These are initial impressions of two items that I got for free in consideration of my reviews. They are not full reviews, since I have not owned these items for long enough. Neither brand asked for favoritism and I did not offer any. I'm not an especially kind reviewer.
Also, it's worth noting that each brand is having a sale or labor day weekend!
With all that said, here we go:
1. Beckett Simonon "Geller"
Brand: Beckett Simonon (Non-Tracking Link)
Item: Beckett Simonon Geller Trainers (Non-Tracking Link)
Regular Price: $149. 20% ($120) off with referral link. Note that I received this pair at no cost in consideration of my review.
They came with two sets of laces -- one is quite waxy, and one isn't waxy at all. I prefer the soft, non-waxy laces for my own purposes.
I've actually had these for a while, but due to quarantine, I've probably worn them... about ten times. Maybe less. The full review might take a while.
Style-wise they're a little unique. As far as minimal white sneakers go, they're not all that easy to wear. I feel like these look weirdly good with my sweatpants, and other cozy things. I say weirdly, because... they're not actually the softest or most comfortable sneakers out there, not by a long shot -- more on that below. But the smooth curves and wholecut last just work to make them look soft, and play nice with soft and cozy textures. That said, they're still white sneakers, and they'll work just fine with jeans, chinos, or, as I showed here, sateen pants. I'd just go with another style -- like the minimal Reid or the Morgen GAT -- for those purposes.
I'm not sure this is my favorite last for a wholecut sneaker, but I've only seen a few of them, and the other one I'm thinking of costs ~$350, so there's no real norm or standard.
The leather quality is... good, especially given the price, but I'm not gushing over it yet like some redditors have. Let's see what happens as they break in. You will notice that even the first photos, there's some grain break. This is not loose grain. The short version is... Grain break might mean they've been worn before -- maybe somebody tried them on and returned them, maybe theyre seconds, hard to say. If I had actually paid for these shoes, I'd complain. But considering I didn't... These shoes have got to go somewhere. I'd rather they throw them at influencers than throw them out or pass them off as firsts. If you're worried about loose grain: Loose grain is extremely rare, and it rarely gets through even low-level manufaceurers, so you can ask somebody who understands leather better than me, but it's not likely to happen.
On the other hand, the uppers are creasing a lot... I suppose that's the risk of a wholecut, the style really shows creases quite aggressively. I don't know, maybe there will be a certain charm to that. We'll see.
Again, this style might work better in suede, since suede doesnt' really crease in the same way,
In terms of comfort... well, they're fine. These aren't athletic shoes, they're minimal white leather sneakers. You're not going for a run in these, you're not playing sports. These soles are clearly not made for ultraboost-style comfort -- they're pretty stiff -- but it's not a problem for walking. The only comfort issue I really have walking is the tongue. The tongue on these -- and I believe other Beckett Simonon sneakers -- sticks up in a way that, if I'm wearing no show socks or low cut snocks, digs into my shins. This is super annoying. However, my reasonably thick higher-cut socks negate this issue. There's elastic helping hold the tongue in place. The lining is all vachetta leather, and that's really better in the long run than fabric linings that can get damaged or start to stink, but it's a little rough to wear sockless before the break-in. After that break in is done, it will be very comfortable, but I'd still wear socks because of the tongue.
Overall, they're nice. I think that, while a few Redditors may have have overhyped this brand, comparing them to Common Projects, Meermin, et cetera... their sneakers are available for $120 (with a referral code) or less on sale (everything is 25% off right now for labor day weekend, but I don't think this stacks with referral codes), so I really wasn't expecting the moon. They're a very good value for the low end of leather sneakers, and my limited experience with their other offerings makes me think they're probably a good value all around.
2. Nisolo Wool Crew Socks
Brand: Nisolo. They asked me to stick with the affiliate links for now, so here you go.
Item: Nisolo Wool Crew Sock in Brown
Material: 22% "Upcycled" Wool / 32% RPET (recycled plastic) / 42% Nylon / 4% Spandex.
Size: Medium -- I followed the size guide, and that worked for me.
Price: $20. Note that I received this pair at no cost in consideration of my review.
These socks are pretty comortable and cozy. They're not the softest socks I have -- more detail on that below -- but on foot, they're really not bad, and I mostly just think... they're cozy. They're thick and warm enough that they'd hold their own on most winter days, but thin and breathable enough that I managed to wear them out on a relatively cool summer day without issue. 22% wool might not seem like a lot, but a little goes a long way to help regulate temperature. Wool is magic like that.
On the bright side, they're just thick enough that they pair perfectly with the annoying tongue on my Gellers above! If Beckett Simonon's sneaker tongue troubles you, consider these socks as a complement.
Before the first wash, the material isn't quite as nice as my Falkes, my cashmere-blend anonymousisms, or other very-high-end wool socks, but that's not a fair comparison for multiple reasons. They are closer to my Uniqlo color socks in thickness, and... The color socks are softer to the hand, but they're a cotton poly blend, wool socks are just another story. They're softer than my chunky woolrich knit socks or my J. Crew camp socks. They're not as cozy as my smartwool socks, but my smartwool socks are ugly as hell, and distinctly winter-only, so let's give the Nisolo socks a pass on that.
Yes, I have a lot of socks. The point is, the material is certainly not bad to the hand, but nicer on the feet.
I suspect that these will actually last pretty long. They tell me they're machine washable, and the blend, while low in wool, isn't bad -- nylon is pretty much necessary to make socks last, as my 100% merino wool Falke socks can attest to -- they look like swiss cheese. I suspect the material will soften up a little after a wash or two, but we'll see.
One thing they like to talk about, a lot like Asket which has made a couple of appearances on this blog, is ethics. They provide some good amount of traceability. The fabric was milled and the socks were made in North Carolina by a family-owned mill called Recovertex. That's cool. Obviously, the fabric uses a lot of recycled materials too. As far as I can tell, all of their product pages state the factory they're made in -- a lot of products are made in Mexico. They also have an "Ethical Marketplace" on their site. All of this looks pretty good to me -- not just lip service to ethics, but some real, meaningful information here.
While we're here, Nisolo is having a relatively large sale right now -- use code "LDW" for 25% off sale and 20% off full price styles -- with quite a few shoes coming in under $100. I haven't tried their shoes on yet, but here are a bunch of mixed reviews from the snobs over at Reddit's /r/goodyearwelt. Although the reviews are mixed, these prices are very low, lower than almost anything else you see on /r/goodyearwelt, and they're doing that without sweatshops, so if this is where your budget is, and you like a pair, I'd say go for it. Shoot, I'm tempted by some of those suede slippers...