New Republic Review: Are Affordable Shoes Always Too Good to Be True?

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by  David Martin | Last Updated: 

Finding an affordable pair of shoes can be a big challenge these days, especially a pair that won’t fall apart in a few weeks. Even worse, affordable shoes usually come at the expense of your style.

New Republic proposes a solution to this problem with shoes that claim to hit the holy trinity of footwear attributes: inexpensive, quality construction, and fashionable. In this review we’ll take a look at three of the brand’s staple shoes and one pair of their pants to see if they’re too good to be true.

Our budget shoe brand of choice
The Adult Man Image/Icon Image source: New Republic

New Republic

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Bottom line: New Republic isn’t reinventing footwear, and that’s okay with me. Their classic shoe styles feature modern updates, like improved soles and construction materials, but without breaking the bank. I’m most impressed with the affordable prices that let me stay in step with modern fashion. Of the products I tried, each fit as expected and was well-constructed.

Ratings:

The Adult Man Image/Icon  Design The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Quality of Materials The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Value for Money The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Craftsmanship The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Customer Service The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon

Pros:

  • Wide selection of classic footwear styles at affordable price points
  • Quality materials used throughout, like genuine leather, Tencel fabric, and cork insoles
  • Shoes fit true to size and most don’t require long break-in period
  • New Republic also offers basic clothing selections, like work pants, sweat pants, tees, and casual button-downs

Cons:

  • Slightly flimsy fabric for the work pants
  • Kurt Leather Sneakers are difficult to break in

When it comes to footwear, I’m pragmatic to a fault. 

Why buy a $300 pair of Chelsea boots when I can buy a pair that looks nearly identical for less than $100? 

If you’re like me, you’ve probably found that you can keep up with modern men’s style by skating along with cheap, off-brand footwear that does the trick without breaking your bank account. 

That is, until your cheap pair of shoes falls apart, and you’re still too much of a cheapskate to get a new pair of shoes after only a few months of wear. 

This sounds a lot like the time my Converse All-Stars had a gaping hole between the sole and the upper, meaning my socks got soaked every time it rained. 

I’ve since learned that sometimes the more expensive price tag offers the better value in the long run, but the part of me that loves to find affordable fashion that’s high-quality and in-style is still very much alive. 

As such, I was curious to see if there were any footwear brands that provided classic fashion styles with top quality and low prices. I figured that if I can find footwear that’s always in style, I won’t have to spend any extra dough keeping up with the trends.

That’s when I came across New Republic.

What Is New Republic?

New Republic Stanton Recycled Sneakers mid step back detail

The origin story of New Republic is a bit jumbled, but the brand’s premise is simple: classic shoes at an attainable price. 

The lead designer, Mark McNairy, is well-known throughout the fashion world for his funky aesthetic and collaborations with Adidas, Pharrell, Timberland, and others, and has launched a few fashion labels of his own. 

As you might expect from a fashion designer with such an impressive resume, his collections were expensive and only approachable for a small demographic. 

Recognizing this, Mr. McNairy set out to launch a new footwear brand that provided classic shoe styles at prices that the broad majority could stomach. Thus, New Republic was born. 

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The brand’s name is rooted in the definition of a republic: a state in which supreme power is held by the people. New Republic embodies this ideal by being a brand that’s approachable by many, and is therefore for the people. 

In Mr. McNairy’s vision for his brand, any man can come to New Republic and find quality shoes from a company he’s proud to mention. 

New Republic’s products are designed at every step with luxury in mind, which means genuine leathers and high-quality fabrics, while also being at a price you want. 

Things to Consider Before Buying Footwear or Apparel from New Republic

New Republic Kurt Leather Sneakers from above on white background

The first thing to consider is your personal style. If you like to be out there, against the grain of fashion norms and looking primarily for unique statement pieces, New Republic likely isn’t for you.

If, instead, you want apparel and footwear that will stand the test of fashion trends and remain in style for years, New Republic is up your alley. The brand focuses on classic styles that have already proven their fashion merit, so you can shop with confidence that the shoes you pick up won’t be a faux pas in three months. 

Another consideration is your budget. If you don’t have a ton to spend on shoes but still value high-quality items, New Republic offers this. 

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If you have a larger budget, but still enjoy finding quality items at bargain prices, give New Republic a shot. 

Let’s get to the review. 

New Republic

New Republic isn’t reinventing footwear, and that’s okay with me. Their classic shoe styles feature modern updates, like improved soles and construction materials, but without breaking the bank. I’m most impressed with the affordable prices that let me stay in step with modern fashion. Of the products I tried, each fit as expected and was well-constructed.

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New Republic Shoes Review

In order to get a good grasp of New Republic’s diversity in footwear offerings, I picked up their popular Kurt Leather Sneaker, the Sonoma Suede Chelsea Boot, and the Stanton Recycled Suede Sneaker

I was also curious to know if their apparel fit into the categories of being classic, affordable, and quality, so I grabbed a pair of their Frontier Work Pants.

The company is based in Los Angeles and generally ships items in 1-2 business days with standard shipping time. Before I knew it, a hefty box from New Republic was on my doorstep.

Kurt Leather Sneaker

New Republic Kurt Leather Sneakers from side on white background

First Impressions

The Kurt Leather Sneaker comes in a wide variety of colorways, but I went with the black option for the added contrast.

Straight out of the box, I was impressed with how clean and simple the overall shoe profile was. The leather was glossy, felt and smelled genuine, and the rubber soles looked to have good traction.

The New Republic logo is embossed on the shoe’s tongue, which I think gives a nice classy touch to these shoes. Right away I could imagine wearing these with jeans and a short-sleeved button-down for drinks on the town, or with a casual summer suit.

Sole

New Republic Kurt Leather Sneakers sole detail on white background

There’s little info on New Republic’s website regarding the sole besides mentioning that it’s a molded rubber cupsole. A cupsole describes a rubber outsole that has a large sidewall, which is the white portion you see all along the bottom of the shoe. 

The cupsole “cups” or holds the upper and insole of the shoe, which is where the name comes from. 

This design aspect is visually striking, especially with the black upper portion, and also provides good protection so that the leather of the upper doesn’t get scuffed or scratched. 

I liked knowing that I was unlikely to scuff the black, glossy leather on top unless I deliberately tried to do so. 

Regarding the grip, the Kurt’s sole features a wavy design on the ball and heel portion of the sole. I found that this gave great traction in most urban environments, and also seemed to be effective at displacing water so that my foot wouldn’t slip. 

Construction Quality

New Republic Kurt Leather Sneakers being put on

The upper portion of the shoe is made with specially crafted action leather. If you’re thinking, “Action leather isn’t a real thing”, it actually is. But it’s also not the tight stuff you put on when you get the urge to go fight crime.

Action leather describes the middle portion of a sheet of leather, with the upper portion being full grain leather. This middle portion of leather is then coated with a thin layer of polyurethane, which gives it the glossy finish. 

When action leather is used with footwear, the result is a quality-looking shoe that’s also water and wrinkle-resistant. I was able to confirm that water does indeed roll off the leather nicely, but that doesn’t mean you should go using them as rain boots. 

New Republic Kurt Leather Sneaker with blue jeans and black button down

The interior lining is made from 100% genuine split leather, which is often referred to as suede due to its rough, fuzzy texture. When full grain leather is separated from the raw hide, the leftover fibrous portion of the hide is used to make split leather. 

I found the interior to be pleasantly soft, but not soft enough to wear these shoes without socks. And I’m not sure why you might want to do that anyway, since the amount of resulting foot sweat could probably be classified as an ecological disaster.

The uppers also feature New Republic’s signature bartag stitch on the upper heel, which lends a bit of discrete style. The stitching across the rest of the shoe looks and feels solid enough to not have to worry about these shoes falling apart anytime soon.

Fit and Sizing

New Republic Kurt Leather Sneaker from side mid step

The Kurts fit true to size for me, and I generally have wide feet. New Republic doesn’t offer any wide sizing options, but I doubt you’ll have trouble with these shoes being too narrow. 

New Republic offers half sizes for all of their shoes, which I appreciate because I’m unnecessarily picky about how a shoe should fit and feel. 

The insole is made from EVA foam with a Tencel mesh top cover, which I found goes a long way in keeping your feet cool. EVA foam is a rubber-like plastic that’s known for its cushioning and durability. 

New Republic Kurt Leather Sneaker sitting on stool

Tencel fabric is a plant-based material that’s known for its ability to wick moisture and aerate. The EVA foam insole and Tencel mesh top cover combine for a fantastic combination of cushioning, airy comfort with every step. 

The insole by itself made for an extremely comfy fit experience, but this was slightly tarnished at first by the discomfort of breaking these shoes in, which I’ll cover in the next section.

Break-In Period

New Republic Kurt Leather Sneaker from side left foot forward

Although these are advertised to not need a break-in period, I found the opposite to be true. The portion of New Republic’s website that says this could have been referring specifically to the insole not needing to be broken in, which I would agree with, but it’s unclear. 

Regardless, the action leather was a bit stiff and took some time to mold into a comfortable wearing experience. The EVA insoles are comfortable right off the bat, but having to bend stiff action leather to your will took away from that comfort a bit.

Breaking in the leather uppers isn’t painful or horrible by any means, but it took around 7-8 solid outings to get them feeling like they were adapted to my feet. This is what you might come to expect from leather sneakers, but I’ve had other leather shoes with less break-in time.

Overall, the Kurt Leather Sneakers are an affordable, classic style that offer countless outfit combinations, but they’re slightly uncomfortable to break in. Besides that, I’m a fan.

New Republic Kurt Leather Sneaker

This minimalist dress sneaker is an effective weekday-into-weekend shoe thanks to its cushy insole. While your break in mileage may vary, go for the New Republic Kurt if affordability is your priority.

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Sonoma Suede Chelsea Boot

New Republic Sonoma Chelsea Boots from side on white background

First Impressions

Like the Kurt Sneakers, the Sonoma Suede Chelsea Boots come in a wide variety of upper and sole color combinations. 

I’ve always wanted a lighter pair of Chelseas so I went with the tan colorway, which features a light tan upper and sole combination. 

They look and feel considerably more expensive than they are. The suede upper is uniform, the leather lining is so soft and pliable, and the soles have enough heft to stand up to regular wear and tear. 

Sole

New Republic Sonoma Chelsea Boots from above sole detail

The Sonoma’s sole is a full-length, natural crepe. Nope, not the thin pancakes you get in France—although they do bear a resemblance. I just got hungry.

A crepe sole describes an unrefined latex material that has a crumpled texture. These unrefined soles are springy and provide ample grip, while also lending a distinctive look to the shoes they’re attached to. 

I’m a huge fan of the crepe soles on these Chelseas. While it’s a more casual style than typical hard rubber soles, the comfort is unmatched. Each step has a springy, cloud-like feeling that makes me feel like I could walk for days in these. 

New Republic Sonoma Chelsea Boots being put on

Crepe soles are naturally porous, which helps in wet conditions. Normally a flat, ungrooved sheet of a sole would make me nervous in slippery conditions since the water has no displacement, but the crepe material absorbs some water so that the gummy sole can grip the pavement. 

I was worried that such a light, porous material would wear away quickly, but after consistent use the soles have shown very little wear and tear.

Construction Quality

New Republic Sonoma Chelsea Boots from side mid step

The Sonomas feature a flat-welt construction, which is a way to describe how the sole is connected to the upper portion of the shoe. The welt is a flat strip of leather sewn around the perimeter of the upper and onto the insole.

This construction practice ensures a sturdy connection between the sole and the upper, and in most cases guarantees strong water resistance. 

Flat-welt construction is simply a basic leather strip around the perimeter of the upper—there are other welts that feature a vertical portion of leather, which goes an extra step in ensuring the sturdiness of the construction. This is often referred to as a storm welt. 

That’s not to say that a flat-welt isn’t sturdy, it’s just not as rugged as a storm welt, which is normally used in hiking or work boots. 

Chelsea boots are traditionally neither of those things, which checks out because flat-welt construction is used on more formal footwear. 

New Republic Sonoma Chelsea Boots with black chinos and button down

In short, the Sonomas have quality construction and aren’t going to split apart any time soon. 

The upper portion of the shoe is 100% genuine suede, and the inner lining is made with a similar split leather that we saw in the Kurt sneakers earlier. 

Like other suede boots and shoes, I don’t recommend wearing these in the rain or other wet conditions, since suede and water don’t mix. Your boots won’t be instantly ruined if wet, but it’s best to reserve these for sunny, dry days to best preserve the leather and its construction quality.

Fit and Sizing

New Republic Sonoma Chelsea Boots mid step left leg forward

The Sonomas fit true to size in my case. These Chelsea’s come in half sizes, which I appreciate, so you shouldn’t have any issues finding the size that works best for you.

Like the Kurts, there are no wide sizes, but I doubt you’ll feel the Sonomas are too narrow. 

The New Republic website doesn’t offer any information on the Sonoma’s insoles, but from a visual inspection they seem to be a similar split leather material to the lining. There’s some padding underneath this, which I assume is another EVA foam insole.

Whatever it is, it’s comfortable and my feet never felt tired or achy, even after hours of continued use. 

Break-In Period

Like the New Republic website claims, there’s no noticeable break-in period for these Chelseas. This is largely due to the suede upper, which is considerably more pliable from the first use than action leather. 

The combination of the crepe sole, suede upper, and split leather lining makes for a very comfortable wearing experience from the start. After a lot of wear, I’ve concluded that the New Republic Sonoma nails the shoe trifecta of classic style, affordable pricing, and quality construction. I’m a fan.

New Republic Sonoma Suede Chelsea Boot

After a lot of wear, I’ve concluded that the New Republic Sonoma nails the shoe trifecta of classic style, affordable pricing, and quality construction. I’m a fan.

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Stanton Recycled Suede Sneaker

New Republic Stanton Recycled Sneakers from above on white background

First Impressions

I’m a big fan of the classic slip-on silhouette, and the Stanton Recycled Suede Sneaker looked to have taken this profile and upgraded its components. 

The most noticeable upgrade was the suede upper. Typically, slip-ons are made with heavy canvas uppers, but the suede adds a level of sophistication and quality to these shoes that I appreciate.

Previous slip-ons that I had owned had the tendency to fall apart rather quickly, but a quick glance at the stitching and construction had me confident that these would stand up well over time. 

Like the Sonoma Chelseas, I’m surprised at the quality of the shoes given the price. The Stantons seem to be on a permanent sale of $25 for a pair, which, if these shoes don’t fall apart after three outings, offers some serious bang for your buck.

Sole

New Republic Stanton Recycled Sneakers from above with sole detail

The Stantons feature a vulcanized rubber sole with the classic waffle bottom tread you normally see on slip-ons. 

Vulcanized rubber describes a process by which rubber is mixed with sulfur and then heated. The sulfur changes the molecular structure of the rubber, causing it to become more durable. I like this inclusion on these shoes, as it stays true to the classic slip-on appearance and provides extra protection from wear and tear. 

I’ve had slip-ons with the vulcanized rubber sole before and used them heavily for skateboarding. Obviously, skateboarding puts a lot more duress on your shoes than everyday wear, and even then the vulcanized rubber sole held up well.

Since these shoes aren’t intended for skateboarding, given the suede uppers, you just get a tough pair of shoes that can take a beating.

The waffle bottom tread offers the strong grip and traction you’d expect, and is great at displacing water in wet conditions to prevent slippage. 

Construction Quality

New Republic Stanton Recycled Sneakers being put on

As I’ve hinted at with the vulcanized rubber sole, the construction quality on the Stantons is top-notch. This durable sole is combined with New Republic’s hand-sewn, signature-stitched uppers to make for a remarkably sturdy shoe.

The suede upper looked to be stitched well from a quick visual inspection, and the upper heel cup features their signature bartag stitch, which lends durability and subtle style.

This suede upper portion is made from recycled leather, which I’m a big proponent of. The effort to make sustainably-produced sneakers wins big points in my book, and again makes me wonder if they’re making any money off these shoes, given the quality construction details and the cheap price tag. 

Fit and Sizing

New Republic Stanton Recycled Sneakers from side mid step

The Stantons fit true to size and should be wide enough if you prefer wide sizing. Half sizes are available, so finding the perfect fit shouldn’t be an issue.

I love the way classic slip-ons fit, and the Stantons are no exception to this. They’re roomy enough to slip on without always having to use your hands, and snug enough to ensure a comfortable fit where your foot isn’t sliding around inside the shoe.

My favorite part of these shoes is the insole. Combining an EVA foam footbed and a cork top cover, the Stantons are considerably more comfortable and supportive than other slip-ons I’ve tried right out of the box. 

New Republic Stanton Recycled Sneakers with blue jeans and a white tee

The EVA footbed provides the majority of the bouncy, cloud-like step, and the cork cover lends moisture absorption and a comfortable template that can mold to the shape of your foot. 

The cork cover really got me wanting to wear these shoes without socks, which you can, but it’s not as comfortable long-term. The sturdy construction of the heel cup can do a number on your heel, so I’d recommend at least low socks with these.

The inner lining is made from a breathable cotton canvas, which can be a little rough and chafe your bare feet before it’s broken in. That’s another reason I recommend wearing socks with these to start, but the cotton canvas breaks in quickly.

Break-In Period

New Republic Stanton Recycled Sneakers mid step full body

Speaking of which, there is a slight break-in period to these. It’s nothing that can’t be overcome by 3 or 4 solid outings, and it stems from the combination of the waffle bottom tread and suede upper. 

The suede is pliable and hardly has a break-in period by itself, but it’s leather, which takes more breaking in than the typical cotton canvas you normally find on slip-on sneakers.

The waffle bottom tread combined with the vulcanized rubber takes some pressure and time to stretch out due to its durability, but once it does you can expect a comfortable fit for a long time. 

While the break-in period isn’t abnormally long in the grand scheme of all footwear, it is slightly longer than you might expect from a slip-on shoe.

Overall, these upgraded slip-ons offer some serious bang for your buck, and will keep you comfortable and classy for a long time. I recommend these.

New Republic Stanton Recycled Suede Sneaker

With a vulcanized rubber sole and hand-sewn suede upper, the Stantons offer some serious bang for your buck, and will keep you comfortable and classy for quite some time.

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New Republic Frontier Work Pant Review

New Republic Frontier Work Pant full body

The Frontier Work Pant aims to be a contemporary take on classic, heavy-stitched work pants. Staying true to their brand identity, New Republic sought to take a classic style and upgrade it while keeping the price approachable. 

I found that they largely accomplished this, but not completely. 

When I think of work pants, I think of a heavy canvas material with double stitching and reinforced pockets. 

While the Frontier Work Pants have the outward appearance of work pants, the mid-weight cotton twill material they used for these is too light for my liking. 

However, New Republic describes the mid-weight cotton twill material as being perfect for transitional weather, which implies to me that these pants are intended more for fashion than they are for building a house. 

New Republic Frontier Work Pant with white tee and brown boots

If that’s the case, then I agree that these are a great pair of pants for transitional weather. The branding on these is a bit confusing, though. 

Are these pants a great addition to your Fall and Winter wardrobe? Absolutely.

Will these stand up to harsh work environments, like a pair of double-stitched Carhartt’s? No.

That being said, the Frontier pants are very comfortable for daily use. Two slanted side pockets with visible stitching detail give the classic work pant aesthetic, and button pockets in the back help secure small items.

New Republic Frontier Work Pant Pocket detail

The Frontier pants also feature an adjustable waistband so you can get a snug fit around the waist without requiring a belt.

Overall, these pants are well suited to everyday use in transitional weather, but I wouldn’t recommend them for traditional work pant activities.

New Republic Frontier Work Pant

Made from mid-weight cotton and featuring an adjustable waistband, these are one comfortable pair of pants. They're well suited to everyday use in transitional weather, but I wouldn’t recommend them for traditional work pant activities.

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What do Other Reviewers Say About New Republic?

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While there are surprisingly few reviews for New Republic, the ones I found were mostly positive. Happy customers loved the classic styles, quality construction, and especially the approachable prices. 

The greatest concentration of positive reviews centered on the Sonoma Chelsea Boots, which got praise for the immediate comfort out of the box and sharp style.

There were quite a few negative reviews I found, most of which focused on the Kurt Leather Sneaker. Dissatisfied customers reported that the shoes were comfortable out of the box, but showed wear quickly and didn’t last long.

Another common area of complaint was with shipping and fulfillment. A surprising number of customers had their orders canceled or never had their orders delivered, and had difficulty getting refunds. Most of these reviews were from several years ago, so hopefully New Republic has ironed some of these issues out by now.

My Thoughts Overall On New Republic

What I Like

  • Their shoes are stylish and very affordable given the quality on offer.
  • The EVA footbed and cork top insole of the Stanton Sneakers is super comfortable.
  • The crepe sole of the Sonoma Chelsea Boots makes for comfortable, bouncy wearing all day long.
  • The Stanton Sneakers use recycled suede for the upper portion of the shoe, which looks sharp and is sustainable.
  • The Sonoma Chelsea Boots feature flat-welt construction, which goes a long way in making them durable.

What I Don’t Like

  • The Kurt Leather Sneakers are stiff initially and take a bit to break in, despite the New Republic website saying there’s no break-in period.
  • The branding for the Frontier Work Pants is confusing—I’m not sure whether they’re intended to be work pants or are just constructed in the style of work pants.

Who is New Republic for?

New Republic is a great choice for anyone who wants classic shoe styles that will withstand fashion fads and the weather at affordable prices.

The Verdict

New Republic is meant to be a brand for the people, where everyone can afford stylish, quality footwear and fashionable clothing. 

Through their robust selection of simple, classic footwear styles and clothing basics they’ve accomplished their brand mission well.

Although some of their footwear is difficult to break in, it’s not to the extent that I’d steer away from the brand completely. Many of their shoes have little to no break-in periods, and I think the brand has a lot of substance to offer for little money down.

If you’re looking for stylish footwear and clothing basics that will hold up well and not break the bank, I recommend checking out New Republic.

New Republic

New Republic isn’t reinventing footwear, and that’s okay with me. Their classic shoe styles feature modern updates, like improved soles and construction materials, but without breaking the bank. I’m most impressed with the affordable prices that let me stay in step with modern fashion. Of the products I tried, each fit as expected and was well-constructed.

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FAQs

Is New Republic true to size?

New Republic shoes run true to size, and the brand recommends ordering your typical sneaker size.

Where is New Republic shoes located?

New Republic shoes are designed and located in Los Angeles, California.

Does New Republic have free returns?

New Republic accepts returns and exchanges for up to 14 days after the customer has received their items. However, there is a $9.00 restocking fee.

Is action leather real leather?

Action leather is real leather. It’s typically made from suede cow leather with a thin coating of polyurethane.