Amberjack is an exciting new professional footwear brand for men that focuses on a careful combination of comfort and style. Its unique concept has also been developed while maintaining full carbon neutrality as you will learn below.
In this guide, you will discover our detailed review of Amberjack Shoes and you’ll learn where and how its shoes are made:
As we’ll explore below, Amberjack combines athletic footwear technology and dress shoe tradition. The result something of a hybrid shoe with noticeable sporty elements like ventilation below the vamp as well as a modern rubber sole.
Personally, I found that the contrasting midsole was a little too prevalent yet it was an otherwise stylish shoe. Similarly, you may notice additional padding around the shoe’s opening as well as a heel loop. Overall, it edges closer towards a sneaker design despite the dressy leather uppers.
Firstly, Amberjack clearly states that their shoes do run large. Therefore, you should order a half-size smaller than yours. In fact, I found that the shoe was quite roomy even a half-size down. However, it wasn’t too large. Instead, it was quite cosy.
As you’ll learn in the guide below, Amberjack’s philosophy is founded upon sheer comfort. Indeed, they’re extremely pleasant to wear. The uppers are supple while the lining is soft. Meanwhile, a thick removable memory foam footbed and flexible outsole provide both support and shock absorption.
If you’re looking for something that’s versatile and easy to wear, Amberjack effortlessly fulfils this purpose. Additionally, it feels great for running around as well as when behind the wheel. Therefore, it’s a great choice for the professional man on the move.
Value For Money
Priced at $179, the Amberjack Original isn’t cheap but it’s far from expensive. It appears that the shoes are made using cement construction, but that’s not much different to most comfortable dress shoes. For instance, brands like Vionic, Mephisto, and Wolf & Shepherd are all made this way and yet are often more expensive, too.
Furthermore, Amberjack is stylistically unique and is aesthetically above most comfortable shoe brands. Although I have a penchant for traditional dress shoes, my stepson told me that if he were to wear smarter shoes, he’d opt for these instead.
How Amberjack Was Founded
John Peters & Team
After graduating from college, John Peters joined a consulting firm where he collaborated with leaders of the footwear industry. During this experience, he learned a significant amount about shoes.
However, he grew increasingly disappointed by how the most prominent brands mainly focused on cost reduction rather than innovation. As a result, they often perpetuated harmful production policies, which resulted in cheap quality and environmentally unsustainable footwear.
Meanwhile, John was inspired by new and exciting startup brands like Allbirds, which sought to create shoes made from sustainable materials. Although these catered to a casual footwear market, John needed something relatively dressy for work. Yet, he didn’t enjoy wearing uncomfortable dress shoes.
Consequently, he sought to bridge the gap between the two by introducing a new brand. While he had in-depth experience of the footwear industry as a business, John admits that he didn’t know much about how to make a shoe.
Therefore, he sought partners with the necessary skills that would complement his own. First, he approached friends of his, Jake Rudin and James Seuss, who were a Digital Technologies Senior Manager and the former CEO of Cole Hann respectively. In fact, James oversaw the merger between Cole Haan and Nike in 2012.
While the trio were leaders in the industry, they needed also needed a designer. This is where John Kraljevich came in who had previously designed footwear for brands like Allen Edmonds, Coach, Rag & Bone, and John Varvatos.
John and his partners strive to marry dress and casual shoes with a unique alternative through Amberjack. However, that is not all that they’re seeking to do. As mentioned above, John was disappointed by how leading brands focus on cost rather than quality and sustainability.
This attitude has resulted in a wave of greenwashing where brands use marketing to claim that their products are environmentally friendly when it is rarely the case. John instead wanted to do it right by making responsible decisions from the very start.
Although certain choices may end up increasing the costs for the business, he believes that it’s a more moral approach rather than relying on marketing to increase sales. Beyond the shoes themselves, which we explore in detail below, Amberjack uses recyclable plastic-free packaging and is 100% carbon neutral.
Nevertheless, you’ll notice that Amberjack is not overly vocal about its ecological philosophy. Indeed, John believes that these practices should be normalised while the shoes and their quality should be the focus of any marketing.
Similarly, another underlying principle behind Amberjack is innovation. However, John realises that innovation is a quality earned from the customer’s perspective and not just by the brand’s intentions.
Therefore, Amberjack has a close relationship with customers that focuses on personalised feedback and direct communication through text messages and emails. By encouraging a relationship with its wearers, the brand is able to quickly evolve in the right direction.
What Does Amberjack Mean?
While the Amberjack is a fish found in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, it wasn’t the inspiration behind the name. Instead, John combined “amber” with the name of his grandfather. While Jack Peters passed away when John was still quite young, he was his hero.
A pilot, successful businessman, and caring family man, Jack personified the qualities of what John perceived as the quintessential gentleman. Meanwhile, amber is a known fossilised resin that can capture something inside of it from a specific moment in time.
For John, amber represented the old world of traditional dress shoes. He felt by combining the two proved to be an apt analogy for how he and his team seek to modernise the dress shoe industry.
When Amberjack was founded, it was essential that the shoes were made by a partner that aligned with its values. Its shoes are therefore manufactured by an independent family-run factory outside of Porto, Portugal.
Amberjack opted for this factory as it balances innovation with the traditional craft. Since his team was looking to create a unique contemporary shoe, he needed craftspeople that wouldn’t be wary of experimenting with new techniques.
The factory consists of 50 artisans who all work under a fair-wage policy, which is important for Amberjack. While it produces shoes for Amberjack, it has been operating for over 30 years and also manufactures footwear for other leading brands.
John and his team are primarily in contact with Manuela, the factory’s day-to-day contact who has been in the shoemaking business for decades. Likewise, they often directly exchange with Marcos who is the factory’s specialist in leather and materials as well as a proficient clicker and assembler.
The leather, however, doesn’t come from Portugal nor is it sourced from Europe. Although it is often expected that brands should associate themselves with tanneries in France or Italy, Amberjack instead uses its partner in Monterrey, Mexico.
Indeed, Amberjack is vertically integrated with one of the world’s top tanneries, which means the tannery owns part of the business and provides top quality leather at a highly discounted price.
It is able to provide premium A-grade full-grain leather sourced only from American cowhides. As a result, Amberjack can offer full-grain American leather at $179.
Similarly, the shoes feature a super-soft buckskin lining for extra comfort.
How Are Amberjack Shoes Made?
Although Amberjack’s shoes follow a relatively typical construction process that’s not unlike most athletic shoes, the technology and materials themselves are anything but standard!
The shoes consist of over 20 unique components, which were all custom-developed by John Kraljevich, the factory, and other vendors. For instance, the propriety footbed and outsole, which are derived from high-performance athletic and hiking footwear, took two years to develop alone.
Drawing from his work on the Adidas Ultraboost, Kraljevich created heat-activated arch support. As it moulds to the foot’s shape according to the pressure it applies, it results in a personalised fit. This integrated yet removable insole is three times thicker than those found on similar shoes from other brands.
The material itself is reminiscent of memory foam but offers additional durability so that it doesn’t lose the support it provides over time.
Furthermore, the dual-density outsole is produced from a custom TPU blend. As mentioned above, the design isn’t dissimilar to hiking boots. For instance, the additional structure at the back cups the foot and carefully braces the heel in place. Meanwhile, extra flexibility at the front offers performance that you’d find on athletic shoes.
Amberjack fulfils its objective in creating footwear that feels like a comfortable pair of sneakers but offers professional versatility. While its design is perhaps not dressy enough for formal businesswear, it caters to professionals in the digital age.
Its careful combination of comfort and design will certainly appeal to the upcoming generation of young entrepreneurs and business people. Thanks to its meticulously planned and carbon-neutral supply chain, it will also be an affordable option for these very people.
If you want to learn more about Amberjack, head to its website. Otherwise, consider checking out some of the related guides below: