Ace Marks Shoes Review: Hand Made Wearable Art

There are ‘suit guys’, ‘jacket guys’, ‘tie guys’, and then there are ‘shoe guys.’ A man’s style is built from the ground up, and Ace Marks shoes are here to provide that foundation.

The Ace Marks Story

Ace Marks is the creation of Paul Farago and Julian Gonzalez, industry veterans with a few decades in the shoe game. As early as 2012, Paul began to sense ripples in the industry. It became more complicated to get product on the feet of the customer. Middlemen, brick-and-mortar costs, and extraneous factors limited the appeal of running a wholesale operation.

This excess made it difficult to create a well-made product without having to charge $500+ for a pair. Plus, they were constrained by pre-approved styles and patterns. So, why not cut out these factors, go directly to to the consumer, and make what they want?

Ace Marks launched in 2016 and became the most successful footwear crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. They intentionally used Kickstarter to go directly to the people instead of relying on venture capital. To date, they’ve raised over $2.5M on Kickstarter have built an audience all over the world.

Materials and Construction

Paul searched for months to find a factory to work with. The ultimate choice was highly selective — they’d previously only made for the largest, most luxurious fashion houses. But, after some massaging, he won them over. All of Ace Marks’ shoes, then, are made by hand in Italy by a family of fourth-generation artisans.

Each pair, from dress-shoes to sneakers, is made with a full-grain calfskin upper. They are also lined in full-grain leather to keep your feet cool, dry, and reduce the odor lower-quality, cotton lined shoes are subject to.

The lining also includes a layer of memory foam, which will conform to your foot for all-day comfort.

Each dress shoe has a leather sole and a stacked heel, and each sneaker a genuine Margom rubber sole.

All dress shoes are made with a Blake stitch construction. While some may prefer a welted shoe, a Blake stitch offers greater flexibility and superior out-of-the-box comfort.

Lasting and Fit

Ace Marks use a proprietary ACE last. Long and elegant, it contours to natural curvature of your foot. Sizing is based on the Brannock sizing system; so before picking out a pair of Ace Marks, get fitted on a Brannock or consult the size guide on their website.

Many of their models come in both D (standard) and E (wide) widths. However, many (this author included) fall outside of the bell curve. If you happen to have a C or B width, consider a full size down for dress shoes and half a size down for sneakers. If you’re an EE width, consider going up a size. However, the width of the shoe varies more than the length.

Price Range

Prices for Ace Marks sit between $225 for a sneaker model and $425 for a Tramonto patina dress shoe. However, during a sales event, even the higher-tier models can dip below $300 — more than a fair price for a unique piece.

The Ace Marks Edge

Ace Marks began by offering quality dress shoes — oxfords, derbys, monkstraps, and the like. They’ve expanded to include sneakers, loafers, and accessories to match.

Each pair is hand-burnished by a craftsman, and Paul encourages a personal touch. No two pair are exactly alike. The company has leaned into this and offer two highly unique services for the most discerning customer.

One is a unique version of crowdfunding, where customers work with the Ace Marks team to develop a custom design for a limited production run. It allows true ‘shoe nerds’ the opportunity to work on something special.

Or, should you wish, you can have a custom patina developed to your exact specifications. You’ll get a personal consultation with Paul and Julian, where you’ll dive into the minutiae of creating a truly one-of-a kind piece. Sometimes they’re meant to be worn; but other times you’ll feel a little guilty for scuffing up the soles!

Beautiful, Wearable Art

Many shoe manufacturers today offer both welted and stitched shoes. Stacked heels and Margom shoes are pretty common, too. Shoes on elegant lasts are (thankfully) becoming easier to find. But, very few — and none other than Ace Marks in this market segment — can justifiably call themselves wearable art.

Ace Marks stand out in the field of cap toes, monk straps, and loafers. Their designs are bold, but far from outlandish. They are pieces crafted to scratch the creative itch of shoe lovers everywhere.

For the gentleman seeking function and form, Ace Marks are a perfect fit.

For more, you can visit them on their website, or on social media.

Be sure to check out our community and our video interview with Paul and Julian, where we dive into the history of Ace Marks, superheroes, and where the company is headed next!