Best Formal Shoe Brands in India, 2024

A cadre that has fine-tuned the winning combination of making, material, and price.

By Nikhil Choudhary and Rajat Khandelwal

January 19, 2024


Best formal shoe brands in India

Best formal shoe brands in India are becoming braver and more willing to put traditionally made dress shoes on their shelves.

They didn’t necessarily invent shoemaking techniques like Goodyear-welting or any prominent design elements, but they demonstrated their potential and perfected best practices.

At least to the extent that stepping up into global dress shoemaking competitions and trunk shows is a thing of normalcy for many brands below. 

However, this year there are more young and small representations than renowned and familiar names in our list. Why? 

As someone who has been writing critically about dress shoes for 10 years, I can say the greatest concentration of values is in dress shoes from small, family-run formal shoe brands in India.

We spare no effort to keep this list up to date, at least for the last five years, and the raging atmosphere of Indian dress shoemakers never fails to keep us busy or tear down our belief that ❝The list couldn’t get any better.❞

Best Formal Shoe Brands in India

Makers who can lay claim to producing dress shoes cobbled to perfection
using traditional techniques and the highest quality materials.

The recent influx of formal shoe brands in India provides access to the top echelon of shoemaking techniques, to celebrated dress shoe designs in leathers many wouldn’t heard of, and, quite frankly, to prices hefty enough to fade everything else in the background.

Your chances of seeing sense in the prices and offerings of under-stated formal shoes brands very much depend on the level of value you attribute to the radical authenticity surging in Indian dress shoemaking.

Our refusal to recommend low-quality dress shoemakers makes our picks seem too pricey as much as you might want to exit this page thinking it’s not for you. Indeed, gentleman, many brands below take pride in courting a very sliver clientele with sophisticated taste.


A Cadre of shoemakers that defines the integrity of any such list.



  • The Best Leathers 
  • The Purest Goodyear Welting
  • Beautiful Shape
  • Everything Here Just Feels Right


  • Their Prices May Upset One New To Quality 

No formal shoes brand illustrates the soul-stirring nature of true dress shoes quite like Bridlen, at least in the nation! A cadre that has pushed our country to the loftiest heights of traditional shoemaking, to an echelon where it is hard to determine if they are making art or shoes. 

Representing the purest range of shoemaking approaches―Bridlen is rare, detailed, characterful, and beautiful – everything a truly fine dress shoemaker should be.

They mastered all 210 skills required to execute a Welted dress shoe―beneath a single roof, on places that few deem capable of making great dress shoes: Bridlen shows that is because our potential of Goodyear Shoemaking was never fully examined. 

Meanwhile, in the clicking atelier, its makers translate the best skins from the world into wearable jewels―guided by feel and experience alone. An inch of the models from their Founders line, for example, gleams eight perfect stitches.

Once deemed an Indian house for English shoemakers to rely upon, in the past three decades become the destination where we were able to pursue a burgeoning love for fine shoes. 

A Brief History Of ❝Bridlen❞

❝Who is to say what the best formal shoe brand is?❞―a question we get asked often.

Well, we’re always hooked when there is a soul and a story to go with resilient, gorgeous shoes. But Bridlen comes to us like a new form of music for which we aren’t organized yet.

The About page of their website feels like their way of saying, “Here is the aura we come from, and here are some thoughts we have about shoemaking”—Thoughts that we haven’t heard before, Thoughts that we think our people aren’t prepared for. 

The Founders Of Bridlen
Mr. Jose Maria Watanabe and Mr. Hasan Mohamed

“We upgrade to the increasing niche and run the risk that only some people, but the right people, will appreciate,” says Mr. Mohamed Affan Kolandaiveedu, second-generation head shoemaker at Bridlen, reflecting on the essence of the atelier founded by Mr. Hasan Mohamed (Affan’s father) and Mr. Jose Maria Watanabe of Japan in 1986.

They both have got fancy credentials—Mr. Watanabe works as a shoemaker in Japan and Spain, whereas Mr. Hasan as a leatherman with clients in the UK, France, Italy, Germany Switzerland, Spain, and Portugal—to create a line of dress shoes that touches emotions, inspires contemplation, and provokes discussion.

Inherited the business in 2019 upon Mr. Hasan’s sudden demise: For Mr. Affan, the subtle art of shoemaking is fascinating enough to put it ahead of his thriving economist profession. 

Their atelier in Chennai, paradoxically though, is an experience that could wind up sticking with you— operations of shoemaking executed at a very mild and peaceful pace. Something that you maybe didn’t expect to find from a place making shoes: and that reflects people here is doing it because they really want to. 

What is it about Bridlen That Works So Well?

Bridlen shoes review

There are many ways to quantify the excellence of a brand. Age seems like a good one because it’s straightforward and we like that. Longevity, in a market economy, seems at least loosely correlated with quality. 

Well, Bridlen was courting an international clientele since 1989. Then there are other accolades like The London Super Trunk Show, of which Bridlen has been part of two at the moment, or mentions from The Times or other international venues, of which it has many. 

Most importantly, what makes Bridlen so extraordinary isn’t so much the people who have moved through their shoes but those who have moved through their atelier, the approach, or the materials. 

The way it all comes together is not necessarily a simple thing to explain, but that’s why we love doing our job of providing you with what we hope will be inspirational, to give you a bit of reading after which you don’t need another reason to book a pair from Bridlen. Yes, You have to book a pair first! 


The Construction & Design
Best formal shoe brands in India

We usually center your fresh attention on the caliber of materials a brand works with, after all that’s what the majority of dress shoe is made of. But here, we want your tiny little attention span to be absorbed by the sheer construction abilities of Bridlen shoemakers.

But while the wizardry of the term ❝Goodyear Welted❞ may appear exciting and splurge-worthy in its way, it hardly gives the impression of something toiled over by misty-eyed artisan at Bridlen applies to every pair.

Instead of using the standard gemming, where a canvas rib is cemented to the insole, Bridlen has a thicker insole which a holdfast is carved into. Bridlen is making up for the lost time: similar to how Goodyear welted shoes were made back in the day.

You’ll see a thicker, higher quality insole as the welt has to be sewn directly to it instead of to a fabric part attached with glue. The shoe is more compact, something similar to hand-welted shoes, without the large cavity that the gemming creates.

The operation of filling that cavity goes largely unnoticed and so is a large prospect for smart sacrifices. Bridlen executes it with granulated cork, enfolding an already glued wooden shank that supports the waist. 

After a few miles, the insole soften-up and beds down into the cork filler, which takes an impression of your foot, and eventually, it senses like a custom footbed. And who doesn’t love that ahhh sensation of a custom footbed?

Bridlen Shoes Anatomy
How Bridlen shoes are made

It’s an image to conjure when the meditation app tells you to think of a calming place. A moment that becomes a little souvenir of the soul. 

Even the stitching―either on the sole, edges, or upper― is artistry. Give it a closer look and you’ll comprehend why. They’ve spent hours putting more than eight perfectly uniform stitches in an inch. A detail that connoisseurs define in Stitches-Per-Inch or S.P.I. 

The beautiful shape of last, pattern proportions, and the design principles enshrined in their dress shoes didn’t spring into existence overnight, but they came together over years of test fitting, and trials, followed by an ever-lasting process of further refinements. 

But where, look-wise, does that beauty come from? To some extent: it is the way they put them together that works so well. But the Shape is at the heart of their looks. That elegance is simply created by its shape, not only in the last but also in the way that the upper hugs the last.

Weeks of blocking and the perfect hand-lasting are why those uppers round and hug those sharp curves on the outside of the vamp down to the toe box. Its melding between soft and sharp is brilliant and it is just another reason why Bridlen shoes are too beautiful to wear. 


The Leathers
Best formal shoe brands in India

Details are fascinating, but they demand a ground to exhibit. And as the complexity in the details extends, so does the quality of that leather-y ground. I mean, you can’t hand pull an upper tight or squeeze eight-plus stitches in an inch of any leather or it would just tear apart.

What it means to be leather of that caliber is beyond the key quality, that men always quote with masculine authentic leathers, that they last well. It usually means ones in dense natural grains, which may feel silky but are actually more resilient and have higher tensile strength.

Bridlen is where you see leathers like this. Meanwhile, connoisseurs will tell you few companies can match it for leather upper-making prowess, and the reputation for the highest quality leather remains embedded in the heart of the brand to this day.

With its leathery roots and the way they run the business with a history of making high-quality uppers for the world’s best formal shoe brands, they can select really good parts of good hides for the Bridlen shoes, and this shows. 

❝The thing that stands out the most on Bridlen’s shoes is the very high quality of the upper leather for the price‚❞ Shoegazing explains. 

Best formal shoe brands in India

In terms of materials, they come up with more zest than formal shoe brands in India could ever have done. Best formal shoe brands in India rarely get carried away or feel the need to source leathers from around the globe. Bridlen negotiates that line with seeming ease.

Maybe the complex inputs, which they entrench in their shoes, made ’em look for leathers from tanneries around the world, from among others Weinheimer, Annonay, Du Puy, and calf suede by Charles F. Stead.

Well, no other formal shoe brands can put it all to good use though. At such echelon, it’s less about leather quality and more about leather properties and your sense of how you want your shoes to be.

Such splurges are a serious investment – and one that needs equally serious consideration as well as a fair bit of knowledge. 

Out on the road, their shoes are reassuringly planted largely via their four varieties of outsoles. On rubber soles, EVA’s comfort is twinned with tremendous amounts of grip, helped, in part, by nitrile rubber, created with their boots line in mind.

But how long does it take for raw hides to formulate their leather sole which maintains the natural alignment of the fibers in leather with a high tensile strength that shoe aficionados will be drooling over? In the case of the flagship ❝The Founders Line,❞ one and a half years.

The best from JR Rendenbach in Germany, J & F.J. Baker in England, and a Tuscan tannery in Italy, making outsoles that are a sizeable departure from anything that’s come before it. 

But the more dine Bridlen’s extensive offerings, the more I realize it’s the suedes and leathers, making the models of their Founders line, that we’re celebrating. 

We began to believe that Bridlen has distilled all its technical, design, and material prowess in its Founder line: and comes the ❝Founders Limited.❞ 

Beautifully complex and complicated, portrays everything about the Bridlen shoemakers: the ❝Founders Limited.❞ 

Skins, like Cordovan from Shinki-Hikaku of Japan and Russian reindeer calf leathers from FJ Baker’s of England, are reason enough to invest in Bridlen’s new ear, even with its ₹37,500 starting price.

And it suits them. After all, Bridlen knows how to make the most out of such expensive skins and membranes.

Pellé Santino

The first to deliver, directly to you, some exceptional Goodyear-welted
formal shoes at a much greater value.

Best formal shoe brands in India


  • Goodyear Welted & Blake Stitched
  • Full-grain leather Uppers
  • Best Value


  • Low Stitch Density 

While pleasure kicks in just from the moment you look at a proper dress shoe, there’s also pleasure in purchasing, or more specifically, in getting a bargain. Pellé Santino perfectly feeds this neurological process.

Unlike a typical fash fashion brand―which makes cemented dress shoes feel like a bargain―Pelle Satino is not in the business of saving you a few bucks at the expense of overall value. 

Their OxfordsDerbiesLoafers, or Chelseas in Full-grain leather sitting firmly on Welted leather soles does 90% of what the best, most expensive thing [does], but costs less.

The leather buyers and master shoemakers at Pelle Santino have perfected, over the years, the art of executing proper dress shoes… economically! Below, we have done our best to tell how they do it and their secret.  

A Brief History Of ❝Pellé Santino❞

Well, barely anyone would care “Where a brand came from” as far as they are producing decent dress shoes at a price that seems too good to defy a second pair. 

But through its backstory, you’ll get an idea of how they have created a business model that lets them keep the prices down without splitting a difference in quality. 

Price is something that Mr. Mikhil Mehra takes quite seriously at Pellé Santino, which he began, in early 2016, in Gurugram, Haryana. 

He firmly believes there isn’t much that you can’t make just as well, and more cheaply, in our country. But he soon realized two attributes: 

A line of dress shoes―designed with the benefit of his team’s extensive experience and made with the help of a selection of the nation’s most admired artisans―is anything but economical.  

And Although technology has its limitation in making of Goodyear Welted and Blake Stitched dress shoes, it is incredibly useful in buying and selling them. 

So apart from the making areas, Mr. Mehra removed himself from the system entirely: Pellé Santino is a 100% direct-to-consumer business, meaning his collections will only be available on their website

At times, Pellé Santino is one of the first formal shoe brands in India which exist just on our screens. We’ll soon get to what this business model is and in what ways it helps. 

And What Makes Them So Special?

Best Formal Shoe Brands In India

When we consider the quality of, well, anything―no number is quite as central to us as What they charge us for it. Though it has never been the measure of quality, we still gave price a side-eye―especially when the numbers are too pleasing to believe. 

Not just that Formal shoes brands have not been transparent historically, particularly when it comes to price and cost, but also for the theory that associates incredibly cheap things with shoddy quality. 

Well, for many, ₹7.5k is still a lot for a dress shoe, but for anyone with an interest in fine dress shoes and who knows what a welted shoe usually costs, ₹7.5k becomes nearly irresistible, with some reasons to support.  


The Quality: That Connoisseurs Sought
Best formal shoe brands in India

Who is to say what Great Value is? Is it in one that’s extremely cheap? Or whether a good value exists independently of one’s perception of it? Well, The Value is actually Quality that outshines The Price it demand.   

And, in our country, executing a shoe whose quality outshines its price is challenging, knowing that our people are demanding, extremely demanding when they invest a five-figure sum in a pair of dress shoes. 

Pellé Santino Knows how special a dress shoe has to be, from a quality perspective, to make the sum of ₹7.5k feel like nothing. 

Their Welted line of dress shoes and boots seize all of Pellé Santino’s shoemaking pedigree distilled into very potent full-grain leathers. 

For the uppers, the brand bounces between the nation’s best Full-grain leathers that look good now but will look absolutely amazing in a couple of months and the comfortable, little sanded Top grain leather option that’s pretty damn great from day one.

Best formal shoe brands in India

The natural luster of Full-grain leather adds a bit of dimension, sophistication, and elegance. Closed with a decent leather lining before being hand-lasted, firm enough to show every detail of their beautiful almond toe lasts. 

Nicely hand lasted full-grain leather uppers are the pinnacle of quality dress shoes and boots. But to those new to fine dress shoes, quality is much more reflective when associated with Goodyear Welted Soles

And that is hardly something to excuse for a shoe that claims to be the best value for Indian clients. When shoes look resilient—as every Pellé Santino pair does behind their welted soles—it is a big push to make that price feels comfortable.

But their approach to Goodyear or Blake construction is like they’re making ₹17k dress shoes. These stitched-down constructions are executed at a very high SPI, with refined granulated cork covering the length of the sole. 


Aah! Those Prices.
Best formal shoe brands in India

I recently donned—and enjoyed—a Pellé Santino Welted Wingtips in a particularly luxurious ­setting where, through people there, we discovered many other sybaritic ways to appreciate my shoes. 

And whatever we have been told about those dress shoes sounds even more satisfying knowing it’s just ₹7.5k―I’d paid for ’em. I’m lucky enough to be in a profession where I can ask shoemakers important questions.

“More of your cash than ever goes towards the sheer graft required to craft a Goodyear Welted shoe,” Mr. Ajay Singh, from Pellé Santino, said on a recent call. 

Meaning that now we’re buying from “manufacture” brands, ie, those that build their models, instead of getting them made in set factories, and accompanying them with a higher degree of hand-finishing and good build quality.

But a significantly less expensive line of welted dress shoes isn’t likely with just an in-house shoemaking facility. What Mr. Mikhil found to be useful in a way that makes their shoes accessible (financially) to as many men as possible is actually the way people access their shoes.

It was very hard for Mr. Mikhil to digest the fact that the majority of every rupee that their loyal customers pay would go towards methods of distribution instead of the shoe themselves. 

They took their website as a means of avoiding the arduous and expensive task of developing a network of wholesale contacts and retail partners who help them move their shoes to the consumer. 

Pellé Santino was actually one of the first formal shoe brands in India that went completely outside the traditional networks in this industry, and that’s a big part of why their shoes cost what they do.

Black Bird

Where the World’s best hides are clicked to flex
the nation’s best shoemaking prowess.

BLKBRD Shoemaker


  • The Finest Build Quality 
  • Full-grain Leathers From World’s Best Tanneries
  • A Big Part Of The Price Goes Into The Quality 


  • The Made-to-order Model Will Test Your Patience 

Say “Welted Shoemakers,” and the words immediately conjure images of verdant ateliers in Northampton or Limoges. What they don’t bring to mind: The Plain on the Yamuna River. 

But the shoemaking artistry of Agra, which is long home to thousands of shoemakers in India, is nowhere more apparent than in the yards of BLKBRD shoemakers.

Since its earlier days, the Brand has grown in reputation, popular with shoe connoisseurs who like to dabble in full-grain leather settled over hand-welted soles but do not mind the roughness typical to India-made dress shoes.

All the more reason to nip down there is The Price! Their shoes are priced either like the owner has lost his view or is splurging to draw the attention of serious shoe enthusiasts. 

A Brief History Of ❝Black Bird❞

We can pull the past of these brands under the rug and speak about what makes them special today, but then it was like naively accepting what is lavishly displayed, wouldn’t it?

You can feel the zeal that BLKBRD creators show when they describe their history through whatever medium they can. 

The slow attention to detail and the almost spiritual connection to the welted shoe being made are fascinating enough for Mr. Pradeep Parihar and Mr. Sandeep Parihar to create BLKBRD immediately after the shadow of coronavirus passes in late 2021. 

The time, then, was as unseemly to pitch a brand as seemly it was to attain the most admired artisans from across Agra. 

Instead of finding greatness in shoemaking by figuring out how others define it, they’ve pushed the material and the construction to a level that creates nuances so desirable among fans of high-end dress shoes.

Their seamless whole-cut Oxford feels like skilled artisans crafted such shoes not for trade but for the nobility. 

To ensure they can afford to make these expensive ❝pure enthusiast❞ styles, BLKBRD commissions shoes for many private labels in their workshop. 

With barely any promotions and a rather small collection, the atelier born in ❝The New Normal❞ is not yet celebrated its second birthday and made it to many renowned global venues

And What Makes Them So Special?

Best formal shoe brands in India

It’s high time we discovered a nation’s shoemaker that works on things like traditional build, finesse, and sophistication. And that’s exactly how BLKBRD is being brought to the community. 

We’ll soon get to why their shoes are the obvious choice for you―but remember BLKBRD craft shoes on your order, and depending on the style ordered, it could take a few weeks to execute a purchase. 

In India, we often ignore this complex relationship with our dress shoes. Formal shoe brands in India believe in ready-to-wear footwear that fits their perception of what will sell. Makers at BLKBRD are going after something in themselves.

They offer the kind of dress shoes that both makes you feel familiar and are fascinating enough to motivate you to step your familiarity up about thirty notches. Their work is picking up international recognition, and there are justifications to support it. 


They Let You Pick The Leather

So what do they make their shoes with? Well, you can tell them what your BLKBRD should be made of! The choices for leather and suede aren’t limited to what they carry in stock

From the Suede of Charles F. Stead to the Shell cordovan of Horween Leather Co, You can ask for any leather or suede you prefer a style in. Not many shoemakers in the world dare to let their clients pick the skins for them to work over. 

Choices are great if you can choose well. Just because there are choices – doesn’t mean you have to choose. The design team at BLKBRD defined every style in materials that look so perfect that sometimes the opportunity to propose our material seems powerless.  

It ranges from low tensile strength Full-grain buff leather for the uppers of their most basic models going all the way up to the Box Calf Leather from Weinheimer, Italy, reserved for their epitomes. 

The latter costs almost twice as much as the former, and there are reasons for it.

The Full-grain buff leather not just looks resilient but takes the weather well. One in a thick pebble-like finish allows for the ultimate beat-up without showing too much wear and tear. 

The open pores do absorb the pigments and develop a patina over time, but you’d never find such skins free from natural marks and blemishes, and neither is the grain dense enough to sustain the high-stitch density. 

While many formal shoe brands in India have not yet mustered up the courage to work with Full-grain buff leathers, BLKBRD uses it for their most basic models. 

Box calf from Italy represents the best version of what BLKDBRD means to be. Known for its long fine grain, and exceptionally natural but uniform look: Box calf will be stiffer due to the dyeing process.

But unlike the Full-grain buff leather, Box Calf acknowledges close and tight stitching. The Box Calf is from Weinheimer, which substitutes a legendary German tannery Freudenberg in early 2000. 

For creasing, well this will depend on the quality of the skin, but as we have seen, the BLKBRD’s Box calf hardly creases. The open pores absorb pigments and develop a sophisticated sheen as it ages. 

There were evident shifts in upper materials across BLKBRD’s line of shoes, but they adhered to the veg-tanned leathers for their outsoles.

In simple words, veg tanning is to tan hides using organic materials, such as tree bark, instead of chemicals. Does it make things better? Well, yes! 

Abrasion resistance is where some serious difference is. You can get twice as much wear out of Veg-tanned outsole than in an ordinary outsole. Such an outsole takes the welt at a very-high SPI and allows the shoemakers to dazzle with details.


The Construction
Best formal shoe brands in India

When the best from the pantheon of shoemakers (or purest of the pure, we should say) manifest their art beneath a single roof, the 280-step-long Goodyear Welt construction looks, visually at least, too easy. 

It doesn’t take ’em a decade to develop a line of shoes that represent a myriad range of shoemaking approaches, 

from blocking seamless uppers to Classical complications finished with Veldtscheen construction

At times, it seems like BLKBRD is on the quest to cram as much complication into a three-dimensional leather marvel as possible. 

Best formal shoe brands in India

The label is particular about using only the best skins but has allowed its craftsmanship and construction details to take center stage. 

For Hugo Jacomet, the founder of Parisian Gentleman and of Sartorial Talks, the greatness of a shoemaker is defined by its whole-cut Oxford. And it’s not hard to see why. 

Not a vamp, cap, or decorative perforation; some serious shoemaking skills can only hand last a single cut leather to a beautiful Oxford style. With just one seam (at the back) to hold the gorgeous lines and proportions of the last.

To the makers at BLKBRD, that single seam was like an intrusion into the seamless glance that Whole-cut Oxford is famed for. And so their Whole-cuts are seamless, which, according to, is the most difficult shoe model to make. 

High-tensile strength leather takes weeks to understand and memorize the essence of a shoe―Blocking is what this process is industrially called―before the opening is clicked by a master craftsman. 

Cutting the opening is tough as leather contract and drop downwards once that tension is released. There is just one right spot to cut to get the intended opening.

The leather is then firmly hand-pulled, tight enough to exhibit even a hair-thin detail of the last. There are articles showing how much work goes behind a seamless Oxford

BLKBRD may have mastered arcane Blocking art to commission seamless shoes, but few would argue with the sheer eminence of their perfectly executed bottoms. 


The P̶r̶i̶c̶e̶ Value

We have seen many formal shoe brands in India, who haven’t been able to explain their expensiveness, gone, often without a trace. Some are particularly fond memories, gone too soon.

The “race to the bottom” has totally ruined our perception of value; low prices have become so normalized that we literally have no idea what actual dress really costs.

In India, it’s not just having been in composing the most challenging styles with the best materials that make a brand Hall of Fame worthy. 

BLKBRD’s ask stays far off from where we tend to be less enthusiastic and balk at high prices. 

The made-to-order model, crafting shoes for private labels, Direct-to-consumer (DTC) channel, and leaner margins have let the makers set prices that are rather enough for the clients to get dopamine hits of great value. 

If you want to explore the world of great dress shoes, to really get to know it, you have to be willing to spend some money. 

And if you’re having a hard time accepting those five-figure prices as great value, you either didn’t know what dress shoes are or resist all but the cheapest shoes possible.

BLKBRD has become constant for a community where Price plays into the perception of value. They have defined and shaped the very region in which they stand.

A lot of labor went into their pairs and price. But it is up to you whether it is worth it.


Master of the art of making dress shoes feels more
like a place of familiarity and ease.

Best Formal shoe brands in India


  • Very Comfortable
  • No Break-in Required
  • Decent SPI


  • Miss The Structure & Strength 

Should it really come as a surprise that Clarks—a brand that brought the desert boot to the world way back in the day—also makes some very good formal shoes?

No, probably not for those who have fond memories of being taken to Clarks as a child to be measured for school black derby shoes – a seminal shopping experience for most who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s. Clarks are the most social place to buy formal shoes from.

With a reputation for producing the most hard-wearing, comfortable, and uniform-policy-meeting shoes for either the class of your boy’s school or the board meeting of your law firm, plus the unrivaled measuring services at their more than a thousand stores…

…it is no wonder that C. & J. Clark International Ltd is still a market leader in the formal shoe category. 

best formal shoe brands in India

A Brief History Of ❝Clarks❞

In the vein of history, it is deliberately the shortest reading into which I could possibly squeeze a book’s worth of tales that C&J Clarks have conjured in his 150 years of age.

As the one of oldest family-run shoe brands in the world, you’d be right to assume that the brand knows a thing or two about shoemaking; they have been creating rare and beautiful footwear since the early 19th century.

Founded in 1825 by brothers Cyrus and James Clark in Somerset, Clarks was one of Britain’s greatest retail success stories of the 20th Century. Its British-made exports appealed abroad too – there are more than 1,000 Clarks stores across 90 countries.

How Nathan Clark, The great-grandson of James Clark, fetched the iconic style boots from the Deserts, where he is as a staff of the West African Brigade in Burma and India during WWII, is another fascinating tale of C&J Clarks

The brand’s greatest innovations in shoe design have been ergonomic, if not trend-setting, yet it is indisputable that shoe widths, half sizes, and underfoot cushioning have transformed the industry as a whole. 

For generations, Clarks has been a high-street stalwart and the shoemaker of choice for schoolchildren and adults alike. It has struggled in recent years, however.

But even amidst massive shifts in taste and culture, we can safely report: the timelessness of Clarks’ formal shoes is the same as it ever was.

And What Makes Them So Special?

Best formal shoe brands in India

No formal shoe brands in India have survived wars and recessions or have gone through as many challenging periods as Clarks does. Of course, the company was well documented, but you can prevail on history alone.

Now and again, people need a bit of attention-grabbing element, something that reminds them of why they should choose a Clarks formal shoe over, say, a Bridlen Blake stitched pair at a similar price and much higher quality level.

C&J Clarks is one of the few formal shoes brands on our list that many of you might be familiar with. And if you believe we recommend Clarks to satisfy readers who like their things from familiar sources; well, there are many reasons to trigger a newfound love for C&J Clarks as well.


The Comfort
Best Formal shoe brands in India

This is maybe not the corner of the dress shoe cosmos if you’ve kind of a mindset that no matter how much time and effort it takes to break them in: ❝formals❞ should only be Goodyear Welted.  

But for those who simply can’t wait for that built-in distressed appeal or can’t manage to have a designated person to break those Welted shoes in for you, no one epitomizes right-off-box comfort better than C&J Clarks. 

Wear any Clarks, and it just feels like ❝This is what we’re supposed to be wearing❞ on and after a long day at the office. If this sounds almost too cozy to be classified as Formal, take a look at their 2023 line of Formals. 

Featuring the label’s contemporary sleek lasts, The models are dressy enough to compliment your finest tailoring. Full-grain leather uppers would be too stiff for their admiration for indulgences right from the first wear. 

Soft supple suede or Top-grain leather delivers that aged and worn state for a pair of Clarks to be in. Though much of that break-in difference starts from the bottom’s material. 

They don’t execute the bottoms in two layers of Argentian leather—takes even a year or so of wear to loosen up—rather they use the standard York sole, on the thicker side, which is a rubber sole with a leather insert at the waist and back. 

They have overcome with acute nostalgia for their old days of welting shoes in Britain. Clarks have had naptime on the brain when they sent those models down to the construction unit. 

Executing their sole by cementing models from lower ranges and Blake stitching the premium one, Clarks prefer to get through formal shoes’ construction without too much complication – aren’t things complicated enough already?

Rather than reflecting the extra resilience of a welted dress shoe, You can buy Clarks pair and beat them up (for a worn look, as we prefer them), then repeat as the years go on, maximizing your wardrobe’s potential. 


One seeks to construct proper formal shoes
without too much complication.

Best Formal Shoe Brands in India


  • Decent Arch Support
  • Full-grain Leather 
  • Goodyear Welted & Blake Stitched Sole 
  • Competitively Priced


  • Long Break-in 

Having written year-end pieces on formal shoes brands annually for years, I know the ❝Best Formal Shoe Brands❞ shtick, where leathers from an Italian tannery, of which you’ve never heard before, are encased in the Goodyear Welted name and sold. 

Or we should say, ❝Complication❞ advertises the wisdom of the shoemaker. PLNK is not that. In fact, they are at the point of saturation, where a single disruption and you’ll lose the equilibrium that makes things work here at PLNK. 

PLNK is more about demanding a price that’s enough (barely) to finance conscientious shoemaking and the right leathers. The experts at PLNK mind much about getting it ‘right’, rather than sounding ‘right’. 

And, well, that is all it takes to craft a proper dress shoe. If you value, just like the makers of PLNK, the strength of uncomplicated leather that’s expertly cut, you’re bound to find a style with a price that works for you.

A Brief History Of ❝PLNK❞

For many, history could be unnecessary conversions shelving the more meaningful concerns we’d discuss in a minute.

The backstory of how the idea of making dress shoes reached Mr. Chirag Chadda, back in early 2018, is just as extraordinary as the shoes themselves, it turns out.

He describes the skit of crafting dress shoes, whether following the rules (like using a stitched-down construction), or breaking the rules (cementing the outsole, rather than sewing) in a way that operates on essential regulations.

But those sophisticatedly simple dress shoes look like an artifact handcrafted by masters backing decades of shoemaking experience, rather than a young entrepreneur backed by fascinating thoughts. 

The renowned shoemakers of Ambur, Tamil Nadu are courting an international clientele long before settling to quantify the thoughts of Mr. Chirag. 

They have been steadily purifying their product ever since and earlier this year, PLNK introduced a new catalog of Goodyear welted Oxfords―which pretty much emulate their first line of Blake stitched Oxfords in late 2018. 

And What Makes Them So Special?

Best formal shoe brands in India

❝Paramount❞ or ❝Constructed With Just What It Takes❞ is not how many want their premium dress shoes to be. And so, according to high-end shoemakers, there isn’t much mileage in making dress shoes that only keeps them upright.

Successfully incorporating a complicated bottom-making technique (or employing leathers from famed tanneries) is long been seen as the mark of technical prowess. 

PLNK is known for its distinctive simple aesthetics: Rooted in the oldest traditions of shoemaking executed using local Full-grain leathers. Then how those who have embraced PLNK dress shoes aren’t lamenting it? 

PLNK’s approach to constructing Dress shoes has many practical reasons to support. 


Made With The B̶e̶s̶t̶ Essential Leathers
Best Formal Shoe Brands in India

When sophistication and complexity are the best formal shoe brand principles, how can simplicity be integrated and embraced without compromise?

PLNK has a reputation for such integration. Indeed, over the last five years, the brand has developed a way of bringing useful, real-world intricacy to its shoes that’s entirely different from what you’ll see at other formal shoes brands. 

Greatness has classically been associated with formal shoes brands that showed complexity and nuance. Well, most of those complicate-y details aren’t helpful in our day-to-day lives. 

CordovanBox Calf, or Crust, are great but serious investments – and one that needs equally serious consideration as well as a fair bit of knowledge in terms of polishing, caring, and damage revamp.

Compare to these leathers, the full-grain buff leather, that PLNK uses, relatively demands less maintenance. Equally resilient, breathy, and develop a patina over time: A not-that-uniform finish is what you’d trade-off for these.  

The leathers used in PLNK shoes are the full-proof workhorse that anyone, even those who do not give much attention, can take care of. 

You may find that you do not need to add any wax polish to your shoes every time you clean/polish them. By brushing them to remove dirt and polishing them with a cotton cloth; you may achieve your required result.  


A Build That Helps
Best formal shoe brands in India

Goodyear Welting, for instance, is a great Sole construction technique to execute―and have―a dress shoe in, both in terms of resilience, appearance, and, not least, in the way it can be resoled.

That easy repair ability is what makes Welted pieces worth the initial outlay. With no devoted shoe-repair services in our country, it seems unattainable.

Though, we have got a plethora of skilled cobblers next to every lane – it’s really hard to match the finesse of shoes lovingly repaired in the factory on the exact last number on which they were originally made.

As the best formal shoe brands in India and elsewhere in the world battle for the next big thing, including construction techniques, PLNK has found solace in the oldest ways.

They assemble their soles with Blake and Bologna construction methods that align with what we have. Here the shoe’s upper is folded over at the edge and sewn directly onto the sole. 

The advantage of Blake construction is that the sole can be cut a lot closer to the upper, leaving less of a lip and making the shoe sleeker.

And when there is barely anything to support the features a welted pair demands, such construction seems practical. Though they Welt shoes too, the lion’s share of their line is Blake Stitched and didn’t ask serious questions. 

The label has considered its techniques, methods, and materials very carefully and talks about a 9 to 5 job that calls for a decent dress shoe. 

I mean, not many of us have the time and passion to run an hour-long shoe-shining season that expensive calf demands every day or bear the premium of a construction that, without necessary repair services, is as good as its more frugal companions.   


Craft beautiful, solidly built dress shoes that won’t
require you to take out a second mortgage.

Best formal shoe brands in India


  • Stitched Rubber Sole 
  • Top Grain Buff Leather 
  • Great Price


  • Unlined 

SeeandWear is most famous for its ability to execute quality dress shoes economically: a shoemaking genre it has excelled in so comprehensively that, at one point, it was producing them for many of its storied British shoemakers.

Employ the most flavorless cut of top-grain buff leather, it’s not typically what affluent societies order if they have devotion for Welted dress shoes; it’s more of a best-under-a-thousand kind of thing.

We went inside SeeandWear’s atelier, sitting at a table topped with their models almost too beautiful for the price, it’s easy to feel awestruck. SeeandWear is a perfect example of the ethos of Vintage Indian Shoemaking.

A Brief History Of ❝SeeandWear❞

From making dress shoes for many renowned formal shoes brands to actually being one: Mr. Prabhat Saini invited us to explain how exciting (or difficult) that evolution was.

Setting up his shoemaking atelier in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, initially, English brands come to Mr. Saini for whimsical creations. But it is actually the improbable cost, which they are executing their craft with, that caught the eye of his white clients.

They have got a lot of work, as a manufacturing unit for almost a decade, to learn where to make the shoes, how to monitor big factories, and, most importantly, how to retain those unbelievable prices.

Even before opening SeeandWear in early 2011, Saini always knew that he wanted to bring a line of dress shoes to the Indian market.

The style catalog at SeeandWear—which includes simple, intense, and classic Oxfords and Derbies as well as boots—is both a nod to the English traditions of crafting dress shoes and a way to further position quality dress shoes as inexpensive.

And What Makes Them So Special?

best formal shoe brands in India

There are both historical and psychological explanations for why we dismiss inexpensive things. We’d not detail either of ’em but they elucidate that SeeandWear is in severe danger of falling into neglect.

Despite the greatness of Mr. Saini’s efforts, their lower prices are often associated with a lack of value. Though people buy SeeandWear dress shoes, with the thought that there is nothing to feel excited about (or proud of) their purchase.

Those prices will not tell us something very special is going on here. Well, SeeandWear dress shoes have reasons shaping what we’re allowed to be grateful for and fill the excitement that we lack and must have.


The Leather & Construction
Best formal shoe brands in India

Books have been written about the marvels of Horween Leather Company, the complexities of Shell Cordeven, and the luscious wonders of Goodyear Welted Shoes, all remarkable leathers that most people can only dream of being able to afford.

As much attention as is paid to the rare and profound leather and construction techniques that fire the imagination, far less is devoted to the sorts of shoes that people might actually lace up. 

The leathers and stitch-down construction, that goes into making SeeandWear dress shoes, are ultimately more meaningful than what we might see on an occasional visit to J.M. Weston.

SeeandWear was employing top-grain buff leather before it started producing its own shoes back in the 2010s, and a reputation for high-quality leather remains embedded in the heart of the brand to this day.

Not too sanded, consistent finish, absorb waxes and polish, maintain structure: give ’em a great sniff and you’d, probably, be convinced enough to book a second pair. 

In sole construction, of course, they’re stitched, about as no-frills a stitching technique as you can have while still calling it resilient. It’s like Blake stitching executed around the edges of the old-school rubber soles. 


The Price

How can we not document those prices? Rather than paying lip service every once in a while to “Goodyear Welted Shoes,” many would like to see regular, purposeful attention directed at simple dress shoes that are moderately priced and easy to take in complex formal settings, yet are still interesting enough to inspire wonder and to be deeply pleasurable.

SeeandWear offers those well-made shoes via their websites, but they’re also taking it a step further, pulling the curtain back on the supply chain and revealing the middlemen who inflate prices.

They hope, as Mr. Saini says, to “change the way people think about buying a nice dress shoe.”

Being in that market segment where it’s usual for formal shoes brands to sell the lowest quality for the lowest possible price―and they market and position themselves as fair―Seeandwear still manages to develop trust among the patrons.

Savvy consumers understand this, and they’ve been responding. Of course, none of that success would have happened had the primary focus not been on quality, a big part of which is working with the right materials and shoemaking and selling techniques.

The Royale Peacock

The shoemakers from Agra committed to propelling
❝Classic❞ as ❝The New Cool❞

best formal shoe brands in India


  • Goodyear Welted Soles
  • Full-grain leather Uppers
  • Sleek Aesthetics


  • A Bit Stiff 

If shoemakers in Chennai and Ambur, farther south, are viewed as sophisticated siblings, the atelier in the lanes of Agra is their relaxed country cousins. They are related, but each has its own quirks.

Every Shoe connoisseur can tell you the beginning of their journey onto the sartorial route. Mine started with a decade-old The Royale Peacock’s Chelsea, a small atelier in Rambagh, Agra, its distinctive label depicting the inviting art of shoemaking of the city.

The label is from those few formal shoe brands in India who’ve begun to associate greatness with formal shoes that show complexity and nuance, shoes that could age, touched emotions, inspire contemplation, and provoke discussion about Indian shoemaking.

It was like no shoe or boot I had worn: sleek, resilient, with several discrete details. The Goodyear welted Argentinian leather sole stitched at 7 S.P.I. The Full-grain leather—was so light and subtle yet so intense and powerful. And there was no going back.

What Makes Them So Special?

Best formal shoe brands in India

We thought we knew everything about the various gestures, routines, and techniques elucidating the typical Indian shoemaking process…until we presented, almost seven years ago, a Chelsea boot Goodyear-welted in India from The Peacocks.

It is usual among formal shoes brands, as the brand develops and manufacturing outputs steps up, to shift into a more administrational and of cost-cutting mentality. The Royale Peacock pairs have always been part of our assemblage ever since.

The only question? Whether they could live up to the lofty expectations set, not only by the initial line of Welted formal shoes but its heritage within a celebrated shoemaking atmosphere in the heart of Agra.


The Goodyear Welt Construction

Over time, almost all formal shoe brands in India have welcomed everything from Blake stitched soles to Veldtschoen Construction in their collection: but the Construction, to which The Royale Peacock is most inextricably attached, is Goodyear Welt.

Of course, Goodyear Welting, for The Royale Peacock, conjured that much-needed initial buzz that every startup needs. But as the brand matures, they moved into a new and refined Goodyear Welting aura rather than fading the quality or veering off to cheaper alternatives.

They have elevated the stitch density from 4 to 6 S.P.I, and the stitching is noticeably closer to the uppers allowing a very closely trimmed outsole for a slimmer silhouette.

Rather than the square base, the outsoles are now a bit more beveled and narrowed, supporting the very tight hand lasting around the arches. Instead of a single solid block, their new models feature pitched heels.

The cork footbed constitutes a bit more finely granulated cork allowing not just a uniform seat for the outsoles but an even sensation underneath after breaking in the insole to beds down the footbed.

The sight of all those tweaks and shifts lent us a more refined, if perfect, spirit of Goodyear Welted dress shoes in India.


The Full-grain Uppers
Best formal shoe brands in India

The Royale Peacock clicks from the right kind of leather. A barely sanded, Full-grain buff leather with an old-school attitude and surety of purpose.

No quivering, genuflecting to renowned tanneries, or slobbering oleaginous patina service over. Just confident, resilient, direct, and witty.

While The Royale Peacock uses the most robust Full-grain, if you like Buff kind of leather, and this part of Agra is bubbling with exciting tanneries, their uppers are almost as fabulous as the uppers of shoes twice in price.

The open-pour structure absorbs the pigment of shoe cream and waxes, as a pair of Calf skin will. It evolves patina over time, enhancing the natural luster of the skin.

Unlike the construction methods, the leather quality is what they are consistent with ever since their foremost models.


The Contemporary Touch

The Full-grain leather—and the Goodyear Welt Construction—are reasons enough to accept The Royale Peacock. But, no doubt, a magnetic draw will also be the design.

It is the custom to speak of formal shoes as conventional, matter-of-fact type, entirely devoted to Classic designs, and with no perception of the value of contemporary delights.

But the design team at The Royale Peacock, working from wooden models, portrays contemporary and bold designs from the very moment of their existence. And ❝Bold❞ doesn’t mean shoe-child of brothel creepers, Skechers, and something in the sale at Millets.

The Royale Peacock knows that you can never really beat a classic, you can update it. Though a lion’s share of their line is very conventional and echoes the design language of how we used to see formal shoes: simple and elegant.

But for a few models, they adorn the Uppers with several nice materials and accessories but do not exaggerate it, maintaining a certain calm without being drawn into the controversy by either faction.

It’s an attitude towards the modern style that has fallen perfectly in step with the classic appeal of dress shoes: something not standard among the best formal shoe brands in India. The Royale Peacock, well, believes in setting standards.


Staying at the vanguard of progress, whilst
honoring a heritage-laden legacy.

Best formal shoe brands in India


  • Best In-Store Shoe Shopping Experience
  • Comfort Right Off The Box
  •  Huge Selections


  • Less Resilient 

To lace up a Goodyear welted dress shoe made of Calf skin (or shell cordovan, as it may be), you are inevitably going to spend a couple of thousand. But, Why pour so much money into shoes that mean just business? At least for you!

Then we should start to have the classic “Why didn’t we buy a Bata” conversation, you know, the one you had with a high school acquaintance just before school reopens. It’s sweet. Value has been at the heart of Bata’s ethos since it was founded in the late 1890s. 

Their cemented shoes are as sturdy and reliable as you’d expect Bata’s stitched shoes to be, with Top grain leather uppers, oh-so-soft EVA footbed, a versatile rubber sole, and retro-styled design bringing fun and flair to a classic template. 

A Brief History Of ❝Bata❞

Established as T. & A. Baťa Shoe Company on 24 August 1894 in the Moravian town of Zlín, Czech Republic. There wasn’t a quantum leap until the company started making shoes from canvas instead of leather to overcome financial difficulties.

Since the beginning, Bata was focused on mass production. In 1904, Tomas Bata (Founder) introduced mechanized production techniques after a six months visit to America to understand their system of mass production. With this step, the Baťa Shoe Company become one of the first mass producers of shoes in Europe.

Bata ventured into India in the 1930s when Bata founder Tomas Bata–a ninth-generation Czech shoemaker–visited India, saw barefoot Indians, and realized there was a huge market in the subcontinent, too. He vowed to make affordable footwear for the masses.

Currently, it has five factories located at Batanagar, (West Bengal), Bataganj, (Bihar), Faridabad (Haryana), Peenya (Karnataka), and Hosur (Tamil Nadu). Today Bata commands around 35 percent of the market share in India. The company’s 98 percent revenue comes from domestic operations through its 1250 stores and over 30,000 dealers spread across India.

What Makes Them So Special?

❝Bata dress shoes,❞ Think about that for a minute or consume enough media, and you cannot help but stumble over an invitation to buy ’em. We too want to invest in Bata dress shoes, but not through tempting advertisements. 

The tall and slim thespian talents, dancing around the office with their feet buried into Bata dress shoes, appeal more to people who enjoy associating themselves with these superstars. 

Our people are far more focused on good reasons to buy Bata. Reasons that cater to readers who not only want to enjoy the hype Bata creates but are curious about how their dress shoes were crafted and if there are any real sartorial reasons to own them.


The Know-how

Lace up any Bata pair, and it takes about two minutes to realize these are not on the typical recipe of shoemaking that has gone largely unchanged for 5,000 years. 

Forgetting about the devastation it wrought on the traditional making and the purist snubs for a moment, let’s just pause to remind ourselves what an extraordinary thing the cemented Bata shoe is.

I mean, who doesn’t love that ahhh sensation of the first step in an exceptionally soft Bata? They are as comfortable as a Goodyear welted pair would be after months of pain-staking breaking in. 

Bata was courting the national clientele long before any other name in our list of best shoe brands in India, and such existence has brought a lot of data to learn from and… to get better at it!

Traditional methods turn highly pleasurable dress shoes – over the long term. Bata have realized that modern society is not set up for that kind of relationship. 

Instead of changing the way many people think about dress shoes, Bata has pretty much perfected a catalog of dress shoes that align with how people want their on-duty shoes to be. 

The sanded top-grain leather uppers cemented over rubber outsole with EVA midsole is Bata’s recipe for ease right off the box, all without emptying your bank account first. 


The Thousand Plus brick-and-mortar Stores.

In an ever more digital world, there are a few things that remain reassuringly analog. Dress shoes, for example. Although technology has its limitations in the making of dress shoes, it is increasingly useful in the buying and selling of them.

The online shopping revolution has also changed the way we shop for shoes – the gamble which comes with not trying pairs on in person perhaps doesn’t feel so great when there are free deliveries and returns on offer, with no consequence for ordering multiple sizes.

Bata has all that it takes to assemble the most advanced online shoe market in India. And it makes sense though something is reassuring about buying shoes online from retailers with a track record. 

There’s nothing quite like visiting a Proper Shoe Shop. The selling of shoes can be done with a magical level of service – it’s an experience that could never be replicated online. 

From browsing a rack to waiting on the sofa, having your feet measured, and doing the all-important parade in front of the mirror, I can romanticize it – but this is the experience you get when you shop in one of the thousands of Bata stores.

Alberto Torresi


  • Sleek design
  • No break-in required 


  • Low perforation rate (Upper) 

It doesn’t really matter what shoe trends are in for men—they’re going to be some form of a comfortable flat. At the same time, it was our new stay-at-home lives in 2020 that ignited the appreciation of comfort in, well, everything! And which formal shoes brand could be more suited to life at ease than the aptly named Alberto Torresi. 

From sole to upper, every line and detail of a pair from Alberto represents a dedication to comfort. Built by world-renowned shoemakers, those dress shoes ooze the kind of style and appeal that only Alberto Torresi does best.

The dress shoe collection from their massive offering adorns the silhouette and every material, finish, and construction have been perfectly put together to create a feeling of modern elegance with a hint of masculinity. Of the best formal shoe brands in India: Alberto Torresi is, Probably, “The Perfect” brand to relax.

A Brief History Of ❝Alberto Torresi❞

When we think of family businesses, we tend to conjure up images of homely convenience stores and humble neighborhood pizza parlors, but this is not the case here.

Alberto Torresi is the creation of a gigantic family-owned business – Virola Group (which dates back to 1969). The idea behind the label is to bring European-quality dress shoes to the Indian market at affordable prices.

The story starts in late 2009 when Virola made its domestic appearance with an initial seed capital of fifteen lakh rupees (20,000 dollars) with all eyes on Mr. Ishaan Sachdeva – The man behind the success of Alberto Torresi.

Since he has taken over the reins of the business, Alberto Torresi has witnessed a repeated growth of 100% year on year and he can be credited for introducing many innovative strategies that have helped to further propel the brand.

By dint of all such efforts, despite the steep competition, Alberto Torresi has entered the conversation. For three years in a row (2016, 2017, and 2018) the label won the ❝Most Admired fashion brand of the year.❞

What Makes Them So Special?

Best formal shoe brands in India

While dress shoes might once have been the luxe stuff of Fred Astaire, Gary Cooper, and Cary Grant, today’s dress shoes are all about an easy aesthetic and an in-your-face vibe, and there’s no better distillation of that approach than Alberto Torresi.

Writer Advik Gupta tipped us off to Alberto Torresi’s Dress shoe collection, which he found while looking for “shoes that you don’t want to take off at the end of the day.” Though we’re big fans of comfortable shoes (honestly, who isn’t?), why appreciate ones that are from this formal shoe brand? Here why


Innovative Approach

In the complete list of best formal shoe brands in India, it feels like Alberto Torresi is thinking a little harder, towards a simpler and more reliable article fit for any dressy situation. For them, dress shoes had to remain relevant to the tech enthusiast, at a time when you really can’t expect a lot right off the box from even the most expensive dress shoe.

Alberto Torresi has embraced a new approach to cushion our formal shoe experience. The label just did a fantastic job with their IMPACT collection: traditional dress shoemaking with the most advanced cushioning tech we can find.

Our editors took it as a new, more progressive vision for shoemaking; combining very old, but also very new, ideas in the same dress shoe. What we’re now seeing is a more concerted effort to take formal shoes forward.


The Price.

It’s nice to have expensive Goodyear Welted shoes (I mean, come on, who doesn’t like expensive Welted Shoes?), and if you had the funds at hand, you could spend up to ₹30k on this sophisticated class of formal shoes.

But there’s something comforting to be able to put thrilling looks together without having to eat vada pav for a week or, the way prices seem to be going (have you looked lately?), an entire month.

We know, We know, it’s a cliché for yet another Classic Sartorial enthusiast to recommend this stuff. But believe us when we say, it will live up to expectations. And with Alberto Torresi, it’s easier than ever to animate your sartorial fantasies without decimating your paycheck.

Red Tape


  • Wide range
  • High stitch density
  • Price 


  • Cemented Construction

Red Tape is an interesting brand and something unique from the others featured in this list of Best Formal Shoes Brands In India. The label enjoyed a dynamic and celebrated career as a formal shoe brand in India. They are known for having a user base that’s very loyal and enthusiastic about their formal models. 

The label has kept itself firmly in the game by producing exceptional formal shoes and is giving a tough fight to their foreign counterparts even today. Thanks to their massive offering (almost everything under the sun) at an insanely affordable price point.

A Brief History Of ❝Red Tape❞

The history of Red Tape can be traced way back to the ’90s when leather manufacturing giant – Mirza International launched RT to increase its trade rim.

Started as a leather tannery, Mirza International Limited was incorporated on September 5, 1979, by Irshad Mirza and Rashid Mirza.

The company focused on supplying high-quality leather and leather products to overseas markets and gradually became one of the biggest exporters of finished leather in the country. Mirza took a notable leap, by venturing into newer fields of leather footwear.

After successfully reorganizing itself, Mirza moved a step ahead of others by launching its own brand ‘Red Tape’ in 1996.

Red Tape not only helped the Mirzas in getting a foothold in the international market, but it also assisted them in transforming a fledgling tannery business into one of the country’s largest leather exporting companies.

Endorsed by the style icon Salman Khan, Red Tape has a retail network of over 120 exclusive stores across the country.

Red Tape today has become synonymous with hi-fashion & lifestyle, owing to its unmatched quality, skilled craftsmanship, and trendy products. Endorsed by the style icon Salman Khan, Red Tape has become India’s most loved premium lifestyle brand.

What Makes Them So Special?

Red Tape has been around for almost 25 years. They have made their way and get the brand known out there. But It’s no secret, there’re tons of formal shoe brands in India working on the same piece. So What sets Red Tape apart from other luxury shoemakers?


Massive Range
Best formal shoe brands in India

What is very interesting in Red Tape is the range they have – it’s extremely large. They carry pretty much all the styles in the formal section. It covers Cap toe oxford, Wingtip Oxford, Plain toe Oxford, Apron toe derby, Full Brogues, Semi Brogues, Quater Brogues (Not Longwing Brogue) and that’s something very special about Red Tape.


The Price.

Quality dress shoes can be a bit harder to nail though. But there are occasionally exceptions to the rule – Red Tape. They’re making the best cheap men’s dress shoes you can get your hands on right now that won’t compromise style for price.

Most of their models are manufactured using Top Grain and Genuine leather. As a result, they look the part and the cemented rubber soles are quite subtle and not a huge giveaway of their low price.

Comparing Formal Shoe Brands

Because one can understand a brand’s greatness and
weaknesses only by comparing it with other brands!

formal shoe brands in India

Scattered across my desk right now are 32 pairs of dress shoes and boots from 26 makers. I mention my collection not to brag but as evidence of my obsession with dress shoes. 

But the mind of shoe enthusiasts is a woolly place, packed with odd and arcane information fascinating to few. However, with dress shoes, context is vital. 

This applies both to the moment I open a shoe box — the leathers, the sole construction, the shape, how much I’ve spent on it, and so on — and to my frame of reference, that is, the comparison of the experience I am having to those in my memory.

The more brands we get familiar with, the wider our points of comparison. You can think of the best formal shoe brands, like Cricket players. 

It’s hard to understand the skills of, say, Virat Kohli in isolation. Only by watching him in the context of other Cricket players can you see his greatness as well as his weaknesses, as minor as they might be.

Having written year-end pieces on dress shoemakers annually for seven years, I came to believe that comparing dress shoes and dress shoemakers isn’t as cognitive or personal affair as it is in other genres of footwear. 

We have a writing devoted to ❝Why associating greatness with a dress shoemaker is not a subjective venture.❞ A reading that’ll bring you some conviction in the comparisons below and that we are not presenting our personal reflections of what is, in fact, an objective assessment. 


The Greatest Value

Out of These 10 Brands, Where Most of Your
Money goes into the quality of the shoe?

A formal shoe brand might brag on its master creations that may stretch the mind, enlarging our notion of what dress shoes can be and the emotions they can provoke; however, that all might fade into the background (or flinch ahead) after knowing the price it holds.

As someone who’s been into Indian dress shoemaking for seven years, it’s been my experience that the greatest concentration of values for best dress shoes can be found in the ₹7 to ₹11k range. Good shoes in that range cost enough (barely) to finance decent leathers and conscientious shoemaking.

Of all the undying clichés about dress shoes and dress shoemakers, perhaps the one I hear most often is, “There’s no correlation between price and quality.” As with so many platitudes, a germ of truth supports it.

But while I can easily gather more than a dozen ₹10k dress shoes that will be exponentially better quality than the same number of ₹4k or ₹5k dress shoes, I would have a hard time doing the reverse.

However, the greatness of formal shoe brands is defined by how their Prices match Quality Levels. But further ₹11k arrives the point of diminishing marginal return, and the relationship of price to quality in dress shoes gets sophisticated for many reasons.

best formal shoe brands in India

Higher prices for, say, cars, are easier to justify because of tangible attributes. Anybody can notice the virtually silent state-of-the-art engine, the track record of craftsmanship, and the baubles and ornaments added as options.

But in dress shoes, very few people could respect the better finishing and finesse of such higher-costing shoes. It’s mostly understood that these are personal choices, not windows into one’s soul.

However, to justify such enthusiastic emotions that shoemakers like Bridlen and BLKBRD bring to their collection, this comparison is lined around the best deal these brands present and further purified to who among them offers the most notable value.

PLNK’s Welted Range

formal shoes brands

PLNK’s offering is perennially a great value, though their Goodyear Welted collection brought it up a bit. Ambur in Tamil Nadu, where PLNK dress shoes are hand-crafted by eras of shoemakers, has long been one of our favored producers of good-value shoes.

On the surface, their ₹9.5k fee doesn’t scream to be a value. But when Italian leather, high-stitch density, stunning last definition, and so many subtle elements― that can never be apparent through your phone or computer screen―were priced at ₹9.5k―we call it value for money.

BLKBRD Adele Oxfords

Stretching a bit more wouldn’t fetch you a noticeable difference in the making but in materials unless the shoe is from BLKBRD. For ₹11.5k, BLKBRD would Welt an Italian skin underneath gorgeous Full-grain leather uppers.

A more pronounced waist, squeezing just beneath the arch, lucidly blends with the chiseled toe shape. Dress shoes this cheap rarely offer this level of depth or pleasure.

Rather than bragging about their sheer technical and material capabilities, the intent behind such collections is to let people comprehend what to expect as they veer off deep into the BLKBRD offerings, which one might pay more for. 

However, you’d have to read a few Bridlen shoemaking mysteries to develop some conviction for their prices―and more importantly―why they are a good value. Or you could shortcut the process by trying some Blake-stitched shoes from their Blake line.

Bridlen Blake Line

best formal shoe brands in India

Dress shoes from Bridlen’s Blake line, which earlier was The Essentials Range, are perennially a great value, though prices are beginning to creep up from ₹7.5k (on which we’ve purchased those shoes) to ₹9.5k. 

Calfskin uppers are not usually a thing for a shoe priced ₹9.5k, and one can live with Bridlen’s Blake Line if he found calfskin intriguing but never took the leap on. 

It may come as a surprise to some, but what more could one ask for from a maker with decades of experience crafting uppers for renowned English brands?

Having established relationships with the finest tanneries around the World, they have the luxury of selecting really good parts of good hides for the Bridlen shoes. And their leather-acquiring prowess is at its best in their Blake Line.

Pellé Santino’s Welted Range

best formal shoe brands in India

For years, my position has been that if one wants to explore the world of Welted dress shoes, to really get to know it, he has to be willing to spend some money. I mean, one couldn’t get to know what proper dress shoes feel like, or anywhere else, really, by chasing the cheapest options.

Clever sacrifices are bound to transpire when you try to execute, on slimmer budgets, a shoemaking recipe that’s gone largely unchanged for 5,000 years. However, Pellé Santino sets an unexplored notion of how reasonable a Classically Welted pair of shoes can be.

Dodging the added cost associated with where shoes are made to where they should, eventually, need to be―Pellé Santino is one of the first few shoemakers to embrace the Direct-to-consumer business model. That, and years of learning how to Welt shoes affordably, is how PS’s Goodyear Welted range is flying under the typical pricing radar. 

Of course, leathers aren’t that profound, the last shape isn’t that exaggerated, and the density at which everything is sewn is slightly more observable. Take them as a few settlements if your budget isn’t yet ready for that beautiful five-figure one you’ve been eyeing up. 


The Most Durable

Which Formal Shoe Brands Commissions
The Longest-Lasting Formal Shoes?

The reason for buying, or paying more for, dress shoes, other than wanting stunning footwear that one can dress up, is to ensure that he doesn’t have to buy one too soon. 

The longevity of dress shoes is a subjective affair that my good friend Justin has written about in detail; a quick reading would give an opinion on why there is no assurance of dress shoes lasting the amount of time that you would like them to.

The longevity of dress shoes depends much on how nicely one cares for them and how harshly one wears them, though we couldn’t thoroughly reproach one wearing attitude or caring abilities for a shoe’s impulsive break-down. 

It is usual to not care too much about whatever happens to the cheaper shoes as much as the pricier ones. However, my commitment to dress shoes does not extend to attending the expensive pieces with any extra concern.  

Regardless, it’s not like one can spend large amounts of money on dress shoes with the expectation of wearing them for years to come. I mean, it is not about being expensive but how and through which materials a shoemaker crafts shoes. 

There are superior leathers and techniques to craft shoes that could last years, as there are affordable techniques and synthetic skins to make one that would not withstand even a month. 

Of course, no one can even roughly articulate the lifespan of a dress shoe, but one can tell they either would outlive or shortlive shoes set in comparative surroundings: An environment that reconciles our ❝formal shoe brands that craft the longest-lasting shoe❞ desire to a remarkable degree. 


Bridlen shell cordovan shoes
Bridlen’s Shell Cordovan Derby

Emphasizing their Japanese heredity, Chennai-based Bridlen conveys the character of this particular patch of earth to the shoemaking cosmos. But they can speak of far more, of distant practices and traditions reclaimed.

The best cuts from the best hides are then assembled with resurrected unfortified shoemaking techniques―that have largely disappeared―to shape formal shoes that might last years, if not decades. 

Full-grain calfskin sewn at 8-10 S.P.I (Stitches-per-inch) placed over slowly bark-tanned soles 

(and by Slow, I mean at least a year) through 360° Goodyear Welting techniques. That, along with a little care, is enough to handle the most menacing possibilities one can put his ₹20k dress shoes through. 

We know durable formal footwear is usually a clever assemblage of such materials and techniques. But if we peel a Bridlen down to their slightest nuances, their shoes are better engineered for longevity by miles. 

For instance, rather than steel nails, they hammer brass nails through the stacked heels as they wear at the same speed as leather. 

Convey your desire for an extra layer of protection that you think your dress-shoe-wearing ritual might require, and they’ll have your shoes outfitted with Triumph brass toe plates.


BLKBRD’s Aurus: Shell Cordovan Penny Loafer

Bridlen is not the sort of shoemaker that there are so damn many of them all over the country, and for the most part, no one has yet succumbed to copying them.

But a shoemaking emporium comes along whose handiwork with materials and making turns me into a quivering mess of pleasure.

With a few tweaks in price, The menu at BLKBRD overflows with lovely surprises comparable to Bridlen. You could easily conjure a decade of satisfactory dress-shoes-job from just any one of their commissioning alone…

…just relish the way shoemakers at BLKBRD bring a boot-like mindset to beautifully hand-lasted Calfskin dress shoes, while not missing all the other stuff Bridlen excels at.

Pellé Santino

If your urge to have a dress shoe that can last decades is not powerful enough to make you spend ₹20k, that’s fine! After all, very few are making more money than they know what to do with.

Pellé Santino has been stealing the attention of shoe connoisseurs and fellow office-ers for years with their remarkably good value and enduring offerings of Goodyear Welted shoes.

And if you ask about longevity, Pelle Santino shoes could comfortably outlast pairs typical to this price shelf.

You’ll get excellent responses for years, thanks to the effort that goes into their shoes, which are made from Full-grain leathers appearing in 360° Goodyear Welt – the consequential durability is quite incredible.


The Most Comfortable

Shoes From Which Formal Shoe Brands
Feel Comforting to Most People?

formal shoes brands

 We are gradually testing our dearest and best formal shoe brands in India through even more subjective queries and elements. An emotional but essential one, we think, is the notion of comfort. 

Commenting on a formal shoe brand’s comfort-forming capabilities is as subjective as it is funny. I mean, one is more keenly aware of comfort’s absence than its presence. 

Comfortable dress shoes are another story: one that is even more complicated. Every pair has its momentary comforting peak that they might attend right off the box or after a year of adequate breaking-in, depending on what materials and through which technique a shoemaker crafts the pairs.

That and your subjective input would eventually dictate the most comfortable formal shoe brand. 

In our nine years of partaking in a hedonistic brew and writing of dress shoes and shoemakers, we turn over the question in our mind time and again, figuring out what would constitute a shoemaker of unassailable, supreme comfort. 

We come up with some criteria that one could apply to a shoemaker archive and can see if they can live up to every one of them. Here are a few who did: 


In the whims of premier leathers and heritage-heavy shoemaking techniques, We take for granted the ability of dress shoes to affect us emotionally. Often that sense of comfort is felt through nerves and sinews tied directly to childhood.

Is there a formal shoe brand more closely tied to our childhood than The Iconic Clarks? Probably Not! Well, Clarks associates with those fond but fading memories of our school shoes. 

Formal shoes generally work on another level, liberating knots of feelings derived from more adult experiences. Of course, I cherish shoemakers in the Goodyear Welting business, and they, eventually, manage to touch many souls.

However, such formal shoe brands carry different messages, messages of longevity or traditional shoemaking skills, fascination, or stupefaction. Comfort and reassurance are entirely different, and many find that in Clarks’ dress shoes.

The Cork-filled bottoms indeed embellish Comfort that, over time, present the wearer with a bespoke-like cabinet to fit their feet in. A sensation necessarily found in a particular type of dress shoes, as with my Goodyear Welted one from Bridlen. 

But extracting that level of ease from Welted pairs has its aging misery. A misery that just adds one more layer of doubt to a subject with a seemingly endless capacity to induce angst in otherwise most Patience-ate people. 

Clarks’ soft sanded leather dropped on Blake stitched or cemented rubber soles surrounding E.V.A midsoles connote the label as either reminiscent of particular people or somehow representing relief from the stress of breaking in challenging leathers. 


PLNK shoes
PLNK Goodyear Welted 353 Oxford

❝Good things come to those who wait❞ ― Substantial believers of this notion who are courageous enough to halt their comfort-seeking senses for a few weeks of a blister-y break-in.

If that resembles you and your commitment to comfort extend to breaking in and presenting some time ― PLNK embeds, in their Goodyear Welted shoes, a full-length cork footbed that has all the abilities to develop into a custom-like cage as soon as the leather insole beds into it.

For many, looseness is comfort. However, comfort often comes not from the lack of any restriction but from restriction in the right places. As in firm-arch-support in hand-lasted dress shoes. 

I mean, we are talking about the sensation surfacing just before things began to get too tight. Who doesn’t feel so incredible when the feet are delicately touched? After all, we have seven thousand nerves ending in each foot. 

PLNK is courageous enough to squeeze the waist of the sole to the point where it virtually disappears when looked at from a particular angle. The shoe cups the arches of feet in a satisfying tone that one didn’t expect from a dress shoe. 

Featuring such ❝Terribly-tedious-to-execute❞ details communicates the shoemaker’s purposeful stance for Comfort: Something that can never fetched through a picture on a phone or computer screen! 


The Most Beautiful Shoes

Who crafts dress shoes beautiful enough to
stow in a glass box as a Work-of-Art?

Of course, Gentlemen, there are dress shoes beautiful enough that one yearns to have at any price. ❝Beauty❞ that does not fade but exaggerates with each passing year of ethical care and wear.  

Make no mistake, extensive upkeep is at play (for the beauty of dress shoes, right?!), but there’s actually that surplus of blessed genetics behind their beaming complexions and sculpted features. 

Formal shoe brands are particularly concerned about how their creations look. However, the beauty of the dress shoe is one of the many sartorial elements that doesn’t implicate as enthusiastically as one notices the leathers and shoemaking technique. 

As with any subjective matter, Beauty inevitably invites multiple perspectives. Something that has long held the center of many philosophers’ debates over the centuries.

But when a splurge on dress shoes advances to five figures, one shouldn’t be justifying himself by saying ❝It Doesn’t Look Too Bad!❞ 


BLKBRD’s Seamless Collection

Post Opulent❞ Yes! I know, it’s not the first word that springs to mind when you think about a formal shoe. However, such statements are inevitable after witnessing something that really is an impressively nuanced piece of work―something from BLKBRD shoemakers. 

“Dress shoes are not just footwear but a mindset, a porter,” Mr. Pradeep Parihar, Co-founder, explains—both a source of creative inspiration and a reminder of formal shoes’ obligation to stay presentable. 

These gentlemen have mastered the art and skill of What makes a shoe and boot feel opulent and beautiful

Mr Sandeep Parihar, Co-founder, agrees, arguing further that there are characteristics in their last shape – their leathers, even their topography – that have coalesced to give them the edge in crafting beautiful dress shoes.

But even the best leathers over the most attractive looking Last wouldn’t translate into something beautiful if the factory couldn’t synergize or respect those elements. However, BLKBRD’s atelier is capable enough to deliver Whole-cut Oxford without any seams. 

So far, BLKBRD is the only formal shoe brand in India that commissions a Seamless Wholecut that, according to, is one of the most difficult shoe models to make. But apart from prototyping one’s shoemaking prowess, such models enlarge the notions of how beautiful a dress shoe can be. 


Bridlen shoes review

In the dress shoe world, the fascination with leathers in general, and the “shoemaking technique” in particular, is huge. 

But beyond that, a shoe ought to be beautiful if it shows the complexity and nuance of the Last: the heart of a shoe; a fundamental requirement of shoemaking, the development of which cannot be compromised.

Over time, Bridlen has been able to learn from more than five decades of last-making experience as they have adapted and developed each new last, crafted in Japan. 

But the thing isn’t in the last, but in a way that the upper hugs the last. And no one knows how to engrave a last’s essence and character over a shoe quite like Bridlen. 

Master shoemakers at Bridlen stretch the leather over the last with hands (and block them over weeks, if needed) to insinuate those sharp curves on the outside of the vamp down to the toe box creating shoes that one didn’t expect, something simply exquisite.

BLKBRD Or Bridlen

Not just quality dress shoes but in the entire sartorial genre, in general: once a creator chooses to go beyond The Standards, it is about pushing for a different—and far edgier—point of view. Bridlen and BLKBRD are from that echelon of formal shoe brands. 

Unlike entry-level Goodyear welted shoes, BLKBRD or Brilden shoes are not a block. They curve in many places, not just the instep and the arch. And the more that you show these natural curves, the more elegant the shoe will be. 

Machine-lasted shoes could be held as functional pieces, but not as ones that are attractive too. Hand-lasted shoes, as with BLKBRD and Brilden, emphasize their dual roles as both functional dress shoes and statements of personal style and connoisseurship. 

Both these brands would welcome harboring the same kind of richness and heritage, but eventually, you’d feel the enthusiasm of the makers and, more notably, the differences between ’em.   

Bridlen sets the tone without making you feel like the shoe’s ambiance is engineered to convey the essence and character of the last. There are profound and intense lines and curves but in more peaceful conclusions. 

The aesthetical aspect of being simply profound with the last definition also extends to the sole treatments. Squeezing tight the surfaces as they navigate through the waist and heel but with no vivid animations that are, pretty much, typical to such outsole treatments. 

However, BLKBRD is a bit more articulated on such details. Details are executed with a level of clarity that can only be achieved with a hand-crafted dress shoe. Every curve and line on the BLKBRD dress shoe resonates powerfully.

BLKBRD formal shoes feel perfectly balanced – not too elongated or short, with a distinctive last definition, but more vigorous than Bridlen dress shoes. The point is neither good nor bad – in fact, it is a subjective point of style.

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