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Style Shopper: Review of Pointed Leather Loafers – Franco Sarto Starland and Poppy Barley Classic Pointed

Franco Sarto Starland Pointed Loafer – $99

A classic loafer features subtle metal detailing for an updated look.

  • Leather upper
  • Ed: Faux leather lining
  • Slip-on fit
  • Pointed toe
  • Stacked heel
  • Smooth lining
  • Synthetic outsole
  • Ed: Made in Vietnam

They come in various colours:

Franco Sarto Starland Photos

My photos:

Poppy Barley Classic Pointed Loafers – $235 (almost double)

A flat for any occasion. Our Classic Loafer is a comfortable and versatile shoe that you’ll reach for again and again. Perfect for work and weekend, add a hint of refinement to everything in your wardrobe from denim, to wool, and even silk. The best part? The padded insoles and 1.5 cm heel will keep your feet feeling great all day long.

A soft, textured pebbled leather with slight shine.
Outer Composition: 100% Leather
Lining Composition: 100% Leather
Sole Composition: 100% Leather
Insole Composition: 100% Leather Wrapped Memory Foam
Heel Height: 0.75”
Model is wearing size 8

Poppy Barley Classic Loafer – Gold Photos

My photos:

Poppy Barley Classic Loafer – Sand Pebble Photos

My photos:

Now for my review and thoughts

They look pretty dang similar at first glance, but I am going to walk you through the difference between handmade and mass market (if you care):

See the front there? The stitching is thick and evenly spaced on the left (hand-stitched), and the one on the right is machine stitched, you can tell because the thread is not visible and very, VERY tightly spaced.

In shoes, I like stitching to be a little thick / looser because as you walk, you need flexibility.

If the stitches are too tight and small, one little misstep and it will snap, and it will start to unravel.

You will also notice that the leather is smooth and evenly spaced/cut on the Poppy Barley shoes, but the Franco Sarto ones have an uneven cut to the leather that is stitched on the toe’s V section which is a little difficult to see, but basically the leather pieces are not evenly cut to match up perfectly when you look straight across it.

It looks rougher / not as refined.

The heel you can see is wider in the Poppy Barley version, with a thicker slant at the back, and then the rubber sole.

For the Franco Sartos, not only do I dislike that gold (it looks too flashy to me) and has three layers – the gold part, the leather, then the bottom rubber.

You will also notice the smooth line on the heel of Poppy Barley – it is one piece of leather, whereas the Franco Sarto ones have a leather piece sewn on, this usually means they did NOT have a piece of leather big enough (cheaper cuts), and had to use another piece to match it up so it looks like a fully covered shoe.

This is a little sign of a cheaper versus more expensive shoe – that little extra leather added on there, rather than having a long, single piece of leather for the body of the shoe.

This is just aesthetics, but I will note that with that extra piece of leather, I checked inside and it coincides with the inside meaning it may have an extra piece of stitching / leather that will / may blister or chafe your feet as you walk.

The best thing is to have a single piece of leather at least on the inside, smooth, and with no stitching or lines or cuts to rub against your heels to cause friction and blisters.

The stitching continues – two small stitches on the Franco Sarto, and an “X” for Poppy Barley. Just a design aesthetic, I am sure it has no bearing on how the shoe holds up, although a double stitch that isn’t criss-crossed, may have a slight disadvantage in not being as well-enforced:

The close up on the toe reveals that the Poppy Barley one is slightly more reinforced – a thick piece of leather down the middle for the part that wears out the most, and the Franco Sarto one is sleek and minimalist.

I will say that the sleek and minimalist one may look good, but without a bumper / buffer, it will wear out the leather and look old quicker than with a slight bumper like in the Poppy Barley shoes.

A close up of that “bumper”…

The soles are where Franco Sarto wins for me. They are perfectly rubberized across the heel and sole, and much grippier than the Poppy Barley ones, which are cute AF with their nice pattern on the sole, but are VERY slippery.

I’d need to Vibram sole these shoes which is another $40 added cost. WOMP WOMP.

Now looking where people never look – just behind the heel.

Poppy Barley, a little sloppy. Leather is a bit wobbly.

Franco, same. No difference, but I can see that the glue sticking out a little where it dried when they finished the shoe.

Final thoughts

If price is an issue, I’d definitely go Franco Sarto if money was a consideration and I DID NOT want to spend more than $100 for some pointed loafers that look as good as they need to look without examining it up close and personal.

$235 is more than double the price of the Sartos, and frankly, not everyone wants to, or can afford to blow $200+ plus taxes ON SOME SHOES.

I realize how ridiculous this sounds.

That said, Franco Sarto is also a good purchase for someone who works their shoes HARD and doesn’t really care about these 3 things:

  • Stitching aesthetics – it looks different
  • Leather not matching up PERFECTLY straight – you can see the wobbly cuts in the leather
  • Synthetic leather lining

I am someone who works my shoes hard, and I don’t really care too too much about stitching aesthetics or the leather matching up (these are shoes after all and I am likely to ruin them within a month or two of hard walking), but what the deal breaker is for me is synthetic lining for the inside.

Our feet sweat a disgusting amount during the day (me a thousand times for sure), and the pool of sweat that gathers, will stay there in synthetic shoes, and not be as breathable as leather, especially during the summer.

I cannot deal with synthetic linings in closed-toe shoes, and that’s why I’m going with Poppy Barley.

I also have to give a nod to Poppy Barley for having a stance on being eco-friendly and ethical factories to hand-make these shoes.

How true all of that is, I do not know but it is on their website, but I am more than certain that Franco Sarto chose Vietnam for its low wages.

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