Men's Oxfords Versions 3.2, 4.0, 4.1, and 4.2 Compared
Version 4.0 marked a massive upgrade for Carets men's oxford dress shoes.
The upgrade began when we found a new factory in Leon, Mexico, that specializes in stylish dress shoes. They immediately offered suggestions on how we could improve the upper pattern, and that proactive initiative is ultimately why we chose them as our manufacturing partner. Leon, Mexico is arguably the shoemaking capital of the world, and manufacturing there gave us access to many more options in materials (e.g. calfskin leather), accessories (e.g. custom shoe boxes), and services (lab testing), all of which enhance our customers' experience.
Each version of 4 builds on the one before it.
Version 4.0 = the new baseline.
Below, you can find all the details on what improved from version 3.2 to version 4.0.
Version 4.1 = 4.0 + cushioned tongue and topline of heel.
The blue highlights on the right show where we added cushioning: to the tongue and topline of heel.
Version 4.2 = 4.1 + Lowered side topline.
The side topline of previous versions bothered the ankles of some users. To mitigate this issue, we've lowered the side topline.
What About Sizing & Fit?
Every version we have between v1 and v4 are made on the same "last", which is a plastic mold around which shoes are made. The last shapes the external silhouette and the internal dimensions. So in theory, a size 10 in versions 1, 2, 3, and 4 should all fit the same.
In practice, there is some variation in how they will actually fit.
First, the leather. v1 had a super soft leather, v2 a rather stiff leather, v3 a soft leather, and v4 a softer leather.
Second, v3 and v4 have a thin layer of Poron under the leather footbed, so they have a little less volume than v1 and v2.
Third, newness. A brand-new shoe will fit looser than a worn shoe, because the leather is still taut. As heat, moisture, and movement break in the leather, it will fit closer to your feet.
All that said, if you've ordered from us before, and the size you have fits well, we would recommend ordering the same size in the new version.
A Comprehensive Side-by-Side Comparison of versions 3.2 and 4.0
To keep it simple, v3.2 will always be on the left, and v4.0 will always be on the right.
#1 Proportion of Cap : Vamp : Quarter
The first thing you probably noticed is the change in the cap to vamp to quarter proportions.
This area in Oxford shoes tends to have a gap between the 2 quarters. It's usually solved with either stitching or a flap like this. I think this flap would be the more durable out of the 2.
#3 Sharper Lines & Angles
In combination with the longer cap, these sharper lines and angles make the redesign look more masculine.
#4 From 6 Eyelets to 5
I think they removed an eyelet for aesthetic reasons when they shortened the quarters. Functionally, having less lacing makes it easier to slip into the shoes with our elastic laces.
#5 New Stitch Line Detail
I'm not sure if there's a function to this, but I've seen it on other dress shoes and it looks nice.
#6 More Finished Footbed
I think the stitching looks much better, and it also keeps the 3 components of the insole--leather, Poron, and cellulose board--together.
#7 Gold Heat Stamped Logo
Oh you fancy, huh?
#8 Suede-Lined Heel Counter
Suede has more friction than smooth leather. This should help prevent the back of the foot from slipping up.
#9 Less Toe Spring
The toe upturn is called toe spring. It's a useful feature if done right, as it helps you not kick the front of your shoes, especially on dress shoes where there's extra length in the front. However, it was a bit too much on our versions prior to 4. It's strange because our last (the plastic mold around which shoes are built) doesn't have that much toe spring, but the shoes do.
I think the reason why these Mexico-made version 4 shoes have less toe spring has to do with the next point.
#10 Cork Filler Removed
With our USA-made shoes, there was a cork filler between the insole and the outsole. Our Mexican shoemaker asked, "Is this really necessary?" and the answer is no. With the cork filler removed, the shoes are lighter, softer, and more flexible right out the box, and I think it's the reason why there's less toe spring.
#11 Finer Topline
This part tended to bother some people's ankles. It's much finer in the redesign and as a result much softer.
#12 Lower Topline
As a further measure to spare people's ankles, I had them strategically lower the topline.
#13 New Heel Counter Design
Thanks to your feedback to our March newsletter, I redesigned our heel counter. This design is most often seen on wingtips, where extra panels allows for the shoe to showcase more of its intricate detailing. I saw it on an Oxford though, and I said Whoa.
#14 Closer Stitching Rows
The stitching on our shoes got a lot tighter between v2 and v3, as we moved cut-and-sew from Wisconsin to the Dominican.
Between v3 and v4, the individual stitches appear to be the same size. However, the rows of stitching are closer in v4, and what a huge difference that makes in refinement. Everything's better in Mexico!
#15 Round Elastic Laces
You may have noticed by now that v4 has round elastic laces, which look more traditional. The round laces glide through the eyelets more easily, which makes tightening and loosening them easier. I also expect the round elastic laces to be more durable (think of flat fabric vs rope).