BLKBRD Review | Do They Have All We Ever Wanted?

What’s so right about BLKBRD shoemaker that even the critics are paying lip service to?

By Nikhil Choudhary

June 01, 2024


BLKBRD review

How immaculate a shoemaking endeavor should be to garner numerous accolades, worldwide recognition, and an extraordinary roll call of clients in just two years? Well, at least, as immaculate as BLKBRD shoemakers.

Not many are brave enough to put lines of shoes and boots that, to most people, would be too hard to take seriously as an everyday province.

Designed for strolling across the polished floors of gentleman’s clubs, BLKBRD, however, are shoemakers for the Right People, not Most People.

They position themselves among a sliver demographic of gentlemen looking for something with a bit more grit, where the world’s finest leathers are honored by the country’s most capable artisan.

We know they, BLKBRD patrons, don’t necessarily count the pennies. Still, it isn’t anything shorter than a serious investment—one that needs equally serious consideration as well as a fair bit of knowledge.

From the quality of leathers to the cogency of shoemaking methods, calmly absorb as we take you right to the cusp of what this brand can do; and are they actually justifying the prices they demand?

What Do We Get?

The beautiful intersection of the best of the old craft and the finest leather in concert
with the smallest details that a truly fine shoe or boot should have.!

BLKBRD review

What purpose were BLKBRD shoemakers playing that hasn’t been presented by any Indian shoemaker before? I mean, everything about their portfolio seems pricy thanks to the elements that unless you’re in the know, you’d probably never admire or even realize.

BLKBRD shoemaker provides a conventional oasis among the hubbub of India’s mass shoe manufacturing. To many, it might sound like they are pursuing the least ambitious path, but the most demanding one of all, one that requires a strong set of beliefs.

Beliefs that are translated beautifully into shoes and boots that really can make anyone’s heart race a little bit. A trailblazing brand introducing depth and detail that allows us to think of shoemaking a bit more thoughtfully.

Speaking of material and shoemaking complexities, What could be A Happy Ending—for a typical Indian dress shoe or bootmaker—was actually just the beginning for BLKBRD.

Their arsenal of exotic leathers and suede represents a major recalibration of possibilities to choose from. Abiding the old-world craftsmanship where you can literally feel the hands of the maker.

Commissions that go beyond the preconceived notion of shoemaking potentiality combined with finer details that take the eye of a connoisseur to attract respect. A prerequisite to see sense in those prices though.

A thorough reading below will make you understand what is actually in BLKBRD that stirs deep emotions in the hearts of either the merely curious or the connoisseur.


Quality Leathers

and they’ll let you handpick the skin for your pair from a palette of over twenty options.

BLKBRD’s Hand-Welted Boots Collection

It makes us a little skeptical that are we really about to have the best in-country experience when we first get to know that a brand from Agra is opting to make dress shoes and boots from skins that critics and connoisseurs typically couple chief British shoemakers with!

Every such thought fades into the background when we get the chance to see their work in person. Their leather and suede catalog is on a whole other level of robustness, plushness, softness, and richness—the sort of stuff that you really have to touch to believe.

You can engage the best grade of Full-grain leather without venturing into BLKBRD’s higher and more expensive guises. Put ’em directly up against the flagship models of many prominent Indian shoemakers and the quality of BLKBRD still abides.

With the most prominent Full-grain leathers at the baseline, escalating to the pantheon’s models (bearing pantheon-y prices) might be a tough (maybe meaningless) move for those new to the nuances of the leather-y universe.

Nuances and subtleties whose admiration very much depends on exposure to parallel qualities. From here, it’s not about being good or bad quality, they offer many types of leather, with different properties.

A reading (and pictures on a phone or computer screen) couldn’t justify the beauty of long, dense, and fine grains of Italian box calf—the most immediate upgrade from BLKBRD’s baseline.

BLKBRD’s Aurus: Shell Cordovan Penny Loafer

Classic Calf leather properties with abilities to hold a high polish but do require consistent respect and care to get the best service from them.   

One may not ask for anything better once cradling in a pair made of young calves’ absurd leathery comfort. However, that hasn’t clipped the apexes of BLKBRD yet.

The boundaries of BLKBRD’s vast leather offerings are demarcated by Shell cordovan from Horween Leather Company, the Chicago tannery that makes for Viberg, Bass Weejuns, Crockett & Jones, and others.

If Genuine Shell Cordovan leather doesn’t flitter your nerbs to any extent, we urge you to do a reading penned by MRPORTER.COM providing a big inside into how Horween leather company brooks over a year to rephrase horse skin into a proper adrenaline junkie?

It’s not a skin but a membrane, and so have a very fine grain that tends to form distinctive soft ripples with use, rather than the fine creases that you see in calfskin.

Critics might conceive Shell Cordovan as a less care-demanding material. However, every type of leather requires care and consideration in its own right. Calfskin demands a little more to develop a patina and Shell Cordovan rather less to maintain the rich color and shine it inhabits.

Conceiving that strongly sought-after patina from Box Calf leather takes patience. BLKBRD’s Cordovan series is for those who don’t have such patience but do have deep pockets.

BLKBRD’s Chormexcel line is a realm that contains elements of both in perfect balance. Chromexcel is a combination tanned leather that undergoes at least 89 separate processes taking 28 working days and utilizing all 5 floors of Horween Leather Company.

BLKBRD Chromexcel Leather Options

Two readings we recommend to those who are seeing some sense of Chromexcel:

The Chicago-based tannery has dedicated an area of its website explaining the complex process of tanning Chromexcel leather and Mr. Nick English of StrideWise has documented everything about Chromexcel that isn’t covered by the former.

Those with a shorter attention span, consider it as a leather ❝Hot Stuffed❞ with an enormous variety of oils, greases, and waxes giving it the famous luster and depth that you can see moving around the leather after a good firm rub.

A vegetable-tanned thick Chromexcel leather certainly isn’t lustrous and easy to shine compared to, say, their box calf leather with a casein finish from the tannery Annonay.

BLKBRD’s unremitting sea of leather choices is, of course, an expensive playground. The rarity and attributes of these skins might be seen as more desirable than something that simply costs a lot of money. Otherwise, BLKBRD is not for you, dear reader!


Classic Make

That’ll Just Breaks-in by the time many Wears-outs

After rolling past BLKBRD’s hypnotizing ❝Material World‚❞ it’s hard to admit that this brand is characterized by its make. Prominent leathers deserve an equally prominent construction treated.

BLKBRD shoemaker, however, leverages build that those materials (and many of their existing and potential clients) have not even asked for.

My obsession with shoe construction might be at work here, but everything echoes like they are creating new portrayals of how much complexity can be packed into a small space underneath and around one’s feet.

It wouldn’t be a bold claim if we say BLKBRD is the one of most extreme illustrations of the conventional dress shoe and boot making in India. I mean, where on earth do hand-welted bottoms come as standard? Very high stitch density that reflects like lines pulled over hand-lasted uppers.

Their Seamless line—a line of Wholecut oxfords with no cut in the heels as well—is purely a form of personal expression, quietly displaying how they wanted to be identified among the proper shoemakers.   

BLKBRD review

Hand-welted Bottoms

The credentials of welted construction are probably the only thing in the shoe world that many critics would thoroughly agree on.

❝The double-stitch reinforcement makes the shoe incredibly resilient,❞ this century-old convictions have largely endured and have given fine dress shoes and boots a pedigree of luxury that goes well beyond a mere accessory.

As with many formulas in the manufacturing world, the term has made adjustments in how shoes and boots are originally Welted, and most of those tweakings are to make the process quicker, factory-appropriate, economical, but maybe not sounder!

Apart from the few fundamentals, the matrix of more than two hundred steps to Welt a pair is multifaceted. The shoemaker had the latitude to project their ambitions as to what extent they wanted to work in harmony with the traditional method.

For BLKBRD shoemakers, however, Welting is a hands-on process that cannot be automated or mechanized for efficiency’s sake.

They might seem cold and clinical with their Hand-Welted bottoms, which, for many, only works if it is functional.

Though they aren’t the lone shoemaker honoring Hand-welting, the unique and personal touch, that handmade items generally offer, isn’t their selling point.

The Human feel is, of course, a thing and would be the only thing to admire if the Welting material and process remains the same whether executed by a human or by a machine.

Much of the Welting construction character is derived from the multiple resoling amenities it vests to the shoe, but the thick insole, the compact construction without large voids, and so forth on the hand-welted shoes are things that are considered “objectively better”.

Thick leather insoles because the holdfast is craved out from it through which the welt is sewn rather than via a glued-on canvas rib.

One can hand-welt a pair with inferior quality material and through gemming for the sake of counted flexibility and responsiveness that hand-welted pairs are classically famed for. BLKBRD, however, chooses not to make that compromise just to save our few thousand.

The Seamless

One probably shouldn’t buy them, but glad they made them!

BLKBRD Spiral & True Seamless Collection

This is the kind of stuff that, in the knowledgeable hands, touches the emotions, inspires contemplation, and provokes discussion. The rare construction marvel that stretches the mind, enlarging our notion of how a shoe can be made.

We are glad BLKBRD has executed what, according to, is the most difficult shoe model to make. Crafting a shoe through a single piece of leather dictates a shoemaker’s shoemaking prowess. Doing so without a seam at the heels and that prowess is deemed God-level.

Not any leather can turn into a Seamless. Reasonably elasticity and high tensile strength are the typical aims. Just a covering of leather isn’t enough; it has to be even and hold up well! Like an artisan Mirror-glaze a cake.

To develop the form of a shoe, the leather stays on the last for a spell. Addressing the extra material as the leather stretches during Blocking (the industrial term of this process) is whole another challenge.

The cut for the opening releases the tension and so be done with a perfect estimate of leather drop and contraction. Vesting a bit more time to make sure it contracts and sinks properly.

Such type of shoemaking isn’t beholden to strict time management. Regardless of whether this work is time-consuming, it mostly operates on its own creative clock and so becomes purely a form of personal expression or an extension of identity.

Such styles of dress shoes can place the maker in the spotlight and are considered assured buzz-provoker ever since shoemaking skills have got anything to do with the actual need.

BLKBRD’s Seamless line is like Apple’s Mac Pro or an automobile manufacturer’s F1 car. Developed to demonstrate what the firm is skilled or capable of, and might not qualify as every day or every person’s things.

They are desirable but far from the most practical shoe and so better be viewed as collectible. Creasing and cracks are inevitable as the leather is, and will always be, under extra stress!

It allows one to see the shoemaker’s promise and trust the pragmatic rung of the ladder. A profound last definition, the thing that actually makes a shoe look beautiful, comes as standard with any pair of BLKBRD.

We, quite frankly, saw BLKBRD’s Seamless collection as the field of the connoisseur who took up shoemaking professionally and for those who are finding some kind of legitimacy in becoming a member of such a community.

High Stitch Density

After all, The Devil’s in The Details.

We’ve rummaged that the process of crafting a ❝Seamless Shoe❞ is not as seamless as the results look and how it made BLKBRD the darling of sartorial media.

Let’s go to their seam-ing corners—the kind you don’t need an engineering degree to understand. What do we get in the styles held together by seams? First thing, the seams on their shoes don’t seem like seams, though! They are quite like a line disbanding the pattern pieces.

Doesn’t produce that of a functional difference either the uppers and bottoms are sewn at high or low density. A very sparse one looks quite dull while one that’s sewn at higher stitch density is something majestic to behold.

Along with ambition and skills, these nuances need high-tensile-strength leathers that can withstand tight stitching. Decorated with such an expanse of leather choices, BLKBRD looks most promising to reach levels of 8-10 stitches per inch.

As mass production becomes the norm, these numbers or such detail-y hand-work on shoes may not trigger excitement as stitching, for many, is just a loop of thread used to fasten objects together.

However, we are not scraping irrelevant specialties, to more broadly illustrate the prowess of BLKBRD. The difference of a densely sewn shoe isn’t immediately apparent from a picture on a phone or computer screen.

High-stitch density creates a finesse to the finishing of a shoe that one immediately sees when they are placed aside a very ponderously sewn pair. High-quality leather and construction make a shoe live like an expensive pair. But such details make ’em look like an expensive one.

Classic Design & Proportional Patterns

Has a good spread between familiarity and interest.

Francis Bacon once said, “There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.” Such artisanal traditions are at the heart of shoemakers crafting exhibition shoes, for competitions, etc.

For the rest of the conventional shoemaking lineage, anything can make a shoe look beautiful but the strangeness. Subtle design and working with proportions of pattern pieces portray a shoemaker’s learnings and discoveries.

Even the most rigorously hand-lasted uppers, portraying every curve and angle of the last, wouldn’t give the sense of serenity or, at worst, might look hideous with the bad pattern harmonies and order.

In reckoning such a volatile element of shoe design, BLKBRD is as classically correct as dress shoes could be. Even for someone who has dedicated his life to this craft, it is not easy to construct a defense for a shoemaker’s design and pattern placement prowess.

To truly appreciate it, one needs to place the pair in a sheaf and consider how detailed, well-placed, and smarter the exterior is. It’s not a physical or material fondness so much as a psychological one.

Apart from supplying visual tranquillity; design and pattern articulations have functional roles too. From setting the joints exactly where the shoe bends while strolling to using the overlays for added arch support—Shoemakers like BLKBRD use design elements to prevent leather creasing and hone the structure.

How To Buy BLKBRD?

A Plethora of styles ❝Made❞ when ordered with a few options ready to wear!

BLKBRD Derby Collection

We innately prefer to stay quiet on the buying front mainly because that’s conventionally anything but complicated. BLKBRD infringes the tradition of maximizing convenience over all else to make buying as effortless as possible.

The manner one buys a BLKBRD is actually the reason why a pair of such a high caliber could be priced so damn reasonably! 

The price of shoes that have been delivered like they are already on your doorstep includes the cost of carrying piles of shoes in every style and size. In the traditional ready-to-wear settings, the cost of unsold pairs would actually be spread evenly in the prices of purchased pairs.

Mass production, indeed, makes cemented off-the-rack footwear economically feasible. However, the finest quality welted shoes could be anything but mass-produced.

A large portion of the price goes towards the quality of shoes that are made when ordered. While BLKBRD offers both services, they have made it their top priority to master made-to-order.

Made-to-order approach lets BLKBRD offer gobs of leather options to get things started. As the first port of call, you’ll be asked to measure your feet, align the findings with their size chart, and be quizzed on the style of shoe you’re after.

Then you’ll drill down to the details: everything from the lining of your shoes to the shape of the last that carries all the aesthetics and fitting qualities of your shoe.

Why Buying Made-To-Order Shoes is Different?

and How BLKBRD makes it effortless and exciting.

The process, indeed, would test your patience and is certainly not for those whose commitment to fine dress shoes does not extend to a month-long wait.

On paper, you are simply buying something that’s made after you place the order. But that simplicity fades into the background as one urges through the avenues of choices he has to make to bring ’em to life.

It triggers the anxiety of picking the style, material, construction, and, most notably, of conveying the proportions of your feet.

The generation of (newly) wealthy patrons, who didn’t know their way around sartorial nuances, might see these shoe-buying philosophies as luxuries virtually impossible to catch.

When a shoe, that demands splurge in five figures, is made with so much of your input, it feels like there’s nobody, apart from yourself, to blame for the elements that fail to impress.

However, shoemakers like Bridlen and BLKBRD are well aware of the ineffability of made-to-order service. They don’t leave it all up to the clients new to M-T-O.

Apart from serving up an onslaught of ready-to-wear styles—that often serve as good as many custom-made shoes—people who are on BLKBRD’s team never let their made-to-order clients feel unassisted.

My First Pair from BLKBRD Shoemaker.

Has Brought Me Faith in Their Made-to-order Offering.

The work of a shoemaker always looks good from afar, and there is barely any shoemaker who doesn’t come across well… digitally! It makes us a little unsure of what’s going on before we witness the work in person.

Generally, a shoemaker’s most concisely priced ready-to-wear collection provides insight into its service, shoemaking prowess, fitting attributes, and last harmonies.

Shoemakers, in like manner, carry such collections as their introduction and what to expect thereafter, in their higher-end collections. 

Violating our conventional way of documenting a shoemaker’s insights; for BLKBRD, we opted straight to what the very best this brand has in the arsenal.

In the period between discovering a brand to having our first pair from them, we never felt more confident about a shoemaker’s eminence, before witnessing their work in person, than we were about BLKBRD shoemaker. Thanks to Buzz their Seamless collection made in the sartorial world. 

I provided the measurements of my feet in millimeters and let them convert it to shoe size, as they are most familiar with their sizing scales.

It’s pretty much obvious right from the front that I want them to commission a pair of brown calf suede penny loafers. 

However, there are tons of inspirations for styles and materials and you’d barely find individuals who are more enthusiastic to guide you through them than the people on their team.

Their suggestions would be more sense-sounding if backed by the details about your lifestyle, closet, and the reasons you consider having a dress shoe or boot.

Don’t hesitate to express your wishes but do not leave it completely over ’em. The style of the shoe or boot, which you’re investing thousands in, must be an immaculate result of your morphology and shoemaker’s experience.

It is, of course, an expensive affair as the pair would be made by humans; it is an artistic creation, rather than a mechanical one. 

You are paying for the time of the shoemaker, you are paying for decades of their experience, and articulating your aims and desires, and then communicating them to the shoemaker is the only step to gaining a satisfying pair.

Is BLKBRD Shoemakers Worth It?

Well, It depends on How you perceive them.

BLKBRD Casual Collection

Straightforwardness, of course, is merrily appreciated – aren’t things complicated enough already? But dictating the worthiness of a shoemaker in either an unequivocal ❝Yes❞ or ❝No❞ is like dismissing their worthiness.

Beyond the frontiers of sartorial territory, how can something (not) be up to everyone’s standard? The worthiness depends on how closely the appraiser resonates with the class of clients for whom the product is designed and made for.

Opting for BLKBRD shoemakers, you’d be investing a lot more than what many usually dedicate to shoes, so it’s inevitable not to expect them to solve all your issues. However, it’s very unlikely. 

Sounds discouraging, but many are unaware that shoemakers from such a high echelon urging serious investment – need equally serious consideration as well as a fair bit of knowledge to get admired.

We do believe BLKBRD is worth the splurge, but the real issue is that modern society is not set up for the kind of relationship such conventional shoemakers demand.

The creations at BLKBRD are exactly as someone pictures the best of traditional shoemaking, but even the finest from them might leave you under-delivered if you are not one of those whom they aim to serve.

Being a delighted owner of five pairs of BLKBRD, after having interviewed their team numerous times, and writing pieces on them annually for years: here is what we think the narrowest band of personalities—who would really appreciate the work of BLKBRD shoemakers—seems like.

Comfortable With Prices in Five-figures

To not forget about the price… but to be comfortable bearing it

The century-old shoemaking cognition is candidly a new concept to most of us. Best leathers to hose out for, but are something that many haven’t even heard the names of.

And if buying a pair of BLKBRD makes you worried about making rent, then you should better settle on something plausible.

No matter how good a Welted pair from BLKBRD is serving, an uncomfortably cleared bill would always be a petite but audible reminder that you’ve disbursed too much for a pair of shoes. 

Such a wholeheartedly crafted pair of shoes or boots, if bought with a similar inclination, leads to a more rational assessment of either the pair’s potential capabilities enough to fulfill one’s needs.

To see sense in BLKBRD shoes doesn’t require forgetting about the price but being comfortable bearing it. After all, price is the most necessary element that contributes to determining the value of anything.

Worth To Those in The Know

Who Has Steeped in Such Classic Built-To-Last Purchases

Can something as simple as a shoe could be implanted with complexities only be decoded by fellow cognoscenti, or by others in the know?

Well, not just shoes, but every article on the sartorial cosmos has a more obscure version of itself demanding familiarity to evolve a mindful opinion.

Such obscure articles are actually a flock of subtle nuances that, if aren’t totally foreign to the appraiser, place him in a better position not just to appreciate but to dismiss.

The most characteristic part of BLKBRD shoemakers is they have upgraded to the increasing niche and run the risk that only some people, but the right people, will recognize their work.

Despite taking pride in placing themselves somewhere after the point of diminishing marginal return, BLKBRD shoemakers are finding a global audience. 

One (especially those new to conventional shoemaking) may have a hard time establishing a perfect price-to-quality ratio with BLKBRD pairs as they venture into shoemaking nuances. 

The price, aberration, and eminence, for instance, of Horween Shell Cordovan couldn’t be realized by a reading or a picture on the phone or computer screen. Such ostentatious amenities need a closer in-person look to understand their message.

To those who haven’t presented themselves with proper dress shoes, even the most profound shoe connoisseurs and critics couldn’t craft a defense for BLKBRD shoes’ intricate details, elite leathers, classic build, made-to-order service, astonishing prices, and immense care and maintenance later.

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