Monday, 23 March 2009

Men's footbags: Loafers, Moccasins and Deck shoes

A few months ago I was deliberating over a pair of two tone blue/white brogues in Church's. For those unfamiliar with the brand, they still make everything by hand in England's shoe capital, Northampton. This is in contrast to rival Grenson who make their premium line there but also put together a cheaper and lighter range in India. While I was in Church's Conduit Street store I noticed a range of shiny, almost patent moccasin loafers with an amazing patina which I was told is built up over various weeks and 6 coats of colour. It now seems hard to believe that this was the first time I've ever considered getting a pair of loafers, a style which until that day I pretty much abhorred. Next stop on my shoe journey was a viewing of Frost/Nixon - a movie about Italian loafers, loosely framed around some interview between an English dandy and an old mafia don, for me to see that loafers were going to be this year's brogues. Enlisting my friends in a brogue/loafer debate it was suggested to me that brogues, as the most proper of proper men's' shoes are always in style. I doubted this theory as I reckon it's one of the unfortunate facts of the mechanisms of fashion that even if one's been wearing a classic fashion in a maverick way for years, once the style's been as thoroughly colonised by the masses as brogues have, one ceases to become a maverick and quickly becomes simply outmoded.

Vivienne Westwood puts the penny back into the penny loafer

Anyway, by this stage I'd agonised over my brogues/loafers decision long enough to become jobless and realised that I really shouldn't be spending £300 on any footwear. Initially disappointed I was saved by the amazing buyers of the vintage stores of Brick Lane. Their skill in sourcing racks of vintage versions of this seasons fashions always blows me away. They've currently got a great selection of brogues, loafers and various different types of moccasin type things. Of course you won't get the acid colours that the new versions come in, which are great for quirking up plain outfits (see Paul 'classics with a twist' Smith below). But worn-in shoes are actually easier to wear with most of the looks around at the moment. I picked mine up for £35 and christened them the other day with some sky blue Falke mercerized cotton socks (see top photo).

So, what's next? This summer the moccasin's cousin, the deck shoe, has already joined the men's shoe race. And further down the line distressed Oxfords ('Balmorals' in the US) are already looking pretty good on the shelf and will probably become the most popular choice to keep feet warm and dry after summer's come and gone. But if you're looking for something dressy and you haven't discovered monk straps yet, now could be a good time to invest ( )

On the slate...


  1. The deck shoe, otherwise known as the boat shoe or top-sider, is the ultimate in summer American WASP chic. The classic brands which are quite affordable are Sperry and Sebago. Sperry do a cute ladies' version that are a bit more delicate and show more foot so as to be more flattering with shorts. Especially if you actually plan to spend time on someone's boat, these shoes are essential as they not only keep your feet dry and slip-free, but the white soles are designed to leave no marks on the deck. Most boat owners go bat-shit crazy if you attempt to board their vessel with a dark-soled shoe. I myself am considering the Sperry ladies' shoe in red, along with a jumbo pack of Dramamine.

  2. Your vintage pair are cool. I always get 2nd hand if I'm buying a classic item. Don't want to have to wait a season to wear them in!

  3. I quite like the pair in the lower right-hand corner. The photo is very nice, very soft lighting.