February 23, 2016 by Ville Raivio
Crownhill Shoes is a Spanish company plying its trade in the budget and value-for-money segments of Goodyear-welted full-leather footwear. According to CEO Fernando Lopez, the company uses 13 artisanal factories to fabricate the models, each one specialized in one type of shoe. Crownhill has its own pattern and last makers. Models are designed, hides selected, leathers cut, uppers lasted and shoes finished in-house in Spain. As for materials, Crownhill uses leathers by Weinheimer from Germany, Haas from France, Degermann from France, D’Annonay from France, ILCEA from Italy, Zonta from Italy, Roux from France, Italhide from Italy and Du Puy from France. Finally, I asked Mr Lopez why a customer should choose his company over others: “We created a super comfortable shoe of the best quality and priced down from other brands that double or triple our retail price. We have channel-stitched soles and a Goodyear-welted construction, competing with more expensive brands.”
With thousands of factories and companies already battling for customers, reaching for great price-quality deals is a welcome strategy among others. Crownhill’s Premium Grade uses Joh. Rendenbach‘s famed oak-bark tanned leather soles and calfskins from the tanneries mentioned above, but the pairs are priced at 250 euros and come with free courier shipping inside EU borders. They also have double-shanks built from leather and steel inside. As far as lasts go, the Premium Grade’s Faraday is a semi-squared chiseled last, Nelson is a semi-pointed last (between the typical French and English) and Lennon is an English last, semi-rounded and somewhat chiseled at the tip.
As for values between premium and regular lines, says Mr Lopez: “The difference between the Premium Grade and the Classic Line are plenty of different types of lasts, different patterns, many types of skins and soles, better finishing and we are very exigent about the materials used. The packaging is improved, with the PR’s own green box, including a pair of Italian cotton bags, a shoehorn and a pair of laces. Ensuring the best quality possible.” The company, set up in 2010 to offer Spanish-made value footwear, wanted to hear my thoughts on their make and sent the Montgomery pair made on the Nelson last from the Premium Grade range for Keikari’s anatomical segment.
The first thing I noted in this Montgomery model was the upper leather. The calfskin is smooth and lustrous even before any polish, with noticeable but small pores, and it springs back quickly after bending. The last feels both higher and wider than average, and the toe is round and high. The welt is trimmed very close and its stitching looks sparse. The heel and toe stiffeners feel sturdy. Upper stitching is tight and straight. In stead of the usual bouncy tassel, this Norwegian loafer has laced leather strips. The lacing quickly came loose but was easily fixed as the strips are not sewn shut.
The leather lining feels soft enough and sturdy as well. Crownhill’s sock liner is loosely attached, but comes with a full foam insert, something I haven’t found from any other shoemaker tried so far, and they feel cushioned while worn. It’s up to the reader if this bit is pro or con. The Rendenbach soles are not very common in shoes retailing for less than 300 euros, and this nice add comes with a channelled finish along with the JR stamp. The waist is square but trimmed. The shoe trees are generic in finish and material, but fit the last well. Same goes for the shoehorn and bags attached.
As a whole, I feel Crownhill’s Premium Range is well-made and the materials look and feel swell for the price. If I’d have the power to make changes, I would opt for a more chiseled and close-fitting last as well as remove the foam insert from the sock liner. As such, Crownhill competes with all value-for-money makers over men who appreciate solid construction, the better-made materials as well as value.