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Footwear

The Alden Loafer

Kamau Hosten

Classics can't be ignored. Despite the rather limited offerings of truly timeless pieces in major department stores, some pieces still manage to gain, or regain, popularity. The tasseled loafer has long been an American classic. Companies like Alden and Allen Edmonds have been producing them, in the USA, for decades now. They've recently been featured in men's magazines and in runway shows, but in more design-centric versions. Nothing beats a trend like the original, though.

Chinos by Uniqlo, Loafers by Alden

Chinos by Uniqlo, Loafers by Alden

Its critics decry the shape as dated and reduce its wearer to the 50+ demographic. Design houses may claim to update the traditional shape, yet it needs no such adjustment. In truth, a flawless, well constructed shoe, knows no age limit or requirement.

Enter the Alden Suede Moccasin. It's a classic shape; the toe is neither too pointy or too rounded. Now, it may seem bulky, especially compared against it's European counterparts, but after a few outings, I can report no difference between it and my thinner Ferragamo loafers.

Its appeal lies in its simplicity and versatility. Tassels provide the only visual detail, while the suede adds an elegantly textural appeal.

The shoe, however, lends itself to a number of wardrobe choices. This being July in Miami, a linen suit sprints to my mind. Now, the guys at Pitti Uomo can do no wrong, but no one lives on those streets the rest of the year. The cuffed and cropped trouser may not work everywhere. What will work is a slight taper of the trousers, so they sit atop the loafer just so. The flopping movement of billowy pants rarely flatters anyone. The rich chocolate brown shade translates just as well to heavier fabrics, like corduroy and tweed, but that's a post for December.

I looked at several versions before taking the plunge with Alden. Its simple design, incredible craftsmanship and history won me over. Several well-known brands offered decent looking loafers, but the quality didn't seem to be there. The Goodyear Welt, explained here is a method of construction which essentially extends the potential life of the shoe. Another crucial question to ask is, do you want a shoe from a fashion design house or a shoe from a shoemaker? The latter has perfected his craft, while the former changes it altogether every six months.