Review: Is Nisolo’s Andres the Most Ethical Boot?

If you’ve heard of Nisolo, you might associate the more closely with women’s shoes; the women’s Instagram account has over ten times more followers than the men’s. But despite one curious review from a woman who bought these Andres All Weather Boots, this is indeed a men’s boot. And Nisolo calls it their most anticipated boot of all time.

It’s not too hard to see why. After all, every boot company needs a hardy service boot, and the Andres is an impressive, if idiosyncratic option. I’ve been wearing these shoes for a couple of months and there are a few curiosities, particularly in the sole, that make this boot stand out from the crowd. All told it’s a versatile, weather resistant, yet refined boot that can find its place in just about any wardrobe.

But what really elevates it above your usual fare is the company’s commitment to ethical, sustainable manufacturing.

[BUY THE NISOLO ANDRES BOOT HERE]

Nisolo’s Whole Ethical Thing

Don’t click away — listen, I get it. I know that a lot of companies pretend like donating a billionth of their profits to charity makes them an ethical businessfolk, but Nisolo is a certified B-Corp, a certification that’s phenomenally difficult to get. (My dad used to work for one; I know a lot about them and I am always impressed when I see that on a company’s About page.)

You’re free to look over their 63-page impact report they sent me, but the long and short of it is there are all kinds of auditing and third parties to ensure they do everything from responsibly managing hazardous materials to offsetting carbon emissions, but the big focus is on employee rights. 

Nisolo has a particular emphasis on workers’ rights: even though these boots are made in Mexico, the workers all make at least 27% more than Fair Trade wage requirements (often double that), they get healthcare, they get time off, the list goes on.

I promise I’m not being paid to say any of this, I’ve just spent a lot of time working with non-profits and B Corps in the past and I can assure you: if a company gets this certification then you can trust that they’re doing things as ethically as possible. It’s crazy hard to be a B Corp.

Anyway. Let’s get to the boot review part of the boot review.

nisolo andres boot sunset

Nisolo Andres Boot Aesthetic

Their most anticipated boot of all time, they say!

Largely handmade in Léon, Mexico, this is Nisolo’s stab at the all important, plain toe, low profile service boot, a must for any man’s wardrobe.

It’s by no means a dress boot, but the sleek-ish toe and subtle stitching — only ever one or two rows — makes the boot lean a little further away from wide, clompy, outdoorsy boots like Red Wing’s Blacksmith and more in the direction of a Higgins Mill, albeit a lot cheaper.

The water resistant storm welt is another aesthetic similarity it has with the Higgins Mill, although it’s not really a storm welt — more on that in the “Sole” section below — but when you add that to the gusseted tongue and waxy, waterproof suede, you do have a boot that can face just about anything the day throws at you.

It comes in five different leathers, most are smooth, but they told me their most popular one is the waxed brown suede. So let’s take a closer look at what they sent me. 

nisolo andres boot leather

Nisolo Andres Boot Waxed Suede Leather

The suede — 1.6 to 1.8 millimeters thick — is from the Mexican town of Léon, known far and wide as the home of Central America’s greatest leather tanneries. The tannery that makes this leather is Alfamex, which specializes in this kind of suede. What makes it different to other waxed suedes?

Suede is made from the underside of the cow’s hide and it’s known for being pretty delicate. (Many tears have been shed over expensive suede shoes that got caught in a downpour.) A lot of companies overcome suede’s daintiness by applying wax before it’s worn, which makes it a lot less fuzzy, sure, but it’s nonetheless a nice compromise for those who want hardy suede shoes.

What’s different with Alfamex’s suede, though, is that the waxing is done during the tanning process, not after the boot has been made. So it’s a natural component of the leather and it should last for many years, longer than those suedes that were waxed post-production.

Sure, really deep scratches might remove the wax just like it would remove the finish from any type of leather, but by and large, it’s pretty hardy and I can attest having worn these shoes in a lot of snow and rain that the leather held up just fine.

As you wear them in you will get little marks on them like this, but to get rid of them you just need to wipe them down with a damp cloth.

nisolo andres boot sole

Nisolo Andres Boot Sole

There are definite pros and cons with this sole.

Pros

Let’s start with the good: the outsole. The famous Vibram lug is what’s used here; it’s not the chunky Commando sole that Vibram’s known for, rather it’s a nice, subtle, low profile, mini lug sole that’s similar to that of the newer Red Wing models (like this). It gives a good amount of grip while retaining a flat look when viewed from the side.

It’s also fully leather lined, and another thing I loved is that the footbed is nice and thick and padded, especially under the heel, where Nisolo has inserted a noticeable cushion. This makes for terrific shock absorption and when you combine that with the very light weight of the shoe, you’ve got something that’s ever so slightly more sneaker like than your standard work boot.

Cons

A couple of potential downsides.

There’s no shank. A shank is a piece of hard material, usually steel, that is inserted in or on the midsole to help a shoe maintain its shape over time and to provide some arch support and stability. Nisolo didn’t include one because.

the heel height and construction doesn’t demand it and it allows us to keep the weight down and the comfort up!

A shank is a controversial thing. Many say it’s the most important part of a shoe while others, including well liked boot manufacturers like Rider Boot, say you don’t need one and they’re overhyped.

[Related: Why So Many People Love Shanks In Their Boots]

In any case, Nisolo is right that the lack of shank makes for a very lightweight shoe — but it took me a long time to figure out the other reason this shoe is so lightweight…

It’s not a Goodyear welt. Only 1% of people will care about this, but while it’s advertised as having a storm welt, it’s not what most people think of when they hear that term.

As a quick primer, many people consider a Goodyear welt as the gold standard in reliable footwear, largely because it’s very water resistant and very easy to resole. The welt is a layer of material (usually leather) that runs around the perimeter of the shoe and a storm welt is a extra wide, so it folds up around the upper of the boot. It looks like this:

nisolo andres boot storm welt

And it earned the name “storm welt” because it’s even more water resistant than a regular Goodyear welt (which looks like this) and it helps prevent muck and grime from getting stuck in the boot stitches.

But Nisolo told me,

“The Andres has a storm welt to provide not only aesthetic but also the functional benefit of water resistance and durability. However our sole and welt on the Andres are constructed with a strong adhesive and not the stitching construction required to consider this boot Goodyear welted.”

In other words, while this is still very water resistant, it cannot be resoled like a Goodyear welt. Specialized cobblers might be able to, but it’ll be a lot harder. The sole is glued to the upper, which is no fun for a cobbler to work with.

Now, look, they’ll probably still last you for at least 5 years, I’m just saying when the time comes to resole them there’s a chance you won’t be able to. Given the price and all the other pros, I don’t think it’s worth caring about that much, I just thought I should clear the air given most boot guys will see “storm welt” on the boot’s page and interpret that as a Goodyear welt.

[Related: 5 Things to Look for When Buying a Pair of Boots]

nisolo andres boot watch

Nisolo Andres Boot Fit & Sizing

Thankfully, this company does half sizes and they run from 8 to 13.

They’re also true to size; while most of my boots, like Red Wing, Wolverine, Thursday, Viberg, and hordes of others, run large (so I have to go down half a size to an 11), I’m an 11.5 in the Andres.

There are no other widths available, so if you’re on the wide side you’ll have to do the whole experimenting-with-just-ordering-bigger-sizes thing.

Now for the big question: are they comfortable? Very. The combination of leather lining, padded heel, light weight, and Goodyear-weltlessness really makes for a comfortable, flexible shoe.

The only downsides are that the arch support is so-so — there’s no shank, after all — and the padding-plus-stacked-heel can sometimes make the toes feel a little like they’re on a downward slope.

Nonetheless, I’m very pleased with the comfort level.

nisolo andres boot akimbo

Nisolo Andres Boot Price

Normally, these shoes go for $288.

When I thought these boots had a Goodyear welt, which is a laborious way of making shoes, I thought that was a great price. When I learned they don’t have a Goodyear welt I downgraded my opinion of the price to “fair.”

I’m OK with the price. After all, they’re handmade, water resistant, snazzy looking, and most impressively they’re made by a B Corp. All the work that goes into ensuring the manufacturing is ethical likely adds to the price of the shoe, which I’d normally expect to be closer to $250.

But I love that it’s a B Corp, that they’re handmade and that they’re water resistant. So while I’m not blown away by the price, I think it’s fair. You’re helping those workers get a good wage, after all!

[BUY THE NISOLO ANDRES BOOT HERE]

nisolo andres boot profile

Nisolo Andres Boot Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Very serious commitment to ethical manufacturing
  • Versatile plain toe
  • Footbed is nice and padded; great shock absorption
  • Good quality, waterproof suede
  • Very water resistant
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • No speed hooks
  • No other widths
  • Not the most durable design: only double stitched, no shank, no Goodyear welt

All reviews are subjective, and personally, I’m a massive fan of the work Nisolo puts in to making sure the boots are ethically made — that combined with the fact they’re under $300 and largely waterproof make the Andres boot a good buy.

I’m impressed with the product and the ethos behind it. Add all that to the fact that they’re so lightweight that they’re more sneaker-like than your average boot, and I think it’s a fine product and the pros outweigh the cons!

2 thoughts on “Review: Is Nisolo’s Andres the Most Ethical Boot?”

  1. Hey Nick! Great work you are doing here! I remember in one of your video you mentioned you are from Australia. There is a small brand (workshop?) back home here is making quite a bit of noise called WOOTTEN. Will you ever be interested in reviewing them?

    Reply

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