In this Undandy shoes review, we take a detailed look at this new custom men’s shoe brand.
Can you really get a decent shoe, much less a custom one, for under $200? Undandy is company aiming to fill that niche in a crowded market of direct-to-consumer footwear.
This article is intended to give you a thorough review of quality, fit, style, and value of Undandy so you can make an informed decision.
Undandy Custom Shoes
Undandy is in the custom shoe business. It’s import to understand “custom” is different than “bespoke.” For our purpose here, ‘custom’ means you can specify elements of the shoes – suede vs. smooth leather, leather color, laces color, etc.
‘Bespoke’ means, generally, that you can do all that- but the shoe is built around a last modeled after your foot. It’s quite time-consuming, and supremely expensive.
Undandy has different model lasts you can use, but they’re not building anything specifically to your foot.
Each of their lasts is named for a special date. For instance, the “15” last is named for Frank Sinatra’s birth year. Cool, huh?
How do I order?
Visit their website and create your own. They’ve got some samples you can use as inspiration, and that’s a great place to start.
I would suggest having a general idea of what you’d like, though, as a site with nearly limitless options can result in analysis paralysis pretty quick!
I’d also suggest visiting on your laptop or desktop as opposed to your mobile device, as the resolution for the shoes isn’t super crisp.
I also found the UX in the ordering process a little clunky. For instance, I had to click-through a number of steps in order to make sure I’d had my shoes engraved or to add in shoe inserts (read on to see why that’s important!).
But, as a newer company, I’m sure they’ll work out the kinks.
What did I choose?
Desert and Chukka boots are great casual alternatives to
But, I’ve shied away from purchasing a pair in the past because I’ve always found the shape to be rather clunky. And, with narrow ankles, that model really doesn’t offer the support I need.
That said, looking at the customization options for Undandy, I got the idea to make an updated, Italian-inspired version. We took a classic grey chukka (no bright green custom shoes for me!) and put them on the 15 last – long, elegant, refined.
I usually wear a 10 in dress shoes, but considering the long last, I sized down to a 9.5. The shoes from Undandy arrived after about 3 weeks.
They were indeed long, elegant, and refined. But, they were too long.
I had a significant amount of room in the toe box – likely due to that longer last. I was able to quickly and easily contact them directly via email and we were able to work out a good strategy.
We could size down to a 9 in the 15 last, or we could keep the same size but switch to a shorter, rounded 48 last. I chose the latter.
I’m glad I did. In the end, ended up working out very well for me. They certainly look great, don’t they?
I think a great way to evaluate a pair of shoes is by addressing the four critical success factors that friend-of-the-site (and resident tall guy) Jon Shanahan from The Kavalier uses:
Let’s start from the top…
On the exterior, better than expected. Many high-end leather good (shoes included) have a rich, buttery smell to them when they’re new.
Many low end-end leather shoes have an acrid, chemical-like stink to them that lingers for a few days. These have neither- which I’m okay with.
The suede is soft and surprisingly nappy. The smooth leather on the reverse/interior is quite pliable. It’s a bit thin, if I’m honest. The heel appears to be stacked and nailed together, but they may have used a little glue for reinforcement.
The stitching is super clean and very well done, without loose threads around the interior sole welt or the even the tiny brown exterior threads.
The holes for the laces are punched cleanly through the leather, and the laces are tight. They really are very well made.
A major red flag pops up, though, when you look inside. Remember when I talked about adding shoe inserts? Here’s why you’ll need them.
As you’ll notice, the footbed is really only padded on the heel. The insole is leather, but it’s so thin you feel like you’re walking directly on the outsole.
I contacted Undandy to find out if this is intentional. Bizarrely, it is. But the addition of the insert alleviates that problem.
The insert is likely a pliable foam (not a gel insert), but it’s perfectly fit to the last and size you choose, quickly conforms to your foot, and results in a pretty comfortable ride.
The 48 last in the 9.5 ended up being the correct length for my foot. Undandy recommends sizing down a half size if you’re between sizes, and I concur.
It’s long enough to be elegant and refined, but not so long I trip over my feet when I walk. It’s narrow and streamlined, which I really look for in most of my shoes.
I can get away with narrow to mid-thickness dress socks, but I do prefer a mid-thickness boot sock with these.
The height of the shaft is about four inches, and it hugs my ankles well – which was a drawback for many of the desert boot models I’ve previously tried.
I do dig the styling on these guys. I think the 15 last, in general, is a little aggressive for many of us, especially if you work in a more conservative office environment. But the 48 last is spot on for chukkas.
Also, with literally thousands of combinations at your disposal, you can come up with some pretty out-there designs. As you can see, I kept it pretty conservative with my shoes.
But, if you want green, patina’d monk shoes with yellow straps? Go for it.
All in all, I was very pleased with how my attempt at a dressed-up chukka played out. They’re refined, but something I can still wear to a Saturday brewery date.
The grey colorway is surprisingly versatile, and a welcome addition to the brown, black, and white kicks we keep.
At $195 base price for shoes (my boots were $205), these are far from chump change for many of us. The inserts, which you will need, run you an extra $8.
But $200 is where I think, in the world of dress shoes and some boots, you start seeing some value for money. Here, I think a lot of your cost is going into the ability to build a unique shoe.
Of course, this is isn’t a sponsored post. Undandy did provide the shoes so I could review them, but I’m not obligated to heap praise on them.
I do think, though, that Undandy is an interesting option if you’ve covered your bases with cap toes and wingtips and you’re looking for a little more flair on your feet.
Their options are interesting, their customer service is fantastic, and you can even DM them on Instagram if you’d like more information. That’s how I was able to get clarification on the footbed issue.
Three major pros:
- The craftsmanship is excellent-outstanding,even. I’ve seen $450 shoes with lower QC standards.
- The quick break-in time. The inserts start conforming to your foot almost immediately.
- In the world of custom shoes, $200 is actually quite a steal. Made-to-Order (MTO) shoes start at well over $700 USD, and truly bespoke shoes-with your custom last-can take five months to make. Some companies start at nearly $4,000.
Two major cons:
- The leather quality is okay, at best. I’d put it on par with a $150 shoe. They won’t be falling apart on me anytime soon, but it won’t be a shoe you’ll wear for a decade.
- The issue with the inserts. I genuinely wasn’t expecting that. So, do factor that in when considering a purchase.
To wrap it up, these won’t be your everyday pair, but if you want something unique, Undandy is a decent place to start.
If you have questions, leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!