(I personally buy and use all the products I review. I do not receive any compensation for my reviews.)
Back in August, I included the Brogue Boots from Will’s Vegan Store in my list of Crockett & Jones Islay Boots Alternatives. As a vegan, I try to find vegan or cruelty-free clothing whenever possible, but in my experience finding quality-made vegan footwear that replicates the look and function of leather has always been a challenge.
Fortunately, vegan leathers have come a long way—they’re better looking, more durable, and more affordable than they were just a few years ago. Companies all over the world have developed new vegan leathers from a variety of plants, including mushrooms, cactus, and oats.
I’ve been intrigued by these developments so I decided to get a pair of the Will’s Vegan Store Brogue Boots to try them out. Before writing this review, I wore them daily for about 2 months in a variety of weather and environments to get a good idea of how they wear and handle different conditions. Here are my impressions.
The Brogue Boots are constructed from rich brown Italian vegan leather made from cereal crops (wheat, maize, rice, barley, oats, rye and sorghum) grown in northern Europe. The vegan leather is water resistant so they will stand up to light rain or snow, just don’t go jumping in any puddles or walking through running water. Just like animal leather, you can polish it to bring out the shine and return color to the boots, but they caution you not to use water protectant on them—the vegan leather is already water resistant and those protectants can eat away at the material.
The uppers are constructed in a wingtip design with brogue detailing along the trim on the vamp and quarter. The leather has a scotch grain-like finish, which adds a subtle texture and some great character to the boot’s appearance. The laces run through five eyelets and three speed hooks.
The boots’ outsoles are a studded rubber design (fashioned in the same style as the Dainite soles Crockett & Jones use on their Islay Boots) and the insoles are made from recycled rubber. The two soles are connected using Blake stitching to keep the boots feeling lightweight on your feet despite the sturdy rubber soles.
Overall, I really like the Brogue Boots’ design. The wingtip is well-defined by precise cuts in the vegan leather, though I would personally prefer a little more brogue detailing. I think the speed hooks are a nice touch, as are the studded rubber soles. My only real complaint is that the shaft is cut so that when I lace the boots all the way up, the leather at the top doesn’t lay flat against my ankle. There’s either an inch gap between the shaft and the tongue or one side of the shaft overlaps the other. This doesn’t noticeably affect how the boots fit, it’s really more of an aesthetic issue.
There is a lot to like about the uppers on the Brogue Boots. They have a rich brown color with beautiful brogue detailing, as well as that scotch grain-like finish I mentioned earlier. The leather feels about as thick as the leather on a dress boot—it’s much thinner and more pliable right out of the box than the kind of leather used in work boots. The leather is still a little stiff at first, but I was able to wear them comfortably around town right away without needing to break them in first.
Honestly, the studded rubber soles might be my favorite part of the Brogue Boots. They have a slim profile, which gives them a more refined look than a lug sole and makes it easy to wear them with jeans or a suit (trust me, I’ve done both). At the same time, the rubber provides better functionality than the standard leather sole on a dress shoe, so you’ll have an easier time wearing these boots in the rain and snow. And while these aren’t the same soles Bond wears on his Crockett & Jones footwear, they provide the same look and function. All you’re missing is the “Dainite” brand name.
The Brogue Boots fit me well, though they are a little on the narrow side. If you have wide feet they probably aren’t going to work for you. The sizing runs large so be aware of that before you place an order. I first ordered my normal size (11US) but they were way too big when I tried them on. I exchanged them for a size 10US and they fit great. If you’re not sure what size to buy, I recommend consulting with their excellent customer service team before you place an order (more on them later).
Overall, I think the Brogue Boots are very comfortable. They’re the only shoes I’ve worn since I got them back in August—I’ve walked somewhere between 10 and 15 miles in them without any complaints. Most of that has been in town walking on grass, wood, concrete, etc.
A couple of weeks ago, I wore them for a 5-mile woodland hike so I could really put them through the ringer. I can honestly say that—while these wouldn’t be my first pick to wear hiking under normal circumstances—I went through the whole hike without having any issues with my feet getting hot or sore. After putting them through that adventure, I can say these boots will be perfectly comfortable for most daily wear.
Extra Consideration: Customer Service
This isn’t boot related, but I want to point out that the customer service team over at Will’s Vegan Store are exceptional. As I mentioned, the first boots I ordered were too big so I had to exchange them for a smaller size. When I contacted their customer service about my issue, they responded very quickly and sent me another size to try and told me to keep the pair I wanted and send back the one I didn’t. Plus, they expedited the replacement so I had them in less time than it took to get my original order.
A lot of companies would have made me buy a second pair of boots, then return the original pair and wait for my return to be processed before giving me a refund (which can sometimes take several weeks). I hate when companies do that because not only is it expensive because you’re paying for something twice, even if you’ll get the money back in a few weeks, but it also suggests that companies don’t trust you as a customer. They assume that everyone is trying to rip them off so they make the whole return/exchange process a burden on the customer.
It was so refreshing to have such a helpful, positive experience with the customer service team from Will’s Vegan Store. Honestly, that experience would make me want to shop with them again even if I didn’t like these boots.
The Bottom Line
Overall, I really like the Brogue Boots. They aren’t perfect but I think they’re pretty close. As I mentioned before, my biggest complaint is the way the leather at the top of the shaft sits when the boots are laced all the way up. But I think that’s a pretty minor issue in the grand scheme of things—I wouldn’t let that stop you from buying them.
The bottom line is they’re stylish, they’re functional, they’re comfortable, they’re affordable, and best of all, they’re 100% cruelty free. Even if you don’t mind wearing leather shoes, these are a much higher-quality boot than most other options you’ll find at this price point. They’re my go-to boots, even though I’m done reviewing them.
If you’re looking for a good pair of boots at an affordable price, I’d recommend trying the Vegan Brogue Boots from Will’s Vegan Store. (Plus, they offer free returns and exchanges for a year, so you really don’t have anything to lose.)