Introducing the AURELIUS collection & Ares Derby Boot
Introducing Ares & Aurelius
Mountain here - founder and designer of Carets. I’m proud to share with you the upcoming launch of a new product, 8 years in the making: the Ares Derby Dress Boot, from our all new AURELIUS Collection.
Over the years -- through upgrades of materials, craftsmanship, and design -- our shoes have noticeably improved in quality and aesthetics. What has not changed, however, is the basic platform – the sole, the American-style shape of the upper, and the design of the insole.
AURELIUS is the culmination of everything we’ve learned since 2012 about creating barefoot dress shoes with exceptional styling, craftsmanship, and the barefoot fit and features you expect so your feet can move naturally.
So let’s dive right into what’s new in AURELIUS, shall we?
Wider at the toes AND sleeker at the tip
Left: Original Oxford. Right: AURELIUS Oxford
When you slip on a pair of Ares Derby Dress Boots, you’ll notice that they are wider at the toes than your original Carets shoes. To a barefoot enthusiast, is there anything better than an extra wide toe box? In addition, they are wider at the base of the metatarsals, making them more comfortable for those of you whose feet are wider there.
In spite of the additional width at the toes, all shoes in the AURELIUS Collection are sleeker at the tip than the original Carets shoes. It has taken years of trial-and-error, painstakingly adjusting millimeters here and there, to achieve this effect. In fact, the wider toe box makes the tip look even sleeker by comparison. As you can see above, we have more toe room, but it’s so cleverly designed, you can hardly tell.
Boxy American Styling → Tailored Italian Styling
As a US Citizen initially working with a US factory, I first looked to the best American dress shoes for design inspiration.
Over the years, as I met many people and told them about my shoes, most people would compliment the design. Occasionally however, people would comment, “This is a very American style. I prefer the Italian style.” I have never heard it the other way around. That’s why with AURELIUS, we have used a more tailored Italian style over the more boxy American style.
Reduced Toe Spring for a Better Feel (& Look)
Early in development, we made a shoe that was completely flat. They went "plop, plop, plop" with every step, like a pair of flippers. Toe spring is a useful feature if done right, as it helps you not kick the front of your shoes, especially on dress shoes where there's extra length in the front.
However, many barefoot enthusiasts prefer shoes with minimal toe spring. That’s why for the AURELIUS Collection, we took it as low as it could go, without getting the plopping of zero toe spring.
Original toe spring.
AURELIUS toe spring.
The reduced toe spring also improves the look of the shoe. When toe spring is too high, they start to look like elf shoes. When toe spring is low, your shoes look like the low front bumper of an aggressive sports car that hugs the road.
The resulting look is much more aesthetic while at the same time being more barefoot.
Taking Carets’ signature faux heel outsole to “11”
The most distinguishing feature of any pair of Carets is the faux heel that your heel actually sits inside. It makes our zero drop shoes look more stylish than the average barefoot dress shoe. With AURELIUS, we have made several significant aesthetic upgrades to the outsole that put it in a class with the world’s most elegant dress shoes.
The stately leather outsoles of traditional dress shoes are made from multiple layers of leather, stacked horizontally. For our faux heel outsole, we use alternating layers of shiny and matte surface textures, to look like old-school stacked leather heels. Further enhancing the “stacked sole” look are subtle grooves between each layer of alternating surface texture.
The faux heel in the AURELIUS Collection is also cut vertically instead of at an angle for a more realistic and dressy vs. casual look. It’s appearance is further enhanced by a faux Goodyear welt and beveled waist, which you can see in the photos below.
Notice that the original Carets outsole has a faux Storm Welt with angled faux wheeling that runs along the outside of the sole. In the AURELIUS Collection we have used a faux Goodyear welt, the best-known of the old-school shoe making methods, and more typical of fine dress shoes. The wheeling is flat with straight faux stitching. The AURELIUS also boasts a stylish beveled waist - the sole obviously becomes thinner as it approaches the heel. Compare it to the more “chunky” even waist of the original Carets.
Original Faux Storm Welt & Even Waist
AURELIUS Faux Goodyear Welt & Beveled Waist
Our original outsole (left) has good slip resistance, on par with other barefoot dress shoes. Our new outsole (right) now exceeds standards for slip-resistant PPE footwear.
While the outsole for the Ares and other AURELIUS Collection shoes is 3.5 mm thick vs. 4.5 mm thick for our original outsole, ground feel is about the same. The rest of the total stack height, i.e. the amount of material between your foot and the floor, as well as the other components of the total stack, remain the same.
Removable Insole to Customize Your Fit, Cushioning, and Groundfeel
When I first started this company in 2010, I was a hardcore barefooter. So hardcore that when I walked into a store, the employees would say, "You have to wear shoes here next time, okay?" When I first designed Carets, I was designing for people like me – people who wanted as close to barefoot as possible, all the time. Why bother including a removable footbed if nobody's going to use it, right?
As time went on, I got to know shoes and feet better. For example, I learned that cushioning isn't inherently evil. Yes, an inch of EVA foam does throw off your posture, make your footing unstable, and cut off your sense of the ground. But a thin layer of cushioning? Completely different story. When you're mostly walking on concrete, a thin layer of Poron insole (like you’ll find in every AURELIUS Collection shoe) is like walking on a portable plot of earth.
I also got to know our customers better. I learned that feet come in so many shapes, sizes, and capabilities. Barefoot is great for most people, but some people do better with arch support. Most barefooters have wide feet, but not all. I realized that a removable footbed provides more options for a great fit.
These reasons are why almost every barefoot brand offers a removable, lightly-cushioned insole, and now Carets’ AURELIUS Collection does as well.
Ares Derby Dress Boots
Ares Derby Dress Boots are the first models in the AURELIUS Collection. They are currently available for pre-order in two low-maintenance, rugged leathers - Nubuck and “pull-up” leather.
Nubuck is full-grain leather, with the grain lightly sanded. This gives it the density and durability of full-grain leather, but without the hassle of maintaining a smooth surface free of scuffs. It’s essentially “pre-scuffed” all over. This does NOT mean that it’s scuff-proof. It can still get scuffed, but they will show a lot less than with smooth dress leather. This is why Nubuck is popular for work and hiking boots. A famous example of Nubuck would be Timberland’s Original Yellow Boots.
Pull-up leather gets its name from the fact that when you “pull up” on it and stretch it, the color lightens. As you wear the boots, and they conform to your feet over time, all the stretching and folding create a rich patina of highs and lows, unique to you and the way you move.
This does NOT mean that pull-up is self-healing, nor will it maintain its original appearance. Quite the contrary. Expect brand-new pull-up leather to look more aged than brand-new dress leather. Expect pull-up to visually age faster than dress leather, too. This is a leather that’s made to be beat up, and look cooler with it!
Upcoming launch of new AURELIUS Oxfords and additional Derby Boots colors.
It’s a bit awkward to split our Ares launch in two parts, but our manufacturer needs information to pre-order our materials ASAP.
In the coming weeks, we’ll also be launching a full range of colors for our Aurelius line Oxfords & Dress Boots. Here’s what is coming up:
- Ares Derby (in Black & Cacao Full-Grain).
- The new Apollo Cap-Toe Oxford (all colors)
- The new Raptor Wingtip Oxford (all colors)
If you’re interested in Oxfords or our Ares Derby Boots in Black or Cacao Full-Grain, watch your inbox for more news on these upcoming launches.
That about wraps it up. I've been heads down in R&D for the last 4 years, and these are the best looking and most barefoot dress shoes we've ever made. We're beyond excited to finally share them with you, and as always, reach out with any questions or feedback (you can use the chat box in the bottom-right).