Oliver Cabell is an ambitious luxury shoe brand that seeks to offer authentic Italian-made shoes for both men and women. Founded by Scott Gabrielson, Oliver Cabell seeks to disrupt the luxury industry before it succumbs entirely to unethical fast-fashion practices.
In this guide, we will provide a detailed review of Oliver Cabell Shoes with a focus on how it was founded as well as where and how its shoes are made:
- Oliver Cabell Shoe Reviews
- Oliver Cabell Brand History
- Where & How Are Oliver Cabell Shoes Made?
- Future Oliver Cabell Projects
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Oliver Cabell Shoes Reviews
Before we present a full review of Oliver Cabell an overview of their Italian facilities and manufacturing processes, we’ll take a close inspection at a sample of their footwear. Currently, you can read about the following shoes:
Simply use the links above to jump down to each shoe or scroll down to read about them all.
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Style & Construction
Oliver Cabell’s iconic sneaker is a celebrated creation among shoe enthusiasts whether they wear sneakers or not. Made in Oliver Cabell’s Italian factory with carefully-sourced materials, it features a full Margom sole and full-grain calfskin leather uppers.
We’re particularly fond of the clean white finish with the subtle branding on the heel. The Margom capsules, which feature a Shore 70A rubber durometer rating, are stylishly stitched into place.
Fit & Comfort
Thanks to the substantial Margom sole and full-grain leather, the sneakers are robust and stable. Furthermore, the last used to produce the shoe has a spacious toe box despite the slim profile.
Additionally, the insole is comprised of a proprietary blend of foam and recycled rubber. Thanks to open-cell technology, they offer 95% breathability. They’re also particularly durable and will compress less than 5% even with heavy use.
Finally, a hint of suede on the heel allows from comfortable sockless wear and reduces chafing. However, we would opt for no-show socks for additional comfort, especially in warm weather.
Value For Money
On paper, $180 may admittedly feel like a steep investment for sneakers, it’s important to remember where and how they’re manufactured. Given that Oliver Cobell’s Low 1 sneakers are produced in Italy from premium-grade materials, they offer excellent value for money.
Furthermore, you’d be supporting a brand that is actively seeking to contribute to a more ethical and durable fashion industry. Meanwhile, designer brands will have a similar price point but will unlikely be produced in such conditions.
Style & Construction
Oliver Cabell has launched its beautifully-crafted drivers. Made in Portugal, the moccasins feature 3oz Italian suede leather sourced from its preferred tannery, which you will learn about below. Meanwhile, it is lined with supple Italian calfskin leather.
You’ll first notice the distinctive pebble outsole, which consists of small rubber nubs that wrap around the ankle. This classic design is a hallmark of authentic driving shoes. As a result, they’re functional and practical for when behind the wheel.
Furthermore, they’re extremely stylish by borrowing the distinctive penny loafer throat and there are a variety of colourways to choose from.
Fit & Comfort
The footbed consists of Amelfex microfoam. Unlike many driving shoes, which are essentially slippers, Oliver Cabell’s approach offers more support and stability. Meanwhile, the foam provides cushion, which ensures comfort when both standing or driving.
The aforementioned calfskin lining offers flexibility and comfort whether you wear them with socks or not. Meanwhile, the microfoam is covered by the same leather to ensure that the interior is consistent and luxurious.
For instance, we have worn the drivers on days out exploring the French countryside. They were tested for at least 5 hours behind the wheel as well as countless hours walking through old Medieval towns.
In both cases, they were very comfortable. In fact, they were among the best driving shoes we have evaluated so far.
Value For Money
Although there are some very cheap driving shoes on the market, they tend to lessen the experience behind the wheel and are generally of poor quality. Meanwhile, good quality driving shoes can be very expensive.
However, Oliver Cabell intuitively bridges this gap by providing premium-level quality while offering a fair price.
We’re very satisfied with these shoes and will be enjoying them for many miles. While they’re great for long Sunday drives, they’re perfect for commuting to the office and wearing with business-casual attire, too.
How Olive Cabell Was Founded
North Dakota native Scott Gabrielson was appalled by the tragic 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh that killed 1,130 people. It prompted him to quit his job in business development and he instead pursued a master’s degree where he studied the evolution of the fashion industry at the University of Oxford.
Much of his studies focused on fast fashion and he soon realised that even heritage designer brands were following its unethical practices. When visiting factories in Asia, he discovered that footwear was being manufactured there for brands that claimed to be Italian made. Although workers earned just $7 a day and the shoes cost under $30 to produce, they were sold for over $600.
Scott and his team were mortified by this harrowing truth and they sought to disrupt the luxury fashion business. They launched a fashion start-up that was founded upon responsible manufacturing processes and transparency. Its footwear would be produced with only ethically-sourced premium materials that would truly reflect its pricing.
The majority of fashion brands are particularly secretive about their production processes and suppliers, which are hidden behind alluring advertising campaigns. Meanwhile, Oliver Cabell proudly reveals its partners, suppliers, manufacturing standards.
Furthermore, designers use their brand recognition and heritage to market their products with aggressive mark-ups. However, much of their heritage is in name only and the products are secretly manufactured offshore at a small cost.
Nevertheless, Oliver Cabell instead focuses on in-house design in closer partnership with authentic Italian factories. By exclusively selling online directly to the consumer, Oliver Cabell drastically reduces distribution and retail costs. Therefore, the brand can offer fair prices for its customers while offering full-transparency in what they’re buying.
Who Is Oliver Cabell?
Interestingly, Oliver Cabell is a combination of characters played by actors Oliver Reed and Steve McQueen, infamous rebels of their time. Scott stumbled upon a 1970s news story that recounted a heavy night out when McQueen flew to London to discuss a project with Reed.
Rather than discuss business, the two undertook a marathon pub crawl, which had a rather messy ending and the project was never pursued. As Oliver Reed and Steve McQueen both played Oliver Twist and Martin Cabell respectively, Scott and his team opted for the name as they were inspired their life force.
Where & How Are Oliver Cabell Shoes Made?
Before even considering who would produce the shoes, Scott and his team invested significant resources into scouting tanneries. Indeed, they researched over 70 tanneries before finally approaching a family-owned business from whom they would source the leathers.
Oliver Cabell’s tannery has been in operation since 1954 and is well-known in the industry. Its full-grain leathers are highly sought-after by a variety of luxury brands who still produce their wares in Europe and it has been recognised with multiple international awards.
The tannery’s values resonated with those of Scott and his team through its ethical and environmental standards. Furthermore, the tannery supports family farms by supplying full-traceable hides to its clients.
Where Is The Oliver Cabell Shoe Factory?
Similarly, the process of selecting the factory was equally arduous. Scott and his team interviewed over 40 different footwear factories across Europe. However, they were dismayed that known offered the ethical and quality standards that they sought.
By chance, Scott met Diego, a production manager for a number of high-end brands. He offered to help Scott and introduced him to a few factory owners. Through Diego, Scott eventually met Pedro who owned a small independent factory in Italy’s Marche region.
Pedro’s family have had their factory for several generations and specialised in footwear and leather goods for small luxury brands. Scott and Pedro closely collaborate throughout the whole manufacturing process to ensure that his designs are perfectly executed. As the shoes are manufactured by hand, each pair can take several days to finish.
Scott also wished to marry traditional craftsmanship with modern footwear technology. Although it brought on new challenges, he chose to collaborate with Margom to produce the outsoles. Despite having just two machines and five craftsmen, Margom is a well-known sole manufacturer that was founded in 1952.
As Margom features a Shore 70A rubber durometer as mentioned above, it’s a durable and comfortable outsole that is resistant to splitting and abrasion. Since Scott first approached Margom with a lower volume, the manufacturer was initially reluctant. However, once they finally forged a partnership, Scott was able to create the timelessly minimalist low profile sneaker that he desired.
Oliver Cabell Leather Boots
Oliver Cabell is also highly regarded for its beautifully-crafted leather boots. Manufactured in Albacete, Spain, they each feature German custom-made steel shanks as well as Italian vegetable-tanned leather lining from Venice.
The midsoles also consist of natural Spanish vegetable-tanned foot-forming leather and rubber soles for additional traction. However, the Mock and SB 2 models offer lively white Vibram Morflex soles.
Most of the boots are crafted with water-resistance full-grain vegetable-tanned pull-up leather, which is sourced from a small local tannery in the Albacete area. Yet, fully waterproof waxed full-grain leather sourced from Charles F Stead in Leeds, England, is also available for some models.
Finally, all the boots are finished with unique hand-stitching that is performed in the Albacete factory mentioned above.
3D-Printed Recycled Sneakers
Although the core of Oliver Cabell’s shoes is manufactured in Italy, Scott and his team have also explored other possibilities that harness modern technology.
The Phoenix sneaker tackles two contemporary issues with one innovative strike. Interestingly, the sneakers are 3D-printed from recycled water bottles in a modern facility in Guangzhou, China.
Seven bottles are used for each pair to produced the woven uppers. Meanwhile, the soles are crafted from lightweight injected-moulded EVA. Furthermore, the sneakers are completely machine washable so you can easily clean them.
Future Oliver Cabell Projects
At the time of writing this review, Oliver Cabell is currently collaborating with its partners to develop dressier shoe styles to attract a wider range of potential clients.
As mentioned above, Oliver Cabell has just introduced a selection of authentic Italian driving shoes with a moccasin stitch finish and pebbled leather soles. The driving shoes are fully functional and ideal for both behind the wheel as well as business-casual wear.
Finally, a range of full-grain leather dress shoes is currently being developed to be released sometime near October 2020. Upon their release, you can expect a detailed review in this very guide!
Oliver Cabell is one of a number of direct-to-consumer brands that seeks to redefine the fashion market by producing ethical footwear. Although they may not have the same brand recognition as major designer brands, together they make great strides into changing the way that we perceive luxury as both a concept and a reality.
Indeed, Oliver Cabell sets itself apart by focusing on artisanal production that emphasises ethical standards. While a pair of $40 sneakers may be a tempting deal, investing a little more in quality will not only support brands like this but also give you a longer-term investment as the shoes will undoubtedly last longer.
If you want to learn more about Oliver Cabell, head to its website. Otherwise, consider checking out some of the related guides below:
- All Shoe Reviews
- Best Italian Shoe Brands
- More Shoe Brand Overviews
- Most Comfortable Dress Shoes For Men
- Bespoke Unit Shoe Homepage
"Oliver Cabell offers genuine Italian-made shoes with premium materials while placing a firm emphasis on ethical and environmental standards."