Whilst it’s nice to always write about the high-end of the bespoke tailoring and shoe-making worlds, it’s also not always practical for everyone who reads the Timeless Man. For many readers, spending £3,000 on a pair of shoes or £5,000 on an overcoat is aspirational, but not a realistic option, if only for the time being. So my goal, for readers who aren’t yet in an income bracket which allows small fortunes to be spent on clothes, is to identify those makers who offer quality products at a more accessible price point. Often, this means younger men who are starting out and trying to do the best they can on a budget, or others who are older, but have chosen to focus on careers which aren’t as financially lucrative as others, but still value dressing well and care about wearing clothes which are well-made and will last.
To my surprise, one of the most read articles, ever, on Timeless Man was this article on those who I see as the best entry level high quality shoemakers anywhere. It obviously struck a cord so I’ll try to update and cover more of that where possible.
A few months ago Patrick Löf and Daniel Tung of Skoaktiebolaget (don’t ask me to pronounce it) released their own range of shoes, made in Spain and at a very reasonable price point (in the mid to high €200 range). Skoaktiebolaget has built a superb reputation in recent years for the makers they carry (both high end and lesser known but still high quality makers who are great value for money), frequent trunk shows, limited edition group made-to-order options, as well as a quality online shop. It’s an admirable decision to set out to create your own brand, but the freedom of being able to manufacture exactly the product you want is a major reward.
As a lot of readers know, I practically live in loafers. I own and wear very few lace-up shoes. There’s no philosophy behind it, I just really like loafers and their ability to be dressed up or down, depending on the leather and clothes with which they’re worn. I was impressed with the lines and slim silhouette of the Alvares tassel loafer and that’s what I’ve been wearing frequently for the last few weeks in order to form an opinion.
The Alvares bears similarities in style to Carmina’s “Uetam” loafer, as well as Edward Green’s “Belgravia” or Crockett and Jones iconic “Cavendish” though the Belgravia and Cavendish are slightly heavier, with the more sturdy build that you typically find in an English shoe, over the comparative lightness of Spanish or Italian shoes.
In terms of design, the Alvares holds a classic tassel loafer silhouette, but the braided leather which runs around the shoe and into the tassels is a nice touch, softening the formality of the shoe and making it much more easily worn with jeans or chino’s. The raised stitching around the heel also helps in this regard. Aesthetically, I’d have personally extended the raised apron stitching a little further towards the toe as I feel it stops a fraction short of where it should be, but that’s personal preference.
The last is a snug fit for my wide foot, but not too snug and has softened a little to the point where they’re already comfortable to wear all day. The snug fit gives a reassuring feeling of the foot being held well in the shoe and the width seems to be a good middle ground between those with regular, narrow or wide feet.
Unsurprisingly, the construction and quality of finish has clearly been a priority; the stitching throughout the shoe is clean and there’s no visual imperfections in the finishing on either the inside or outside.
For a shoe around €250 they’re very good value and I expect they’ll wear well over the years ahead.
I’d really like to see the option at checkout of metal toe plates being installed, as I and many others have them put on all our shoes and it’d be great to not have to go and do this separately after the shoes arrive. That said, it does mean that returns/exchanges then become all but impossible, as the shoes have already been altered. I don’t know the solution here, other than for customers to accept responsibility for waiving this option if they go ahead with toe plates.
Patrick and Daniel have simultaneously come out with a fairly comprehensive range of other styles, including wingtips, oxfords, derby’s, brogues and wholecuts, as well as a selection of belts.
Having worn the Alvares frequently for several weeks, I can confidently recommend them and wish Patrick and Daniel every success as they continue to add to the range.
You can find Löf and Tung on their own website (www.loftung.com) or via www.skoaltiebolaget.com