A reader recently asked where to get quality loafers on a budget, specifically, about $120. If you’re conditioned to looking at $1k+ Edward Greens, that seems impossible, and truthfully, buying quality shoes near $100 is not easy, but it can certainly be done. Loafers, with simpler construction and less leather than most laceups, are usually a little easier to find at lower prices. I’m going to assume we’re talking about a basic, American moccasin-style penny loafer here, and not something tasseled, more European or even Belgian, which would be more difficult to find for under a couple hundred bucks.
- You don’t have many options for new, high-quality loafers at $120, at least not at retail. If you want a classic American penny loafer, you can of course go with Bass Larson ($128), but the last pair of Bass shoes I owned are the last pair of Bass shoes I will buy. You’re better off seeking a deal.
- Allen Edmonds is a reliable source for the American penny loafer, and their seconds program (flawed shoes, but usually mildly so) currently has a few loafer models under $120, and more if you up the budget slightly.
- eBay remains a good source for deadstock, which is sometimes better than new. “Made in USA” may not be the general proxy for quality that brands like
to sell it as, but here it’s useful: most brands that sell this style
of shoe have or had some U.S. manufacturing programs that are
unquestionably better than their basic lines, which are usually made in
El Salvador, Mexico, or China. We’ve mentioned before that Ralph Lauren shoes can be great value (but many RL shoes are crap), and other quality brands like Rancourt, Quoddy, Oak Street, and even Red Wing make good loafers that sell in the $100-$150 range. Likewise defunct companies like Barrie. Try searching ebay for “polo loafers usa” and see what you come up with (the shoes pictured are RL, although not new).
- I didn’t see any related sales right now, but MyHabit and Gilt will also occasionally offer U.S.-made loafers from Bass or Eastland.
- You can find some truly fine shoes around $100 if you’re OK with wearing used shoes (I am, for what it’s worth). Ebay and Etsy searches for things like “’made in Maine’ loafers” will turn up both recent US-made offerings from Eastland and Alden and vintage stuff from Dexter, Polo, etc. Styleforum’s market and Grailed will also have some options. If you’re considering buying something pretty beat up, you could get them resoled and polished at a cobbler, although a quality re-sole job can cost $100, so budget accordingly.