Allen Edmonds’ Gorgeous New Acheson Tassel Loafer


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:

rl tassel ad

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

39 Comments on "Allen Edmonds’ Gorgeous New Acheson Tassel Loafer"

  1. Bags' Groove | January 20, 2016 at 1:22 pm |

    I’ll still take The Alden, if only because it doesn’t have the undesirable raised leather either side of the heel. Completely agree with you viz Crocketts. Never found a pair that fitted me. Church’s have always been my go-to shoes, particularly their perennially tasteful Diplomats.

  2. Charlottesville | January 20, 2016 at 1:23 pm |

    Indeed, a beautiful shoe, Christian. I too am fond of tassel loafers and currently have a couple of pairs. My favorite has been the cordovan version from Brooks, which I believe is made by Alden, or was when I bought them 15 years ago or so. I hadn’t realized that they were uptight until now, but then I’m not as young as you are, and I confess to pairing mine with suits from time to time, so uptightness may work to my advantage. Still, I have not noticed “tassel droop” thus far but will be on the lookout. I hope the current crop in my closet will last me another 15 years at least, but if not I may go to AE for a jauntier replacement. Let us know if you take the plunge and provide a follow-up report.

  3. I love this shoe and agree with your summary completely. I have been in the market for a black loafer for nighttime cocktail wear for sometime and had heretofore been stuck on the idea of a black Gucci. But this article made me reconsider. I think I may grab some of these in black as soon as a sale hits.

  4. I’ve been wearing the AE Grayson for more years than I care to admit. It looks good for any dress occasion. (OK, I wore a pair with a tuxedo once, but the venue was dark. I think I went unnoticed by the style police.) When you wear an AE Grayson for years and they start looking worn down at the heel, literally, you just send them off for recrafting. I look forward to trying a pair of the Achesons. By the way, great name. Perhaps honoring that stylish former Secretary of State Dean Acheson?

  5. A very nice looking loafer, for sure. I have an old pair of black BB tassel loafers from about ~2005 which are showing their age (some cracks in the leather). Black tassel loafers are just perfect with a pair of grey flannel trousers and a navy blazer. You could pretty much go anywhere in that outfit.

  6. Maxwell R. Rich | January 20, 2016 at 2:27 pm |

    Owning a pair of Allen Edmonds Graysons, a few pairs of the above mentioned Aldens (some branded as Alden and some branded as Brooks) and the C&J Tassel’s made for Ralph (Scored on style forum for a fraction of a grand) this new shoe is intriguing. I have always found the Aldens to be the most comfortable as well as the most versatile. I found the Allen Edmond Graysons to be a bit less elegant, and had them redrafted with v-tread to use as my winter weather dress shoe. I purchased the C&Js (which are not as comfortable as the Aldens but not as bothersome as Christian describes) simply for the beautiful color.

    Having established my knowledge of these shoes I can attest to inspecting the New Ralph Polo “SHANLEY” and comparing it to the C&J sourced Ralph Marlow (they foolishly left them next to each other). First, the “SHANLEY” is slightly ‘fatter’ than the Marlow, appearing to be made of thicker leather, its toe box is less rounded and it appears sightly less elegant, if only slightly. However the detailing of the SHANLEY is on par with the Marlow. What separated the two shoes most obviously was the colors, the SHANLEY comes in the very Basic Black and Brown while the Marlow’s colors are much richer. Is color with an extra $500? Probably not.

    As for whether the SHANLEY is made by A&E, I honestly couldn’t determine this (although given they clearly aren’t made by Alden or Rancourt, its incredibly unlikely anyone but A&E made them). Generally when Brooks markets shoes under their label, when they are made by A&E it is quite obvious, simply flipping the shoe over, the leather sole and placements of the seams and rubber is enough. When Ralph has used Rancourt or A&E in the past to make boat shoes or casual boots, it is generally quite obvious. The soles of the Ralph Polo SHANLEY’s looked modeled after the C&J Marlow, although the appearance of the goodyear welt looked closest to A&E goodyear welt. Now this is not enough to make a final determination, but certainly if A&E is making these SHANLEY shoes, they are spending extra time and attention to them to further differential the Ralph pair from the charming Acheson, is that worth an extra $110? Probably not, but I am sure both will go on sale and allow anyone to acquire a versatile and class tassel loafer for well under $300.

  7. I’ve always viewed tassel loafers, as well as bit loafers, as revealing a distinctly New York City image. Granted, I am from the midwest, but I spent much of the 1950’s at Princeton and my career in New England. Back then, the Ivy look was consistently long wings with a pebble finish. Penny loafers were for teens. Any of these other “fancy” loafers were not seen as mainstream grey-flannel stuff for sure. I would be interested in someone’s analysis of this seemingly NYC strain of Ivy style versus the campus fashion.

  8. Here’s an Alden ad for tassels supposed to be from 1954. Note how one tassel is drooping off the side of the shoe! Even in an ad!

    Click links at top of site to Richard’s column as well as my rise and fall essay. Both have material on the difference between campus and city styles. I think you’re right that tassels would have been considered post-collegiate during the heyday. But I don’t think NY only; perhaps some Bostonians can weigh in.

    Also, for the final scene of “North By Northwest,” Cary Grant’s character is given a baggy oxford and tassels for scaling Mt. Rushmore.

  9. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | January 20, 2016 at 3:24 pm |

    @ Max Rich,

    The function that maps RL Shanley to RL Marlow is as simple as follows:

    RL Shanley + Shell Cordovan + Made in England = RL Marlow

    If you move things around in the equation, you will see that Cordovan + Made in England = $500.

    Now, looking at the AE examples:

    Greyson Calf + $265 = Greyson Cordovan.

    Which implies that there is a $235 premium in English labor for that RL shoe.

    Cordovan is just better leather than calfskin for shoes because of its toughness. But others can weigh in on whether its really worth the premium.

  10. The Alden shop here in NY told me there’s a big waiting list for cordovan shoes because of a shortage on shell. I’m investigating this for Apparel mag and will talk to the owner of Horween next week. Will report findings here.

  11. Excellent news for the tassel loafer – wearing community! I sympathize with your experiences with the RL C&J Marlow loafers. It took me three tries to get a size that worked, and thankfully I’ve a pair now that fits well and doesn’t make my feet hurt. I was also lucky enough to be able to sell the pairs that didn’t work for me on eBay for close to what I paid for them (which was well below $1,000). I also agree with everything you’ve said about the jaunty appearance of these new shoes; and they even have the foxing on the heel like the RL model. I know that’s a detail that some could take and some could leave, but I like it.

  12. Maxwell R. Rich | January 20, 2016 at 3:41 pm |

    @Chewco You are 100% correct, I neglected to specify the C&Js currently offered in Shell Cordovan exclusively. A few years back, the RL C&J Tassel was offered in Calf for approx. $600, which implied a $150+ English Labor premium in 2011 dollars.

  13. Charlottesville | January 20, 2016 at 4:21 pm |

    FWIW, if I could afford it I would buy cordovan shoes in black, brown and burgundy in all of the basic dress and loafer styles. That should last a lifetime, even for a 30-year old, and certainly for me. The few pairs I have wear like tungsten, and look fabulous after years and years of wear. Not perhaps as delicate as a kidskin cap toe for really dressy occasions (a 20-year old pair of Church’s Consuls meets that need for me), but Horween’s shell cordovan is definitely a terrific product. If the price, already hovering around $700, climbs much higher, I suppose I will have to content myself with my current supply for whatever years I have left, but I expect that they will be looking better than I 20 or 30 years hence.

  14. I just like shoes, tassels included. What “dress” tassels are in my closet.
    1970 Cole Haan scotch grain
    1980 Alden cordovan
    1980 RL English made tan cowhide
    1980 Cole Haan white buck
    1980 Cole Haan tobacco buck

    Shoes are like khakis and ties, no limits.

  15. NaturalShoulder | January 20, 2016 at 6:43 pm |

    I am a fan of tassel loafers and wear them with everything from khakis to suits. The Acheson looks great. I hope they consider a shell or suede version. Like Charlottesville, I have been quite pleased with the look and durability of those I own. I hope AE offers the Acheson in she’ll or suede at some point in the future.

  16. Why on earth would you have walked home in your socks instead of taking a cab?

  17. Careless writing on my part. I didn’t walk all the way home, just had to make it to the subway station. As I recall, I was already committed to crossing the park when I couldn’t take it anymore.

  18. Christian, when you speak with Alden could you please also ask them about cordovan belts? I’m a stickler for matching my shoes and belts and have noticed Alden’s cordovan belts have all but disappeared. I snatch them up when I can, and I understand shoes and boots are much more profitable, but I’d like to know if they are going to continue making belts or if they have given that up completely.

  19. ….”because my feet hurt so badly.” Get an editor or review your rules for grammar; in particular, concentrate on adjective vs. adverb.

  20. You’re badly mistaken.

  21. Chewco L.P. (Cayman) | January 20, 2016 at 9:31 pm |


    Timeless. I’m surprised you didn’t feature C&J to compare with AE. It looks really good:

    I need to stop by AE in person to see their example myself. Its hard to judge by those pictures alone; because with just the photos to compare, C&J looks better.

  22. I’ve had the C&J Cavendish in brown for several years, but the design is just so-so. The version they make for RL is better color and style, but made on that foot-torture last. The Cavendish is comfortable, but not as jaunty and stylish.

    In your second link you can see the tassels are high on the vamp rather than down towards the toe, the tassel fringes are shorter in length, one tassel is pointing sideways, and the strap is straightlaced across the shoe rather than angled downwards in a V shape.

  23. Christian, I totally agree with you about the Allen Edmonds needing to step up their dark brown calf game too. I’ve been in the market for a new pair of brown PTBs and have been passing over their updated version of the Leeds for exactly the same reason. Oxblood, walnut, chili, etc are all well and good but abandoning dark brown is an odd move on AE’s part.

  24. Anbody else out there who thinks that one should either wear laced shoes or Weejuns?

  25. I looked at these shoes again and I have to say they look great in the “walnut” finish. That being said, I always struggle to pair that color shoe with more formal outfits. You couldn’t pair those with a navy suit, could you?

  26. The Italians and fashionistos do it all the time. Way too much contrast with the trouser for me.

  27. Seve
    For more formal, black is always best with a navy suit. Cordovan also looks great with a navy suit. If you you can only afford one good pair of dress tassels make it cordovan, that color goes with everything with the exception of a burgundy leisure suit.

  28. Funny how taste works itself out in individual ways — for example, I’ve never worn tassel loafers, just not my thing. But dark brown shoes with navy as an alternative to black? Seems just right to me, and it’s not idiosyncratic — plenty of precedent for it in the archives.

  29. You said dark brown. Guy above said walnut. Big difference.

  30. RJG
    I might have wrongly assumed Seve is learning and finding his own taste and style. Therefore I gave him the safest most conservative advice. FYI, Frank Zappa advised that brown shoes don’t make it. 😉

  31. Right, walnut is not dark brown — my error. Wonder what Zappa would say about walnut? 😉

  32. Too late to ask. 😉

  33. Henry Contestwinner | January 23, 2016 at 1:34 am |

    Ward is wrong; Christian and William (i.e., Shakespeare) are right: research has confirmed that what we wear can affect our perception of ourselves. Sorry, no link, but I recall that the research used a white lab coat, and what effect it had on people when they were told it was a physician’s coat vs. when they were presented with the same white lab coat as just a white lab coat.

  34. Some nice photos of JFK – it appears to be in brown shoes

  35. Has anyone looked at or worn the J Crew “Ludlow” Tassel Loafer? It looks good but I wonder about the quality. $288.00!!

  36. Steven in Buckhead | February 1, 2016 at 4:03 pm |

    J. Crew Ludlow – think blobby lasts and corrected grain leather. Vastly overpriced, even on sale.

    My preference is the Alden model for BB, with the foxing at the heel, which the Acheson model pictured replicates closely, but not exactly. IMO, the biggest improvement over the Grayson is the proper equal lengths of all three laces at the sides. It also raises the toe box stitching. It really looks exactly like the Alden model now. Might worh a try if the fit is right.

  37. Both AE and Ralph Lauren have come out with suede tassel loafers. Both the Shanley and Acheson look great; dark chocolate and snuff from RL, black, navy, snuff and loden from AE.

  38. Just picked up black Atcheson, $195 for seconds from the Destin FL outlet. I have worn out a half dozen pair of Graysons over the past 30 years and wanted to try something different. They were comfy the first day, and will be in my rotation this fall and winter. The tassels are big and fall really far forward on the shoe, which I like a bunch. I work in a cemetery so I hate to spend TOO much on shoes; seconds from AE’s Shoebank or outlet stores wind up being a good value proposition for me.

  39. EVAN EVERHART | April 4, 2018 at 9:51 am |

    I personally like the Allen Edmonds Saratoga model. I’ve got an old pair that are just coming into their own. On another note; I prefer the high vamped models as opposed to the low vamped ones….Somehow, the low ones always bring to mind those patchwork leather toe-cleavage baring things that my best friend’s father wore. – Always hated those shoes, and asked myself “why”?!

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