Johnston and Murphy’s marketing pitch: Merges classic style with ultralight, cushioned comfort.
Upper: Corrected grain leather in a wingtip derby silhouette and blacked edges; leather and mesh lining.
Midsole: Full-length EVA foam, decorative welts.
Outsole: EVA foam.
Insole/footbed: Removable insole with Sheepskin-covered memory foam and EVA frame.
Country of origin: Vietnam.
Airport-friendly: No, the upper has metal eyelets.
Waterproof: No. For use in dry weather only.
Vegan: No, the upper uses genuine leather.
Color: Tan Full Grain.
Weight: 343 gms/ 12.1 Oz for a half pair of Men's US 9/UK 8/EUR 42.5/CM 27
Widths available: D - regular (reviewed), 2E - wide.
There’s a reason why we chose to write about the Holden Wingtip immediately after publishing the Cole Haan Zerogrand review.
The Johnston and Murphy Holden Wingtip bears a passing resemblance to the CH Zerogrand. Or rather, its Nike Free-inspired midsole.
One could argue that other design aspects also look familiar. Take, for instance, the Wingtip silhouette with brogue details or the zig-zag pinking of the Wingtip overlay. Or the faux ‘welts’ over the midsole edge.
But it’s the midsole aesthetic that ties the Holden to the Zerogrand’s styling. The molded grooves on the midsole sidewall mimic the aesthetic of the Cole Haan shoe.
The outsole geometry is also ‘inspired’ by the flexible midsole design made popular by the Nike Free.
Despite the resemblance, the J&M Holden’s midsole is closer to a regular dress sneaker than the flexible Zerogrand. While the shoe is flexible by most standards, the grooves aren’t very deep. For all practical purposes, the Holden’s midsole is a solid chunk of firm EVA foam.
The Holden is also a very different shoe than the Zerogrand.
The interiors have a higher level of plushness due to the padded foam and leather-lined insole with a memory foam footbed. The accommodating upper also creates a (more) easygoing fit experience.
All that extra material is reflected in the 12-ounce weight. While that’s lighter than most dress hybrids, it doesn’t compare to the CH Zerogrand’s 9-ounce something weight.
The J&M Holden’s attractive price is also worth noting. Its $139 retail sticker makes it an excellent value proposition; the Holden offers versatile everyday comfort and construction quality that’s superior to Cole Haan.
We’re reviewing the variant with the contrast color midsole here, but the black-on-black version is the dressiest Holden of them all.
THE SOLE DESIGN AND RIDE COMFORT
There’s not much to say about the Holden’s midsole design. It’s a solid chunk of EVA foam with a decorative welt on top and no outsole rubber at all.
That makes it a ‘monosole’ – a term that we use to describe a midsole that also functions as the outsole. There are advantages and drawbacks of such soles. The lack of outsole rubber makes the Holden relatively lightweight despite its fully-kitted leather upper.
On the flip side, the grip is average at best, with decreased performance noticed on dusty or damp surfaces. EVA soles also stiffen in freezing temperature, thus adversely affecting the grip quality.
As long as the Holden is used on clean surfaces in above-zero temperatures, the outsole will deliver satisfactory grip and comfort.
Speaking of which, the midsole has a firm density, so most of the cushioning comfort is packed within the removable insole.
Johnston and Murphy’s insoles are usually very comfortable, and the Holden is no exception.
The base of the insole uses a molded EVA foam frame with a contoured profile. The raised frame does a great job at cupping the foot and supporting the arch.
J&M uses a soft Sheepskin lining over a thin layer of memory foam. All three layers run continuously from heel to toe and deliver a smooth and consistent sense of softness. The forefoot layers are cleanly stitched together, a sign of attention to detail.
Most aftermarket orthotics do not use a sheepskin footbed, so replacing the stock insole may result in a loss of insole smoothness.
We’d like to point out that the Holden doesn’t have a ‘Dual width’ insole design like some Johnston and Murphy shoes do.
On a dual-width J&M shoe, removing the stock insole reveals another footbed underneath. That feature either allows for a much thicker orthotic to be inserted, or just free up a lot of interior space for wider feet.
There’s a reason why we wanted to show you what the EVA foam lasting under the insole looks like. Now compare the picture you see here with the insides of the Cole Haan Zerogrand or Originalgrand. Touche.
Anyway. We digress.
The firm midsole is very stable, so the foot feels planted during walking and standing. At the same time, it’s not rock hard so there’s sufficient cushioning comfort for walking on paved sidewalks.
THE UPPER DESIGN, MATERIALS, AND FIT
For a $140 product, the Johnston and Murphy Holden Wingtip is surprisingly well constructed.
The corrected-grain leather panels are cleanly stitched together, and have a soft hand feel. The vamp leather panel doesn’t have any ugly outer seams, like the one we saw on the Cole Haan Originalgrand.
The upper isn’t short on decorative details, as evident from the brogue perforations and zig-zag pinking of the Wingtip toe cap. The black edge colouring on the topline is a nice aesthetic touch. It adds design depth to an otherwise bland exterior.
Here, the blackened edges are inspired by how many luxury leather-goods brands make their products.
The waxed laces do a good job at staying tied, and the discrete eyelets are strengthened with metal grommets.
The padded tongue is soft and effective at filtering the lacing pressure.
There are three different types of lining materials inside the upper. The heel is lined with genuine suede leather, whereas the midsole has smooth leather. Finally, the forefoot has a thin textile lining.
If you’re wondering whether the stitching on the inside is related to the welt, the answer is no.
The stitching merely keeps the leather shell and lining together during the lasting process, and has nothing to do with the decorative welt.
The overall build quality is excellent, and it feels like it belongs to a higher price segment.
Though the Holden Wingtip also sells in a wide, the standard width fits true-to-size and will accommodate most foot profiles.
The insides feel smooth and comfortable without any bumpy seams or hot spots.
There’s only a single gotcha with the Holden’s upper. The heel collar takes a few days to break in.
The edges are not uncomfortable, but the firm edges take some time to soften. Perhaps a padded collar – like on the Clarks Un Tailor Tie – would have helped.
PROS AND CONS
Except for the average grip quality of the all-foam outsole, the Holden Wingtip does not have any functional gaps.
The level of materials and trims deserve the $140 price, and features like the Sheepskin-lined insole and leather lining enhance the upper comfort. The optional wide sizing comes in handy for office-goers with wide feet.
The foam midsole is supportive and delivers consistent cushioning across its length. The combination of a just-right upper fit and cushioned ride creates a comfortable wearing experience for daily commutes.
SHOES THAT ARE SIMILAR TO THE HOLDEN WINGTIP
Besides the plain toe version of the J&M Holden, there are several dress sneaker alternatives. The Cole Haan Originalgrand comes to mind, and so do shoes like the Clarks Chantry Wing, Florsheim Flair Wingtip, and Rockport Garett Wingtip.
The Rockport Total Motion Sports Wingtip is another shoe that pairs an office-worthy dress upper with a comfortable foam midsole.
Johnston and Murphy sells a wide selection of waterproof dress sneakers. Their uppers may not use Gore-Tex, but the waterproofing is very effective.
We recommend the XC4 Lancer Wingtip – its sock-like heel entry does a good job at keeping the water out. The insole is a ‘dual width’ kind – meaning that there’s another insole below it. This makes the fit more spacious when needed – say, for wide feet or when using a thicker orthotic.