Curious about Bruno Marc shoes? Check out our hands-on review of two Bruno Marc models.
If you’ve ever searched for budget shoes, you’ve definitely hit up Amazon. And if you’ve hit up Amazon, you likely came across some Bruno Marc shoes. They literally do every style.
Bruno Marc’s range easily brings up a lot of questions though. Why are they so cheap yet highly rated? Could these $50 shoes be actual leather? More importantly, will these serve the purpose I’m looking for?
I spent weeks in two pairs of Bruno Marc shoes: Their Oxford Leather Dress Shoes and the Suede Chelsea Boots.
Through my hands-on experience, I’ll answer those questions and more. They’re definitely budget shoes, but my deep-dive will help you figure out who they are and aren’t for, and what situations they’ll serve best.
About Bruno Marc
Fairly new, Bruno Marc was founded in 2013 in New York by Brian Cao. Their focus is creating a wide range of styles, at way below market prices, and constructed so that they’re comfortable, whether it’s
Bruno Marc is a trademark of Top Glory Trading Inc, which is registered in New Jersey, along with another low-cost footwear brand, NORTIV 8.
The website also mentions they focus on sustainability, though they don’t go into specifics. With budget brands, low-cost materials can either go one way or another (fake leather can be more sustainable but fast-fashion manufacturing isn’t), so this component of their practices is possible but not confirmed.
One thing I do like is that the website has a helpful blog with posts that help you style their shoes. There’s a time and place for budget footwear, and they help you navigate that pretty well.
The main contact is in New Jersey, though all of the shoes are made in China, which is also where their top suppliers and carriers, Amazon.com being a big one, are located.
Alright, let’s get to the shoes, starting with the Oxfords!
Oxford Leather Dress Shoes
The Bruno Marc Oxford is a classic cap-toe dress shoe, with eyelet tabs stitched beneath the vamp.
I ordered the regular brown version, which is a light, warm tan color with honey undertones. The other options are dark brown and black.
These shoes pretty much follow the Oxford shoe template, so no complaints there. When I took them out of the box for the first time I was pretty impressed with how substantial they felt in my hands. They certainly felt like a premium, non-flimsy shoe in that sense.
Also, the surface of the shoe looks well-oiled, with a nice shine when the light hits the surface, bringing out the warm, subtle hues. Relatedly, they had that earthy yet sweet leather smell.
One style nuance, which may or may not be for you, is that the places where pieces of leather meet are pretty thick, meaning there’s a lot of sectioning and topography on the surface, which makes it less formal-looking. The edge of the cap toe, where it meets the vamp, is particularly robust.
It almost reminds me of the saddle shoes I wore with my school uniform in junior high. Again, this is subjective, but I personally prefer a sleeker silhouette.
Quality-wise, the leather smells and looks great, but it’s pretty thin. It’s not plasticky like Doc Martens 1461s are, but they’re stiff, lean, and almost certainly synthetic.
Also, there are a few stray threads on the eyestays, which is a sign of loose finishing. I had to snip them off.
The outsole is stacked rubber and faux wood with another piece of rubber on the heel. If you look really closely at the wood, it looks like plastic. Honestly though, from the vantage point that most people will be looking at it, it’ll do the trick.
So overall, a standard look with a few quality issues, none of which are particularly surprising for its price point.
Comfort and Fit
I ordered my regular size 8s, and these shoes definitely fit true to size. In general, I think Bruno Marc really delivers when it comes to their comfort promise.
These guys were pretty comfortable right out of the box. The only complaint I have is that the leather does start out quite stiff.
One problem area was the back collar which dug into my back ankle when I was going up and down the stairs in my office building. Still, just a day of wearing them at work fixed that immediately.
There are also rubber inserts on the bottoms, that span the middle of your feet all the way to the toes. This provides excellent grip. I even tested it — my office has particularly treacherous marble steps in the lobby, which get even slicker when wet.
On a rainy day, I quickly walked up and down these stairs (with my hand on the rail the entire time of course), and these shoes kept me pretty stable.
The price is totally fair, as long as you know what you’re getting. At the time of writing, these shoes are ~$55, and you can find them for less on Amazon.
They look good from the distance most people will look at them from, and you can wear them right out of the box.
Pros and Cons
Before we head to the Chelseas, here’s an at-a-glance wrap-up of pros and cons, to quickly help you figure out if the Bruno Marc Oxfords are for you.
Overall, these shoes are good faux leather Oxfords, again, for the price. They don’t feel like supple leather, but they have a great shine to them and excellent color. Bruno Marc even bothers to add a subtle patination on the toes, which is a nice touch.
If you don’t wear dress shoes a lot, and prefer a less formal-looking aesthetic, these guys will last you on the few formal or smart-casual events you’ll need them at.
I have to wear dress shoes every day, so they aren’t for me. However, I gave them to my retired uncle who lives in South Carolina and only wears dress shoes for the occasional wedding, and he loves them.
The price is excellent. If you’re on a budget and are saving for a high-end leather model but need a place-holder, these will work for you too.
The lack of break-in time means you can start getting the most out of them upon purchase, and the rubber inserts on the outsole make them effective everyday shoes, albeit not for the long term.
Let’s be real. These are budget shoes. The leather is fake, feels fake, is pretty stiff, and won’t last forever.
If you look close enough, all of this becomes pretty obvious, though not glaringly so, with the exception of the plasticky “wood” layer of the outsole.
None of these cons are deeply concerning, given the price. The only red flags are the stray threads throughout the shoe’s uppers.
Suede Leather Chelsea Boots
The Bruno Marc Suede Chelsea Boots are standard Chelseas, with a streamlined, minimalist silhouette.
They have rubber outsoles and the pull-tab-elastic-band combination so you can slip your feet in and out easily.
I ordered the black version, one of six colorways, all being fairly neutral shades.
Unlike the Oxfords, these boots feel super lightweight when I hold them in my hands. Similar to the Oxfords, however, the style is pretty on-template.
The clearly rubber outsole makes them look way more casual. It’s something along the lines of a more practical-looking Chelsea or a dressier work boot, which is actually kind of cool. I’ll give them points for that because I like when designs build bridges between personal styles.
On the website, the suede is described as premium, but it’s just not as buttery as my other high-end suede shoes. I know these aren’t high-end models, but the “premium” descriptor threw me off on the expectations front.
It feels flatter and more matte, with the texturing a little too close to the body. All that to say, it looks great in black. And just like the Oxfords, few people will actually be running their hands along the surface of your shoes.
I love how these boots look paired with jeans, covering most of the collar. I think it passes as a well-used, higher-end shoe this way. That’s not an insult, by the way, as it serves a real purpose in my wardrobe.
I have a love-hate relationship with the outsole. One thing I’m not crazy about is that the heels have been marked up in an attempt to simulate stacking. Suffice it to say, they do not look stacked.
The bottoms of the outsoles have a light lug situation going. They aren’t substantial, but they provide really great traction.
Comfort and Fit
As comfortable as the Oxfords are, these are even more, dare I say extremely, comfortable. It’s 100% their biggest strength. In fact, despite them not being my exact style, I actually kept these shoes based on comfort alone.
The upper is soft and flexible, needing no break-in whatsoever. The EVA foam footbeds are soft yet supportive, and the outsole bends at your every will.
Supposedly, they run big so you have to order half a size down. I missed this note though, and I ordered my regular 8s. They fit just fine, perfect even. Perhaps they’re just so flexible and easy to wear, that perfect sizing doesn’t matter as much.
When it comes to price, I’d say the exact same thing I mentioned about the Oxfords. These shoes are fairly priced, though I wouldn’t say they punch above their price point in a wildly shocking way.
For about $40 more (as I write this), the New Republic Chelseas have a better price-to-quality ratio when it comes to the materials of the shoes.
And I’ll rave about this more in the next section, but the comfort and wearability of the Bruno Marc Chelseas, in my opinion, is the quality most worth the price of its admission.
Pros and Cons
Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of the Bruno Marc Suede Leather Chelseas!
First and foremost is the comfort factor. These are so comfortable and aesthetically neutral, I’d wear them every day based on how they feel alone.
Even if they lasted me less than a year, I’d be happy to have loved and lost. That’s how comfortable they are.
And again, they have a sleek but rugged look that would pair with any casual outfit.
Their range of colorways is another plus. They’re all neutral enough and equally versatile, but you get a level of self-expression with nuanced colorways like camel versus tan, and gray versus navy.
The suede isn’t as premium as advertised, at least it doesn’t feel like it. Also, they’re easy to take off than they are to put on, but that’s a common Chelsea boot trait.
I also don’t like the faux stacking on the heel. It’s clearly just stamped on. I may even just take a black permanent marker to it.
My Final Thoughts
Overall, Bruno Marc shoes are budget footwear — they have a budget quality to match their budget price. Some models simulate “premiumness” better than others (the Oxford leather looks better than it is, while the Chelsea suede looks the way it feels).
I give the brand a lot of points when it comes to comfort. In that sense, they fulfill their two brand promises: A range of affordable footwear that’s easy to wear.
Bruno Marc also likes to make on-trend footwear. So, they’re good to turn to when it comes to experimenting with new styles or non-classics since the prices are so low. They even have a “fashion
Another audience for them, aside from those on a budget, are those who need a specific kind of shoe that you won’t wear that often in the year.
I previously mentioned how the Oxfords fake premiumness well enough that if you only need them occasionally, the budget build will last you as long as you’ll need them.
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