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Banana Republic Brendt Suede Chukka Boots – $180

About the Author: Adam Terry is a thirtysomething salesman in the heating and manufacturing industry. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, denim, and working on his dad bod father figure.

Banana Republic is going through a bit of rebranding exercise, shedding their old “nice Gap” aesthetic for a much richer and more vibrant collection of clothing. Their 2022 New Arrivals section is chock full of warm khaki, brown, and green Earth tones. Their shirts and pants are cut in more relaxed fits (as well as still providing slim fits), echoing menswear’s general preference over the past few years. I’m really digging their sweaters, knit blazers, and fantastic looking outerwear. Today we’re taking a look at these Brendt suede chukka boots. Are they cheap or actually worth your investment?

“Step” right up, BR Chukkas. Let’s see what you’ve got.

The Adam Review Scale of Excellence (A.R.S.E.)

  • 5 – Excellent! No issues and highly recommended.
  • 4 – Good. Above average, but not perfect.
  • 3 – Average. Minor issues, might be good at the right price.
  • 2 – Fair. Below average due to defects, flaws, or imperfections.
  • 1 – Poor. Significant issues, not worth purchasing at any price.

Details

  • Brand: Banana Republic
  • Style: Chukka boot
  • Size: 11
  • Last: N/A
  • Construction: Stitchdown
  • Upper: Suede
  • Sole: Natural crepe rubber
  • Details: Pig suede lining, darker crepe sole, tonal stitching
  • Extras: Spare laces
  • Country of Origin: China
  • Price: $180

Ordering/Delivery

My pair of the Brendt suede chukkas in this “New Off White” color was purchased online on a Thursday afternoon. They shipped out on Friday via UPS SurePost and arrived at my doorstep on Saturday afternoon. Banana Republic has been pretty consistent with quick shipping times, even during this ongoing global supply and logistics challenge. Two day shipping is sublime.

FYI: Banana Republic has a 45-day free returns and exchanges policy, which feels like it’s better than it used to be. As usual, all items must be like new and in a resellable condition. If you buy shoes over the internet, make sure you try them on at home on carpet first!

Score: 5/5 Stars – Easy ordering online, quick shipping, and a solid return policy.

Packaging

This pair arrived in a standard, black Banana Republic shoe box that was shipped inside of a poly mailer bag. As such, the box was in rough shape and looked a little worse for wear. Luckily, the people who packed the order wrapped the box in a larger rubber band to keep things inside the package; nothing had spilled out or gotten lost during shipping. Inside, the boots arrived inside individual clear plastic bags that helped separate them in transit so they didn’t receive any noticeable dents or dings. Each boot was also stuffed with ample tissue paper to help maintain their shape. Thankfully, an extra set of laces was thrown in on top!

Score: 3/5 Stars – The unboxing experience was average with nothing major to note.

Another banged-up-in-shipping BR shoe box. But they did include extra laces.

First Impressions

Fresh out of the box, these Brendt chukkas look decent enough. Banana Republic shoes have always been a hit or miss for me, but these boots certainly don’t look cheap at first glance.

The upper suede looks and feels OK but someone at the factory made a terrible mistake in attempting to burnish the toes to add some depth, character, or something else. The final product just looks dirty… and not in a cool, vintage white Levi’s jeans way, either. These boots utilize stitchdown construction where the upper leather is turned outward and gets stitched directly to the outsole (or midsole in this case). Stitching along the perimeter is neat enough with no noticeable errors. However, the edges weren’t trimmed very far back during the finishing phase of construction and, thus, the silhouette looks slightly blobby or oddly shaped from above. No one wants to feel like they’re wearing clown shoes, but perhaps another pair would have better quality control or finishing. Either way, I’m falling out of love with these boots in short order.

The little bit of toe burnishing makes the toes look a little bit… dirty.

Style wise, I think this off white shade of suede is best worn with darker colored trousers. I can imagine these pairing well with dark wash indigo jeans, a white or light blue button-down collar polo or sport shirt, and a semi-casual jacket in a super versatile olive green. Careful though, often dark denim (depending on brand and dying process) can bleed onto light suede.

For a bit of extra style inspiration, look through our Style Scenarios, especially the fan favorite Chinos, Chukkas, and Polos series that gives you a million ways to look sharp without spending a lot.

Around back, these boots feature a flaccid fabric pull tab that was stitched between the outer suede heel stay and the inner pig suede liner. If you have adult-sized fingers, these loops are essentially worthless. I ended up ignoring them after trying on the boots a third time; if I was given a pair, I’d simply cut off the pull tabs all together. The round, waxed type laces are serviceable and I’m happy to report that an extra pair in a darker shade of brown was included.



Stitchdown construction that’s fairly clean.

The interior is a mixed bag of materials. Half lined in pig suede and half lined in fabric, neither are among the best components used when making shoes that should last. Pig suede is typically cheaper than cowhide and usually gets chosen as a cost cutting measure. Fabric lining is worse because it tends to hold onto moisture and can exacerbate a stinky shoe issue.

The ol’ half lined in fabric cost-cutting thing.

The insole is another area where Banana wants you to think they chose a great component, but in actuality, they skimped and saved some cash. It’s a non-removable unit that’s made from a few layers of pig suede, Ortholite open-cell foam, and a hard base layer of thermal fiberboard. If you’re on your feet all day or walk on a lot of concrete floors, you will definitely notice a lack of shock absorption by the end of the day. Your ankles, knees, and hips might just hate you tomorrow.

When compared to the BR product picture, the true crepe soles are darker in person.
Also, the suede uppers can appear lighter depending on the light.
Suede will do that. Suede’s gonna suede.

While I was shopping for these Brendt chukka boots online, it was hard to tell in the studio photos whether they came with a real, natural crepe rubber outsole or just a cheap, molded rubber unit that looked the part. To my surprise, these have a genuine crepe rubber sole that feels slightly tacky (sticky) to the hand. Crepe soles are fantastic for comfort-minded folks; I have a pair of Alden boots with their “Plantation” crepe soles and I can wear those all day. On the down side, natural crepe rubber soles are typically a lighter color and tend to darken rather quickly from all the dirt and detritus on the sidewalks. Banana’s designers thought of that and chose a darker shade of crepe rubber for these chukkas so they hide that wear for longer. One other negative – crepe rubber soles have less than ideal traction when the weather turns sour.

Score: 3/5 Stars – Average materials and construction make for an OK, short term shoe.

Sizing, Fit, and Comfort

In terms of sizing, I recommend trying a half-size larger than your true-to-size Brannock measurement. At the time of purchase, my usual go-to size of 10.5 US was sold out, so I tried an 11 instead. Thankfully, this was the right choice as this chukka boot runs small due to the stitch-down construction and some average-at-best quality control.

In terms of fit, these chukkas feel slightly odd. Notably, the toe box areas feel quite tapered and tight for my feet, but the heel cups feel slightly too loose. I switched out my medium weight Darn Tough socks for a slightly thinner pair and that seemed to alleviate some of the tightness, but overall, they just feel a bit restricting. If you take a wide width, you’re probably out of luck.

No removable insoles, and sad, flaccid heel tabs.

Comfort is always subjective, but initial comfort out of the box feels OK. You can definitely feel the initial squish of the thin foam insole and the bounce of the natural crepe rubber outsole. Over time, I just do not have a ton of confidence in the insole and crepe is known to wear quickly.

For size reference, I am a 10.5 D/E on a Brannock device and usually take a 10 D in most roomy dress shoes, including Alden’s Barrie last and Grant Stone’s Leo last. I take a 10.5 E in Allen Edmonds 65 last, as that last runs too narrow for me. I also take a 10.5 in Converse/Vans and an 11 in most Adidas/Nike/Jordan sneakers. Have a size question? Email us!

Score: 3/5 Stars – Sizing runs small, so size up a half-size. Initial comfort is just OK.

Final Thoughts

While these chukka boots get a passing grade on paper, they’re a hard pass for me. There’s something about the overall silhouette and lack of distinguishing features that turns me off to this particular pair, in this particular color scheme, at this price point. Around this ~$200 mark, you could opt for the crowd favorite Astorflex Greenflex boots, the surprisingly good Huckberry/Rhodes Tyler chukkas, or even one of the classic Clark’s options we reviewed here. Personally, I think you’d be happier with any of those models rather than shelling out your dollars on these Brendt chukkas from Banana Republic. With all that said, if you run across these chukkas on a random 60% off sale and need a quick vacation boot, by all means try these out!

Avg. Score: 3.5/5 – Meh. Not a fan of these boots in this configuration. Save your money!

The verdict? Meh.

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