The Prime Trotters’ Wingtop Oxford is a beautiful, handmade, zero drop, dress shoe for minimalist wearers looking to take their barefoot benefits to the office, ball, or urban adventures! Prime Trotters sent me a pair to test and review and what you’ll soon see is how they are worthy of a look if you’re looking for a handmade, barefoot-friendly dress shoe.
Read on for my full review.
Here’s what Prime Trotter says about their approach to their shoes:
Prime Trotter is born of necessity for independent designing and crafting. Mr Vergos is a Greek designer and shoe maker who has been working on mass production for over 25 years. He wills to overcome the boundaries of mass production and set his own high standards on the design and the quality of raw materials, by handcrafting shoes.
Prime Trotter’s shoes are handmade throughout the whole process. Handcrafting gives the ability to get over the strict delimitation of the sizes and provides the option of custom orders, to achieve maximum comfort. There is also the ability for the customers to choose their colors and leathers of preference.
Prime Trotter promotes the pursuit of comfort, unique style and high quality in everyday life.
Take a look at the Prime Trotters via these photos:
Here are some stats:
I love running barefoot, in huaraches, or in minimalist shoes, so I would never want to compromise my tough and beautiful feet with something I could only characterize as a “foot coffin.” When I have adventures requiring dressier attire, like a night out with friends or a meeting with high-brow individuals, I want to make a good impression. It’s just not always easy to do this with your standard minimalist dress shoes.
Minimalist dress shoes have to balance the benefits of a barefoot shoe with the aesthetics considered “dressy.” Some minimalist lifestyle shoes lean too far into the sporty side of things, looking very much like something you can run in, but perhaps not something you want to dress up with. Other shoes may lean too far into standard dress shoe conventions and lose a bit too much of the barefoot-minded design they should be prioritizing in the first place.
For reference, I feel that some Vivobarefoot models and Tune shoes lean more towards minimalism—minimalist shoes with dressy intentions. Meanwhile, other shoes, such as the Anthony Alan, Carets, and some Lems models are a bit more structured, featuring thicker—or less flexible—soles, making them more like dress shoes with minimalist intentions.
Enter Prime Trotters: A true balance between the two sides of the spectrum. Is it a minimalist shoe that looks dressy or a dress shoe that is minimalist?
On the dressy side, the Prime Trotters are beautiful looking shoes and will not only blend into any formal event, but will actually be eye-catching!
On the minimalist side, you can actually bend them into a ball latitudinally, but not longitudinally, and they are truly zero drop. They are not as flexible as something I would want to run in, but I can run in them in a pinch. Additionally, their craftsmanship shines through (especially in this lovely gray color) and the broguing is very nicely executed and gets lots of compliments. If I didn’t tell onlookers that these were minimalist shoes, they probably wouldn’t know.
But my feet know and that’s where it counts.
The Prime Trotter Wingtip Oxfords use Nora rubber from Nora Rubber Flooring Solutions. I would characterize this sole as being somewhere between Vibram Newflex and Vibram Cherry.
This Nora rubber compound feels very comparable to standard Vibram rubber with a good amount of stickiness, excellent durability, and flexibility. After wearing them for a few months, the wear on the ball and heel of the rubber is very minimal and, as a bonus, the sole is resoleable for nearly unlimited wear. Provided the leather is well taken care of (routine maintenance with leather oil and beeswax goes a long way), I expect these shoes to last for many years (even with the original soles).
Save for some micro triangles, the sole is completely flat and at around roughly 3mm, will not interfere with your gait, especially around the heel. All conventional dress shoes, even minimalist ones, will wreck havoc on my walk cycle where the heel will scrape a bit or the shoe will force my foot to land a certain way. But the thinness of the Nora rubber heel in the Prime Trotters does not force a correction from my feet and is smooth experience. There is little by way of transition required of the user in getting used to the shoes. Only the thinness of minimalist dress shoes will allow for this level of convenience and freedom and the Prime Trotters allow for a great deal of barefotness in your movements.
In terms of groundfeel, you have a little bit of customization by removing the leather insole, but that really only makes a change of .5mm or so. You will feel cobblestones and can even feel cracks in the sidewalk with the Prime Trotters; it’s a lovely thing. Step on a rock too hard and you will feel it, but the sole is dense and stiff enough that it won’t hurt too much. For me, it’s a good balance between dexterity and protection. The thinnest of lifestyle shoes, such as Vivobarefoot Dharma, Jay, and Slyde will require a bit of care when walking around to avoid obstacles, while thicker shoes may be so insensitive that you can smash your heel into the ground.
The Prime Trotters offer an excellent balance between being feeling the little things, while allowing you to be a bit more carefree while walking around town.
Fit and Materials
The combination of suede and smooth calf leather creates a wonderful contrast visually and the Prime Trotters are truly eye-catching and receive plenty of compliments from spectators.
The shoe is entirely handmade, including in its broguing. There is a layered look of luxury that nothing else in my shoe collection, minimalist or otherwise, can compare to; these are my nicest looking shoes from every angle.
The calfskin leather is incredibly soft and breaks in within a couple of days. The stitching featured throughout the shoe is impeccable and even after a few months of wear, not a single loose thread can be found—something I cannot say for many minimalist dress shoes.
The removable leather insole is the first that I have seen and it allows for a small degree of customization. It is just thick enough that I can feel a difference between having it on or off, but it is so minor that it seems unnecessary. In the future, perhaps a thicker insole would be a good feature so that there is a larger difference between wear with or without it and users can customize the fit to be tighter or looser on the inside in a more measurable way.
Cleverly, “Prime” and “Trotters” is written in each shoe; a nice touch.
My one complaint is that the wax cotton laces, while still holding as of today, are bound to fall apart over time. They simply are not thick or dense enough to be as durable as the rest of the shoe. I would recommend either denser laces or additional replacement laces packaged with the shoe when shipped to give the shoe more longterm wear without having any extra effort on the part of the user.
Inside the shoe, you can see the individual layers of the brogued sections and uppers, but it’s a seamless experience. I would like to see a bit more padding in the heel section, such as how Softstar Shoes has a thick strip of leather around the heel to customize to the users heel. With the Prime Trotters, the heel section is the same thickness as the rest of the interior. Depending on your heel shape, this can either be a perfect fit or a slightly looser fit; the addition of some padding around the heel or the collar would make this a more universal fit for all.
Here are some photos of the Prime Trotters on foot:
In future versions of the Wingtip Oxfords, I would like to see tougher laces and a more customized heel and collar-area. These are minor changes, but would go a long way in making them last longer and more enjoyable for more feet shapes.
All things considered, they are quite perfect in achieving the goal of being an invisibly minimalist dress shoe.
Huge thanks to guest photographer, Anh Tran!