The W & Anchor Bros. is one of the shop brands of faith in Taipei, which specializes in work-wear, vintage goods and leathers. faith had been the first work-wear oriented shop in East Asia outside of Japan, and was the very first international stockist of The Real McCoy’s. Having traded slow-fashion and well-crafted garments for more than a decade, faith now has a couple of product lines of its own, mostly focusing on leather-related products.
Kurt, the store owner, had previously released a 1940s style work shoe back in 2014 under The W & Anchor Bros. brand, and earlier in the year the second iteration of this work shoe was produced, named the Type 2.
I’d first come across this pair of shoes on Instagram some months ago, and I had it on my list of footwear purchases to consider during my trip to Taiwan. Like I mentioned in my last post about my quest for shoes, this pair of work shoes won out as the single most worthwhile footwear purchase during this trip.
Let’s take a look!
The idea behind The W & Anchor Bros. work shoes is to create a work-style derby shoe that is based on the aesthetics of shoes from 1940’s America.
Specifically, worker’s shoes from the mid-century period worn by American postmen and related servicemen were the main inspirations behind the design of these work shoes. These shoes were designed for blue collar workers who were active and on their feet, and yet had additional requirements for smartness of attire and a clean appearance. As such, the styling of these shoes are matched with work-style clothing, such as denim jeans and chino pants.
As previously mentioned, Type I of this particular line of shoes was produced by Kurt in 2014, and there are also some two-tone versions and other prototypes that had been made. The Type 2 of 2017 you see here is an updated and upgraded version of the Type 1, incorporating improvements in details such as the toe-shape, up-turn, leather type, stitch-density, etc.
Kurt has designed the shoe from the ground up, including custom lasts, and has partnered with a footwear workshop in his native Taiwan and Dr. Sole of Taipei to produce a pair of shoes that’s almost entirely made in Taiwan.
Shape & Fit
The shape of these Type 2 work shoes are rather striking, and very different from other work boots and shoes I’ve seen.
The toe is relatively wide, beginning with E width at the front of the toe box, progressing to EE width at the level of the metatarsal-phalangeal joints, where our feet are the widest. From the widest point the shoe begins to narrow to a D width at the mid-foot, then again widening back to E width at the heel.
These shoes are also quite tall in the toe box compared with other derby shoes, more similar to Japanese reproduction work shoes.
All in all, the slightly bulbous and wider toe shape is very much reminiscent of early to mid-century work boots, and yet the slimmer mid-section adds some elegance.
Further, the sole unit is slightly slanted, with the out-sole extending slightly further than the mid-sole. I feel this little detail really adds to the ruggedness of these shoes, giving them a more substantial appearance – this is most apparent when I place them side by side with my similarly coloured and shaped Nick’s derby shoes.
The up-turn of the toe is quite high, more noticeable compared with even work shoes were American makers such as White’s. There is a very gentle rocking sensation as I walk in these shoes, and despite the ruggedness and weight, there’s no tendency for my feet to drag.
The holding points on these Type 2 shoes are nicely distributed from the toe box down to the heels. For me, I sometimes have trouble with work shoes not being fitted enough around the ankles, but there’s no such problem with this pair.
My own feet measure a US 9 on the Brannock’s device, with a width between D & E. These shoes fit me perfectly, and despite them being extremely solid (and quite a bit heavier than most other shoes), I walked around Taipei all day on the first day of wear without any discomfort or blisters forming.
Leather from Horween tannery has been used for the Type 2.
However, rather than the standard fair of Chromexcel (CXL) or Cavalier, Kurt’s chosen to go all out and utilise the Essex, which is a pure vegetable tannage treated similarly to Horween’s own shell cordovan.
It is smoother and shinier compared with Horween’s more common re-tanned leathers, and ages more gracefully too.
Even after a couple of weeks of wear, this brown Essex leather has not dulled like CXL would. The handfeel also remains quite nice, unlike re-tanned leather which can sometimes feel more rough or gritty with wear.
Regardless, Horween’s various tannages are quite well suited for footwear, as these leathers are rugged, relatively dense and quite oily.
The inner lining consist of natural vegetable tanned leather.
The Type 2 work shoe has been produced via the Goodyear welted method, with a storm welt, additionally featuring double row stitching from the mid-foot forward.
This stitch-work here is dense and one of the very neatest I’ve seen.
The outer edge of the midsole is beveled and burnished nicely.
The uppers are carefully pieced together. I cannot find one wonky stitch.
I really like the vintage-style detail, of having the middle row of stitching being wider and of a contrast colour.
The edges are finely folded in, resulting in a clean opening at the ankle.
Finally, the counter is tightly closed at the back.
Overall, even the smallest details are well looked after. There’re no random stains on the midsole, no unevenness in the leathers used, no rough edges or mismatched paneling between the two shoes.
These Type 2 work shoes are very well made indeed!
Sole Unit & Misc.
The 5 eyelets on either side are gun-metal paint coated.
The included tonal lacing are high quality, flat braided laces.
The tongue is additionally backed, and does not wobble or shift when worn.
The insole consist of layers of thick, natural vegetable tanned leather. Very well cushioned, and comfortable on my feet.
The added single layer of leather mid-sole is a nice touch. Many American derby shoes, e.g. Red Wing, lack this layer, and thus look insubstantial in comparison.
The soles and heels feature rubber products from Dr. Sole Originals, with the sole being customised with The W & Anchor Bros.’ logo.
These are very high quality components made in Taiwan, made of cork-filled, nitrile compound, up to twice as costly to manufacture compared with the other soles & heels featured on nicer shoes. Like an upgraded version of what’s utilised on the Alden Indy’s, basically.
After testing these for a couple of weeks, I can confirm that the heels and soles wear slower compared to the Vibram’s and Itshide’s I have on my other shoes. I usually wear out heels pretty fast, and would put a dent into my heels within a week or so, but these Dr. Sole cork heels have proved fairly resistant.
I actually bought two more pairs of heels directly from the Dr. Sole concept store. I love the vintage-style washers and peg holes!
Without beating around the bush, I would like to say that this is my best <$500 footwear purchase these few years. The W & Anchor Bros. Type 2 work shoes are better in construction and more considerate in design than similarly priced work shoes from other parts of the world. The quality, both in terms of craft and materials utilized, are on par with Japanese shoes that could be twice as expensive.
Would you believe this pair of Type 2 work shoes is only $11, 000 NTD ($365 USD)???
Remarkable value indeed.
Beyond that, and the aspect of these shoes which impressed me the most, is the design of the small details and overall aesthetics. These work shoes are one of the most unique and flavorful I’ve come across, from the perspective of a work wear hobbyist. Recently, there has not been another pair of work shoes that’s caught my attention more than this pair from faith. As I look upon my rack of shoes and boots, all of them bench-made and many custom, these Type 2 work shoes stand out – the Nick’s Manito derby shoes sitting next to this pair really pales in comparison.
Credit for the awesomeness of these shoes goes to Kurt of course; it is only with his passion in the work-wear hobby and his many years of vintage collecting & leather product design work that a work shoe of this calibre could be engineered.
Kurt had mentioned that the retail pricing of this pair of work shoes should be much higher, and his margin of profit here is actually less than 10%! However, hobbyists world wide are yet to have associated Made in Taiwan with quality manufacturing as far as footwear are concerned, largely thinking that the standards are similar to what is Made in China, and thus it has been hard to convince stockists at trade shows to pay what the shoe is worth.
I really hope that through this review, these The W & Anchor Bros. work shoes will have changed your mind about the standard of excellence that is possible when a pair of shoes have been designed and made in Taiwan. I can’t think of any other work boot or shoe in the same price bracket that comes close to competing with this pair.
Long time readers of this blog will have noticed that I haven’t actually recommended folks to purchase any of the reviewed footwear on this blog in the past 18 months – there’s usually a problem with construct or the value proposition is low – but this pair from Kurt would really be a worthwhile purchase. IMO, if you’re a fan of rugged boots or work-wear, you must look into these Type 2 work shoes!
All in all, I’ve been super impressed, and I’m really hoping that Kurt will release more boots and shoes under his The W & Anchor Bros. brand.
(Seriously, if you have $360 lying around, buy this pair for yourself as a Xmas present!)