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New Republic Kurt Sneaker Review: Best Leather Sneakers Under $100

7 min

Are the New Republic Kurt sneakers worth the $100 asking price? Read this product review to find out.


Most men’s style enthusiasts will tell you that a pair of white minimalist sneakers is critical to filling out your wardrobe, and they are correct. Unfortunately, the standard by which white leather sneakers have been measured for the longest time is the Common Projects Achilles. At over $400 per pair, this is simply inaccessible to the average man.

I believe in investing in quality; however, if attempting to build an interchangeable and practical wardrobe as quickly as possible, shelling out $400-$500 isn’t necessarily conducive to freeing up funds for additional garment pieces.

Enter the New Republic Kurt sneaker. You'd be forgiven if you couldn’t tell the difference between Common Projects and Kurt from afar. The silhouette is elegant, clean, and devoid of any apparent branding.


New Republic’s mission is to craft products accessible to everyone and manufactured with quality. I can tell you that, in my opinion, they made good on their promise. At a retail price of $98 and often marked down to as low as $60, these are unquestionably the most bang for your buck for a pair of white minimalist leather sneakers.

If you’re in the market for a pair of white sneakers that are comfortable and priced honestly, you can thank New Republic for delivering just that.




Based in Los Angeles, New Republic set out to solve the issue of unaffordable footwear and has recently expanded into manufacturing apparel. Just a quick read of their mission statement tells you everything you need to know about the initiative that this company is attempting to champion:

“We design and develop incredible products that are accessible for everyone. This is the ‘new luxury.’” - New Republic


New Republic markets its leather as "genuine." Still, it’s essential to understand and recognize that at just under $100, certain compromises must be made to balance quality with honest pricing.

New Republic utilizes "action leather" instead of full or top-grain leather. If you’re uncertain about what this means, here’s a brief explanation:


Often marketed to sound extremely high quality, this is not the case. Genuine leather is synonymous with “technically leather” in that it is still made from the hide of an animal.

This is a crucial distinction because leather is no longer defined as a “cowhide” as it once was but now includes the hides of other animals. This means that varying scraps of the lowest grade of leather can be rebuilt and embossed into a product that can be marketed as “genuine leather.”

I don't mean to pick on any particular brands for marketing their leather goods as “genuine,” but we need to understand what our hard-earned money is getting us.


The leather for the Kurt sneakers is microsuede with 100% genuine split leather covered with a thin polyurethane coating. Once embossed, the sneakers are still classified as “leather” for import duty. The primary differences between the Kurt and a luxury pair of sneakers such as the $400+ Common Projects are the leather quality and the different outsole.

Without getting into too much detail about another white sneaker brand, you must know that Common Projects offers a full-grain leather sneaker with a Margom-made outsole (a higher grade of genuine rubber). This is difficult to spot at a distance to the untrained eye, but the differences become apparent once you put your fingers on each type of leather and learn what to look for. Full-grain leather is soft and supple, while genuine leather of the lowest quality is not.


Full-grain leather is the good stuff. The complete and most natural animal hide provides the most durability for an item made from full-grain leather. Additionally, goods manufactured from full-grain leather often retain richness in color and texture, a quality commensurate with premium leather products.

Full-grain is apparent when you notice the characteristics of the animal hide, such as imperfections, marks, or scars left on the skin. 

Top-grain leather is a step below full-grain and, as a result, is weaker because it is usually sanded down. This process breaks the fibers and diminishes that premium richness and sheen, which has become synonymous with full-grain leather goods.

A "cleaner" looking leather where imperfections commensurate with full-grain leather have been sanded down and thus eliminated. 

Genuine leather is “technically” leather, as previously defined, and is what the Kurt sneakers are made from.


The Kurt also features a cupped rubber outsole, which helps alleviate the cost of manufacturing compared to shoes with a sole made by Margom.


The Kurt also features a Tencel mesh footbed designed to prioritize comfort for the wearer’s feet and thus decrease break-in time. The newest version of the Kurt, which has been available for over a year now, comes with a tonal microfiber and leather lining meant to accommodate comfort and complement the all-white silhouette.


When I first ordered my triple white Kurt sneakers, I expected to receive a pair of shoes that did not look as nice as the images on New Republic’s website. We’ve all been there before, thinking that something will look and/or feel a certain way, only to be underwhelmed when we unpack the final product.

When I received the sneakers and broke them out, I was surprised by how elegant they looked and how good they felt. The leather isn’t very soft and supple but doesn’t feel like plastic, either. It feels exactly how it’s marketed (assuming you know about “genuine” leather and can manage your expectations accordingly).

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the sneakers (to me) was the heftiness of each shoe. Margom outsoles typically provide quite a bit of heft in and of themselves, which feels quite good on the feet (in my opinion), adding to the premium-feeling quality of the sneakers that feature Margom soles.

I can safely say that the lower-quality rubber sole used for the Kurt sneakers is also hefty, and although it isn’t nearly as premium of a material, it works just fine for the shoes themselves. The cupped sole works well with the Tencel mesh footbed to mimic the feeling of something similar to memory foam, resulting in a reasonably comfortable shoe once it's broken in.

This leads me to some criticisms. I’ll be honest when I say it took much longer to break into these shoes than anticipated. It’s important to note that I own pretty thin no-show socks, perhaps contributing to the slight discomfort.

There was also a stiffness to the lacing system when I synched them down to tie the shoes for the first few wears. Certainly not a deal-breaker, but I surmise this was primarily due to the lower grade of leather, which is not as soft as full-grain leather.

Mind the odors if you have sweaty feet, as these shoes don't breathe all that well.


I highly recommend this product. I wear these sneakers more than any other in my current collection because I purchased them as a "beater" pair of sneakers. I have spoken at length about the necessity of having white sneakers as a staple in any man’s wardrobe, and as such, most of my outfits include this wardrobe piece.

If you’re on the fence about this purchase and/or looking to make your first one to build out your wardrobe, I recommend looking into these sneakers and considering what you’re getting with your money. You will have to decide if they are worth the money for yourself. For me, they most certainly are, and after having disclosed to you what these shoes are made of and the intentions behind their construction, I hope you can make an informed decision as you move forward.

See my article here for other white minimalist sneaker recommendations on a budget.

For outfit ideas that feature the New Republic Kurt sneakers, see below.




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