• Oak Street Bootmakers Beefroll Penny Loafer

    Top Drawer | Style  

    George Vlagos is meticulously running the pads of his fingers over tanned hides in cherry, black, tan, and navy.  Eyes closed, arms outstretched, the buttery soft surface is music to his hands.  It's Chromexcel®, or CXL as it’s written in the five story Horween® building. A combination tanned leather that undergoes 89 separate processes stretching over a month, the formula has been around for over a century and arguably produces some of the world’s best leather today. Vlagos takes the navy.

    Some fifteen years ago, in a Chicago cobbler shop, a pubescent George Vlagos sat under the skilled hands of his father during Christmas, spring, and summer breaks. It was an attempt to show his son that working with your hands was difficult. Vlagos’s father, a Greek immigrant, wished an education for his son. It backfired. Though he would go on to earn his masters, Vlagos gravitated back to the family craft after realizing how difficult finding quality shoes proved.

    “I wanted a shoe made in America, full grain leather, and at a reasonable price.”

    Designed and sourced in Chicago, Oak Street Bootmakers’s Chromexcel® navy beefroll penny loafer (along with the entire collection, for the record) is hand-sewn in Maine, where according to Vlagos is the only region in the country where you can track down craftsmen still capable of the craft. The loafers boast a stacked leather heel, welted construction (simply send them back to Oak Street for resoling), hand-stitched moccasin uppers, and carry just enough weight to intimate their craftsmanship.

    “Oak Street is about taking classic ideas, putting our twist on them, but really doing it right,” Vlagos conveys with conviction. This means working with only Horween® leather, hand selecting hides, and attentively crafting each pair for each customer. Not only does Vlagos design and oversee production, but he is on the other end of your emails, phone calls, and boxes up each pair of shoes himself. “It’s really important to offer incredible customer service, answer each customer’s questions, and fit them in the perfect shoe.” And for $270, perfection is a lot easier than it sounds.

    Jun 14, 2011 | Permalink (13) Total Comments

    Victoria left a comment on 6/16/2011 at 12:02 AM:

    These are amazing and exactly what my boyfriend requested for his birthday. Thanks

    Richard Ross left a comment on 6/15/2011 at 2:26 AM:

    Navy Beefroll Loafer - Size 14.

    —oh, is this not a contest? ...bummer.

    Tyler P. left a comment on 6/14/2011 at 9:48 PM:

    For all those who don’t know what you would pair this with, ...how? Navy is one of the easiest colors to work with, especially one as dark as this. Some tan or white chinos with a navy or burgundy polo and navy ribbon belt. It’s pretty easy…

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 6/14/2011 at 8:14 PM:

    @Chris S.—This season, I wear a 9.5 in Sperrys. Last season, I wore a 10 in their shoes. They are running big this season.

    Chris S left a comment on 6/14/2011 at 8:05 PM:

    @FEC what size do you wear in Sperrys (for sockless comparison’s sake)

    dandyThonna left a comment on 6/14/2011 at 2:38 PM:

    I just sent this post to a bunch of my friends as I agree with most of what you’re saying here and the way you’ve presented it is awesome.

    j left a comment on 6/14/2011 at 2:37 PM:

    I own two pairs of Oak Street penny loafers - the brown ones and the double-soled navy pair from the fall. They run large, and they do stretch; if I were ordering again, I’d go down a full size (though your mileage may vary). Mine have turned out perfectly fine with some tongue and heel pads. The quality is impeccable, and the white stitching becomes far less vivid over time.

    bucephalus left a comment on 6/14/2011 at 11:05 AM:

    I don’t know what is wrong with navy or even true-blue shoes.  Even Edward Green makes a pair every now and then.

    Jeremiah left a comment on 6/14/2011 at 9:55 AM:

    Fully endorse Oak Street Bootmakers footwear. I have a couple pairs and couldn’t be happier with them.

    Jeff left a comment on 6/14/2011 at 8:40 AM:

    Darian/ Eric - my experience with Oak Street is that they run just a touch on the large side.  On top of that, the leathers are so soft and supple that there is a little stretch after the break in period.  Maybe try 1/2 size down from your normal size (particularly if you’re going to be wearing the loafer sans socks).

    Darian left a comment on 6/14/2011 at 8:12 AM:

    Great looking shoe, and a nice story of a craft staying in the family.  Any sizing recommendations?  I see a pair in my near future.

    JRS left a comment on 6/14/2011 at 8:07 AM:

    Those look outstanding.  I’ve been eying the brown ones for a while…

    Erik C. Nelson left a comment on 6/14/2011 at 7:50 AM:

    Good looking shoe.  I have been wearing my Sebago navy penny loafer (w/ 1943 steel pennies) for a couple years, but they no longer make the navy.  These look almost identical, except that they look more high-end.  Anyone know about the sizing?