Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What to wear: The suede driving loafers for under $60

Driving loafers, particularly suede ones, have become this correspondent’s footwear of choice.
Whether worn with shorts, chinos or denim jeans, driving loafers almost always look smart.
PHOTO courtesy of Lands' End.

In years past, Lands’ End carried driving loafers in brown suede, light brown leather and black leather that were often on sale for under $70. With proper care, as in not wearing every day, the driving loafers would last about a year. With heavy use — say every day of the week, as was the case for this correspondent during a semester at graduate school — it was about six months before the soles gave out.

Sure, the driving loafers from Lands’ End weren’t the best, but there wasn’t much difference between them and nearly identical ones from more expensive brands that were priced at well over $150. In fact, the same factory in Brazil or China probably makes most of the driving loafers on the market with only slight differences in quality or style for each brand.

Unfortunately, Lands’ End stopped selling its driving loafers last year. That left this correspondent, as well as countless others, scrambling to find a suitable replacement earlier this summer.

Cole Haan’s Grant loafer was the closest comparable shoe, but the price ($168 then, now $102.19; available here) was considerably higher than Lands’ End.

However, Cole Haan is a decent department store shoe, or so this correspondent thought.

It’s not that they weren’t uncomfortable. Far from it, actually. Cole Haan makes very, very comfortable shoes. Rather, the quality was really poor. So much so that the driving loafers fell apart within three months of wearing them for three, perhaps four, days a week.

That’s simply unacceptable, by any quality control measure.

This correspondent was hesitant to spend a couple hundred bucks after the Cole Haan experience. After all, this is the second decade of the 21st century. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of stores selling shoes on the internet. There had to be something out there, right?

That something ended up being the brown suede driving loafers (pictured below) made in China and sold by Happy Shop, a small, previously unknown Chinese merchant on Amazon.

PHOTO courtesy of Happy Shop.

The reviews of not only the driving loafers, but also the seller were positive. Some customers even said the driving loafers were identical to very famous brands, which is quite possible considering there can’t be many factories in China making driving loafers.
The best part was the price. Under $60 ($59.98 to be precise; available here) with free shipping and coverage under Amazon’s customer satisfaction protection policies. Talk about a bargain, even if they only last six months.

Happy Shop promptly shipped the order via the postal service with a delivery window of 12-22 business days, though this correspondent’s new driving loafers arrived in less than two weeks.

While it’s too early to pass judgment on Happy Shop’s quality, first impressions are very favorable.

Several additional styles and colors are offered, which means this correspondent will likely become a repeat customer of Happy Shop.

In the meantime, stay tuned for ongoing reports about how the driving loafers are holding up.

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