Recently an interesting pair of loafers came on my radar. They’re made by TB Phelps of deer hide. I reached out to the company to find out more, and here’s what they said.
The loafer model is called the Ventura and comes in chestnut, black and tan in sizes 8-13 including half sizes. It also comes with a special cream “to bring the leathers back to original finish after heavy wearing,” according to director of sales John Bracewell. Suggested retail price is $275. The shoes are made in Mexico.
As for the sourcing of the hides, Bracewell says the following: “We define our American exotic leathers by virtue of their being from wild animals, which are by and large found only in America. We work with four exotic leathers: bison, wapiti elk, alligator and deer. One major defining difference in these wild animals is their habitats. Deer are not in managed habitats and totally fend for themselves in the wild. The other American exotics have blended habitats that involve some farming, pasturing, or wild habitats. Deer are very plentiful in the wild and, as many of us know, quickly overpopulate a local habitat. While reintroducing the coyote and wolf back into those habitats is helping control the population growth, there are still more animals than can be balanced in nature. Managing their populations becomes necessary through traditional hunting methods, an authentic, ethical and natural endeavor as old as humankind itself. Most of our deer and elk leather comes from the upper Midwest.”
The wearing benefits of deer and elk are that they are breathable, with an open-pore structure that wicks out air and moisture, is especially soft, and both strong and stretchable. “While cowhide will eventually dry out and possibly tear,” says Bracewell, “deer and elk leathers can get repeatedly wet and will remain pliable and soft, even when soaked with perspiration. Our deerskin is hand-finished on the shoe last to create a beautiful two-tone look. We use special hand-finishing techniques to nourish and color the leather, retaining the soft elasticity and butter-soft feel. We often hear that our deerskin shoes are broken in even when new. Then after repeated wearing the soft leather will take on a worn-in look. Some folks like to keep the worn appearance, while others chose to use our special reconditioning cream.”
Finally, the cost of the shoe is kept down as TB Phelps uses the entire hide to make smaller items, such as belts and wallets.
As always, Ivy Style reports the news, but doesn’t tell you what to think about it. Only you can decide if deer hide shoes are right for you — and bit loafers, Belgian shoes, and saddle shoes, for that matter. — CC
Will TD Phelps give discounts for providing your own deer? 😉
can you specify or pay a premium for a shoe with an authentic bullet hole?
Interesting find, thanks for sharing. I had a pair of rubber-soled deer skin kiltie tassel loafers from J&M which I think I purchased about 15 years ago. They were very soft, and very comfortable. The only downside was that they were lined with deerskin as well, and which wore out very fast, especially with the habit of going sans socks. The description for the Ventura lists the lining as leather; not sure if that means cowhide or something else. If it is lined in deer hide, just know that you might be buying something relatively delicate.
Bracewell’s assertions about deer over-population certainly apply to Central Texas. The deer moved to town in search of water and fodder during a 10-year drought that ended a few years ago.
Further, idiots (likely not from around here) started feeding them. The resident population boomed.
Of course, coyotes followed the deer hoping to snatch a fawn or two. Many also became permanent resident and now prey on pets.
Believe it or not there are deer in NYC. I see them sometimes on the golf course in Pelham Bay Park. One time one came out of nowhere and scampered right across the green while I was about to putt.
I think they’re beautiful. Couldn’t imaging shoting one. I’d rather play with them.
That said, last night I watched the movie “Into The White” about WW2 soldiers trapped in the snow and starving in Norway. A pack of reindeer goes by, food for survival. That’s a different story.
But the reindeer disappear and the soldiers end up eating rabbit instead.
Veering wildly off topic, you can purchase ground reindeer meat in Norwegian grocery stores. It’s delicious when seasoned with Ortega taco seasonings for — Surprise! — tacos, a student staple over there. Friday evening is also taco night in a lot of families too from what I understand. “Genuine Norwegian food” is the running joke when it comes to tacos and frozen pizzas.
I think that they look great! Maybe a U.S. manufacturer could try to make them.
Even the state of New Jersey — considered entirely urban, NOT suburban, by the Census Bureau — has a problem with an over-population of deer, and believe it or not, bear, to the point there is a hunting season on each to try to control them. I too have seen deer in the Bronx, and have heard of deer sightings in Manhattan. When you start to see deer and bear, it means there are more deer/bear than food.
As a native of Central Pennsylvania, I fully support any decrease in the deer population. If they end up as some rather good-looking loafers, all the better.
If you don’t have more than one width, you’re not a serious shoe vendor. Tired of Medium with shoes. The whole world isn’t a c width shoe.
I bought a pair of deerskin loafers around 10 years ago and they are some of the most comfortable and soft shoes I’ve ever owned. They’re also quite delicate, and I only wear them in the summer in dry weather, and never walk a lot in them.
Will give this company a try. We need more posts, such as this, recommending new products.
Stopped reading at “Mexico”…
@Old School Tie:
I guess you prefer shoes Made in USA by Mexican immigrants.
Like Eric, I’m in central Pennsylvania too, down in south central, Adams County. At the moment, looking out of my library window, seven deer are grazing in a small woods. Last summer we counted a group of 20 in the same area. More deer, more shoes.
If they’re eating that many tacos, I’m surprised the Norwegians haven’t learned to make the seasoning mix themselves and avoid the preservatives. It’s pretty easy and was very tasty in the venison tacos I made awhile back.
Nicely proportioned shoe with a shortened vamp. When Ralph Lauren first introduced shoes in the 80’s the slip-on models all featured that proportion, which showed more hosiery beneath the trouser cuff and generally flattered the foot. I’m not sure RL even does shoes anymore.
I owned a pair of deer hide loafers once – and they were incredibly soft – great shoes.
Ralph still does shoes, very cheap and very expensive shoes. I just snagged a pair of cheap suede saddles for $75.
Is that the Mike Brady, the ultimate professional sales rep that used to visit Knickerbockers? If so, Hello old friend.
Does anyone know who the “manufacture” is? Why I ask is I am seeing multiple companies with very similar shoes pop up…I believe they are just being private branded for example…J. Alan Payne “Alan Payne”, Country Club Prep, David Spencer, Onward Reserve, Martin Dingman. Thanks!