The Kleman Padror Saved My Feet

In March of last year, GQ contributor Jake Woolf explored the surprising ascendance of Paraboot’s Michael derby, a thick-soled lace-up that’s helping a generation of guys weaned on sneakers fall in love with hard-bottom shoes again. In 2024, the Michael might be the most recognizable version of the Tyrolean derby—the distinct moc-toe silhouette named for the region of the Alps that birthed it—but it’s far from the only riff on the style. Enter the Kleman Padror.

I first encountered the Padror on vacation in Paris, where I was busy contemplating spending $600 on its Paraboot alternative. Kleman has been around since the ‘40s, but the brand only introduced the Padror decades later to outfit members of the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer, the French national railway company. The second I saw it I was sold.

How do they look?

If your sneakers are sparking less joy than they used to, you’re not the only one. Part and parcel of menswear’s return to elegance is a renewed emphasis on hard-bottom shoes like loafers and derbies—and the Padror might just help you kick your kicks habit for good. Its gently-rounded moc toe and chunky lug sole syncs up equally well with jeans and tees as it does blazers and giant chinos, not unlike a grown-man version of Clarks’s legendary Wallabees.

Don’t let its high-low versatility confuse you, though: the Padror is a work shoe through and through. Over the years, Kleman perfected its signature Edito grip rubber sole, which is anti-slip, abrasion-resistant, and expectedly durable. The shock-absorbent insoles are great for laying railway tracks—and even better for hoofing it to Sweetgreen for lunch. I bought a pair in a shade of toasted brown leather, but the style is available in a handful of different colors, including a couple of buttery suede options.

How do they fit?

I bought the Padror in a European size 41 (when in Paris…) and they fit perfectly. It’s hard to overstate how comfortable they are, especially if you’re on the fence about lacing up a pair of real-deal shoes. To be honest, I never cared all that much about the comfort of my kicks, but at the ripe old age of 27, I’ve learned that squished toes and cardboard-like soles will turn me into a grump far beyond my years. The Padror was so comfortable out of the box that I left the store wearing them, swapping out the loafers I had on in the process. It doesn’t sound like much of an ‘a-ha!’ moment, but the ability to adjust my shoes with [checks notes] laces felt kind of radical—especially if your feet are used to sliding around in Our Legacy’s Camion boots or Gucci’s horsebit loafers.

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The Padror takes the mean streets of Queens.

Image may contain Clothing Pants Jeans Person Standing Adult Footwear Shoe and Coat

How do they wear?

According to my Health app, I cleared upwards of 16,000 steps that day, and my dogs barely whimpered. Under usual circumstances, leather shoes, no matter how well I think they fit me in the dressing room, tend to leave me with a blister near my Achilles or the side of my foot. But my feet didn’t throb once. That dreaded break-in period? Virtually nonexistent.

Since guiding me through the streets of Paris, the Padrors have helped me navigate the stairs of Venice, the pebbly surfaces of the Boboli Gardens in Florence, and every kind of crosswalk imaginable in New York. The leather is soft and smooth, and it’s held its shape and resisted creasing over months of wear. Not only are they a go-to when I know I’ll be on my feet for hours at a time, they’re genuinely the most comfortable pair of capital-S Shoes I own. I’ve yet to rock them during a snowstorm—mainly because we’ve had so few in New York City—but I’d trust ‘em to at least get me home from the train station without face-planting along the way.

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