OTC & ECCO, Spring 2014 Gear

DSC 0650 OTC & ECCO, Spring 2014 Gear

OTC is proud to be a brand ambassador for the footwear and lifestyle brand ECCO.  When it comes to everyday life, we often need items that work well, get the job done, and are a comfortable fit.  More often than you might think, ECCO products fit that bill.

Shoes that are incredibly comfortable and versatile, bags that work in the real world, and accessories that fit a casual, European inspired lifestyle, are the hallmarks of ECCO products.  Modern styles and technical functionality are also core attributes of the company and our recent shipment highlights all these elements.

For Spring 2014, we are checking out some classic hand-sewn boat shoes, a pair of hybrid day sneakers, and a leather zip tote that makes for a stylish office alternative.

BIOM Lite 1.1 Sneaker

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Ellery Boat Shoe

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Deane Tote Shopper

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Here are a few additional views:

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Paul Evans Grant 4 Paul Evans Shoes: American Energy & Italian QualityWe realized there was something special about Paul Evans oxfords the moment we put them on.  OTC tests products in a somewhat unique way, taking longer to assess a brand than most other blogs or websites.  We make the products we review part of our daily lives.

That means we wear the clothes, carry the bags, write with the pens, and use the gadgets.  We also walk miles in the shoes and boots and throw stuff in the wash whenever we can.  In many cases, we continue to use and carry the items you read about here – testament to our long-standing goal of recommending products and brands we ourselves actually use long after the review is posted.  We strive to provide our readers with a comprehensive assessment of the products and brands we recommend.

2014 02 04 17.00.52 Paul Evans Shoes: American Energy & Italian QualityTo that end, slipping on those Paul Evans Grant oxfords was a departure from the many other shoes we have tried out.

Paul Evans’ Grant is built on a European last that among other things, provides a distinctive and noticeable arch support.  It’s an immediate sensation that signals to the wearer that he is experiencing something different.  Good different.

It holds the foot at a stronger angle and provides greater heel stability.  It prompts the wearer to assume a more formal stance and mature posture.  Not at all uncomfortable, simply different and, in a way, compellingly confident.

Combined with outstanding Italian construction, and beautifully soft calfskin uppers burnished to a soft glow, these shoes are, in a word, exceptional.  Fully leather lined and Blake stitched, they are light, flexible, and sturdy.  These shoes are also simply beautiful to look at; lean and elegant but also firmly masculine and substantial.  Even paired with trim jeans and an odd sport coat, they make you look great.

The Grant is a dress shoe in the best of ways, meaning that its balance of elegance and construction create something that both attracts attention but defies explanation.  We constantly had people comment on and compliment these shoes, often without calling out a particular feature.  Typically, it was something to the effect of, “oh my gosh – what shoes are those? They’re gorgeous.”

What truly impressed us was the fact that the substance lives up to the style.  For the price, this degree of refined style and exceptional construction is simply not found in other dress shoes.  In addition, as a small company, the Paul Evens team is personally committed to maintaining the quality of their products in a way that larger companies cannot.  They are shoes guys obsessed with making world class footwear at a fair price and building a loyal following that appreciates those values.

OTC thinks they are off to a great start.  Oh, the suede loafers and chukkas look killer too.

Paul Evans Grant 1 Paul Evans Shoes: American Energy & Italian Quality

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ECCO: Your ‘Heading Out’ Shoes

ECCO Moc Toe 1 ECCO: Your Heading Out Shoes

Everyone needs a pair of shoes that serve as your default.  The ones that you pull on when heading out to the store, walk the dog, run some errands, or an afternoon antiquing.

ECCO makes those shoes, and they make them well.  In fact, the privately held Danish company is the only major shoe manufacturer in the world that owns and manages every step of the shoe making process.  As a reflection of that commitment, the company was just selected as the 2013 Best Shoe Manufacturer by the German footwear industry.  The award was presented last month at the prestigious Schuhkurier & step Award event, in Düsseldorf.

What does that mean to us?  For starters, it reinforces OTC’s commitment to being an ECCO brand ambassador, something we do very sparingly and only for brands with which we have a long relationship.  In addition, it reminds us of the ECCO commitment to developing shoes you want to wear when you really need to go somewhere.  While they have recently rolled out some very sharp business and business casual lines, we love their get-out-there-and-walk shoes.

First and foremost, ECCO’s shoes are made for walking and comfort, whether to a staff meeting or up a mountain.  There is something to fit everyone’s need.

So, what’s our choice for the OTC ‘heading out’ shoes? ECCO’s Fusion Moc Toe.  The combine the style of a low boat or camp shoe with the support and comfort of a serious walking shoe.  Equally important is that they fit and feel great with or without socks.  We have paired these with khakis, jeans, and cords and the ECCO’s functionally classic style has always worked well.

We love these shoes so much that when heading out Chicago to cover the Stella Artois Cidre launch party, they were the on shoes we took (below).

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Smart Style: Shoe Recrafting

AE Recraft Sole 2 Smart Style: Shoe Recrafting

One of the true hallmarks of that storied East Coast Ivy League lifestyle known as “preppy” is its practitioners’ predilection for thrift.

The longevity of a shirt, sweater, favorite pair of khakis, or treasured sport coat is in many ways more prized than anything else.  While those committed to mere preppy fashion may stuff their closets with the latest branded version of vintage inspired wares and overly nuanced brick-a-brac, salt of the earth preps focus on value.  They invest in well made stuff that lasts.  They are busy letting out their dad’s old J. Press blazer (which in fact, this author just did) or figuring how best to reclaim some well-worn but totally functional pair of Allen Edmonds cap toes.

AE Recrafting OLD 1024x682 Smart Style: Shoe Recrafting This last point is actually easier to accomplish than you might think.  Where a new pair of AE’s oxfords may run you $350 or so, your already loved, if world-weary pair, can be fully recrafted (including new shoe trees and felt bags) for the relatively bargain basement price of $150.

Not only does that save you money, another pastime of most old-school preps, it also helps to preserve for another decade some great shoes filled with honest-to-goodness history and hard earned character.

In Allen Edmonds’ case, the process of breathing new life into well-worn footwear begins with setting the shoes on their original last and completely removing the old sole and cork bed. The existing welting is then cut free and an entirely new sole is assembled and stitched onto the shoe.  The old wax is stripped off and a new coat is hand applied.  The shoes are then polished, buffed and ready to head home.

The whole process is an excellent example of living the life with savings to spare. Recrafting your Allen Edmonds shoes is not only a smart way to extend your investment in a great pair of shoes, it also contributes to your own sense of timeless style.

Want to master some real Ivy League ethos, the kind that can’t be purchased or affected? Choose to live by the mantra, “wear it ’till it falls apart.” You will be following in the well-trod footsteps of leather elbow-patched college professor types other guys merely emulate.

More importantly, you’ll also able to better appreciate the stuff you do have, make smarter choices about what you add to your wardrobe, and focus on the stuff you truly love and actually need.

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When it comes to Cadillac Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, we’ll treat it like new. Introducing the all-new Certified Pre-Owned Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty, an extension of our new vehicle warranty for up to 6 years or 70,000 miles.  Cadillac covers more of your vehicle than BMW, Mercedes and Lexus.  And, with our 172-Point Inspection, 24-hour Roadside Assistance, Courtesy Transportation, and more, owning a Certified Pre-Owned Cadillac is more thrilling than ever. Learn More at www.cadillac.com/cpo

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Cadillac Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Cadillac Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles.

Cadillac Pre Owned Logo Smart Style: Shoe Recrafting

 

Running Lite With ECCO

ECCO Biom EVO Racer Lite Running Lite With ECCO

When asked, many people think of footwear brand ECCO as purveyors of comfortable European-inspired walking shoes.  And while this is very much true, and we love them for it, the company also innovates in several other forward-thinking categories, including athletics.  The Biom EVO Racer Lite running shoe is a great example of ECCO’s dedication to rethinking performance running.

The Biom EVO Lite’s natural anatomical last provides exceptionally flexible comfort and the unique asymmetrical collar and tongue ensures improved ankle position and support for feet.  This running shoe is low cut and designed to combine comfort and natural motion, for an almost free-running feel with comfort and support from toe to heel.  It did take us a little while to get used to the arch positioning and way the offset tongue sat on the foot.  By no means uncomfortable, it is just a different feel and fit unique to ECCO.

So far, we have put about 20 miles of road running on these shoes and really appreciate the light, responsive feel and natural spring.  If you are looking for heavy cushioning and bounce, these may not be a good fit, however, if seeking a more natural feel with a lower stance, give the Biom EVO Racer Lite a try.

ECCO Running Photoshoot 8.2013 1024x768 Running Lite With ECCO