This review is all about the distressed
The distressed sneaker movement came into being when Golden Goose started building pre-tattered shoes using high-quality materials.
Oliver Cabell is known for their Common Projects Achilles alternative, the $200 Low 1 White. So it’s no surprise that the brand caught the attention of would-be shoe buyers when they released a distressed sneaker line, lower-priced counterparts to the $500 Golden Goose Super-Stars.
To see if it stands on its own, I’m going to do an in-depth, hands-on review of the Oliver Cabell Distressed Low 1s.
I’ll tell you what I liked about these hand-made
Oliver Cabell: The Brand
Started in 2016 by entrepreneur Scott Gabrielson, the
The company has since become famous for their shoes and their transparency since they display price breakdowns per item on their website.
Part of Gabrielson’s motivation came from a visit to a fast fashion clothing factory where he witnessed objectionable working conditions. That’s why Gabrielson decided to do things differently with
The company takes pride in their close relationships with manufacturers, in cutting out the middleman, and in providing high-end fashion.
They source manufacturers in the Marche region of Italy, the exact same factories used by the world’s leading, and way more expensive, fashion houses.
Distressed Low 1s Review
The variations get pretty nuanced, which I like because it adds a sense of customization.
I went for the Shamrock, which features a mix of leather and canvas construction.
Here’s my experience with these
All of the Low 1s use the classic minimal white sneaker template.
The Shamrocks are streamlined and straightforward. Compared to other shoes in this category, Low 1s have a roomier profile, and the eyelets are further apart than other low-profile leathers, which isn’t immediately apparent at first glance.
As far as Shamrock-specifics, I actually think this shoe has a “skater-meets-Ivy-League” look about it.
The sides are made with a black-and-white canvas, a la Vans Asher slip-ons, but the microcheckering is so fine that it almost has a classic houndstooth vibe.
The distressed laces came short and individually knotted on each side, which invites one to wear this shoe like a slip-on — and that’s what I did.
The rest of the upper is made of supple white leather, except for the back collar, which adds a nice pop of color in ivy green. The distressing on the leather is pretty coordinated, with two scuffs in the front and two in the back.
Right out of the box you can tell this shoe is made of high-end materials. The leather smells and feels full-grain, featuring a smooth surface, pliant to the touch. The slightly padded tongue (no lace loop) and padded collar are comfortable and add dimension to the design. There’s also a heel counter to prevent slipping.
Another highlight is its Margom soles, which are fully pre-scuffed. Many of you might know that Margoms are the go-to soles for high-end
Plus, for extra fortification,
Not to belabor the Golden Goose comparisons, but one of the reasons why I think the Low 1 is the best alternative on the market, at least aesthetically, is its balance of designer pride and anonymity.
The worn suede
Overall, I think these shoes are more versatile than you might initially think upon first look.
You can obviously pair them with more fashion-forward casual combinations. But I think they’d go quite well with more classic casual styles too. Sure, it adds an irreverent touch to more traditional outfits, but I think that’s the point of distressed
Comfort and Fit
The Shamrocks weren’t perfect out of the box, but the canvas sides offered more immediate flexibility than shoes made out of high-quality unbroken-in leather do.
During the Shamrock’s break-in period, the seam inside the collar rubbed against my skin, even with socks on. At one point, I even tried to trim any flyaways, it was bothering me so much.
Unlike the all-leather Low 1s, these canvas-leather shoes only took me a week of breaking in. I wore them every other day for a few hours around town, mostly on concrete sidewalks.
They come in sizes six through 15, no half sizes, and run just a tad large. If you’re a half-size, just size down. They’ll feel a bit snug at first but will get more comfortable as you break them in.
Compared to other low-profile leathers that I’ve worn, like the New Republic Kurts, Low 1s feel narrower, with extra vertical room in the toe box. How you feel about this is completely subjective. I personally don’t find this consequential to the comfort, but it’s just something to note, especially if you have wide or flat feet.
I’m just going to say it — if you’re looking for a high-quality distressed shoe, the OCs are worth it.
I know this isn’t cheap, but these shoes aren’t cheaply made. If it’s in your budget and you want to invest in a well-made pre-scuffed shoe,
They’re made from three-ounce full-grain leather and Italian canvas, lined with calfskin leather, and equipped with Margom outsoles. And as mentioned, they’re hand-made in Marche, Italy, where shoes several times their price are made, and they boast excellent attention to detail.
I just think it’s so great that they take the time and effort to both glue and stitch the outsoles to the uppers.
The price tag is actually quite remarkable, considering the craftsmanship and materials.
Pros and Cons
Here’s a breakdown of the good and bad aspects of the Distressed Low 1s.
Functionally, Oliver Cabell’s distressed footwear is made from high-quality elements, using hand-made Italian craftsmanship. The attention to detail is both impressive and considerate.
Since this company works smarter, not harder, they’re able to offer shoes at below-market price points for what they are. They rely on relationships, cutting out the middleman, and being selective about their manufacturing partners.
When it comes to the distressed line, there are a lot of super-specific colorways. As mentioned, you can literally buy an all-white, or that same all-white but with a red stitch. That’s some real nuance in choice right there, which is a big pro with the line overall.
As far as the Shamrocks go, they’re surprisingly versatile and more comfortable than all-leather shoes, thanks to the canvas components.
It may take some boldness to wear them with more traditional outfits, but I think it’s a bold shoe anyway. Plus, I like the sort of high-low complementary combos.
I have no gripes with the distressed line specifically.
And while it isn’t a con for me, I just wanted to reiterate that these shoes are narrower, with a taller toe box, than other low-profile leathers.
The Best Distressed Sneaker for the Price?
Oliver Cabell’s Distressed Low 1 is the best sneaker in its category, value-wise.
It’s stylish, with plenty of options, and showcases the brand’s undeniable shoe-making chops. Because of the premium materials and fortified construction, their all-leather shoes take longer to break in than their canvas-mixed footwear.
In fact, OC shoes in general have a substantial break-in period compared to other
If this were two years ago, I’d end this by saying go for the OC distressed shoes if you care more about quality than brand. These days, however,
Questions? Comments? Leave them below!