Grant Stone Coast Sneaker: Veg Tanned Vacation
The Grant Stone Coast Sneaker offers unparalleled materials, and impeccable build quality.
The Grant Stone Coast Sneaker is among the most expensive sneakers in this category, and can’t be resoled.
|Weight||594 g / 1 lb 4.95 oz|
|Materials||Badalassi Leather / Rubber Outsole|
|Country of Origin||China|
Grant Stone Coast Sneaker Review
Despite living through three years of pandemic, these past few weeks have been a dozy. First, Nike makes a sneaker that is high quality. Now Grant Stone, famous for making extremely high-quality welted footwear, makes a sneaker. The sneaker world is in disarray. What’s next, dogs and cats, living together?
All jokes aside, even as someone who has an affinity for both sneakers and stitched footwear, this one did take me by surprise. Though, maybe it shouldn’t. One thing I appreciate about Wyatt Gilmore, the founder of Grant Stone, is that many of the shoes they produce come from his desire for a product that isn’t in the market. In this case, he knew that there are people out there who wanted a sneaker, but didn’t want to give up high-patina veg-tanned leather.
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t spent several hours dreaming up what I would do in his situation.
Enough about the brand, though. We’re here to talk about the shoes.
Are they actually any good? Let’s dive in and find out.
Disclaimer: Grant Stone provided these sneakers for the purpose of review, however this post is not sponsored. The information below is a true evaluation of the sneaker, and Grant Stone was not given the opportunity to review, comment, or edit prior to the post going live.
When it comes to the upper of the Grant Stone Coast, it’s clear the brand wanted to try and keep close to the classic minimalist sneaker design. That means a lace-to-toe, with only required stitching throughout. You’ll also find a heel tab, though unlike other brands, it’s in the same leather that you select on the upper.
Speaking of that leather – it’s a real star. This particular make up is in their Badalassi veg-tanned option in saddle. Out of the box, it has a lot of character, but you can expect it to patina significantly with wear. If you really want to lean into the patina, there is a natural option as well. Though, natural veg-tanned on shoes are not for the faint of heart!
Personally, I think the saddle tan is the one to get. First, mid-brown allows you to see the highlights and lowlights right out of the box. Further, it will still develop significantly over time, without adding in the concern of drops of water staining your sneakers. In any event, keep your eyes peeled for a long-term follow up down the road.
I should point out, they do break from the minimalist design slightly. First, as is typical with Grant Stone, these have a wider toe box than you’d normally find. Next, in what I believe is a first for the brand, their horse-logo is visible on the tongue.
Stitching throughout the entire upper is extremely clean. Combined with the rolled edges to the leather, you can tell significant care was put into building these.
Mid- and Outsole
The Grant Stone Coast uses a single-piece rubber cup sole for the bottom half of the sneaker. White on every colorway but the black calf, which uses a black option.
With even the bumper guards around the toe and heel part of the same piece, it fits well with the minimal design. The textured area around the front and the heel are integrated into the single unit. The stitching along the cup sole is extremely clean, as you would expect.
Flipping the Coast over, you’ll find a mostly flat outsole with a prominent Vibram logo in the middle.
The Grant Stone Coast Sneaker is a complicated thing. It’s a minimal sneaker, but the leather is incredibly complex. It’s a basic design, but it’s well made of top end materials.
Personally, I found them easiest to style wearing an outfit on the preppier side. Stone-colored chinos and powder blue sweaters, for example. The naturally worn-in look of the leather – along with the wider toe box – plays right into the New England-esque outfit.
Fit & Comfort
Out of the box, I was a bit concerned about the fit of the Grant Stone Coast, made on their “Naples” last. To be honest, it felt a bit sloppy.
However – thanks to some advice in the Stichdown review – I swapped out the bar lacing they came with for a more typical “criss cross” sneaker lacing and that solved everything. You just can’t get an even pull down with the bar lacing.
I’d strongly suggest trying that if you’re in the same boat.
As for sizing itself, the Coast uses sizing more similar to a dress shoe than a sneaker you might find at foot locker. I’m a 13 in most typical sneaker brands – Nike, Adidas, etc. – but took these in my typical stitched footwear size of 12.
Most people will want to go with the same size they wear their other Grant Stone products in. These share that classic wider toebox/narrow ankle pattern the brand is known for. That being said, I will say these are ever-so-slightly smaller than a comparable Leo or Alexander lasted shoe. Again, I think most people will stick with their Grant Stone size, but if you’re already a slightly tight fit in those, maybe consider going up a size here.
I wear these in a size 12. For comparison, I wear a size 12 D in other Grant Stones, a 46 in Common Projects, a 12.5 in Stan Smiths, and a 13 in pretty much every other sneaker. For a full list of sizing for every shoe reviewed on this site, click here.
Typically when I do an initial review like this, comfort is strictly out-of-the-box. I let the follow up review cover the worn-in comfort. However, the difference between the first wear and the second is so extreme I need to include it here.
Out of the box the Grant Stone Coast – at least in the Badalassi – is incredibly stiff. It feels like boot leather (probably because it’s what Grant Stone uses on their boots). If you’re used to sneakers and this is your first experience with this leather, you might be let down.
After you’ve gone a mile or so in them, though, the leather softens up significantly. It isn’t soft – the extremely thin stuff on Nikes is going to be more flexible – but it is completely comfortable.
Other than the upper, the cup sole that they used is very soft and compliant. With the padded insole – more on that later – the sneaker offers both more squish and more support than other sneakers with this design.
I would have no problem wearing these all day. Just maybe not the very first day.
Materials & Construction
The materials are really the raison d’être for the Grant Stone Coast Sneaker. From top to bottom, they are high quality.
Starting with the obvious, the upper is made up entirely of Badalasssi’s veg-tanned Minerva leather. This stuff is a real treat – everything you want a veg tanned leather to be. Coming from the factory with a nice varied texture and complex coloring that will only increase with wear.
It should be stated again, these will stain, scratch, etc. That is a feature of the leather, and why I picked it. If you want something that will stay looking closer to new, I’d highly recommend the brown or black.
Inside, the sneaker is almost entirely lined with the same kip-leather lining you’d get in their boots or loafers. The only exception is a suede panel along the heel to keep your foot in place.
The other visible component of the sneaker is the Vibram-branded outsole. Made of rubber, the unit that Grant Stone picked is ever-so-slightly softer than the Margom cup sole that is common on this this market.
Now, to the insole. While there is a leather lining, it is not a full leather insole. It’s a leather lined foam. That isn’t from lack of trying. Grant Stone told me they prototyped this sneaker multiple times with a leather insole, but it just didn’t work. It wasn’t comfortable – and why would anyone buy an uncomfortable sneaker?
I know that there are going to be people who are upset there isn’t a leather insole, but I’m not sure that anger is justified. I’ve long been a champion of using the right tool for the job.
Just because some YouTuber says leather is the only viable material for 100% of a shoe doesn’t mean it’s true.
The Grant Stone Coast Sneaker is made with a classic cemented/stitched construction. Sneakers have been made this way for decades and many classics – everything from Common Projects to the Jordan 1 – have used this.
In order to build this sneaker, first the upper is made and lasted. The finished upper is first glued to the outsole, then the outsole is sewn through the upper and lining along the top edge.
The benefits of this style of construction is that it is more durable with better water resistance than most other sneaker styles out there. As far as drawbacks, the higher sidewalls mean this sneaker will be less flexible than something with a flat outsole. Further, this is basically the most expensive form of sneaker construction – a cost that must be passed onto the consumer.
Ease of Care
When it comes to caring for the Grant Stone Coast Sneaker, it’s safer to treat it more like traditional stitched footwear rather than a sneaker. Where most sneakers have plastic covered leather that doesn’t really need any care, the natural veg tanned leather on this sneaker will need conditioning.
I recommend using Bick 4. It does a great job of conditioning without changing the color or characteristics of the leather. Grant Stone recommends Venetian Leather Balm – another great choice, though it does cost a bit more than Bick 4.
You should also be sure to keep shoe trees in these when you’re not wearing them. The upper is thick – and deep creases will set without them. Grant Stone makes a nice branded pair, or you can pick up something from Amazon.
Unlike most footwear from Grant Stone, these are not resolable. At least, not officially. If you ask, the brand is very up front that the upper is glued to the cup sole, and removing that glue can damage the leather. If you feel like taking a gamble there are places that will try – but know that there is no guarantee.
As far as comparables go, this puts them significantly less than the 800-lb gorilla in the high-end minimalist sneaker in the room: the Common Projects priced at $447. On the other hand, it also means that the sneaker is significantly more than the minimalist sneaker everyone probably already owns: the Adidas Stan Smith priced at $100.
For a more comparable price, I don’t think there will be anything closer than the Rancourt Court Classic. Coming in at $8 more than the Grant Stone offering, the comparison is obvious. That being said, they are certainly not the same sneaker. Chromexcel and veg tanned leathers each have their own quirks. Rancourt is made in the USA, but even their promotional images show some questionable stitching. You could go on and on, but I think that your preferences will make clear which is the best for you.
Is the Grant Stone Coast Sneaker Worth It?
The world of higher end footwear has a diverse crowd, with a number of reasons for joining the hobby. And, honestly, there are people in that group who probably won’t enjoy this sneaker.
If you’re the type of guy who got into this hobby because you only wear the most overbuilt thing, this probably won’t be what you’re looking for. The Grant Stone Coast isn’t a boot with a cup sole sewn on.
If you’re the type of guy who came to this website because you only want footwear that can be resoled 3 times, then rewelted, then resoled 3 more times, again – this sneaker probably isn’t for you.
However, if you’re the type of guy who appreciates having an elevated option – quality materials, good looks, and more comfort – you’re the guy who this sneaker was built for. There are no obvious compromises. The upper leather is unique, the outsole is name brand. Heck, even the box is great.
I know that there are concerns about the insole, but I honestly wouldn’t let it worry you. The outsole will wear through before the insole crumbles – there are 20-year-old Nike Dunks with the original insole still intact and wearable.
The Grant Stone Coast does exactly what it sets out to do. If you’re looking for a no-compromises sneaker, you should definitely consider picking up a pair.