Reviewed & updated: September 12, 2023 by Jamie Wilson BA
Let’s cut to the chase. You’re here because you want to know if Amberjack’s Originals are worth the hype, suitable? Well, I’ve done the legwork—literally—and I’m here to give you the no-BS rundown. Bottom line: The Originals are like the Swiss Army knife of footwear, blending slick, formal aesthetics with the comfort you’d expect from your favorite pair of gym shoes. We’re diving deep into how this Brooklyn-born brand is flipping the script on what a hybrid shoe can be. Ready? Let’s get into it.
Amberjack’s Originals had me hooked from the start. These bad boys were engineered in a lab to target what most of us are after sustainability, function, and style. So whether you’re trekking the concrete jungle or suiting up for a night out, I’ve put this pair through its paces to help determine if they’re the missing link in your footwear game.
The Brand You Need to Know: Amberjack
If you haven’t heard of Amberjack, sit tight—you’re about to. Think dress shoes meet casual kicks with a carbon-neutral twist. The guy behind it all? John Peters. Inspired by apparel startups that made sustainability their cornerstone, Peters is leading the charge in making Amberjack the first carbon-neutral dress shoe brand. There is no double-box shipping here; your shoes hit your doorstep in just the mail packaging, housed in a linen—not nylon—dust bag.
The leather is full-grain, courtesy of a solar-powered ISO-certified tannery in Monterrey, Mexico. Assembly? Handled in a fair-wage factory in Portugal that knows its craft but isn’t afraid of innovation. All this for a respectable $189 a pair.
Amberjack Originals: The Blueprint
Designed by the mind behind Allen Edmonds and John Varvatos, these shoes strike an intelligent balance between formal and sporty. Forget the usual eyesore hybrids that look like a Frankenstein of a dress shoe and athletic sole. These gems feature a Derby leather upper with hidden vents for breathability. The padded collar blends seamlessly into the overall aesthetic, offering a hybrid shoe that’s a more cohesive art piece than a patchwork quilt.
A Closer Look
The outsole takes a slight detour from traditional dress shoes. It sports a two-tone midsole that might catch an eye but blends pretty well with the overall look. Especially in the brown or tan variants, you’ll fly under the radar in the office—no one will guess you’re basically wearing glorified sneakers. The black version, though stylish, is a bit more transparent about its dual nature. What is the leather quality? Top-notch. Supple, visually striking, and showcasing a killer patina on the tips.
These shoes aren’t just for show. Rock ’em with jeans, khakis, or office-appropriate getups. You can even pair them with a mismatched suit and not look like you’re still deciding whether to go formal or casual. They pull off a polished, intentional look, breaking only as far from sartorial norms as you’d dare to.
Walking on Clouds: Comfort & Fit
A+. That’s the grade for comfort, folks. Whether you’re socked up or going commando, these shoes are plush. The ankle cushioning and vamp padding offer more than just a snug fit—like memory foam that’s been to the gym. The insole’s arch support is heat-activated, adapting to your foot shape over time. You won’t find sweaty feet here. Even after walking in 80-degree weather, the hidden ventilation does its job.
Sizing & Exchanges
These run a bit large, so pay attention when picking your size. Got the wrong fit? No sweat—Amberjack offers free exchanges within 45 days if they’re in original condition.
The Price Tag
$179. It’s worth every cent, considering what you’re getting: comfort, versatility, and ethical production. Sure, they use cement soling, but that’s standard for comfort-focused shoes.
The Originals: Pros & Cons
Firstly, the Amberjack Originals are the epitome of hybrid innovation, blending style and comfort seamlessly. I can’t fault these bad boys on the comfort scale; they fit like a glove right out of the box, and rumor has it, they’ll mold to your feet over time for an even better fit—quite the evolution. They offer a broad range of sizes, including half sizes, which you rarely see in hybrid footwear.
However, no shoe is without its flaws. The Originals sport a cement sole, which might not jive with the purists leaning toward the spectrum’s formal end. And let’s talk about that white streak in the black variant; it’s like wearing a tuxedo with sneakers—everyone knows what you’re up to. Lastly, their sizing options leave out the outliers, missing sizes smaller than 8 and more significant than 13.
Amberjack Chelsea Boots: The Breakdown
Boots—everyone’s got opinions. The Amberjack Chelsea Boot is a solid contender in the boot arena. Right off the bat, it’s apparent that these are a different breed, built on the same Dual-Density Outsole as The Originals, and guess what? They’re even more casual-friendly.
Comparing them to industry standards like Thursday Boot Co. and Allen Edmonds, these boots punch above their weight class in the comfort department. These boots ditch the typical heel pull tab, which, in my book, is a plus. No more snagging your pants, lads. You’ve got options in both leather and water-resistant suede. The “grizzly” hue? Universally flattering.
So, Are Amberjack Shoes Worth the Hype?
Let’s put it this way: when you’ve got James Seuss, the guy behind the Nike and Cole Haan merger, and John Kraljevich, a design genius, on your team, you’re playing in the big leagues. Amberjack is clearly not messing around.
So, is it worth it? If you’re a hybrid shoe skeptic, let The Originals be your gateway. They find that sweet spot between sporty and sophisticated and do it without compromising comfort. Still, waiting for the perfect dress shoe doppelgänger? Keep waiting. But if you’re open to something a tad outside the traditional box but still sophisticated, Amberjack’s got your back—and your feet.
How Does The Sizing Compare To Other Shoe Brands?
In the context of men’s footwear, sizing can be a battlefield. From my experience, Amberjack tends to run large, so you should consider going a half size down from your usual dress shoe size. For example, if you typically rock a size 9, you might find a snug, comfy fit in an 8.5. The brand also offers half sizes, a big win in the hybrid shoe game. It allows for a more precise fit, which we sometimes see in the market.
They’ve got a complimentary exchange policy within 45 days, as long as the shoes are unworn and in their original condition. So you’re not stuck if you end up with the wrong size. Check it out, try them on at home, and if it’s not right, you’ve got a safety net.
Just keep this in mind: A shoe’s fit can make or break your day, especially in an office environment where you’re often on your feet. So take the time to get it right. You won’t regret it.
Alright, gents, let’s wrap this up. Amberjack is clearly making strides in the shoe game, and if you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of hybrid footwear, this is a great starting point. They’ve got comfort down to a science, and their designs tread that fine line between casual and formal. But keep in mind, these aren’t your traditional leather oxfords. If you’re a stickler for the classics, the unique design elements might be out of reach. On the flip side, if you’re all about that work-life balance—in your wardrobe, that is—then you’ll want to add a pair to your collection. Sustainability, style, and comfort, all under $200? Sounds like a good deal to me. It’s time to make a move, fellas.