Florsheim’s marketing pitch: Combines enduring style and the latest in comfort technology.
Upper: Leather exterior with a padded synthetic suede and leather lining.
Midsole: Single-density TPR, plastic shank.
Outsole: Textured (TPR) Thermoplastic rubber.
Color reviewed: Cognac smooth.
Insole/footbed: Removable dual-density Ortholite insole with arch support and leather lining.
Country of origin: China.
Waterproof: No. For use in dry weather only.
Vegan: No, the upper uses real leather.
Airport-friendly: No, the upper has metal eyelets.
Weight: 482 gms/ 1 Lb 1 ounce for a half pair of Men's US 9/UK 8/EUR 42.5/CM 27
Widths available: B-narrow, D - regular (reviewed), 3E - extra wide.
Florsheim is one of the few leather shoe brands that are still run by descendants of the founder, and in this case, the Florsheim family or the Weyco group. Clarks used to be another such brand, but the family ceded control to a private equity group in late 2020.
We may be biased, but the ownership of the brand makes a difference in the quality of its products. For example, Cole Haan and Johnston&Murphy used to make excellent products till a few years ago. Now in the hands of private equity managers, CH and JM’s quality isn’t what it used to be.
Most Florsheim shoes are made outside North America, but from what we can see, the product quality is still superior to other brands in this price segment. We’d also put Clarks on the same pedestal, but we’ll have to wait and see how its new owners run the brand.
The shoe we’re reviewing today is the Florsheim Midtown Cap Toe. There are many versions based on the Midtown platform; along with the Cap toe, Florsheim sells the plain toe, moc toe, and brogued wingtip variants.
As far as rubber-soled shoes go, this is a very dressy pair of shoes. The leather used on the upper looks premium, and the shoe even uses proper board lasting – a rarity in dress footwear with rubber soles. Its $120 price (which is often on sale) makes the Midtown Cap Toe excellent value for money.
THE SOLE DESIGN AND RIDE COMFORT
There are three components of the Midtown’s ride comfort.
The first part is visible on the outside. It’s the combined midsole and outsole made of TPR (Thermo Plastic Rubber) that Florsheim calls ‘Comfortech’.
The rest of the parts are hidden inside the shoe. Those would be the dual-density Ortholite insole and stiff lasting board. Together, these components deliver the necessary levels of cushioning comfort, stability, and dependable traction.
TPR is a commonly used soling material because it offers numerous benefits. Generally speaking, it’s more durable and supportive than comparable EVA and PU foam midsole. TPR also grips exceptionally well on most surfaces, and is impervious to the changes in ambient temperatures.
For example, prolonged exposure to heat and moisture often causes PU foam to weaken. EVA foam has relatively lower durability and grip, and also stiffens during freezing temperatures.
TPR soles – like the one used on the Florsheim midtown – have excellent chemical stability and retain their shape through the life of the shoe.
Naturally, like any soling material, TPR will eventually go through wear and tear but at a slower rate.
The one-piece sole with a block heel design adds no cushioning softness at all. It’s very firm, and doesn’t compress when loaded.
Florsheim also uses a high-quality and stiff lasting board to support the heel and midfoot, so Midtown is an ultra-stable dress shoe even for heavy users.
We don’t come across conventional lasting boards in the comfort dress shoe category very often. So we like how Florsheim has constructed this shoe using traditional construction techniques. However, it’s hard to tell if there’s a shank under the lasting board.
The Midtown feels very solid-footed and planted; there’s none of that nervous rocking motion during walking.
The forefoot uses a fabric lasting, so it bends easily and needs no time to break-in. The stiff heel and midfoot support a smooth gait cycle, whereas the flexible forefoot makes activities like walking and climbing steps comfortable.
The Comfortech outsole grips extremely well, be it on smooth floors or wet sidewalks. Even though the TPR outsole lugs lack an aggressive pattern, they grip well due to their inherent traction-friendly properties.
The highlight of the comfort story is the removable Ortholite insole. The dual-density footbed uses a smooth and contoured smooth EVA frame under the heel and midfoot. On top is a cushy layer of soft, blown foam Ortholite that’s topped with leather. Based on the grain texture, our best guess is that the leather is peccary.
This sockliner makes everyday wear very comfortable and supportive. The EVA frame also cups the arch for support, but if you prefer, an aftermarket can replace the stock insole.
The partly rests on the smooth ‘Suedetech’ lining of the upper, a feature that we’ll cover in the next section.
The Florsheim Midtown is not a lightweight dress shoe. The TPR sole’s optimal blend between durability and stable traction outperforms comparable PU (Polyurethane) and EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) designs, but the trade-off is the higher weight.
For example, the last dress shoe we reviewed was the Clarks Un Tailor Tie that weighed well below 12-ounces.
The Midtown is a 1 lb 1 ounce – which is the same as the Ecco ST Hybrid that had a PU midsole AND a TPR outsole AND a welt. So there’s that.
THE UPPER DESIGN, MATERIALS, AND FIT
The term ‘Oxford’ is commonly used to describe laced-up dress shoes, just like how most sports shoes are called ‘tennis shoes’.
However, the sartorial police will look at you with an unkind eye if you were to refer to the Florsheim Midtown Cap Toe as an ‘Oxford’.
The Midtown has a derby-style upper with external lacing panels. In contrast, a typical Oxford design has a closed lacing without a separate eyelet panel.
Technicalities aside, the Midtown’s choice of materials is excellent for its price.
Here, the faux burnished leather looks rich, and reflects the light differently depending on the weather.
Here is a picture showing the Midtown Cap Toe in its natural downtown (or midtown) environment. The leather is supple and conforms easily to the foot shape.
This being a $120 shoe, the top-grain leather is a corrected kind. When a regular cleaning regimen is followed, the Midtown’s leather is easy to shine and maintain.
According to Florsheim, its leather is sourced from gold and silver-rated tanneries that follow environment-friendly manufacturing practices.
The stitched details on the mid and rear quarter panels are cosmetic, but add design depth to an otherwise simple upper. The Cap toe is also triple-stitched over the vamp for functional strength and visual appeal.
The other bits on the upper are based on dress shoe best practices.
The waxed laces in deep brown match the faux burnished color scheme, and loop through the hidden eyelets that are reinforced with metal grommets. Thus, the Florsheim Midtown is not airport-friendly; the metal eyelets will set off the detector.
We love the ‘Suedetech’ lining material because it makes the interiors very comfortable. It’s a soft synthetic suede that’s lightly padded with foam.
The foam-quilted lining doesn’t make the fit narrow because the Midtown has a spacious fit and a true-to-size last. For feet with regular width, the Midtown’s upper is comfortable and accommodating without hot spots.
Florsheim seems to be fond of using Peccary leather. We could be wrong, but the insole lining is made of it, and so are the quarter panels and tongue lining. Peccary is often used as a lining material due to its high strength-to-weight ratio.
Though the mildly padded tongue flap has folded edges, an external stitch joins the two layers. So the flap is not as soft as the Clarks Un Tailor Tie.
The tongue doesn’t bite, but some stiffness is felt over the instep during dorsiflexion of the foot – say, while climbing a flight of stairs.
The heel topline is supportive and does not require a break-in period, nor does it rub against the sides. The rigid heel counter is effective at keeping the foot locked in.
PROS AND CONS
Any shoe with a TPR outsole or midsole is going to be heavy – there’s no workaround.
On the bright side, the Florsheim Midtown doesn’t feel bottom-heavy, as the weight is evenly spread across the full-leather upper and high-density TPR sole. On the bright side, the latter also gives the shoe a stable and durable build quality.
The rest of the shoe is near perfect. The leather and lining quality punches above its $120 retail price, and the shoe is packed with comfort-focused features.
For example, the dual-density Ortholite footbed is excellent, and so is the foam-backed ‘Suedetech’ lining. There’re no complaints about the quality of fit either; the true-to-size Florsheim Midtown has excellent proportions.
SHOES THAT ARE SIMILAR TO THE MIDTOWN CAP TOE
Barring its upper design, the Florsheim Medfield Cap Toe is nearly identical to the Midtown. It’s based on the same Comfortech sole and uses a similar material package to achieve its comfort goals. That also includes the removable Ortholite insole we raved about in this review.
A wing tip variant of the Midtown also exists.
The Clarks Un Tailor Tie is a much lighter alternative. Its upper is very comfortable, and so is its performance Ortholite insole. Just know that the EVA sole’s traction and durability levels will be lower when compared to the Midtown’s TPR outsole.
Another lightweight option is the Rockport Total Motion Dressport Plain toe. Under its leather upper resides an EVA sole with a TPU midfoot shank, and there’s a performance insole for step-in cushioning and support.
Ecco sells the CityTray Cap Toe and the Melbourne Tie with PU (Polyurethane) midsoles that deliver a level of cushioning and support that is at par with the Midtown. The insoles of both shoes are removable, and the comfortable uppers use premium leather.
None of the above are waterproof, so may we suggest the Florsheim Forecast Waterproof Cap Toe? It’s got a similar aesthetic to the Midtown, except that the upper is waterproof and the sole is formulated for slip-resistance.