high-quality boots and shoes, these Gustin sneaker’s leather feels even better than some of the shoes/boots I own and they just look fantastic no matter what pants you’re wearing.
Gustin Sneakers Build Quality
- Made in Tuscany
- Margom outsole, considered the gold standard
Gustin makes its sneakers from Italy from the Tuscany region by a group of craftsmen who’ve been making shoes since 1901.
The sneaker may be minimalist in design, but the materials used are of the highest quality available. The leather is from Horween, often called the best tannery in the US. The tongue has a stitched shoe lace loop, which is a welcome addition if you don’t like your tongue moving around.
There’s a strip of leather on the back of the heel where the stitch line would be, which may help protect the stitched area from coming apart and improve comfort, especially if worn without socks.
The outsole is the famous Margom outsole, the gold standard for high quality sneakers — it can be found in $400+ Common Projects as well.
It’s cemented internally and reinforced with 360 degree stitching to the upper leather, meaning the sole is much less likely to peel off of the upper. A cork filling is even added for additional shock absorbency and to fill the void between the upper and the outsole, a component usually only ever seen in welted boots.
Gustin Sneakers Sizing and Fit
- European sizes; measure your foot carefully on a Brannock device
- Order your true size
- One width available
I wear size 8D in most dress shoes and boots, so I went with the same size in these sneakers in US8 or EU41.
Gustin uses European sizes. It ranges from EU 40-48 or US 7-15. If you already own a pair of sneakers with a Margom outsole, choose the same size. Gustin does not offer various widths, just D.
Because the leather is so incredibly soft and supple, there was zero break-in period. Unfortunately, if you need arch support, Gustin sneakers does not offer that. Inside the shoe, there’s a leather footbed but it is flat. If you’re looking for shock absorption in typical running sneakers, you won’t find it here, but the bounce of the Margom coupled with the cork filling means they’re very comfortable and will mold to the shape of your foot over time.
And, they fit great; not too roomy, not too snug, and have a relaxed fit. You are not expected to use these sneakers to actually do any activities other than light walking and mostly standing around. Thus, the roomy and relaxed fit feels great. You could wear thicker socks and get a more snug fit.
Gustin Sneakers Price, Value, and Ordering
Gustin’s Horween CXL #8 High Top sneakers are $229 without shipping. And shipping is never free.
Once you back the campaign, expect your shoes to arrive in 4-7 months. If you’re impatient like me, you can check out their in-stock inventory page where they usually update every other day on their overstock or returned items. They will ship immediately, but the choices for style and size are subject to whatever they have in stock.
But, if you can avoid it, don’t buy it from their inventory because you will pay more for the stocking fee, thereby lowering their value proposition. I ended up paying $70 more (and that’s without shipping). But hey, they’re still very well made and worth the money, they’re just no longer incredible value.
You could buy similar minimalist sneakers from most brands. Gustin’s direct competitors are Koio and Grant Stone among others. These brands all offer high quality minimalist sneakers for between $200-300. If you want to spend less, Thursday Boots offers minimalist sneakers for $130 or less than $200.
But the build quality and materials used are superior in Gustin sneakers. You won’t find many high quality minimalist sneakers using Margom outsole and Horween leather for less than $230.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a pair of super high quality handmade minimalist sneakers, then these Gustin sneakers are simply the best. (In fact, all of their sneakers, low-top and high-tops in various leathers are built the same way). They feel great. They look amazing. And, the Color 8 leather just goes with everything! No wonder Gustin uses these sneakers in most of their marketing photos!