Pictured above is a gorgeous new tassel loafer that just landed on Allen Edmonds’ website and hits stores next week. Dubbed the Acheson, I think it’s the tassel loafer of my dreams and here’s why.
Tassels are my go-to shoe; I’ve several pairs and wear them 90% of the time. But even though the ones I have are ideal in concept, they’re less than ideal in execution. Both the longstanding AE Grayson model, as well as Alden’s tassel moccasin, look a bit uptight to my eye:
The vamp is high and the strap that holds the tassels runs in a straight line across the shoe. The tassels also ride high on the vamp, further enhancing the uptightness. There’s also too much strap leather coming down from the knot (not really visible in the photo above), which tends to make the tassels droop off to the side of the shoe rather than stay on top (when I first visited Charlie Davidson of The Andover Shop, his ancient Alden tassels were hanging sideways!) Now I prefer my tassels to splay, but not droop.
In contrast, the Acheson’s cross strap comes down at an angle rather than straight across. Combined with the lower vamp, this makes the tassels rest farther down towards the toe. They will also presumably stay on top of the shoe better, rather than droop to the side. The tassels themselves are also longer, which looks more elegant.
Here’s the Acheson from the top and side views:
And here’s a description according to Allen Edmonds itself: “The Acheson is built on the 2042 last, which is a new slip-on last inspired for a new aesthetic in our ‘refined dress’ category. It is sleeker than our traditional 606 slip-on last, but with a full forepart and tapered back section to promote an enhanced fit for our slip-on styles.”
The result is a tassel loafer that is much more jaunty and stylish, perfect for a sportcoat and flannels man like myself.
In addition to black, the shoe currently comes in chili and walnut calf and is priced at $385. In my opinion, the other colors do not do the shoe justice, and AE should introduce a rich, dark chestnutty brown. If that sounds something like the infamous Ralph Lauren Darlton/Marlowe tassel loafer, you’re right.
Why infamous? Made by Crockett & Jones, the Marlowe is built on a last that completely contradicts human anatomy, being wide in the heel and narrow in the toe. Made of sturdy cordovan, it also comes with a double sole that will break you in before you break it in. I tried the shoe twice, in two different UK sizes, before giving up, and have fond memories of walking home through Central Park after the opera wearing only my socks because my feet hurt so badly. In winter, of course.
At some point the Darlton changed names to the Marlowe and the design also looks different whenever I see it in the store. The tassels aren’t quite as long and the shoe looks a tad less jaunty. Same last, however, but not the same price. The shoe now runs a thousand bucks.
Here’s an older Purple Label ad that also shows the sleeker design the AE Acheson has captured at a far more reasonable price. Check out the shoe in the lower right:
If I’m talking about RL at length in a post about AE, that’s because there’s one more piece of the tassel-shopping puzzle. Ralph Lauren recently introduced a new tassel loafer priced at $495. Made in the US, it too is sleek and sophisticated:
But it only comes in medium widths. And could the shoe be made by AE itself? “Unfortunately we’re not at liberty to talk about relationships between Allen Edmonds and any other companies,” a spokesperson tells me.
Either way, advantage Allen Edmonds. The Acheson is an elegant new tassel loafer at a fair price and available in a range of widths and sizes. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD