This post is all about the
I love the minimal leather sneaker. It’s the one shoe style in my closet I wear more often than any other. And I’ve had more than a few pairs.
While most members of the sneaker community consider the benchmark to be the Common Projects Achilles, I’ve been checking out more affordable alternatives for a while. I’ve tried Beckett Simonon, Greats, Koio, Ace Marks, and several other brands.
But, I wanted to offer a complete, well-rounded review on just one pair: the Oliver Cabell Low 1.
For the record: While these shoes were a gift,
Before we dive into the shoe, I wanted to take a few moments to discuss the brand.
Oliver Cabell got its start in 2016 after the company founder, Scott Gabrielson, quit his job at a non-profit. He didn’t have any formal retail, start-up, or fashion experience. He just had a passion for balanced design and quality products.
It’s an area known for its craftsmanship, and craftspeople hand-make each pair of Oliver Cabells with top quality materials.
Oliver Cabell Low 1: The Design
Like most other minimal white
The Low 1 features incredibly high-end materials.
Like some much more expensive options, the Low 1 features Margom soles. Margom soles are some of the best you can use for a sneaker, and
The Low 1 features a slightly padded tongue without a lace loop. It has a standard eight-eyelet open lacing system, and it comes with a set of soft cotton laces. The eyelets are a little further apart than some other
There are more features, as well. The Low 1 has a leather heel counter to prevent slipping. It also has some noticeable padding around the collar that does add a little bit to the design.
As far as branding goes, the Low 1 tips its hat a bit to the more expensive Common Projects. It has gold lettering on the tongue and the heel. It’s not in your face, but it’s not as monochromatic as some other minimal leather
The Low 1 is available in 14 colors. You can choose from colors like triple white, all black, off-white, and one suede option.
Low 1 Comfort and Fit
A minimal leather sneaker is all about casual cool, but there’s nothing casual or cool about a sneaker that hurts or isn’t comfortable, so fit and comfort are key.
Breaking in any leather footwear usually takes a while, and there can be some awkward hurdles to jump over on the way — blisters and squeaking are common. Let’s look at how the Low 1 did.
While the Low 1 does have a straighter silhouette than some of its competitors, the fit is actually a bit narrower. The toe box feels a little tall as well. These aren’t issues, and they don’t really affect the look of the shoe; they’re just a few points to note.
Out of the box, the Low 1’s leather uppers are a little stiff. While that’s normal, I’ve put plenty of miles in them, and they still feel like they have some breaking in to do.
You can look at this two ways: they’re tough to break in, or the leather is extra durable. That said, I did notice a little bit of friction in the shoe. There’s a stitched seam inside the collar that I believe to be the culprit.
Achieving a great fit isn’t an issue.
They tend to run a bit large, and they don’t offer half sizes, so you might have to size down. I did, and though they were a little snug, I had a local cobbler stretch them, and now they fit much better. Again, not a flaw, just a point worth noting.
How Much Does the Low 1 Cost?
Now, let’s talk about the brass tacks. As an alternative to the Common Projects Achilles, it’s vital that the Low 1 is affordable.
At the time of writing this piece, you can buy the all-white Low 1 directly from
Now, I recognize that $189 is still a bit more than some guys would like to spend on a sneaker. But, if you consider the top-quality materials and craftsmanship, it’s actually impressive that
Oliver Cabell Low 1: Pros and Cons
Let’s talk about what I like and what I’d change about the Low 1.
I already touched on it, but for the craftsmanship and materials involved, I think the price is definitely a pro.
I also like the design. While it’s a bit straighter than the Common Projects or Koio Capris, it still has a classic, good-looking style. And, to be honest, I kind of prefer the rear of the Low 1 over some of its competitors.
There are only two things that I would change, and they’re really a matter of my personal preference. I would like to see the Low 1 in half-sizes, and I’d prefer the small stitch inside the collar not be there. Otherwise, I think it’s a great sneaker.
Another Perspective (Issac’s Low 1 Review)
Brock: I’ll admit, I’m not your average menswear consumer. I try more brands and spend more money on clothing and shoes than most guys, and this is reflected in my reviews.
So, in an effort to make this review as helpful as possible, I had a sneaker “noob” test drive a pair of Low 1s for a few months to formulate a more realistic review.
Isaac’s First Pair of Minimal Leather
Issac: The Oliver Cabell Low 1s are my first
Generally speaking, I buy a cheap pair, wear them constantly until they’re dirty and worn, then buy a new pair. After wearing the Low 1s for around three months and seeing their quality my perspective has done a 180. I am ready to see shoes as a long-term investment rather than just something to put on my feet.
When I first opened the box I was immediately struck by the clean and simple design. Their website promotes their old school handmade techniques and high quality materials and you can definitely see and feel the craftsmanship throughout the shoe.
I like that the
I usually wear these Low 1s with the laces tucked beneath the tongue and not tied on top and have not had any issues with the shoes feeling too loose while untied. I ordered my actual shoe size and think the
What I Like
Isaac: I have received more compliments while wearing these shoes than any other pair I have owned, so that just about sums what I like about them.
I have been wearing these
The simple and clean design of the Low 1s is really appealing to me and the Slate color works well with my existing wardrobe.
The all-day comfort of the Low 1s combined with their compatibility within my wardrobe makes these shoes so versatile for me. I can wear them with joggers, jeans or chinos to any function.
What I Don’t Like
Issac: This may just be related to my shape of my foot but the Low 1s are a little tight across the top of the foot. This has in no way prevented me from wearing the shoes throughout a whole day and I have yet to try relacing the shoes to adjust the tightness on top.
At $189 these shoes are pricier then what I would normally spend on a pair of every day
At about half the price of the Common Project leather low top
I think the Low 1 is the best option for a minimal leather sneaker under $200. It has a stylish look, and it’s made with high-quality materials by true craftspeople. While it might take a bit longer to break the Low 1 in than some other
So, overall, the
If you’re interested, you can see our review of the Oliver Cabell Distressed Low 1 here.