I’m not really a takedown, cancel culture kinda guy. Sure, I see injustices in the world that make me mad. Men ain’t shit, #metoo, #blacklivesmatter all ring true to me on some level, but it’s not like I’m using my platform to dunk on bad actors.
However, a loafer from a small Danish footwear brand has been making the menswear Instagram rounds recently has been rustling my jimmies. It mixes the beefroll of a Bass Weejun, the front curvature and machine-stitched apron of a Euro dress loafer, and the midsole ribbing of a Tricker’s..?. If that’s not blasphemy enough, the brand’s logo is etched into the heel of the shoe, which, by the way, is left unfinished. I’m not one for naming names, but you have all the information you need.
Sadly, with many former streetwear heads aging into more formal styles now, this loafer is one hype cycle away from amassing an unknowing audience. All I can hope for is that people make better choices, of which I can provide five:
Meermin Unlined Loafer ($195)
While notorious for its long break-in period, the Meermin unlined penny loafer has, summer-in summer-out, been the standard bearer of the sub-$200 slip-on. The leather is fantastic, the closed channel welt is a nice touch, and the silhouette is plenty pleasing.
These are the cheapest resoleable shoes that I would go with. There are other newer brands out there touting Blake-stitched or Goodyear Welted loafers at similarly low prices, but the dangers with those options are that (1) they may not have resoling capabilities as of yet and (2) they may not be around in 3-5 years to do that resoling for you.
Aurlands Penny Loafer ($345)
The Aurlands is the OG penny loafer. I love the side profile of the shoe with its bulbous toe area and high heel backing. Distribution is pretty limited outside of its home Norway, but who needs retailer choices when the best one in No Man Walks Alone has you covered?
Alden Leisure Handsewn ($583)
When I think penny loafer, this is the one that comes up. Alden is one of the very few American shoemakers that is still doing right by its customer, and it shows in the fanaticism surrounding the brand. I mean, come on, look at that handsewn vamp that goes right up to the tip of the shoe. Ignore making it as the little guy or immigrant success, that right there is the American dream.
It may come as a shock to some of you, but I do pay attention to high fashion stuff (and dark fashion) (AND techwear) just as much as I do the Heddels New Releases tab. In particular, J.W. Anderson’s work with Loewe and sub-line Eye/LOEWE/Nature has piqued my interest for the longest time.
I don’t know what it is about this croc-embossed loafer that has got me so obsessed the last few months, but it just does it.
J.M. Weston 180 ($885)
Oui oui, the J.M. Weston 180 loafer in black boxcalf is the ne plus ultra of penny loafers. Trust the French to get shit like this right, but I have yet to lay my eyes on a more beautiful shoe. The other loafers on this list are all great, but they don’t even come close to ticking the boxes of what I consider important in a loafer. It is comfortable, has the perfect silhouette, comes standard with a rubber sole, and straddles the line between casual and formal. All you need is 800 dollars for your ascension into loafer nirvana.