Five Plus One is our weekly series of buyer’s guides. We pick a specific category and dig up five great options along with one that’s a little outside the norm.
Norwegian Split Toe boots are a classic style of footwear: ideal for both casual or business outfits. Whether you are interested in a highly stylized pair or want something that can fly a bit further under the radar, this is a style of shoe that can fill nearly any niche.
While we can’t promise your next perfect pair exists on this list, we hope it serves as a starting off point for your search.
1) Grant Stone: Ottawa Chromexcel
Grant Stone’s Ottawa boots feature a pattern that is about as classic as it gets. This run of boots is made of Horween’s Chromexcel, a highly respected leather that is both attractive and comfortable, and is constructed with a Goodyear welt.
At their price point it’s hard to get more boot for the money, especially considering that split toes are almost always hand sewn by necessity. These boots are available in a range of Chromexcel colors, making it easy to fill whatever void exists in your footwear rotation.
Available for $345 from Grant Stone.
2) Alden: Norwegian Front Tanker Boot in Snuff Suede
Alden are probably best known for their classic Indy boot but their Tanker, which features an additional vertical stitching row at the toe, isn’t far behind.
These boots feature the hand sewn split toe stitching, commando rubber half-sole, and shiny brass eyelets, which pair perfectly with the light brown hue of the Snuff Suede. It features a “Norwegian” split reverse welt, but this is purely aesthetic (i.e. the horizontal line of stitching does not go through the upper)—however, this completes the look of the boot beautifully despite it lacking function.
Available for $660 from Brick and Mortar.
3) Edward Green: Cranleigh
If you’re looking for a pair of NST boots and have money to burn then look no further than Edward Green’s Cranleigh. Not only does it feature a hand-stitched toe, but the vertical “split” line utilizes a technique sometimes referred to as a skin stitch: where the stitching is done from the inside and the needle does not penetrate the exterior, leading to a visual stitching line without stitching holes.
This refined style is incredibly difficult (and transitively expensive) but results in a gorgeous look. This pair has all the other features you’d expect: high-end French calf skin from the Haas tannery, Dainite outsole, and some of the best quality assurance in the industry.
Available for $1875 from Edward Green.
4) Meermin: 101605 in Brown Suede
On the other side of things, Meermin offers a Brown Suede version of their Norwegian Split Toe boots that offers a great entry level option for the style. With their hand sewn apron, quality suede, and solid design choices, this boot is a great option if you don’t want to spend a lot of money.
Sure, you’re not going to get all the high end features you’d get from a more expensive product but you really do get a lot for the money. These boots are finished on a commando outsole, ensuring they can stand up to whatever you throw at them.
Available for $250 from Meermin.
5) Joe Works: Apron Derby Boot in Shell Cordovan
I make no attempt to hide my love for shell cordovan, and Joe Works’ Apron Derby boot is both one of the nicest shell cordovan offering on the market and one of the cleanest NST patterns out there. The texture given by the apron toe gives these boots a ton of texture, which is only heightened by the texture and natural shine of the shell cordovan.
Yes: they’re expensive. And yes: they are made-to-order and have a wait. But the quality of the construction and materials, and cleanliness of the lines is something that you just can’t put a price tag on.
Available for $1900CAD (~$1390USD) from Miloh Shop.
Plus One – Heschung: Gingko Boots
You might be thinking: if the Joe Works’ NST boots are so special then why aren’t they this weeks’ Plus One? And that’s a fair question. What it comes down to is the unique, and even divisive, pattern of Heschung’s Gingko Boots.
With it’s wide apron-toe pattern with its interesting sewing style and split quarter pattern, these boots have a lot going on. Personally, I feel the split quarter works fantastically in conjunction with the four eyelets/three speedhook closure, and paired with the reverse welt is truly something special.
Available for €560 from Heschung.