There are plenty of boot and shoe companies out there whose sole concern (get it?) is making a product that looks expensive. But simply because a shoe has the lines of a John Lobb does not mean that it will fit or feel like one. All too often in the direct to consumer world, these boots feel more akin to a medieval torture device than their luxurious likeness would suggest.
In casting aside the traditional distribution structure and markups, far too many companies also cast aside the materials and quality controls that contribute (heavily) to those markups in the first place.
Fortunately, this is not the case with the Garrison boot – well not entirely.
Garrison Boot Review
Got someplace to be? Here’s a summary of the review:
- Full grain, Italian calfskin upper
- Blake stitching making a resole possible
- Quick break in period
- Elegant profile
- Minimal arch support
- Thin EVA insole
- Hard plastic feeling outsole
- Only one width available
- Burnished finishing can be polarizing
Warfield & Grand: The Brand
Warfield & Grand is an American based footwear company that focuses on small production runs of elegant men’s leather footwear.
While they source materials from all over the world including Italy, Spain, Brazil, and Portugal, their boots are largely manufactured in Dongguan, China. While Chinese manufacturing gets a pretty bad rap in general, W&G is quick to point out that, just like anywhere, quality is not singularly dependent on country of origin.
Talented cobblers can be found in China just as they can be found in Italy or in the United States. Companies like Grant Stone or Taylor Stitch, for example, have built a strong reputation for extremely high quality boots and apparel at very reasonable prices. When Warfield & Grand was founded in 2017, the goal was to set up an intimate, European style workshop, bringing with it a greater level of craftsmanship, detailing, and quality control than are otherwise available from the larger shoe manufacturers in China.
So, for less than $200, what is Warfield & Grand able to deliver?
Warfield & Grand: The Garrison
- Elegant profile
- Quality lasting
- Nice finishing and stitching throughout
The Garrison boot cuts a smart and handsome silhouette, with elegant lines and no unnecessary panels or stitching. Often in less expensive leather goods, small pieces of leather are stitched together in order to save on the cost of using larger sections of leather. Pieces that are essentially scraps are stitched together and summarily disguised as a design choice. None of this corner cutting in is seen in the construction of the vamp on the Garrison.
The leather used is an uncorrected, full grain Italian calfskin. The chrome tanned hides are dyed and hand burnished by W&G at their factory in China. The leather has very little pullup, but as it wears in subtle textures and natural details of the hide become visible. This results in a very attractive, if slightly glossy leather with a supple hand, and it compliments the sleek, dressy profile of the boot.
The half-sole is attached via Blake stitch and comprised of an unbranded black rubber tread, the profile of which is slightly at odds with an otherwise slim and modern shape. This means that it is possible to have them resoled (however given the price, that might not be terribly practical). It’s the kind of boot that looks nice with chinos, suit pants, or perhaps a slim cut, dark denim jean.
[Learn more: The 9 Best Leathers for Boots]
Warfield & Grand Leather & Materials
- Chrome tanned, full grain calfskin leather
- Multilayered sock liner with EVA foam for comfort
- Minimal arch support
The leather used for the upper is clearly decent stuff, and the tone and burnishing on the Chestnut color is well done (if you’re into that sort of thing). The overall shape and profile of the boot is slim and elegant – whoever does the lasting for W&G knows what they are doing. That know-how results in a pretty comfortable boot.
Where the trouble really starts is with the insole and outsole construction.
Ultimately, the Garrison is a tale of two boots – with the dichotomous split occurring at the sole. The insole of the boot is built from 5 layers of mostly synthetic material. The sock liner is a thin piece of cowhide glued to two layers of low and medium density EVA foam. The foam is then glued to two additional layers of high density fiberboard. It’s a soft insole and feels nice and cushy right off the bat, but for anyone with even moderately high arches there is virtually no arch support here to be found.
Stylistically, the treaded outsole is a tiny bit at odds with the elegance and cleanliness of the uppers. But the real trouble is with the support of the material itself. It’s a very hard material and feels almost more like a softer plastic rather than a stiffer rubber. Additionally, the heel cap is glued rather than nailed to the leather heel stack. Though this is not necessarily a bad thing and is to be expected on a boot of this price point, it may cause some durability issues in the long run.
While the overall build and finishing of the boot is lovely throughout, with clean, even stitching and no evidence of residual glue anywhere to be seen, the overall construction of the insole and outsoles is unlikely to stand up to long term and regular use. EVA foam brings an almost instant comfort when new, but once compressed it offers about the same level of support as the fiberboard it is glued to.
Now, in their defense, W&G says that the use of a multi-layer EVA foam is to resist that compression that single later foam often falls prey to (think of any pair of running shoes you’ve ever owned for more than 6 months.) Either way the insole can be removed and replaced down the road.
[Related: The 12 Best Insoles for Boots]
Warfield & Grand Sizing & Comfort
- Fit is true to size
- Immediate comfort with very minimal break in period
- Secure heel cup shape
In terms of sizing, the Garrison fits about a half size on the large side and the single width offered fits very much like a standard D width, with enough room in the toe box to move around comfortably.
The sizing of the Garrison Boot is spot on. My foot measures a 9 D on a Brannock device and found that the 9 was a perfect fit. Again, this is likely due to the very well done lasting in the design and construction process.
The upper is stiff to begin with but breaks in very quickly. Within a few hours of wearing, they had already begun to lose that stiff new boot bite, especially on the tongue. This is likely due to the leather being on the thinner side.
The heel cup feels great and immediately fits securely for a traditional D width foot, achieving that ever evasive ‘sucked in’ feeling (an impressive feet for a boot at any price, let alone one that costs less than $200.) This is especially important as the boot is lined in a very smooth cowhide. Without a good fit, a socked foot would slip and slide all over the place, resulting in thoroughly jammed toes.
[Related: The Best Boots for Under $200]
Warfield & Grand Pricing & Value
- $179 feels fair considering the overall build quality, comfort, and finishing
- Excellent choice for those on a budget but still want quality
- Lower quality outsole is the only shortcoming
Not every boot needs to be hand crafted from start to finish using nothing but veg tanned leather, cork, iron nails, and the generational blood, sweat, and tears of a Pacific Northwestern family. Sometimes, a nice looking boot at an affordable price is all that’s required.
For most boots in this more budget friendly category, a snap judgement is usually fairly easy to make: sure it’s not the best made thing in the world, but hey, at least it was cheap.
The Garrison boot from Warfield & Grand does not succumb to such an easy categorization. In truth, they’re something of a self-contained contradiction. At $179.00 plus shipping, they’re certainly not what would be considered expensive in the world of leather boots. The insoles are clearly inexpensive, though are layered to mitigate how they’ll break down over time. The rubber outsoles feel about as cheap as could possibly be, but then they’re attached to a Bake stitched leather midsole. The full grain calfskin uppers are fairly thin and will probably not stand up too much in the way of abuse, but are burnished by hand and show a lovely, rich character that is certain to improve with age and wear.
One can’t help but wonder what might have been if W&G had put just a little more money into the outsole materials, but then we’d likely be discussing a boot that was over $200 instead of under. At the end of the day, what we’re left with is a boot that is pretty nice. If you’re at a point in life where you want a nice looking, slightly dressy boot, but you don’t have a lot of money to spend, the Garrison is a very respectable choice – just as long as you don’t expect them to last forever. You will get a boot that wears well enough and looks nice without subjecting yourself to the utter torture devices that are most inexpensive, dressy boots.