The Split-Toe Challenger from Singapore: Comparing the Edward Green Dover with the Yeossal Thompson
A couple of months I posted a review of a pair of Thompson split-toes from Yeossal, a Singaporean brand offering Chinese-made, hand welted shoes at a very competitive price point.
I sold the shoes due to a poor fit at the instep, and have since picked up a pair of Edward Green Dovers in a rather similar shade. Given the similarity of the models, it seemed like a great chance to compare two very different makers who have made a very similar-looking shoe. EG of course have been making shoes since 1890; Yeossal a mere fraction of that time. And yet much of what Yeossal deliver is more attuned to what the modern value-conscious consumer wants.
Yeossal's hand welted shoes are available for about £500, depending on the exact configuration you go for; this is less than half the price of a pair of Goodyear welted EG Dovers. Do note that we are comparing a brand-new pair of Yeossal with a relatively well-worn pair of EGs, so take some of the comparisons with a pinch of salt.
Note as well that the Yeossal's last, material, sole and heel design were all choices from me - you could go with more conservative options to give a more meaningful comparison with the Dovers but... well, I didn't. Can't change that now.
Yeossal Thomson split-toe derby
UK 9.5, YSQ Last
Horween Russia Hatch-grain Oxblood leather
Spade outsole, Fiddleback sole, Tapered heel
RRP approx £500
Edward Green specs
Edward Green Dover split-toe derby
UK 9.5, 202 Last
Nightshade antique calf
Straight heel, rubber sole
RRP approx £1,200
Last shape and comfort
A top-down shot clearly shows the different toe shapes. The Yeossal are on the YSQ last, which is rather like an Edward Green 606 last; the Dovers pictured here are on the rounder 202 last.
Fit wise, this was a runaway victory for the Edward Green shoes. Yeossal (like a lot of new brands, but it seems particularly Eastern brands) have just not figured out their instep height yet, and while you can pay for a modified last to correct this, it's not much use for a first purchase. Given the time, shipping and returns difficulties of ordering overseas I probably won't be repeating a Yeossal order, even knowing what I do now around the fit.
I was also frustrated by the sheer narrowness of the footbed of the Yeossal shoe - I could literally feel my foot overhanging the sole and resting on the side of the shoe, and it's not like my feet are freakishly wide - they happily fit a standard width in all major British makers.
EG's 202 last meanwhile is exceedingly comfortable, and this is an often under-appreciated benefit of choosing an established maker over a new one. Edward Green lasts are the output of decades of improvement and design, and that's just not something that's easy for a new maker to replicate.
Winner - draw on the shape; Edward Green on the fit
Split-toe seam and apron section
The Dover's most iconic feature is of course its boar-bristle stitched split-toe. This is more finely accomplished with the Dover compared to the Yeossal version, with a higher stitch density and a neater vertical line - the Yeossal's have a very slight crooked stitch towards the bottom and more jagged appearance.
Above the toe-stitch is an apron-stitch section - again, the Dover simply has a far neater finish here. Hard to see in the pictures, but one of the Yeossal shoes had a weird issue where the top of the apron seam was angled outwards, while the other sat upright. The Dovers are perfectly consistent between each shoe.
Winner - Edward Green
The difference in sole finishing is a clear illustration of the different philosophies of the makers. EG favour a very subtle bevel to their sole, whereas Yeossal's is highly stylised and exaggerated (less ostentatious versions are available though). You can also see how sharp the spade sole edge is (again, at request) compared to the gently rounded shape of the Dover.
So this is a subjective area. I think EG's more traditional clientele would be aghast at the loud, brash and gauche look of the Yeossal shoe, and it is entirely possible that such styling is a temporary iGent fad that will pass on. But it does seem that lot of the more established British makers could give the people what they want and go further in this area.
Winner - well, it really depends on what you want. My own preference is for Yeossal in this one
A couple of things stand out in the side shot. You can see the backstay section runs longer into the body with the EG compared to the Yeossal; the Yeossal one lines up with the heel stack, whereas the EG section runs noticeably further. To my eye, the visual balance is far superior with the Edward Green - the Yeossal approach leaves quite a large visual void along the side of the shoe.
You also get a clear look at the difference in the heel shape - Yeossal's is rather dramatically tapered and angled compared to the more traditional straight heel of EG. We can also see the height of the instep on the Yeossal last compared to EG, which is unfortunately responsible for a poor fit (in my case and in the case of many other reviews I've seen of the brand).
Again, a rather subjective comparison, but I do think the overall proportions of the EG Dover are far more elegant and balanced. Less theatrics and drama, but somehow more... proper.
Winner - Edward Green
Yeossal's lasted shoe tree vs. Edward Green generic tree. Again, a great illustration of the extra instep height supported by the Yeossal tree. I have to say that on pure aesthetics, Yeossal win this round handily. I also find the handle on the Yeossal design easier for carrying the shoes than the knob on the EG tree.
Winner - Yeossal
The inner lining is of course immaculate in the Yeossal one as it never saw much wear, but both are very neatly finished inside. I confess I prepare the coloured lining of the EG compared to the Yeossal.
Winner - Edward Green (purely based on the colouring)
A super detailed shot of the stitching around the lacing section, joining with the apron front seam. Edward Green use a finer thread for this, and the finishing is pretty perfect - compare to one of the horizontal stitches being fractionally out of place on the Yeossal. I prefer the fact that EG use a single, fine thread for this stitching compared to Yeossal who have thicker thread on the apron front and the connecting section, but a finer stitch running up alongside the lacing.
For pure consistency and neatness, it's got to be a win for Edward Green, but this is definitely one of those sections we should keep the price difference in mind. Whether this kind of microscopic difference in finishing is worth £700 extra cost is up to you.
Winner - Edward Green (but we had to get the microscope out for it)
Yeossal's packaging was extremely impressive. A weighty box in a textured bronze coloured; thick cardboard with a slide-out draw section and fabric pull-handle. Included inside were wrapping paper, two velour finished branded bags, and spare flat laces.
Edward Green's is a far more traditional shoebox; slightly wonkily applied label and Edward Green shoe bags. Pretty similar to John Lobb and Crockett & Jones really - I think British makers could really up their game in this respect.
Winner - Yeossal by a country mile
Heel and backstay
The back and heel design is extremely different. I requested a tapered heel with the Yeossal, and you can see that they really delivered with that. It's also evident how the heel cup draws up towards the top, sitting higher and hugging the ankle a lot more than the Dover.
All that said... with hindsight, I prefer the simplicity of the Dover's construction here. As an Instagram-friendly photo, the Yeossal wins hands down, but as something to actually wear, I think EG win this round. At the end of the day, I think it's more important to have a comfy heel than a beautiful one.
Winner - Edward Green
Value is, of course, a loaded and contentious term. The reality here is that this hasn't been a clean sweep for EG by any means - in many respects the things that I prefer about the EG shoes another person may even call in favour of the Yeossal.
Yeossal's shoes cost less than half as much as EG, and have far more customisation options. They are hand welted - I've written before on whether that really makes much of a difference, but the fact is that hand welting is generally sold at a premium compared to Goodyear welting.
On that basis, I'm calling this a win for Yeossal. But keep in mind that using the word "value" in conjunction with a £1,200 pair of shoes is fairly thin ice at the best of times.
Winner - Yeossal
Edward Green - 6
Yeossal - 4
Not a clean sweep by any means for the reigning champion. Emerging brands like Yeossal, Sons of Henrey Oct Tenth, Jim&Jun, ACME, CNES et al should all make established makers very nervous, and hopefully, drive them to up their game.
An upcoming article will detail the differences between my three pairs of EG Dovers.