A Summertime Favorite: Penny Loafers
Once the weather warms up and the days get long, I often find that the best shoes are either sneakers or slip-ons. I typically wear sneakers with jeans and casual outerwear, and slip-ons with dressier trousers and sport coats. Styles can really range, but most of the time, sneakers tend to be white and minimalistic, and the slip-ons tend to be penny loafers.
The penny loafer is often thought of as a quintessentially American shoe — a style that’s most at home with tweed jackets and Shetland sweaters, as they were originally worn on Ivy League campuses in the mid-20th century. Today, however, you can safely wear them without any preppy connotations (although, you can also wear them as such, if you wish). With a sleeker pair of European pennies, for example, you can combine them with a soft-shouldered sport coat, wool trousers, and an open collared shirt for a very dégagé Continental look. With some beefroll loafers, jeans, and a light jacket, you can go back to looking like an American, but in a way that doesn’t feel too preppy. 
If you haven’t yet got yourself a pair, consider some of these:
Highly expensive at $750+: JM Weston’s 180 moccasin and John Lobb’s Lopez are pretty iconic, with the first having uniquely high walls around the toe that help distinguish it from the pack. My favorite loafers in this price tier, however, are all from Edward Green – an English firm known for its tasteful designs, quality construction, and beautiful finishing. Check out the Piccadilly, Montpellier, Sandown, and Harrow to start.
Pricey options between $350 and $500: Less expensive, but no less well-made, are loafers from all of your usual suspects. Carmina, for example, has something that looks very much like Edward Green’s Montpellier, while Alden has a wide range of handsome American designs. More recently, Wildsmith (a bespoke shoemaker once famous for their unlined loafers) relaunched as a ready-to-wear brand, and although their loafers aren’t as close to their originals as Edward Green’s Harrow, they’re priced competitively. Shipton & Heneage will also have a nice range of options, and they’re made a bit more affordable through the company’s Discount Club. Additionally, Crockett & Jones is very much worth a look, as are Alfred Sargent, Sid Mashburn’s house line, Kent Wang’s antique calf loafers, and the newly launched Paul Evans.
A bit more affordable at $350 and below: Of course, for more affordable shoes, there’s always Allen Edmonds’ factory second store, where the company heavily discounts shoes that didn’t pass quality control. Flaws are often very, very minor, if even visible at all. Loake’s 1880 line is also worth a look, and they sometimes produce for Charles Tyrwhitt and Herring (just note that some Loake-made shoes aren’t of terribly good quality, so use good judgment). Similarly, Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers will have some nice models, even though their quality can really range. Stick to the stuff that retails for $350 and above, and wait for end-of-season sales. In addition, Meermin offers some of the best price-to-value ratio right now in footwear, especially once you take into consideration their made-to-order program, and Jack Erwin is the best I’ve seen in the sub-$200 price range. For more American styled loafers, check out Rancourt and Bass’ Made in Maine collection.
Shell cordovan: Lastly, shell cordovan loafers are worth highlighting. Although shell cordovan is traditionally a workboot material, it works wonderfully today for slightly dressier styles (think wingtips, tassel loafers, and penny loafers). Alden’s Leisure Handsewn is a really beautiful American model, while Carmina will be more European. Meermin may also be able to make you something through their made-to-order program.
(Pictured above: Hooman Majd in his fifteen year old Edward Greens)

A Summertime Favorite: Penny Loafers

Once the weather warms up and the days get long, I often find that the best shoes are either sneakers or slip-ons. I typically wear sneakers with jeans and casual outerwear, and slip-ons with dressier trousers and sport coats. Styles can really range, but most of the time, sneakers tend to be white and minimalistic, and the slip-ons tend to be penny loafers.

The penny loafer is often thought of as a quintessentially American shoe — a style that’s most at home with tweed jackets and Shetland sweaters, as they were originally worn on Ivy League campuses in the mid-20th century. Today, however, you can safely wear them without any preppy connotations (although, you can also wear them as such, if you wish). With a sleeker pair of European pennies, for example, you can combine them with a soft-shouldered sport coat, wool trousers, and an open collared shirt for a very dégagé Continental look. With some beefroll loafers, jeans, and a light jacket, you can go back to looking like an American, but in a way that doesn’t feel too preppy. 

If you haven’t yet got yourself a pair, consider some of these:

  • Highly expensive at $750+: JM Weston’s 180 moccasin and John Lobb’s Lopez are pretty iconic, with the first having uniquely high walls around the toe that help distinguish it from the pack. My favorite loafers in this price tier, however, are all from Edward Green – an English firm known for its tasteful designs, quality construction, and beautiful finishing. Check out the Piccadilly, Montpellier, Sandown, and Harrow to start.
  • Pricey options between $350 and $500: Less expensive, but no less well-made, are loafers from all of your usual suspects. Carmina, for example, has something that looks very much like Edward Green’s Montpellier, while Alden has a wide range of handsome American designs. More recently, Wildsmith (a bespoke shoemaker once famous for their unlined loafers) relaunched as a ready-to-wear brand, and although their loafers aren’t as close to their originals as Edward Green’s Harrow, they’re priced competitively. Shipton & Heneage will also have a nice range of options, and they’re made a bit more affordable through the company’s Discount Club. Additionally, Crockett & Jones is very much worth a look, as are Alfred Sargent, Sid Mashburn’s house line, Kent Wang’s antique calf loafers, and the newly launched Paul Evans.
  • A bit more affordable at $350 and below: Of course, for more affordable shoes, there’s always Allen Edmonds’ factory second store, where the company heavily discounts shoes that didn’t pass quality control. Flaws are often very, very minor, if even visible at all. Loake’s 1880 line is also worth a look, and they sometimes produce for Charles Tyrwhitt and Herring (just note that some Loake-made shoes aren’t of terribly good quality, so use good judgment). Similarly, Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers will have some nice models, even though their quality can really range. Stick to the stuff that retails for $350 and above, and wait for end-of-season sales. In addition, Meermin offers some of the best price-to-value ratio right now in footwear, especially once you take into consideration their made-to-order program, and Jack Erwin is the best I’ve seen in the sub-$200 price range. For more American styled loafers, check out Rancourt and Bass’ Made in Maine collection.
  • Shell cordovan: Lastly, shell cordovan loafers are worth highlighting. Although shell cordovan is traditionally a workboot material, it works wonderfully today for slightly dressier styles (think wingtips, tassel loafers, and penny loafers). Alden’s Leisure Handsewn is a really beautiful American model, while Carmina will be more European. Meermin may also be able to make you something through their made-to-order program.

(Pictured above: Hooman Majd in his fifteen year old Edward Greens)

We Got It for Free: Kent Wang and Meermin’s Antiqued Shoes

Top-end manufacturers such Hermes’ John Lobb have long used Ilcea’s antiqued leathers for their products. The beautifully mottled, full-grain Italian calf leather has been made into shoes, belts, and wallets, and while the resulting products are very handsome, they’re also very expensive. Shoes can cost as much as $1,500, while accessories typically hover around $300.

Recently, Kent Wang and Meermin introduced their own line of Ilcea antiqued calf shoes, but at a lower price point. Kent has four models, including the semi-brogue pictured above, while Meermin just finished a quarter-brogue specially made for certain StyleForum members.

Though both use materials from the same tannery, they’re very differently designed. Kent’s is a bit more aggressively styled with larger punch perforations and more apparent antiquing. His model also has an elongated toe box (which tapers to a soft square), a narrower waist, and a more angular silhouette. Meermin’s on the other hand, has more subtle antiquing and the last (here being the Hiro, though StyleForum members received the Olfe) is a classic round toe with a conservative sensibility. Meermin’s leather is also a bit shinier and polished, something like what you’d find on John Lobb’s antiqued calfs, while Kent’s is matte. I like the richer finish of Meermin’s, personally, but of both are handsome in their own right.

Both shoes are made in East Asia, but to high standards (Kent’s are produced in Laos and Taiwan, while Meermin’s are made in Shanghai, then finished in Spain). Kent’s are Goodyear welted and Meermin’s are handwelted. Both mean that the soles are easily replaceable, thus allowing these shoes to potentially last for decades if they’re well-taken care of. The soles are also channeled, which means that the stitching at the bottom is hidden, and there are brass nails at the soles’ toes and heels to help slow their wear. Nice little details, such as the slightly curved waist on Meermin’s and the more visibly shaped fiddleback on Kent’s, finish them off.

At the moment, Meermin’s model is not yet available. This quarter-brogue was made on special order only for certain StyleForum members. However, the company is working to introduce this antiqued leather to their ready-to-wear line. If they do, they’ll include the quarter-brogue you see above and a double monk. They may also have the leather available for their made-to-order (MTO) offering, which means you can have any of their shoes made from this material. I’m told that the price for the ready-to-wear shoes should be about $320 for US customers, while MTO will vary depending on what’s requested. I can honestly say I’ve never seen a more handsome shoe for ~$300, and I somewhat doubt I ever will.  

Kent’s is a bit more expensive, with prices ranging from $450 to $525. However, his are available now and feature a bit more handwork, such as the fiddleback waist you see on the sole. It’s purely a stylistic detail, but a nice one, I think.

For those interested in Ilcea’s antiqued calf, but can’t afford these prices, check out Chester Mox. They use the leather for their wallets, and can specially make any of their models from this material upon special request. Prices aren’t cheap, but they’re a fraction of the ~$300 that John Lobb charges. 

DC Lewis Footwear: A New Shoe Company on the Market

Two well-respected StyleForum members (distinctive and rebell222) recently started a new company called D.C. Lewis Footwear. I was asked to review one of their shoes, so I agreed to have them send me a pair of their Claytons.

DC Lewis’ Clayton is single monkstrap that looks very reminiscent of John Lobb’s Vale. My impressions of the styling are very positive. The asymmetric last is elegant and sleek. It’s balanced in a way that gives the shoe a kind of rakish sophistication without crossing over into rudeness. I was a bit concerned that the vamp was going to be too plain for my taste. For single monkstraps, I general prefer models such as Edward Green’s Oundle to John Lobb’s Vale, where the vamp has stitching that meets the quarters on both sides of the shoe. However, having tried these on, I think the cleaner vamp is actually better for a design like this, where the strap cuts back this high.  

Construction wise, these are Goodyear welted on a single sole. The sole is made from a chestnut tanned leather; upper from a vegetable-tanned French box calfskin; and inside is a full leather sockliner. There are no fiberboard or reconstituted leather products here, which is good. The only possible “downsides” are the gemming and synthetic toe puff. I put downsides in quotations because the arguments against these features have been (in addition to insane) largely inconclusive. In any case, if you don’t know what they mean, don’t worry about them. Unless you’re in the position to buy Vass, Saint Crispin’s, Stefano Bemer, Scafora, or Cleverley, you will be mostly living in a world of gemmed shoes and synthetic toe puffs anyway, so it’s somewhat of a non-issue. In short, the construction on these is exceptionally good, at least on face value. 

My only hesitation with DC Lewis is that they’re made in Laos and Taiwan. For shoes that cost around the low $400s, I’d like to know more about how they wear, and given that there’s not much information about the manufacturing houses, I think this matter is still undecided. However, I really like their styles and lasts. Both their Clayton and Porter models look like sleekly styled shoes that you’d normally only expect from more expensive European manufacturers. I also like that you can customize your order by choosing from fourteen different materials, and get their shoes with a fiddleback waist (a handmade detailing that’s typically only found on much higher-end shoes). In the end, while the jury is still out on how these will age, I think DC Lewis offers a good option for people looking at quality shoes. They’re especially nice for those who appreciate sleeker, more elegant styles, and enjoy a bit of high end detailing. For those interested, you can order the shoes directly from DC Lewis through their StyleForum page, or buy them from Kent Wang

In this video, John Lobb’s creative director, Mr. Andres Hernandez, covers some of the basics of shoe care. Many readers have sent me emails asking about how to properly take care of their shoes. I may do a fuller, in-depth post at some point, but between this and Jesse’s wonderful video, 90% of the information you need to know has been covered. 

John Lobb Left Shoe Black Sz 10E NOT A PAIR

DISCLAIMER: ONE SHOE ONLY. Customers may desire to purchase ONE SHOE WITHOUT A PAIR because they:
- have severely mismatched feet
- are lower limb amputees
- have lost one shoe of a new pair
- have damaged one shoe of a pair
- are part of a trend of wearing different shoes on different feet
- use authentic luxury designer shoes for use in photo shoots
- are store and boutique owners and use luxury single shoes for display
- cannot afford these expensive shoes but want to have one in their closet

Well sure. When you put it that way…

John Lobb Left Shoe Black Sz 10E NOT A PAIR

DISCLAIMER: ONE SHOE ONLY. Customers may desire to purchase ONE SHOE WITHOUT A PAIR because they:

- have severely mismatched feet

- are lower limb amputees

- have lost one shoe of a new pair

- have damaged one shoe of a pair

- are part of a trend of wearing different shoes on different feet

- use authentic luxury designer shoes for use in photo shoots

- are store and boutique owners and use luxury single shoes for display

- cannot afford these expensive shoes but want to have one in their closet

Well sure. When you put it that way…

A lovely video from The Guardian on how shoes are made at John Lobb, one of the finest bootmakers in the world.

dieworkwear:

Forumites know the dilly. You’re looking at all Lobbs, all Greens. Stored in a Burmese teak cabinet. Peep the madness here. 

I believe I posted this when it first showed up on StyleForum, but it’s worth reposting. This is madness. MADNESS.
I let my wife know ten years ago or so that if I ever become rich, this is the one crazy rich guy thing I’m going to do.

dieworkwear:

Forumites know the dilly. You’re looking at all Lobbs, all Greens. Stored in a Burmese teak cabinet. Peep the madness here

I believe I posted this when it first showed up on StyleForum, but it’s worth reposting. This is madness. MADNESS.

I let my wife know ten years ago or so that if I ever become rich, this is the one crazy rich guy thing I’m going to do.

(Source: dieworkwear)

It’s On Ebay
John Lobb Opera Pumps
Wearing black tie?  Only chumps wear patent oxfords.  True players rock opera pumps.  One night out in opera pumps and you will have to start throwing away furniture to make room for the sexy lady phone numbers that will fill your home.  AND THAT’S THE TRUTH, RUTH.
Starting at $50, ends Tuesday the 5th

It’s On Ebay

John Lobb Opera Pumps

Wearing black tie?  Only chumps wear patent oxfords.  True players rock opera pumps.  One night out in opera pumps and you will have to start throwing away furniture to make room for the sexy lady phone numbers that will fill your home.  AND THAT’S THE TRUTH, RUTH.

Starting at $50, ends Tuesday the 5th