Oliver Cabell Distressed Low 1 Review (Great Street Style Sneakers)

This review is all about the distressed Oliver Cabell Low 1s. Does the popular low-profile sneaker lend itself to the scuffed-up look? Read on to find out!

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The distressed sneaker movement came into being when Golden Goose started building pre-tattered shoes using high-quality materials. 

Oliver Cabell is known for their Common Projects Achilles alternative, the $200 Low 1 White. So it’s no surprise that the brand caught the attention of would-be shoe buyers when they released a distressed sneaker line, lower-priced counterparts to the $500 Golden Goose Super-Stars.

To see if it stands on its own, I’m going to do an in-depth, hands-on review of the Oliver Cabell Distressed Low 1s

I’ll tell you what I liked about these hand-made sneakers, what didn’t work for me, and my comprehensive take, so you’ll have a clearer idea if it’s the right pre-scuffed shoe for you.

Oliver Cabell: The Brand

Started in 2016 by entrepreneur Scott Gabrielson, the Oliver Cabell brand focuses on balanced and versatile luxury streetwear.

The company has since become famous for their shoes and their transparency since they display price breakdowns per item on their website.

Oliver Cabell Distressed Low 1 logo

Part of Gabrielson’s motivation came from a visit to a fast fashion clothing factory where he witnessed objectionable working conditions. That’s why Gabrielson decided to do things differently with Oliver Cabell.

The company takes pride in their close relationships with manufacturers, in cutting out the middleman, and in providing high-end fashion.

They source manufacturers in the Marche region of Italy, the exact same factories used by the world’s leading, and way more expensive, fashion houses.

Distressed Low 1s Review

Oliver Cabell offers many colorways of distressed sneakers, from the pebbled and cracked Stingray, to the Ghost, which is just a pre-scuffed all-white with one red contrast stitch.

Oliver Cabell Distressed Low 1 close up

The variations get pretty nuanced, which I like because it adds a sense of customization.

I went for the Shamrock, which features a mix of leather and canvas construction.

Here’s my experience with these sneakers!

The Design

All of the Low 1s use the classic minimal white sneaker template.

The Shamrocks are streamlined and straightforward. Compared to other shoes in this category, Low 1s have a roomier profile, and the eyelets are further apart than other low-profile leathers, which isn’t immediately apparent at first glance.

Oliver Cabell s Distressed Low 1s

As far as Shamrock-specifics, I actually think this shoe has a “skater-meets-Ivy-League” look about it.

The sides are made with a black-and-white canvas, a la Vans Asher slip-ons, but the microcheckering is so fine that it almost has a classic houndstooth vibe. 

The distressed laces came short and individually knotted on each side, which invites one to wear this shoe like a slip-on — and that’s what I did.

The rest of the upper is made of supple white leather, except for the back collar, which adds a nice pop of color in ivy green. The distressing on the leather is pretty coordinated, with two scuffs in the front and two in the back.

Right out of the box you can tell this shoe is made of high-end materials. The leather smells and feels full-grain, featuring a smooth surface, pliant to the touch. The slightly padded tongue (no lace loop) and padded collar are comfortable and add dimension to the design. There’s also a heel counter to prevent slipping.

Another highlight is its Margom soles, which are fully pre-scuffed. Many of you might know that Margoms are the go-to soles for high-end sneakers. This is because they are durable and lithe, which makes them pair effectively with comfort-focus inserts like orthotic insoles.

Plus, for extra fortification, Oliver Cabell glues and stitches the soles to the upper. 

Not to belabor the Golden Goose comparisons, but one of the reasons why I think the Low 1 is the best alternative on the market, at least aesthetically, is its balance of designer pride and anonymity.

Oliver Cabell Distressed Low 1 back

The worn suede Oliver Cabell “O” on the sides is technically branding, but it can also pass as a cool abstract design, far less blatant than the Goose stars.

Overall, I think these shoes are more versatile than you might initially think upon first look.

You can obviously pair them with more fashion-forward casual combinations. But I think they’d go quite well with more classic casual styles too. Sure, it adds an irreverent touch to more traditional outfits, but I think that’s the point of distressed sneakers.

Comfort and Fit

Interestingly, the Shamrock Low 1s are noticeably more comfortable out of the box than the regular Low 1 Whites, which were a little stiff at first, and stayed pretty stiff for a good few weeks.

The Shamrocks weren’t perfect out of the box, but the canvas sides offered more immediate flexibility than shoes made out of high-quality unbroken-in leather do.

Oliver Cabell Distressed Low 1s

During the Shamrock’s break-in period, the seam inside the collar rubbed against my skin, even with socks on. At one point, I even tried to trim any flyaways, it was bothering me so much. 

Unlike the all-leather Low 1s, these canvas-leather shoes only took me a week of breaking in. I wore them every other day for a few hours around town, mostly on concrete sidewalks.

They come in sizes six through 15, no half sizes, and run just a tad large. If you’re a half-size, just size down. They’ll feel a bit snug at first but will get more comfortable as you break them in.

Compared to other low-profile leathers that I’ve worn, like the New Republic Kurts, Low 1s feel narrower, with extra vertical room in the toe box. How you feel about this is completely subjective. I personally don’t find this consequential to the comfort, but it’s just something to note, especially if you have wide or flat feet.

Price

I’m just going to say it — if you’re looking for a high-quality distressed shoe, the OCs are worth it.

At the time of this review, you can buy the Shamrock for $224, which is on the higher end of the price spectrum for Oliver Cabell’s distressed line. It ranges from $199 to $249.

Oliver Cabell Distressed Low 1

I know this isn’t cheap, but these shoes aren’t cheaply made. If it’s in your budget and you want to invest in a well-made pre-scuffed shoe, Oliver Cabell offers a fair and compelling value proposition, especially compared to its competitors.

They’re made from three-ounce full-grain leather and Italian canvas, lined with calfskin leather, and equipped with Margom outsoles. And as mentioned, they’re hand-made in Marche, Italy, where shoes several times their price are made, and they boast excellent attention to detail.

I just think it’s so great that they take the time and effort to both glue and stitch the outsoles to the uppers.

The price tag is actually quite remarkable, considering the craftsmanship and materials.

Pros and Cons

Here’s a breakdown of the good and bad aspects of the Distressed Low 1s.

Pros

Functionally, Oliver Cabell’s distressed footwear is made from high-quality elements, using hand-made Italian craftsmanship. The attention to detail is both impressive and considerate.

Since this company works smarter, not harder, they’re able to offer shoes at below-market price points for what they are. They rely on relationships, cutting out the middleman, and being selective about their manufacturing partners.

Oliver Cabell Distressed Low 1 bottom

When it comes to the distressed line, there are a lot of super-specific colorways. As mentioned, you can literally buy an all-white, or that same all-white but with a red stitch. That’s some real nuance in choice right there, which is a big pro with the line overall.

As far as the Shamrocks go, they’re surprisingly versatile and more comfortable than all-leather shoes, thanks to the canvas components. 

It may take some boldness to wear them with more traditional outfits, but I think it’s a bold shoe anyway. Plus, I like the sort of high-low complementary combos.

Cons

I have no gripes with the distressed line specifically. 

I wish Oliver Cabell would offer half-sizes, and I noticed that the different distressed shoes have wildly different ranges.

Oliver Cabell s Distressed Low 1
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The Shamrocks come in sizes 6 to 15. Meanwhile, the distressed Sea Salts come in sizes 4 to 12. A little consistency would definitely be appreciated.

And while it isn’t a con for me, I just wanted to reiterate that these shoes are narrower, with a taller toe box, than other low-profile leathers.

The Best Distressed Sneaker for the Price?

Oliver Cabell’s Distressed Low 1 is the best sneaker in its category, value-wise.

It’s stylish, with plenty of options, and showcases the brand’s undeniable shoe-making chops. Because of the premium materials and fortified construction, their all-leather shoes take longer to break in than their canvas-mixed footwear. 

In fact, OC shoes in general have a substantial break-in period compared to other sneakers, which is just a testament to their quality.

If this were two years ago, I’d end this by saying go for the OC distressed shoes if you care more about quality than brand. These days, however, Oliver Cabell is a pretty well-liked name. It’s not a flashy Golden Goose situation, but that may not be what you’re going for.

Questions? Comments? Leave them below!

Karlton Miko Tyack

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