Brooks Brothers, Initial Impressions, Stitched Footwear

Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece Captoes: Out of the Box


  • Price: $578 [Regularly on sale for less]
  • Pros: Amazing Construction, Great Price (on sale)
  • Cons: Cheap Materials, Questionable Styling Additions



Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece Captoe
Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece Captoe

When Brooks Brothers ended their contracts with Alden, Crockett & Jones, and Alfred Sargent, there was a bit of an uproar. Including from your author. For many men in the United States who prefer to not shop for shoes online, Brooks was the only place to get these brands. Their Golden Fleece Captoes, and others in the line, had the unenviable task of trying to replace these giants of the shoe industry on the Mahogany shelves of Brooks Brothers stores.

How did they do? Are these a true successor to 100 years of classic menswear? Or, are they a poor excuse at a cash grab from the company? Let’s take a deep dive and find out.

One quite note: While we will be focusing on the Medallion Captoe model here, much of what is said will be true of the entire Golden Fleece line. The highlights and the lowlights of this shoe are carried through the entire range.



Golden Fleece Shoes
At First Glance, the Shoe is Impressive

Out of the box, I was actually really impressed by what I saw as I lifted back the paper. Based on the fact that Brooks has covered the description of Golden Fleece Captoes in meaningless marketing terms, I was expecting to be disappointed, but at first blush these are pretty nice.

Up front, the medallion captoes which give the shoes their name are evenly cut and sewn on. The broguing throughout the shoe is more of the same. One particular area of interest with the broguing is that it is entirely cut through on the edge of the tongue. Not sure that was the most completely thought out idea, but it’s likely your pants will be covering this anyway.


More than any of that, though, is the stitching. It’s top-notch. From a stitches per inch metric or a straightness metric these are among the best shoes I’ve ever seen.

The uppers are built on a fairly elongated last, more European than American, but nothing that will stand out.

Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece Last
Slightly Elongated Last

The leather itself, which we will go into more in depth in the materials section, is a slightly purplish brown. I had ordered the dark brown, but I’m wondering if they sent me the burgundy instead. Personally, I think this is actually a bit more versatile than the chocolate brown in the pictures, but if you’re looking for something to match a dark brown belt, this is not it.

Inside, the shoe features a fully tan-leather lining, with – and I’m still trying to figure this one out myself – a “B” logo on the insole where the ball of your foot goes. You can see the padded insole sticking out somewhat, but not enough to really care.

Mid- and Outsole:

Golden Fleece Outsole
Rubber Pad on Outsole; Designed to Look like a Tie

The outsole of this shoe is primarily a single leather outsole with a black dye on the welt and sides. It’s attached with extremely clean welt stitching. Again, from a visual perspective, the construction is great.


Moving under the sole is when things continue to be a bit odd. Right in the middle of the insole, under the ball of your foot, is a rubber pad featuring Brooks Brother’s BB#1 Rep Tie’s pattern. Behind that is a metal “Brooks Brothers” attachment, followed by a fairly simple rubber and leather heel with some brass nails adding to the visual depth.


Brooks Brothers label
The Shoes are Burgundy, but the label says brown

The first thing you see when you open the box actually isn’t the shoes, but the maroon, navy, and yellow dust bags – again calling back to the Rep Tie. The bags themselves are pretty nice, and if you’re the type to keep your shoes in the dust bags it might add some visual interest to the closet.

Additionally, the shoe comes with a single pair of flat waxed laces. While nothing particularly noteworthy, they seem like they would last a plenty long time – if being a bit difficult to find an exact replacement.

Looks Summary:

From a purely looks standpoint, Brooks did better than I was expecting on the Golden Fleece Captoes. Almost everything they have come out with in the last 10 years – from their 1818 shoes to their FILA collaboration – has been really poor quality. These have their flaws, but overall look very impressive.

That isn’t to say there isn’t questionable decisions here – the rubber pad on the outsole looks like it came from one of the those plasticy outsoles you’d find on a shoe in Marshalls, and the “B” on the insole is just strange.


Fit & Comfort:


Golden Fleece Tongue
Fully Punched Through

The Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece line is all built on a similar last. I am between an 11.5E and an 11.75D on the Brannock. I ordered the Golden Fleece Captoes in a size 12, and believe that was the right call. For reference, I wear a size 12D in Allen Edmond’s 5 last. A size 12D in Alden’s Barrie. And a size 13 in most Nike sneakers. For more on why the Brannock isn’t always the best bet to figure out your sizing click here.

The last is fairly forgiving, being fairly wide overall – though not quite an E width. I’d say that if you’re looking for a comparison this is probably closest in size to an Alden Barrie, though this is slightly longer.


Brooks Brothers Insole
“B” Logo Directly Under Foot; Note Blue Edges

From a comfort perspective, these are certainly on the more comfortable side when it comes to proper stitched shoes. The biggest thing here is the padded insole that runs the length of the entire shoe. It is not easily removeable, but the description on their website indicates it’s Ortholite branded.

The inclusion here isn’t really surprising. The Brooks Brothers Allen Edmonds line had a Poron insole not available anywhere else from Allen Edmonds.


This insole does raise a bit of concern. One of the main benefits of resoleable shoes is that they can last for decades of wear. I know that similar insoles I’ve had from brands like Adidas are typically completely flat by the time the outsole wears away. Without the ability to replace the insole with one cut to the same shape, this could mean these shoes are really one-sole-only.

The other thing to note on comfort is that if you’re wearing thinner dress socks, you can feel the “B” under the ball of your foot. It is not a comfortable feeling. I’m sure it will wear down with time, but out of the box this is definitely a negative.

Materials & Construction:

Brooks Brothers Metal Logo
Metal Logo Underneath

As I had mentioned in the looks section, when you first take the Golden Fleece Captoes out of the box they are impressive. However, once you get your hands on the leather you are in for a bit of disappointment. The leather is coated with a thick plasticky coating. That doesn’t necessarily mean the leather is bad – Alden famously puts a coating on their color 8 shell – but more often than not this is something brands do to hide poor quality leather.

It’s also extremely thin. Even with the coating it’s about half the thickness of typical box calf you’d get elsewhere. Of all the faults in the shoe, the leather is the most notable.

Inside, the leather lining is “just ok.” I didn’t think the leather lining was that big a deal, but after I tried a pair of $200 MSRP loafers that blew me out of the water with their lining, having a pair that MSRPs at nearly $600 using something this cheap really stands out. The materials of the upper are not what they should be.


And that’s a real shame, because otherwise the construction is really great. Made using a goodyear welt style construction, these shoes seem to be put together by expert craftsmen. There were basically no loose threads anywhere on the shoe, and the welt joint was near perfect.

Ease of Care:

Golden Fleece Leather
Close up of Leather with Thick Coating

Normally, you’d want to be sure to use conditioner every six months or so. With the exact timing based on the number of wears. Personally, I find that Bick 4 offers the best value, but others swear by Saphir or VSC. That being said, with the coating on the Golden Fleece Captoes, you can probably go a bit longer in between conditionings.

I’d also suggest using a horsehair brush to clean them off every few wears. Also, be sure they are shoe treed when not in use.

With these being a goodyear welt construction, you should be able to get them resoled at just about any cobbler. Prices will vary by city, but generally will run you between $75 and $150. Brooks Brothers does not offer a factory recrafting service at time of writing.

Pricing & Value:

Golden Fleece Shoebox
Box Was Pretty Beat Up

Originally priced at $578, these shoes have been steadily going down in price on Brooks Brothers site for over a year now. At time of writing, they are $199, and Rakuten regularly offers 15% off Brooks Brothers – in other words they can be had for around $170 fairly easily. I was able to combine that with the father’s day sale at Brooks Brothers and purchase these for just over $140.


If you have not used Rakuten before, here is an affiliate link that will give you $30 in cash back on your first order of $30 or more.

Brooks Brothers Shoes
Stitching Clean Throughout the Shoe

From a value perspective, $578 is laughable. I get that they were replacing a line from Alden or Crockett and Jones and wanted the price to be equal, but anyone could tell these were built knowing they would end up on regular 40% off sales.

At $140-$170, that is a very different price point. Here, they are competing with Allen Edmonds seconds on sale, or shoes with cemented construction. In our comparison of Oxfords at Every Budget, these were closer to Florsheims than the Beckett Simonons. The leather isn’t great, but fits in well at this price point – plus you get the great construction.

Wrap Up:

Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece Captoe
Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece Captoe

This was a frustrating review to write. In many ways these shoes are good. Really good. The stitching – both the upper and the welt – is world class, as is the broguing. The person who put these together really knew what they were doing.

At the same time, the corner cutting on materials is obvious. The leather choices show that Brooks didn’t aim to make a better shoe than their old Alden line, it showed that Brooks thought they could make a cheaper shoe and increase their profits (a bet that didn’t pan out).

The worst part is that Brooks Brothers spent significant amounts of money on stuff that didn’t matter. Did any ever look at a Peal & Co. shoe and said they loved it except they need a rubber cap on the outsole that looked like a tie? A “B” stamped in the insole? A silver logo that will brush on the floor and clack on steps? A dust bag with rep stripes?

Of course not. Once the shoe is 4 months old, all of these will have either been worn away or lost. Imagine if Brooks Brothers had taken the money they spent on these items, and instead put it towards better leather? These would have been a work of art. A real rival to the shoes they replaced.

Instead, at MSRP, we are left with something that was a 4th place finisher at a race. Respectable, but not destined for the podium. That being said, when you pull these out of the Olympics and put them in the county-fair level price point, they put up a heck of a fight.