My House Shoes
Of all the shoes I own, none get more wear than these simple leather moccasins, which I use as a pair of house shoes. I bought them from Town View Leather after Jesse wrote about them two years ago. Town View Leather is a small family-owned business, located in Central Maine, and operated by people who’ve been making moccasins since the late 1980s. Yes, these kind of play into the Maine fetish Chris Rovzar recently wrote about, but I think they’re without any kitsch or affectation. Their website, for example, is as simple as can be.
Town View Leather’s moccasins are handmade, though in footwear, that doesn’t mean no machines are involved. For many of the seams - such as the one connecting the thick leather sole to the upper - a sewing machine is used. What’s executed by hand is the signature moccasin construction that Maine is known for. That is, two pieces of leather are sewn together, using what’s known as a saddle stitch, in order to form the upper and sides of the shoe. The process involves passing two thick needles through the same hole, with an awl first piercing that hole and then guiding one needle through. This gives the area the flexibility it needs while also maintaining a strong seam. 
Unfortunately, as Pete said, expensive things aren’t getting any cheaper. When Jesse first wrote about Town View Leather, their moccasins were available on eBay for about $60. I think their website at the time offered them for $80. They’re now $95.
Still, that’s more affordable than the $150-300 you’d pay for similar shoes from Arrow, Quoddy, or Rancourt. Admittedly, when I first got mine, I was initially a bit unimpressed. The heel slipped a bit, and the shoes looked a bit too basic for the price. After wearing about six months, however, I saw how well the leather breaks in and how nicely the shoes conform to your feet (which, by the way, will eliminate any marginal heel slippage). With a pair of jeans or chinos, it’s hard to find something more comfortable for lounging. 

My House Shoes

Of all the shoes I own, none get more wear than these simple leather moccasins, which I use as a pair of house shoes. I bought them from Town View Leather after Jesse wrote about them two years ago. Town View Leather is a small family-owned business, located in Central Maine, and operated by people who’ve been making moccasins since the late 1980s. Yes, these kind of play into the Maine fetish Chris Rovzar recently wrote about, but I think they’re without any kitsch or affectation. Their website, for example, is as simple as can be.

Town View Leather’s moccasins are handmade, though in footwear, that doesn’t mean no machines are involved. For many of the seams - such as the one connecting the thick leather sole to the upper - a sewing machine is used. What’s executed by hand is the signature moccasin construction that Maine is known for. That is, two pieces of leather are sewn together, using what’s known as a saddle stitch, in order to form the upper and sides of the shoe. The process involves passing two thick needles through the same hole, with an awl first piercing that hole and then guiding one needle through. This gives the area the flexibility it needs while also maintaining a strong seam. 

Unfortunately, as Pete said, expensive things aren’t getting any cheaper. When Jesse first wrote about Town View Leather, their moccasins were available on eBay for about $60. I think their website at the time offered them for $80. They’re now $95.

Still, that’s more affordable than the $150-300 you’d pay for similar shoes from Arrow, Quoddy, or Rancourt. Admittedly, when I first got mine, I was initially a bit unimpressed. The heel slipped a bit, and the shoes looked a bit too basic for the price. After wearing about six months, however, I saw how well the leather breaks in and how nicely the shoes conform to your feet (which, by the way, will eliminate any marginal heel slippage). With a pair of jeans or chinos, it’s hard to find something more comfortable for lounging. 

Camp Mocs

In the last 100 years or so, Americans have invented some of the most classic slip-on shoe styles for men, but they usually start with an idea borrowed from somewhere else. G.H. Bass, for example, invented the classic American penny loafer, but they came up with the idea after having seen moccasin style shoes made and worn by farmers in Norway. Alden, similarly, came up with the tassel loafer when actor Paul Lukas asked if they could make something similar to a pair of tasseled oxfords he picked up in Europe.

Yet another example is the camp moc, which was invented by LL Bean’s founder, Leon Leonwood Bean, in 1936. He came up with a slip on shoe that could be worn out in the wilderness by taking some ideas from Native American moccasins. Like many of his company’s clothes in the mid-century, LL Bean’s camp mocs eventually made their way to college campuses. At that time, many students liked to repurpose outdoor clothes such as parkas, trail mocs, and camp mocs for everyday use. 

LL Bean still makes their camp moc, but I’m afraid it’s not what it used to be. It’s a decent shoe, to be sure, and probably the most affordable one out there at $79. However, the leather quality leaves a lot to be desired.

If you can afford them, you can find better camp mocs from Oak Street Bootmakers, Rancourt, and Quoddy. Rancourt’s has the advantage in being fully made-to-order, so you can customize them however you’d like. Alden also makes a model through their Cape Cod Collection. It’s typically built on a less than ideal driving sole, but Harrison seems to have it available on a leather sole with a stacked heel (less traditional, but nice looking). I also like the ones from Russell Moccasin (Sid Mashburn has better photos) and Eastland’s Made in Maine. Eastland’s Made in Maine collection is significantly better than their mainline (which also has a camp moc), but to be honest, I find them a bit overpriced for their quality. On the upside, they’ve somehow escaped internet hype, so it’s easier to find them on sale and (occasionally) eBay at heavily discounted prices. Their camp moc is a pretty good value if you can find them half off or so, but note that they’re a bit low on the instep.

Two other good makers are Arrow Moccasins and Town View Leather. They’re both small, family-owned operations that make fully handsewn moccasin style shoes. I like them a lot, especially at their modest price point. They give you the option of making your moccasins with a crepe or double leather sole. I have a pair of double leather sole moccasins from Arrow, and like them for short walks and use around the house. Jesse has also taken his for longer walks. The leathers these guys use is thick and supple, and nicely conform to your feet after a few months worth of use. 

At their core, however, camp mocs are meant to be abused and worn down to the ground. Many of the aforementioned brands make camp mocs from higher-quality leathers, which means they’ll last a bit longer and look better with age. However, even the LL Bean ones have a certain charm as they’re falling apart. Buy ones that are right for your budget and feel free to put some hard use into them.

(Photos via Reddit)

Finding Affordable Shoes
Shoes may or may not be the most important part of a man’s ensemble, but they can certainly be the veto point. A man can look sharp as a tack in a well-tailored suit, but if he’s wearing dull, square toe shoes, everything was for naught. Unfortunately, nice shoes are expensive. Even the ones commonly recommended as “entry level” brands will retail for $350 or more. So, in an effort to direct readers to where they can find well-made shoes for less, I’ve compiled a list of every place that I know of.
eBay: The most obvious is eBay. We have a customized search link you can use, but you can also employ other methods. Last week, for example, I talked about how Ralph Lauren shoes are some of the hidden gems on eBay, so long as you know how to look for them. The same goes for shoes made by Brooks Brothers. Theirs don’t get as bad as some in Ralph Lauren’s range, but you would still be wise to look for indicators of quality. You can also check out sausages234, an eBay seller who specializes in footwear.
Thrift stores: These will take a little more work than doing a search on eBay, but you could potentially walk away with some better deals. The key is in knowing where to thrift and how to spot quality. Use Jesse’s series on thrifting as a guide.
Good online retailers: There are two online retailers who consistently have some of the most competitive prices around - Pediwear and P.Lal. It would be smart to check with them before you purchase anything, as they’ll often offer price-matching guarantees. You can also check out A Fine Pair of Shoes. They sell really nice English models, and will discount much of their stock at the end of each season. Finally, Franco’s will often have shoes on sale. Right now there are a bunch of Rider Boots, which are very well made.
Online discount houses: Likewise, there are a bunch of online discount sites. Classic Shoes for Men, Shop the Finest, and Virtual Clotheshorse come to mind (though the last two focus more on the Italian variety). Sierra Trading Post also regularly stocks Trickers. You can knock 30% off or more if you sign up for their DealFlyer newsletter. Different coupons are released every day.
Affordable brands: There are probably more brands than ever before selling well-made, affordable shoes. Here’s a list:
Loake: Loake makes a few different lines, but the one that’s generally worth buying is their 1880 range, particularly the ones that are Goodyear welted and made with hard-bottom leather soles.
Charles Tyrwhitt: Many of Charles Tyrwhitt’s shoes are made by Loake or equivalent factories. Ignore the lure of sale prices, however. Charles Tyrwhitt’s stuff is always on sale.
Herring: I have no first hand experience with the line, but my understanding is that many of their shoes are also made by Loake (or, again, equivalent factories).
Meermin: One of my favorites of the lot. Their shoes are handwelted, which is believed to be a better construction method than Goodyear welting, and they have a semi-affordable made-to-order program. You can read a review I did of them here.
Shipton & Heneage: Shipton & Heneage sells shoes made by various well-respected manufacturers in England and Italy. Sometimes you’ll find shoes here selling for less than what the original manufacturers would have you pay. Sign up for their Discount Club to receive coupons.
Made in Maine: There are a bunch of quality shoe manufacturers in Maine. The first that comes to mind is Rancourt, who sells handsewn shoes at a very reasonable price. There’s also Town View Leather and Arrow Moccasins, both of whom also sell handsewn shoes, but mostly of the moccasin variety. Those give less foot support, but they can be good for short walks. Additionally, there’s Eastland’s Made in Maine collection. I bought one of their boots last year, and on the inside, there was a strip of reconstituted leather covering the back (where the heel cup would normally go). The leather fell apart after my third wear, and customer service wasn’t terribly helpful, but to be fair, the shoes still wear fine. Finally, a reader of ours suggested Dexter 1957, but I have no first hand experience with them. Reviews online are scant and mixed.
Kent Wang and Howard Yount: Both these companies can usually be relied upon for selling decently made things at lower-than-average prices.
Markowski: I have no first hand experience with this line, but their customers have given positive reports on StyleForum. The shop is based in Paris, but the shopkeepers speak decent English. They also hold sales, which knocks their prices down somewhat even further.
Andrew Lock: Jesse gave a good review of them here (he even had a shoe expert take them apart).
Allen Edmonds factory seconds: The term factory seconds just means shoes that haven’t passed the quality control process, but often the “defects” are incredibly minor (like a very small nick). You can contact Allen Edmonds’ “shoe bank” store in Brookfield, Wisconsin to make a purchase. Their number is (262) 785-6666. 
Suede: Let’s say all the above are still out of range to you. If you can’t afford higher-quality shoes, at least aim for suede. They’ll generally look better with age than a pair made from corrected grain. Perhaps the most affordable suede shoes I know of are Clarks’ desert boots, which sometimes go for as little as $60 on sale. Once you get them, know how to take care of them well, so that you get as much out of your purchase as possible. 

Finding Affordable Shoes

Shoes may or may not be the most important part of a man’s ensemble, but they can certainly be the veto point. A man can look sharp as a tack in a well-tailored suit, but if he’s wearing dull, square toe shoes, everything was for naught. Unfortunately, nice shoes are expensive. Even the ones commonly recommended as “entry level” brands will retail for $350 or more. So, in an effort to direct readers to where they can find well-made shoes for less, I’ve compiled a list of every place that I know of.

eBay: The most obvious is eBay. We have a customized search link you can use, but you can also employ other methods. Last week, for example, I talked about how Ralph Lauren shoes are some of the hidden gems on eBay, so long as you know how to look for them. The same goes for shoes made by Brooks Brothers. Theirs don’t get as bad as some in Ralph Lauren’s range, but you would still be wise to look for indicators of quality. You can also check out sausages234, an eBay seller who specializes in footwear.

Thrift stores: These will take a little more work than doing a search on eBay, but you could potentially walk away with some better deals. The key is in knowing where to thrift and how to spot quality. Use Jesse’s series on thrifting as a guide.

Good online retailers: There are two online retailers who consistently have some of the most competitive prices around - Pediwear and P.Lal. It would be smart to check with them before you purchase anything, as they’ll often offer price-matching guarantees. You can also check out A Fine Pair of Shoes. They sell really nice English models, and will discount much of their stock at the end of each season. Finally, Franco’s will often have shoes on sale. Right now there are a bunch of Rider Boots, which are very well made.

Online discount houses: Likewise, there are a bunch of online discount sites. Classic Shoes for Men, Shop the Finest, and Virtual Clotheshorse come to mind (though the last two focus more on the Italian variety). Sierra Trading Post also regularly stocks Trickers. You can knock 30% off or more if you sign up for their DealFlyer newsletter. Different coupons are released every day.

Affordable brands: There are probably more brands than ever before selling well-made, affordable shoes. Here’s a list:

  • Loake: Loake makes a few different lines, but the one that’s generally worth buying is their 1880 range, particularly the ones that are Goodyear welted and made with hard-bottom leather soles.
  • Charles Tyrwhitt: Many of Charles Tyrwhitt’s shoes are made by Loake or equivalent factories. Ignore the lure of sale prices, however. Charles Tyrwhitt’s stuff is always on sale.
  • Herring: I have no first hand experience with the line, but my understanding is that many of their shoes are also made by Loake (or, again, equivalent factories).
  • Meermin: One of my favorites of the lot. Their shoes are handwelted, which is believed to be a better construction method than Goodyear welting, and they have a semi-affordable made-to-order program. You can read a review I did of them here.
  • Shipton & Heneage: Shipton & Heneage sells shoes made by various well-respected manufacturers in England and Italy. Sometimes you’ll find shoes here selling for less than what the original manufacturers would have you pay. Sign up for their Discount Club to receive coupons.
  • Made in Maine: There are a bunch of quality shoe manufacturers in Maine. The first that comes to mind is Rancourt, who sells handsewn shoes at a very reasonable price. There’s also Town View Leather and Arrow Moccasins, both of whom also sell handsewn shoes, but mostly of the moccasin variety. Those give less foot support, but they can be good for short walks. Additionally, there’s Eastland’s Made in Maine collection. I bought one of their boots last year, and on the inside, there was a strip of reconstituted leather covering the back (where the heel cup would normally go). The leather fell apart after my third wear, and customer service wasn’t terribly helpful, but to be fair, the shoes still wear fine. Finally, a reader of ours suggested Dexter 1957, but I have no first hand experience with them. Reviews online are scant and mixed.
  • Kent Wang and Howard Yount: Both these companies can usually be relied upon for selling decently made things at lower-than-average prices.
  • Markowski: I have no first hand experience with this line, but their customers have given positive reports on StyleForum. The shop is based in Paris, but the shopkeepers speak decent English. They also hold sales, which knocks their prices down somewhat even further.
  • Andrew Lock: Jesse gave a good review of them here (he even had a shoe expert take them apart).

Allen Edmonds factory seconds: The term factory seconds just means shoes that haven’t passed the quality control process, but often the “defects” are incredibly minor (like a very small nick). You can contact Allen Edmonds’ “shoe bank” store in Brookfield, Wisconsin to make a purchase. Their number is (262) 785-6666. 

Suede: Let’s say all the above are still out of range to you. If you can’t afford higher-quality shoes, at least aim for suede. They’ll generally look better with age than a pair made from corrected grain. Perhaps the most affordable suede shoes I know of are Clarks’ desert boots, which sometimes go for as little as $60 on sale. Once you get them, know how to take care of them well, so that you get as much out of your purchase as possible. 

Moccasins from New England: Arrow Moccasin and Town View Leather
I love the idea of canoe slippers, the Northeastern staple. They’re soft, tough leather shoes, suitable for wear indoors or out. Quoddy has gotten a lot of attention in the menswear world the past few years (I presume they have a good publicist), and they make a fine product. There are other options, though.
I have a pair of trail boots by Arrow Moccasins, and recommend them highly. They’re comfortable with or without socks, and are my go-to for autumn lounging. They’re also hand-made by a father and son team, who answer the phone with charming New England accents. I wore them on concrete for a year or so with no ill effect, but then I got rear-ended in a car accident and found that long walks in such unpadded shoes made my back act up.
The Arrow last is broad and masculine, and I wanted slippers that were a little more refined in shape, so I placed an order with Town View Leather of Maine. They’re also a family operation, and their finest deerskin lined mocs still come in at less than a hundred bucks. I’ve got a foot tough to fit for slip-ons, and I had to return them, but doing so was painful. These are beautiful shoes. You can even buy their basic, unlined model for less than $60 on eBay. If you have special width requirements, they can accommodate at no extra charge, and I received my shoes (in a special width) within a week of placing my order.
If you’re looking for soft, comfortable shoes, look no further than these two classy outfits. Hand-made products made by expert craftspeople at reasonable prices: you can’t beat that.

Moccasins from New England: Arrow Moccasin and Town View Leather

I love the idea of canoe slippers, the Northeastern staple. They’re soft, tough leather shoes, suitable for wear indoors or out. Quoddy has gotten a lot of attention in the menswear world the past few years (I presume they have a good publicist), and they make a fine product. There are other options, though.

I have a pair of trail boots by Arrow Moccasins, and recommend them highly. They’re comfortable with or without socks, and are my go-to for autumn lounging. They’re also hand-made by a father and son team, who answer the phone with charming New England accents. I wore them on concrete for a year or so with no ill effect, but then I got rear-ended in a car accident and found that long walks in such unpadded shoes made my back act up.

The Arrow last is broad and masculine, and I wanted slippers that were a little more refined in shape, so I placed an order with Town View Leather of Maine. They’re also a family operation, and their finest deerskin lined mocs still come in at less than a hundred bucks. I’ve got a foot tough to fit for slip-ons, and I had to return them, but doing so was painful. These are beautiful shoes. You can even buy their basic, unlined model for less than $60 on eBay. If you have special width requirements, they can accommodate at no extra charge, and I received my shoes (in a special width) within a week of placing my order.

If you’re looking for soft, comfortable shoes, look no further than these two classy outfits. Hand-made products made by expert craftspeople at reasonable prices: you can’t beat that.