The New Republic Sonoma Chelsea boot has become the “it” shoe lately. From fashion magazines to influencers, these boots are being touted as the best
If you’re considering buying a pair of Sonomas and want to know if it’s worth it, you’re in the right place. I’ve been wearing these Chelsea boots for months now.
Are they actually as great as people say? What does “good for the price” mean exactly? I’ll cover all of this and more with this in-depth hands-on review of these trending boots!
The Bottom Line
The Sonoma Chelsea boot sports a classic style, with a few subtle design tweaks to the silhouette, making them quite versatile.
Through New Republic’s strategic approach to manufacturing, the Sonomas really do offer a high quality-to-price ratio.
Brand Overview: Democratizing Style
New Republic is a digital native business out of LA that makes shoes and accessories. It was started by designer Mark McNairy in 2016 after a 30-year career in fashion.
He’d worked with brands like Adidas and Timberland, and was the creative director of trad ivy clothier, J.Press.
Regardless, McNairy created New Republic to make stylish basics and classic silhouettes accessible at affordable price points.
New Republic does this by using a mix of high-quality materials, last construction, Chinese manufacturing, and handcrafting.
Considered by many to be the best low-cost slip-on boot on the market right now, the Sonoma Suede
Style: Sleek and Minimalist
The Sonomas sport a simple and classic style that I’ve found to be exceedingly versatile. I’ve worn these with jeans, a suit,
The silhouette is a simple textbook Chelsea boot. However, each part of the boot takes a moderate approach, and I think that’s why they’re universally likeable.
For example, the neck is slender and sleek.
But, it isn’t as long as say, the Thursday Boots Cavalier, where the front of the neck and the back of the neck start to point inwards toward each other, resulting in a more formal look.
Of course, super slim necks or sharp points aren’t bad things. The ASOS and Thursday boots are excellent choices if they’re what you’re looking for.
But the New Republic Sonomas are easy to like regardless of your personal style, and can be worn on more occasions without becoming a statement piece.
Crepe soles, more often paired with chukka boots, have a rugged look that’s easy to dress up, sort of like a stainless steel field
The added beige leather layer tips the balance a little closer to the formal side, so the crepe doesn’t look out of place attached to a Chelsea boot.
It also gives it a subtle layered look without being overly complex.
Its minimalist look is another reason it’s so versatile. It’s made with just two pieces of leather, with a third piece on the back to fortify it.
Construction and Quality: Small Batch Magic
The upper is a soft napped suede, surprisingly buttery for its price. The texturing feels the same when you run your hand one direction as it does the other.
Typically, when you glide your hands over rougher suede surfaces, you can subtly feel the grains move when you switch directions. The Sonoma’s uppers, however, are smooth and lush.
It also passes the smell test. Upon taking it out of the box, the Sonomas have that birchy, rich, but not an overpowering aroma that real leather should have.
The lining is 100% genuine split leather, which is the softer layer right beneath the surface of the hide. It feels comfortable yet sturdy even after months of wearing it.
The Sonomas feature a flat welt construction, which gives it a sturdy build.
It’s mostly single-stitched, but the two main leather pieces are double stitched together. Meanwhile, there’s a third strip of leather fortifying the back.
The Sonomas are easily found for less than $90, which makes the construction pretty impressive.
One of New Republic’s biggest strengths is knowing where to shell out, and where to hold back. As mentioned, most of the boot is single-stitched, but double-stitched where it matters the most.
It’s made in China, but using last construction and handcrafting. The materials are all quality, and they employ detailed QA.
How can a company do that for a $90 shoe? The magic of small-batch manufacturing!
I also think they really nailed the crepe sole category. Crepe is a comfortable and cool-looking style. The balanced way they’re incorporated in the Sonomas makes them super versatile too.
However, crepe sole boots aren’t meant to be forever shoes. They’ll eventually break down, they aren’t repairable, and they aren’t resoleable.
Too many shoe companies want to charge you anywhere from $200-$700 since the style is so timelessly popular. In my experience, New Republic offers the best value proposition in the crepe category.
I should quickly mention that the packaging presentation looks sophisticated and high-end.
They’re in a nice sturdy black box, with each boot individually wrapped in dusters. For a sub-100 shoe, it definitely gets the five-star treatment.
Fit and Sizing: Dress Shoe Quality
I ordered my regular size 8s. When I first tried these on, I thought that they ran just a bit small.
They were still comfortable enough and not at all distracting, but I wanted a little more room in the toe. After months of wearing them though, they fit just fine now.
It also feels like a “well-fitting” dress shoe, which I like for proper leather footwear. It makes me want to stand taller and straighter. If you’re not into that or like a lot of room in the toe, just go half a size bigger.
I will say that they’re pretty narrow. They’ll definitely conform to your foot, even when it comes to broadness, but they may not be comfortable for those of you with extra-wide feet.
Comfort: A Combination of Structure and Cushion
Again, the leather insole provides structure, which isn’t as comfortable as a cork or PU sole.
The main comfort tool here is the crepe sole. They’re soft and flexible right out of the box, they conform to the ground, and they offer excellent absorption.
For a non-athletic shoe, I like the balance provided by the crepe’s cushion in tandem with the leather insole’s structure. You get stability, with some bounce.
The pull tabs are really convenient. I couldn’t imagine these slim shoes would be easy to put on without them.
Pros and Cons of the New Republic Sonoma Chelsea Boots
- The Sonomas boast a sleek silhouette and a classic style, allowing them to pair easily with very casual, smart casual, and even professional outfits.
- The structured leather insole and bouncy crepe outsole provide a good balance of stability and comfort, right out of the box.
- The quality of materials and construction is excellent for its under $90 price.
- They come in five versatile colors, including tan, black, a grey shade called Sandstone, and warm brown called Golden, and a cooler brown called Truffle.
- These boots are narrow and won’t be very comfortable if you have really wide feet.
- Half sizes aren’t offered for sizes 12 and up. Since they do run only slightly small, bigger gents may have to settle for Sonomas that are a tad too snug or a bit too roomy.
- The crepe sole looks great, but the bottoms get dirty fast and they’re hard to clean. This isn’t a unique quality to the Sonomas, and is the case for crepe in general.
Frequently Asked Questions About the New Republic Brand and the Sonoma Chelsea Boots
Here are some frequently asked questions about New Republic and the Sonoma Chelsea boots.
Is New Republic a good brand?
Yes, New Republic uses good materials to build classic and basic shoe styles.
They’re able to serve up high-quality footwear at cheap prices using Chinese manufacturing and a small batch approach.
Are New Republic Chelsea boots true to size?
New Republic Sonoma Chelsea boots run a bit small.
If you like a more formal, well-fitting shoe, you can stick to your regular size. If you like more room in the toe, go a half size up.
Where are New Republic shoes made?
New Republic shoes are handcrafted and last constructed in China.
Should Chelsea boots be snug?
Yes, since they don’t have laces, Chelsea boots should be snug but not uncomfortably tight.
Who owns New Republic shoes?
Fashion industry vet Mark McNairy started New Republic.
He’s known for working with big brands like Adidas, tastemakers like Pharell, and for being the creative director of Ivy League-inspired brand, J.Press.
We hope this was helpful!
The New Republic Sonoma Chelsea boot offers an excellent value proposition.
Since they’re so versatile and moderate, these are great everyday boots. And since they’re so affordable, you don’t have to keep them in the “special occasions” category of your closet.
They are sleek enough for dressier occasions though. I’ve worn mine at a formal event with a grey suit.
Unless you’re going for a much more expensive resoleable boot in the $200 and above range, I really do think that the Sonoma is the best quality Chelsea out there right now.