Although I buy myself high quality, comfortable shoes most of the time, I have tried to avoid spending a lot of money on shoes for the kids. Knowing that they may only get 6-9 months of wear from them, it seems silly to spend a lot.
However, it's been hard to find good middle-of-the-road priced shoes...the ones I've bought at less expensive places that I expect to have decent quality (such as Target and Land's End), have literally fallen apart and had to be returned. I refuse to buy shoes from those stores anymore. Most of the time I try to go for the Stride Rites or can get some good Merrells on sale. It kills me to spend as much as $50 on a pair of shoes for the boys but once in a while I end up doing it in a pinch. It's a really good thing I don't have girls, because it would be very hard to resist those pricey girls' shoes, though!
It's not easy, however, to get cool shoes for boys in a decent price range. So when Umi offered me a free pair of ultra-hip leather shoes for each of my boys, I (eventually) agreed to review them.
When I ordered the shoes over the summer, Umi's website was brand new and there were very few choices (especially in Baxter's big kid size) but I liked the styles I picked out. It doesn't appear that more shoes have been added to their site yet. Lyle has the Sierra ($60) and Baxter has the Zazu ($65). (Remember, on Zappos (where it appears there are many more Umi styles) they'll beat the price of an online competitor - looks like maybe the Umi.com site has them at a higher price so you might get a really good deal by ordering them from Zappos.com!)
Now that the boys have worn them for about a month and a half, I'm happy to say that these are great shoes. (Okay, so I'm mostly happy to say this because they look REALLY cool!) Baxter absolutely loves his, which has really surprised me, given his usual preference for sneakers. I think he secretly likes all the compliments he gets on them. They are sturdy and appear to be well made; he says they are very comfortable. Lyle wears his less because I'd rather he not spill paint all over them in nursery school, but they are adorable with a pair of jeans when we go out. He also loves wearing them. My kids each only have two pairs of shoes - a pair of sneakers and the Umi leather shoes (beyond beach sandals) - so their shoes need to hold up well.
I recommend Umi if you are looking for high quality, comfortable, and fashionable kids' shoes. I'd buy them again in a heartbeat, but will look for them on sale.