Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hands On: Oak Street Bootmakers

A few months ago if you were to claim that the made in the U.S.A. penny loafer was dead you wouldn't necessarily be wrong.  Despite a return to the preppy aesthetic, of which this type of shoe is a cornerstone, there seemed to be a lack of quality options in the marketplace.  Yes, you could always get a cheap pair from Bass or Sebago as many of us have, but there was always the purist in the back of your head telling you, "It's just not the same".  For those of us looking for the real deal we were, more or less, out of luck.  If you made a similar claim today in regards to the death of the U.S.A. made penny loafer I would first tell you to stop your whining and then tell you to head over to Chicago's own Oak Street Bootmakers.  Someone decided to not only do it, but do it right.  The perfect penny loafer exists and it is a thing of beauty.  Handcrafted right here in the United States, Oak Street's beefroll penny loafer is everything you want.  The Horween Chromexcel leather speaks for itself.  It's tough, but looks equally elegant on a shoe you are going to want to dress up every once in a while.  Getting hands on with these shoes is the best way to appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into each pair.  The hand-stitched moccasin construction is immaculate, as is the welt.  The stacked leather heel and sole are substantial and extremely comfortable when combined with the form-fitting insole (my favorite feature).  Looks have always been there when it comes to the beefroll penny - no one is doubting that.  It's as classic as classic gets and versatile like none other.  So what were we waiting for?  Well, I was waiting for someone to do it justice at the right price.  Oak Street did just that.  As I put these on my feet and walked around in them for the first time I could have sworn I heard a gavel struck somewhere off in the distance.  Case closed.






-L.A.S

31 comments:

  1. Hell yeah! Oak Street Bootmakers representing Chicago & America! Superb quality shoes from this company.

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  2. Looks to be quality, but they would probably look way better without the contrast stitching and sole. Shape looks great though, hopefully they do some other makeups of these before springtime.

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  3. Those look great, but the rumors of the death of the American-made penny loafer are greatly exaggerated. Alden has been making a penny loafer out of Horween Leather in Massachusetts since pretty much the dawn of time. They also bought the old Cole Haan factory in Maine and started making penny loafers there. Bass does a made-in-America penny (the Jeffrey) and Paul Stuart sells some shell cordovan ones that I believe are USA. Quoddy does one with a boat sole and Horween Chromexcel (some guy profiled them here: http://sartoriallyinclined.blogspot.com/2009/12/penny-for-your-boat-shoes.html).

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  4. I agree that these shoes look great, but you are exaggerating that made in USA penny loafers were dead. May I offer as examples:
    1. http://www.ralphlauren.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4281932
    2. http://www.allenedmonds.com/aeonline/product_6525381_1_40000000001_-1?categoryId=123802&top_category=120552
    3. http://www.aldenshoes.com/DrawOneShoe.asp?CategoryID=71

    These are just some I found that are similar. The RL's are twice the price, but the AE's and even the Alden's are in the same price range.

    That aside, these Oak Street's do look amazing, and are a solid addition to some other great options we all have in Made in USA footwear. . . .even if Italy and England also makes some good shoes, too. ....and a lot other ones we buy are made in other places...

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  5. Greg- Sartorially Inclined? I heard that blog sucks. Also, these are much cheaper than Alden's.

    Animal- Exaggeration? Maybe. I was just having some fun with the copy.

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  6. Bootmakers that don't make boots...a little iffy.

    Also, beefrolls are for posers.

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    1. Beefrolls are for men that appreciate the beauty of rugged, masculine design and comfort.

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  7. I ain't hatin'.

    They do look great, but the scene isn't that lacking for badass shoes, which is great if you're into these kind of things.

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  8. harder than G.O.O.D. music freestyle cypher.

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  9. Congrats on #1000, mate. Well done.

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  10. LAS - two things:

    1. These are awesome. I really like the contrast stitching and the natural sole. Good price point as well. These have a niche - very well done by the Oak Street Bootmakers.

    2. Congrats on a thousand. It's been a great ride so far.

    Best,

    JRS

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  11. Let's not overlook NOS. By some miracle I picked up a pair of never worn, burgundy, made in USA Bass Weejuns -in fucking 9 1/2D- on the 'Bay a few months back for $35.

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  12. How does the sizing run?

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  13. Once again a feature post with absolutely no personality. Would it kill you to post a pic of you actually wearing these? Christ.

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  14. Skipp- Are you not entertained? Are you not ENTERTAINED? Oh, you're not? Sorry, man.

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  15. More personality on the BKC skipp
    grand reopenning and BKC varsity cardigans release

    http://thebkcircus.com/bkc/

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  16. I don't wear penny loafers (I might mention Oak Street to my father if shoe shopping ever comes up, which it won't). But I appreciate the info on another smaller company that is doing good work.

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  17. Mehhhh ... These are just okay ... Quoddy still makes nicer stuff

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  18. LAS - you really shouldn't talk trash about people who critique you blog in the comments section. It just makes you look worse.

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  19. Anon @12:52- Dude, my reply to Skipp was obviously in jest. I don't take myself as seriously as a lot of people who read this blog seem to assume. I guess our definition of "talking trash" is different.

    Also, I'm not holding a gun to anyone's head and forcing them to read this blog.

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  20. The double sole penny loafers look fantastic.

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  21. For my part, i'm just shocked/happy to see someone in Chicago do something "style blog worthy". We're seriously lacking around these parts...

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  22. Congrats on 1000 man, the beefrolls look like they're going to age excellently. Money well spent.

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  23. To Anonymous @1:50 PM: You might not believe me, but some of the best men's style blog come from Chicago. Check out Ryan's style blog: http://youhavebrokentheinternet.blogspot.com/
    and Tommy V's sites: http://suitsandboots.tumblr.com/ & http://thighsbiggerthanyourhead.blogspot.com/ Even LAS can attest to this.

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  24. Actually they do make boots, they just haven't released them yet.

    As per the quality issue-I'm no shoe expert, but I have seen both Quoddys and Oak Street in person and I'd say the quality is as nice as Quoddy for sure. Maybe even a little better.

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  25. I bought a pair of the OSB blue loafers at Tenet this summer and, after not ten wears, the stitching started to come loose from the strap...on both shoes.

    The stitching is, in fact, nothing great and appears sloppy in places. I almost wonder if I got a prototype or something. I live across the street from a cobbler who I will ask to drop a few stitches in to keep the strap from coming loose, rather than going through the rigamarole of sending them back to Tenet.

    Interestingly, I also had to send BOTH my pairs of Quoddys back to OConnell's due to a similar problem (stitching coming loose along the vulnerable place where the shoe bends and the strap is connected to the vamp...) so maybe I have a weird foot. Or perhaps bad luck with overpriced American-made shoes!

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  26. I try to like these in vain, at $250 a throw; the clunky natural soles take me back to the 1970s and not in a good way. I much prefer Quoddy Boat mocs at $195.

    Fatfriend

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  27. Hey guys,
    This is George from Oak Street - thank you for all the kind notes that you guys have dropped in. oldominion - please shoot me an email - we take care of our customers! We'll get what sounds like a loose stitch repaired for you at no cost. We want to make sure that you love your Oak Streets. Just shoot me an email: george@oakstreetbootmakers.com

    Thank you again everyone,

    -George Vlagos

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  28. Nice looking no doubt,but b'jesus are you freakin kiddin me at 270.00 a pair? !?!?!?! Its no damned wonder people buy foreign made stuff...America is pricing themselves right out of the game. Love the shoe,hate the price.

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  29. http://initialsao.tumblr.com/post/15181023866/vibram-sole-low-shoes

    I have to confess: I still haven't tried nor seen any of these moccasins though they are available at Frenchtrotters in Paris. Still, they definitely look like the ultimate pair of US handcrafted "winter moccasin" to have. Great outfit without socks for sure. But not sure it fits with the spirit of the brand though...

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  30. I bought a pair of their blue beefroll penny loafers a few months ago and then I bought a pair of the natural colored ones a couple weeks later. Two of the best shoes I've ever worn. They fit perfectly. They're comfortable. And they felt broken in from the first moment I wore them.

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