Charly has made a decent splash over the past year on social media and has begun to put itself on the map. From Mexico, the brand has been somewhat of an unknown quantity during the majority of its existence. However, a combination of things, like its aggressive social media push, clever advertising and getting itself on popular retail sites in the US and launching it’s own US retail website has begun to pay off. None of this would be possible if the brand had not given itself solid products on which to build a foundation. This is exactly what has happened with the Charly PFX Gignac.
Out of the box the knit upper is softer than expected and pliable. Rather than having a smooth surface on the upper, there is a slight grippy silicon layer on top of the knit. While the design makes the PFX Gignac seem more like something from the speed category, the soleplate is more flexible than others. Instead of being a negative thing, this means that the boot is easier to break in and the foot does not have to get “used to” the boot.
Because of this adaptable upper, the boot molds to the foot fairly quickly and within the first session it felt broken in. There is not anything magical going on, rather Charly took advantage of one of the main benefits of knit: its softness. It is a pleasant sensation when the boot forms to the foot easily and means that it feels ready to go. When first put on there was some slight snugness on top of the toe, but this was mitigated quickly by the soft upper.
Even though the boots are soft and the soleplate flexes easily, this does not mean that the PFX Gignac feel sloppy. While there is a bit of stretch, the boot does not overstretch, and the knit does well to keep the foot locked in during various twists and turns. When going to cut and making side to side movements, the upper stays responsive surprisingly despite how soft the upper is.
The insole is also nicer than expected and provides a good amount of cushioning. No matter the surface the Charly PFX Gignac is used on, there is not stud pressure and this is something that needs to be noted and applauded.
In the midfoot there is a good amount lockdown because of the one-piece upper design, the knit and the laces. There is not much movement during play but at the same time, it never feels like the foot is suffocating. There is a nice balance struck between getting the lockdown right and not causing the foot to cramp that the PFX Gignac does well.
The heel is comfortable and has a good, but not over the top, amount of padding. Many other brands could learn a lot from Charly when it comes to figuring out how much cushioning to have on the heel section of a boot. Despite this positiveness, cost have to be cut somewhere and unfortunately, the heel is the first part of the boot where the price difference is noticeable. The padding is great, but the surface material used for the heel is slicker than wanted and even grip socks, while they help, do not fully solve this problem. It is unfortunate because this undercuts a lot of the good work the rest of the upper does. This issue creeps up in other aspects of the boot that will be covered later.
The boot runs about a half a size longer than normal, so I went a half size down and the fit was very good.
Touch and Dribbling
Since the PFX Gignac has a knit upper, it naturally excels in this area. But part of this also comes down to the decision to not add anything extra to the upper other than the previously mentioned silicon top later. The supple knit upper provides a great touch on the ball and makes dribbling in the boot feel natural and distraction free. The upper has just about the right balance between thinness and cushioning that allows for the boot to perform well in this area.
The boot does a good job of showing some of the reasons why knit uppers became so popular in the first place (besides the obvious deluge of advertising that occurred during the heyday of knit). The consistency of the knit across the upper means that there are no surprises. Not every boot needs some crazy, game-changing, technology and the Charly PFX Gignac is a great example of this. It is nice to occasionally to have a boot that just works without anything groundbreaking. The boot is solid, performance-wise.
Shooting and Passing
The PFX Gignac’s solid performance (somewhat) continues with passing and shooting. The slightly grippy upper allows for just a slight bit of grip when hitting the ball and this is beneficial when the weather is not perfect. While the soleplate is flexible, it is solid when shooting and hitting long passes, and it does well to keep the foot anchored to the ground. There is little movement from the soleplate when hammering the ball.
But here is where that cheap surface material for the heel becomes more obvious. To be frank, it hurts the execution of the boot because the smoothness means the heel slides around when the ball is hit with power, and it was noticeable whenever shooting or hitting long balls. This is issue is slightly resolved with grip socks or keeping the laces very tight, but it is a disappointment. So much of what the boot does well is let down by the choice of material in heel and it is such an easy problem to solve. This is the one part of the boot that needs a change.
Some people might find it interesting that only the heel material needs a change, because the soleplate is the same that was previously found on some older Nike AG boots. Normally, this might be a red flag for some, but the soleplate is one of the most expensive parts of a boot to create, so costs have to be cut somewhere. It also should be pointed out that Charly would not be using this soleplate if it was under patent, since Nike patents a lot of their products in the US. This would mean that Charly would be open to a lawsuit by using one of Nike’s patents. There are two things that come to mind here: one is that the patent may have expired, so Charly can use the soleplate freely, or two is that Nike did not actually design the soleplate and someone else holds the rights to sell the product. The latter seems more plausible.
In any case, the soleplate performs well and helps keep the feet planted during movement. It is not the most grippy of soleplates, but it arguably is not meant to be. The boot’s balance is more important that seemingly making any part of boot outperform the rest. The soleplate is great on both firm ground, hard ground and artificial surfaces but is not recommended for softer pitches but the fact that the soleplate works AG and HG pitches is far more important anyways.
Charly have made a boot that costs less than half the price of the bigger brands but still performs much higher than other boots around its price range. The soft knit upper of the PFX Gignac, combined with the simpler design means that there is a lot to like about the boot. It is not complicated, but it does not need to be. If the heel material can be changed, there will be even more reasons to recommend the Charly PFX Gignac to people. At the very least, the boot shows that the mid-level price ranges are finally becoming more competitive, and I personally would choose these over the .2 or pro models found elsewhere.
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