Last week Allen Edmonds unveiled the Kenwood model to US consumers. Previously — and inexplicably — the classic American beefroll penny loafer, made in the company’s own “Gentry” leather, was only available in foreign markets. The lone penny option for US customers was the beefless Walden model. The Kenwood will be available in Allen Edmonds retail stores next spring, but is currently for sale on the company’s website.
Priced at $195, the Kenwood will take its own place in the beefroll penny loafer market. At $99, Bass currently offers the Larson model, whose leather, Mr. Boyer has quipped, “is as close to plastic as you can get without actually changing the molecular structure of the material.” Bass also offers the lined Goodwick for $129 and the US-made Jeffrey for $250. Priced somewhere in between is Johnston & Murphy’s Ski-Moc Penny at $165.
The Kenwood’s introduction to the US market is part of Allen Edmonds’ effort to consolidate its products into one catalog. The shoe has sold well in foreign markets.
For more on the Kenwood, Ivy-Style spoke with Allen Edmonds’ director of merchandising Mark McNeill:
IS: What can you tell us about the Kenwood?
MM: These handsewn loafers are made out of cowhide — what we call a corrected skin. A corrected skin is lightly sanded, then filled in wherever there are imperfections on the leather. It is then polished and lacquered many times to give the leather the high shine that you see. It is also a very stiff leather, which works very well for unlined shoes. They are stiff in the beginning, but once broken in the leather molds beautifully to the foot and continues to hold its shape.
Our Gentry leather is a higher quality than the standard cowhide leathers, with fewer fillers and less shine than most. Gentry is simply a house name someone picked to identify this kind of leather.
IS: Is the pinking (the saw-toothed edging on the tongue) from the archives or a contemporary twist?
MM: Pinking was used on the handsewn loafer going back to our 1994 international catalog. It is not a contemporary twist. The loafer was originally called the Kennedy. I don’t know why or when the name changed to Kenwood.
IS: What else can you tell us about the shoe?
MM: The shoe fits true to size. The sole is two millimeters thicker than the standard leather sole on our other loafers. The thicker sole creates a beautiful balance with the beefrolls on the sides of the loafer. The black and burgundy colors are very stiff leather. The brown grain is a much softer leather. The one color that is not yet photographed is the tan saddle, which will actually be in stores in October. That color is my favorite and it is new this season. It is beautifully burnished tan leather with some cream-colored lacing details. It is not as stiff as the Gentry leather, but it is much stiffer than the brown grain.
Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue have a new Gucci loafer for Fall on their website that looks exactly like our Kenwood, done in a very nice chocolate suede, for $535. Flattery at the highest level.