When I first came across SVED’s Signature Series shoes, I was quite impressed by the spec sheet itself. Suede, wholecut oxford, Argentinian leather sole, Bologna construction, Made in India. These suede shoes from SVED are a great example of a young, small brand really wanting to do it right. It reflects in the style, materials and techniques chosen to create something classic in design, traditional in thought and just super versatile. This isn’t the kind of thing you’re very likely to see if you walk into a shoe store in India.
The SVED wholecuts are among the most comfortable pair of shoes I’ve tried. Wearing them even on the longest days, walking around town, has been no trouble at all. This can be attributed to the leather sole and Bologna construction (explained below). Also, because of suede footwear’s innate ability to be dressed up or down, save for formal, dressing choices are made a lot easier as you can wear these shoes with pretty much anything. Chinos and sweater, check. Jeans and tee, check. Shorts and a shirt, check.
The shoes themselves are quite stylish and their look and feel has only improved as I’ve worn them more. I found them changing colour under different light, so you can get sand, caramel, khaki, cinnamon, depending on lighting around you. This also meant they were a bit difficult to photograph, as it was hard to pinpoint what its ‘true’ colour was. That’s not a bad thing at all, just a nice little reminder that you’re dealing with a natural material.
- Collection: SVED Signature Series
- Colour: Camel brown, but varies between different shades of brown, depending on light
- Upper: Suede leather
- Lining: Leather
- Sole: Argentinian leather
- Construction: Bologna
The shoes come with two pairs of laces – Beige and Waxed Dark Brown. However, I found myself using only the dark brown laces, as I felt they were better suited to the shoe.
The Bologna is an Italian shoe construction technique in which the upper and lining are rolled together into a kind of bag or tube, which is then stitched to the sole. This method, when done well, makes the shoes wear very comfortably. Also, given that most shoes in the market today have their soles joined to the upper using just adhesive, the stitching process in the Bologna construction increases the structural integrity, by comparison.
SVED stitch the upper with the sole by hand, and you can see it on the edges when you look at the underside of the shoe.
My search in India for versatile men’s shoes that aren’t loafers
Finding the one shoe that can do it all hasn’t been easy. Moccasins are versatile, but feel a bit casual. Loafers are too formal for what I’d like to wear everyday. And I don’t know why, but I’m not a huge fan of wearing hard-soled brogues with jeans, though slowly I may just be coming around to it. I guess I knew suede was the solution, but I wasn’t too happy with the suede derbys I had either – they just weren’t sharp enough. That’s not a general comment on the genre, just on the particular shoes I had.
Suede wholecut shoes feel like a great solution to this problem. The leather sole with heel makes them smart, the starkness of the single piece leather accentuates the smartness, and the use of suede brings it to a really nice smart-casual sweet spot. For most everyday situations that don’t demand something strictly formal, these work quite well.
Basically, if I pair my raw, selvedge denim Korra jeans with these SVED shoes, I can wear it with literally anything. Add a neutral coloured March Tee and I could consider doing away with the rest of my wardrobe.
First impressions about SVED’s suede shoes
On opening the box, the typical napped texture of suede is the first thing that makes its presence felt. It hits the right balance between rustic and refined to infuse some panache and character. Suede is a soft material, so I was apprehensive about how the wholecut shoes would hold shape. They have an insert in the round toe box for this and the shoes aren’t floppy at all. You can also see beige stitching along the topline and throat that binds the upper and lining together. The silhouette of the shoe is slim and elegant, allowed by, and characteristic of, the Bologna construction.
The shades of brown used on the sole complement the upper nicely. The colour of the suede itself, though, surprised me a little initially. Under white light, it looked like a cross between sand and khaki. It wasn’t until I stepped out into the sun that I started to see camel brown.
The general impression I get is that the quality of materials and construction is pretty good. The cuts and finishes also point to a lot of work on the shoes being done by hand (bonus points for that). The left shoe has a slightly noticeable bulge on the inner side due to the toe box insert, though it is much less so on the right shoe. I could also see some darkening where the heel meets the upper, which is presumably due to the adhesive. But I forgot about it once I started wearing the shoes, as it isn’t noticeable unless you look very closely.
Living with suede wholecuts
In terms of comfort, wearing these shoes has been a joy. Suede is soft, so it takes the shape of your foot when you lace up, but remains flexible. The firmness of the leather sole is reassuring when you walk around and breathability is good. Arch support isn’t what you’d get from a sneaker, but I wasn’t expecting it either. Ultimately, my feet feel zero tiredness in these shoes no matter how long my day is, which speaks highly about their construction and the thought given to it.
The experience of wearing these suede shoes has only become better as I’ve spent more time with them. Now the colour feels a bit richer and fit is more snug. The unmistakable clacking of a hard sole is also enjoyable, honestly. It puts a spring in your step and helps with maintaining posture too.
There are two things I definitely noticed as I wore the shoes more. One, they look better when paired with more fitted or tapered lowers (whether jeans, trousers or chinos), compared to straight-fits. Second, under natural light is where the suede really comes into its own and you start to see its beautiful shades. I’ve worn these shoes with a range of different outfits and the only time they didn’t work was when I tried to pair them with relaxed-fit pleated trousers. On all other occasions, they’ve been great.
What the shoes say about SVED as a brand
I started this story by saying that the specifications of shoes SVED is making were what first caught my attention. That’s because wholecuts aren’t easy, you hardly hear anyone locally using the Bologna shoe construction and I’m yet to see suede wholecuts in a store window here in India. This shows whoever is behind the brand is sweating the small stuff.
Ved Dhadphale, founder and main man behind SVED (yes, that’s how the brand gets its clever name), studied shoemaking with bespoke shoemakers Carréducker in London.
Leather shoe culture overseas is different from what we generally see here in India – it is more focused on longevity, comfort, traditional handcrafted processes and the absolute best quality materials. All this at a price, of course. A good pair could last over a decade – its ageing process is slow, visually pleasing and even resoling is common.
An appreciation of these shoemaking facets reflects well in Ved’s, and consequently, SVED’s, approach. The shoes have been carefully thought through and crafted. The brand has a small and limited line-up of shoes, and these suede wholecuts are pretty much their only product right now. Most of their previous suede sneaker collection is sold out.
All this makes them a boutique, indie brand in the true sense of the word.
Taking care of suede shoes
I know many people who are reluctant to buy suede shoes as they’re supposedly hard to maintain. While that is partly true, suede isn’t as durable as conventional leather, it isn’t delicate by any stretch either. Yes, you can’t drag it through rain and mud, but there isn’t much else to it.
In case of SVED’s wholecuts, the colour has been chosen well, given our generally dusty conditions. Dirt and dust don’t show too evidently and brushing them about once a week keeps the shoes going without trouble. If you do get a stain on them, you can use a suede eraser to try and get it off.
Boots made of suede were even used by the British Army for desert operations in World War II, so with some basic care, you’ll be fine.
Pricing and buying
SVED’s suede wholecut oxford shoes for men in camel brown are priced at ₹5,499. They can be bought online here. SVED’s own website is also in the works and we’ll update the story with the link once it is live. You can check them out on Instagram in the meanwhile.
I feel they are great value if you consider what is being offered – you get a lot for the price. Classic styling, traditional hand-construction and high quality materials are brought to a very versatile shoe that you can pair with anything. If you’re on the fence, thinking they’re too close to dress shoes and you’d like a more laid back style (like moccasins), I’d really suggest you still give these a shot. Going beyond casual territory for daily non-formal shoes felt worth it with a style like this.
I wore a UK 10, which is my usual shoe size, so they seem to fit true to size. They are available from UK 7 to UK 10.
I found SVED’s suede wholecuts to be a compelling option from an indie, young Indian brand in the men’s footwear space that’s starting to get a little crowded and confusing.
They check a lot of boxes for a pair of everyday shoes – versatility, comfort, understated but very individual style, high quality materials. It also felt nice to wear something one notch dressier than what I usually would in a daily setting that isn’t formal.
I had earlier written about identifying better with indie labels as you’re closer to the creator and their vision. This is totally true in case of SVED as well. Outside of the actual production of shoes, it seems like a single-man operation with Ved donning most hats. You get in touch with him directly if you want to order a pair.
I’m glad these kinds of shoes from this kind of brand exist.
Who’s it for: Someone looking for smart, versatile everyday shoes that aren’t formal
Talking point: Have you heard of the Bologna construction?
Best thing about it: Comfort and price-value ratio
One thing I’d change: More robust quality control to ensure little things like adhesive marks aren’t visible (I shared this with the brand and was assured it was being looked into)
How did you hear about SVED? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this story interesting or useful, please spread the indie brand goodness by sharing it!