Good foundation for future potential
Kingdom Football appeared seemingly out of nowhere as a new classic boot brand last month, though they were actually founded in 2019. The brand is a bit unique in the fact that they not only use leather that is a by-product from the meat industry and vow to only be using recycled and natural product by 2021. They have also teamed up with the charity Africa on the Ball as part of the brand’s vision to give back to the game. These are some lofty and worthy goals, which set them apart from other, similar brands. With the release of the Panthera FG, they have given themselves a chance to achieve those goals.
Fit and Feel
Pulling the Panthera out of the box the first time was interesting. You immediately get hit by the wonderful smell of the leather and notice all of the nice little touches and details, like the clean Kingdom logo, on the boot. Although they were initially stiffer than I was expecting it is also worth mentioning that since they are made from bovine leather and not kangaroo leather this is understandable. It should also be added that these were still softer out of the box than any recent Pantofola D’Oro release I have tried. After putting them on feet the first time and doing some quick exercises in the boots, the leather softened up quite quickly to a point the felt broken after one session. One of the most noticeable things about the boots was that they didn’t feel overly padded, as is a tendency with a lot of classic leather boots. The tongue is made out of a soft leather with no padding but there isn’t much lacebite. Speaking of the laces, they are quite thin and more “modern” they you would expect from this style of boot.
The heel is another part of the boot that is quite impressive. There is ample padding and cushioning but again, it doesn’t feel like they overdid it. Another thing that is great about the heel is how grippy the faux suede lining is, meaning that it grips your foot and socks quite well. Since the heel is so soft, this also means that it doesn’t feel uncomfortable in any way. The only drawback is that the internal heel cup could be stronger to provide more support. But overall, a pretty good heel.
With a leather boot like this, you would expect there to be a lot of stretch and while there is definitely some stretch to the upper, they have yet to feel like they have overstretched or become “sloppy” with the fit. This may change the longer the boots are played in but the stitching seems well-placed to prevent this.
The overall fit of the boot is good as well, following the shape of the foot with no negative space to be found. It seems like the last Kingdom has used for the boots not only fits my foot but seems adaptable enough to fit a variety of foot shapes. This is one of the biggest advantages classic boots have over more modern boots.
It also needs to be noted that the Panthera is quite light, which is surprising as many classic boots tend to be on the heavier side and this, along with the fact that that the boots aren’t over-padded means that the boots don’t feel clunky in anyway.
As far as sizing, I stayed true to size. At the moment the brand only makes full sizes, but they have mentioned they are working on making half sizes. If they don’t have your size, I personally would go half a size down since they are a full leather boot.
Touch, Dribbling, Passing and Shooting
Its an all leather boot, there’s not really anything complex with the Panthera when it comes to this area. Overall performance is good. The leather is soft and reliable in a variety of situations, and you’re not going to be surprised by anything. For me, that’s a great thing. I dislike having to adjust to a new boot, so it’s good to have something that you can just put on and go.
The leather is still cushioned enough to give you that classic feel you would expect from a boot like this but since it is a little on the thinner side, it does feel slightly more barefoot. If you like leather boots, you will be happy with the touch on these.
Dribbling also offers no surprises. There is a uniform feel and touch that seems to be all too rare with some modern boots these days. Its another boot that leaves everything down to you. If you’ve got the skill, the boot will let you do it. This is reflected with passing and shooting as well. Nothing gets in your way.
Its kind of difficult to write a review for a boot like this at times because there’s only so much you can say. It’s not over the top in any way because it’s not supposed to be. If you want a leather boot with consistent performance, these are great for that. There is something nice about the boots being so uncomplicated. They just work.
The Panthera has a fairly standard soleplate that I am legally obligated to call “classic”. There is plenty of grip for a majority of surfaces and they performed really well on AG. The studs are a bit taller than other classic boots but I quite liked that since it meant that even if the ground was slightly soft, there was still grip to be had. It also didn’t feel weird in any way. Like the rest of the boot, it’s a solid performer.
There are some other positives to the soleplate as well. It is stitched and riveted at the front and has a rivet in the rear as well. This means that the Panthera will be more durable than other boots out there and I am a big fan of boots that have rivets/stitching connecting the soleplate to the upper. There are a few drawbacks though. The soleplate is too flexible in the midfoot for my liking and I’d prefer it to be stiffer in order to provide for more support. The insole also needs to become more cushioned as there was slight stud pressure. This doesn’t take away from the fact that the Panthera has quite a good soleplate.
Some Extra Notes
Every single brand on the market should be thinking about the environment and sustainability at this point. Fashion and sportswear account for more than 10% of humanity’s carbon footprint and 85% of textiles are thrown into waste every year. There is literally no excuse to not be thinking about this and to not have a roadmap to achieve sustainability, zero waste and carbon neutrality. Obviously, the bigger brands have a lot more to answer for but its great that a company like Kingdom seeks to achieve these goals so quickly after their founding.
If there is a knock against the company, it is that the boots are made in China. I was hoping they would be made in the UK since the leather is sourced from there (as well as being the place where the company is based) but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing since the boots are of good quality. Given that many of these smaller brands try to locally produce their product, this means that at the moment the carbon footprint is higher than they are aiming for. Kingdom Football is also competing with brands whose product is made in Italy and Italian-made leather boots have an air of high quality to them. The flip side of this is that given Kingdom’s own stated goals, this hopefully should change by next year.
The Kingdom Panthera is a solid first release from and should allow them to build on the boots to become an established brand. There really isn’t a perfect leather boot but the Panthera is a great boot that gives the performance you would expect from a classical boot like this. In some ways, like the fit, the feel, the less-than-bulky upper, and the light soleplate allows it to have an edge over other boots in this category. This, combined with the fact that Kingdom is focused not only on giving back, but also trying to be mindful of the environment, means that the brand should become a bigger player in this space as time goes on.
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