Your Guide to Men’s Dress Shoes

When buying a high-quality men’s shoe, it is important to note the occasion. For instance, you shouldn’t pair a business casual shoe with a suit. This is a common mistake and it will quickly undercuts your professional appearance. Instead, follow this men’s dress tip: The best shoes to wear with a suit are fine leather shoes with a leather, not rubber, sole. You can choose between different styles such as tassel, wingtip or squared toe, but make sure they are freshly polished.

Follow the guidelines below to choose the best shoe to round out your wardrobe or the perfect pair for each occasion.

Balmoral (Bal): The dressiest oxford men’s footwear.

Every man who owns a suit should own a pair of classic oxfords that are minimally styled. If you wear suits daily you should rotate three pairs or more.

  • Sleek, refined, most often sold in black or brown. Appropriate in any dark conservative color.
  • Style variations include plain toe, cap toe, brogue, and whole cut.
  • Should be worn with a suit, but may be worn with a sport jackets and odd trousers if casually styled.
  • Do not combine with jeans or chinos.

XO Footwear - Men's Balmoral Shoes

Oxfords / Bluchers: Less dressy than Bal’s, Oxfords can identified by lacing system sewn outside of shoe.

Well dressed men know that Oxfords can be worn with a suit, but they are better with an odd jacket and trousers. A classic shoe that should serve as your 2nd or 3rd pair depending on need. The more extreme the styling, color, or material – the less versatile the shoe.

  • If they are casually styled, they can be worn with jeans.
  • Style variations include cap toe, wing tip, and brogue.
  • Upper materials include suede and mixed leathers.
  • Common variations are saddle shoes, derbys, spectators, and laced moccasins.

XO Footwear - Men's Oxfords Shoes

Men’s Dress Boots

You should consider boots if you live in weather conditions that warrant their wear. Otherwise they should be reserved for your 4th or 5th pair. Dress boots are meant to be worn in colder weather to protect your ankles from water, mud, and snow. They should only be worn with a suit, if the weather calls for it.

  • Style variations include cap toe, wing tip, and brogue.
  • Upper materials include water resistant leather.
  • Appropriate with a sports jacket and odd trousers or jeans.
  • Only wear with suit in rainy or snowy weather.

XO Footwear - Dress Boots

Slip-on Shoes

Slip-ons should only be worn with a suit when traveling. They are best with a casual odd jacket and trousers, minus the necktie. They can be worn with jeans or chinos, as well. Loafers are a travelers best friend because they are easy to slip on and off when going through airport security or when relaxing on the plane. We recommend they be your 2nd pair of traveling shoes. Or they they could be a 3rd pair if you want to travel with 2 pairs of oxfords, so that you look especially sharp around town in jeans and button down shirt.

  • The least dressy choice, they are designed for comfort and convenience.
  • Style variations are wide.
  • More delicate styles, or styles that closely resemblance oxfords, can be used for more dressy occasions.
  • The greater the exposure of sock, the less formal.
  • Common variations are monk straps, tassel loafers, penny loafers, and unlaced moccasins

XO Footwear - Slipons

What to Look for in a Safety Shoe

Safety Shoes

A safety shoe is a protected-toe boot (sometimes called a safety boot, steel-capped boot, or an occupational shoe). It is a durable boot or shoe worn by men and women in many industries including the armed forces, manufacturing, chemical engineering, fire fighting, and construction.

A safety shoe is designed to protect your workers’ feet from heat, chemical spills, slippery floors, wild life, sharp objects, electrical shock, and other hazards. A good safety shoe will have protective reinforcement in the toe (a steel or composite toe) which protects your workers’ feet from falling objects or compression. They may also include a mid-sole plate, a composite metatarsal guide, to protect against punctures from below.

Before you purchase safety shoes for your company, make sure to invest in shoes that meet the specific needs of your workers and organization. Also be sure to source shoes that meet international or national standards, such as compliance with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) or ISO (International Organization for Standardization):

What to Look for: the Sole

Safety shoes may have a polyurethane (PU), rubber, or rubber composite sole. Ideally, the sole should be directly bonded to the upper. It is also best to choose a shoe that is “slip resistant” and “shock absorbent”, this can be true for rubber or PU soles.

PU soles are heat resistant, making them a good choice for fire fighters. PU is also a good choice for chemical engineers, who should make sure that their soles (as well as their uppers) are resistant to acid, alkaline, and oils. Workers that are exposed to lighting or electricity will need “anti-static” soles (XO Footwear makes soles that will protect from 100 Kilo Ohms to 1000 Mega Ohms of electricity.) A steel, or penetration resistant, mid-sole is another important feature for construction workers or other workers that regularly traverse rough terrain. A solid mid-sole is an extra layer of protection when stepping on metal, rocks, or other sharp objects.

What to Look for: the Toe

A hard toe is usually the most distinguishing feature of safety shoes. Good safety shoes, should either have a steel or hard composite toe which protects workers in many different industries from falling objects and other hazards. The toe should also feature a broad fitting cap, designed to be comfortable for the worker, as well as to protect from compression if the shoes should become impacted.

What to Look for: the Upper

Safety shoe uppers come in a variety of different materials including canvas, leather, suede, or synthetic. A soft, full grain leather is usually the best, most comfortable choice. Typically the leather will be treated to be water proof. It may also have a chemical coat to protect against snake bites.

What to Look for: the Lining

Ultimately a safety shoe must be light weight and comfortable. Thus it is necessary to choose a shoe with a comfortable lining. For instance, a full-padded, water-proof inner lining will provide added protection and should be comfortable to wear through out a long work day.

Tips for Manufacturing Abroad

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If you are like many small to medium-sized companies that sell finished products in Europe, America, or Australia, you have probably considering overseas manufacturing. As globalization marches on many large and small companies are seeking cost savings by assembling their products in Asia or South America. Fortunately, small companies do not need to invest millions of dollars in foreign plant and labor to benefit from overseas manufacturing. There are thousands of fully operational manufacturing plants in India, China, and Brazil (to name a few major players) that you can partner with to complete large or small runs of your product.

Industries that commonly outsource manufacturing of their products include: apparel, footwear, furniture, toys, electrical machinery, chemicals, energy equipment, industrial machinery, pharma, and automotive. If your company falls within any of these categories you will be able to choose from hundreds of pre-existing manufacturing facilities to produce your products using the latest machinery and technologies. You can easily keep your core operations of R&D, design, and marketing close to home, while still benefiting from oversea manufacturing expertise.

Companies that are unable (or chose not) to invest in foreign plant or equipment have two options:

Contract Manufacturing

This involves creating a contract with an overseas firm to manufacture all or part of your product. Your relationship with the manufacturer is simply that your are the customer and they are the supplier. In many cases you will need to provide them with a mold of your product, or choose from a existing mold in their catalogue, as well as detailed manufacturing specifications and instructions. The biggest concern with this option is protecting your Intellectual Property (IP).

Licensed Manufacturing

Manufacturing under a license involves giving an overseas company the right to both manufacture and market your product within a defined territory, usually the country or region of their manufacturing plants. Through licensing your company will be able to sell in new foreign markets, while simultaneously taking advantages of lower production and transportation costs.

Benefits

There are many benefits to overseas manufacturing including:

  • Allows you to focus on your strengths, such as R&D or design, rather than production.
  • Better quality products, materials, and machinery at lower prices.
  • Reducing the overall cost of production.
  • Getting your product to market faster.
  • Reducing delivery costs.
  • Offshore production and manufacturing may enable you to overcome import restrictions, opening up new markets.

Risks

There are also risks involved when partnering with an offshore manufacturer including:

  • Losing some control over the production of your products.
  • Problems ensuring consistent quality.
  • Communication difficulties with your new supplier / manufacturing partner.
  • Falling victim to IP theft or abuse.
  • Exposure to negative impact of exchange rate fluctuations.

Tips for Finding the Best Manufacturing Partner

As you enter the world of overseas manufacturing, your most important challenge is finding the right manufacturer for your products. You’ll need to find a reliable company, with the best machinery to manufacture your products specifications and ensure consistent quality. They will also need sufficient capacity to meet your production needs and be flexible enough to work with your operations schedule. Finally they should have a strong distribution channels to ensure on-time delivery of orders.

  1. Learn the international regulatory requirements of your industry.
  2. Know exactly what you need. Define your specific manufacturing needs beforehand.
  3. Research potential manufacturers.
  4. Shortlist potential manufacturers and get price quotes and references.
  5. Do a legal background check on the final candidates to verify the information they provided including: ownership, registrations, certifications, capacity, and past business activities.
  6. If possible, personally visit the top candidates with a trusted translator and experienced resident.
  7. It is best to only employ manufacturers who have top management that are fluent in English, or the language used at your home operations. If this is not possible, make sure that all final contracts are properly translated by a law firm specializing in international contract law and who is familiar with the law in the country concerned.
  8. Consult a professional finance specialist to determine how best to structure the financial aspects of your contract to protect your business against foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations.

Your Manufacturing Agreement

A manufacturing agreement is a contract between you and your chosen manufacturing partner that outlines the terms and conditions on which they will produce your products. To mitigate risks, you should communicate clearly about your quality requirements, delivery expectations, and shipping terms. Be sure to include a comprehensive IP clause, confidentiality agreement, as well as governance, dispute resolution practices, and exit provisions. Most importantly, your agreement should include an accurate description of the products including specifications, raw material requirements, as well as a standard packaging and ordering procedures. Finally your agreement must address the “transfer of title” as the products are delivered to their final destination, the price for the finished products, payment terms, and whether or not the manufacturer has a license to sell finished product to third parties.

Sourcing at Magic

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