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I have been hunting for a decent pair of leather boots with a wedged heel, all summer since my last pair became defunct. What I ended up with is a pair of Orchard Benzi Buckle Boots from Brantano, setting me back £48.00 and failing to meet any of the above criteria.
These soft black boots are made of "other textiles", very non-descriptive but certainly not leather. However the material appears to be some way to being waterproof, very soft above the Achilles area but much sturdier across the actual foot. The material protects the toes well and whilst not solid, does infact hold its shape when you push to see how much room is left.
The boot is detailed with a belt across the ankle area, with the buckle to the far side. The boots I purchased had the buckle set on the third hole, creating the tightest possible effect. For me, if the buckle is loosened, the boots become far too loose. Above the buckle is what looks like a popper, tied with a small elastic loop which resembles a hair tie. This has no reason to be there except as decoration.
The boots are trimmed with a fleece type material which runs across the top of the boot, creating what initially appears to be a fully fleece lined product, which then runs down the centre of the far side of the boot to just beneath the buckle. This effect is then duplicated on the nearside, but instead of running underneath the belt and buckle, it runs over the top. To touch the boots feel like they could be part suede, thought whilst I am sure they are not, I imagine that should they be submerged in water, they would end up the same way suede does when wet, a soggy mess.
Internally these boots are very warm. Whilst the fleece does not extend to the interior, there is a full lining which works its way from top to toe, avoiding only the heel area. The section of material which would be behind the heel is solid and to the touch feels like cardboard. Again as I cannot find anything to give me a conclusive definition as to what materials are used I cannot explain what this material actually is. However, rest assured it is not cardboard.
The boots have rubber soles which is exactly what I was looking for. The rubber makes walking much more comfortable and offers more support than a plastic one. For me I find that the spring you get in rubber supports my back. Thus preventing the usual back pain I get when on my feet for hours at a time.
Once on, these boots are calf length which is ideal for jeans, leggings, skirts etc. I had big concerns when buying them that due to the width of the top of the boots, they would look odd underneath my work trousers.
I sought advice from one of the customer service advisors, who explained to me that should they not look right I could return them providing they were unworn and I had the original receipt. I thought this was excellent. They do fit but they will catch on my trousers which may look slightly strange. I am not overly concerned though as they are so warm and comfortable I will wear them at all times, not just to work.
The Brantano website isn't very helpful at all. They list the product with several images of different angles, but it states that these boots have a zip, which they don't and it fails to identify any of the materials used. The heel height is listed at 35mm which looks about right. These aren't completely flat but they do not offer a sky high platform either.
They are only available in black, but the Orchard range appears to have at least 6 different styles, which are available some in black and some in brown, some with faux fur, others without. If you seek these out in the shops you will find they are not in the usual size categories, instead they are all hanging up from one wall. You will have to find the correct size yourself without relying on the huge size banners which separate the rest of the store.
Additionally these do not come with boxes, unlike most of the other shoes in store. However, on request I was provided with an adequate sized box which I was able to take my boots home in.
I would fully recommend this brand/style of boot from Brantano. They are reasonably priced, warm and fashionable.
Also on Ciao.