Home of the Gentry: The Allen-Edmonds Beefroll Penny Loafer

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.

19 Comments on "Home of the Gentry: The Allen-Edmonds Beefroll Penny Loafer"

  1. I believe you can see the tan saddle if you click “detail view.”

  2. Umm. You just trashed talked a competitor’s product but then went on to explain that your shoe is made from corrected grain leather? Glass houses.

  3. Who’s the competitor that was “trash talked”?

  4. Never a fan of the penny loafer, I am now the proud owner of a pair, which I am wearing this very moment. Hand-me-down Bass, made in America, in a beautiful shiny burgundy with black at the seams–but no beefroll.

    What’s the recommended way to polish leather that has been “polished and lacquered many times”?

  5. Jack Floyd | August 6, 2010 at 5:48 pm |

    $195 corrected grain? Gonna have to see ’em up close & personal…nahhh, just pass. Weejuns might be “almost plastic”, but for $60 (various discounters) a good long lasting shoe that looks okay, and can take a lickin’ without me worrying about ’em

  6. Personally, I can’t stand these Lacquered leather loafers. Bass, Cole Haan, all those outfits are making that stiff lacquered leather. Do the companies not understand we can polish our shoes? At least Alden still makes a good honest leather shoe. I would not consider it a positive trait, to use imperfect leather, sand and fill and lacquer many times. I guess this is why I now own a few italian made shoes. Give me the imperfections, keep the lacquer.

  7. What exactly is the difference between a beefroll penny loafer and a beefless (vegetarian?) penny loafer?

  8. Gianni, Beefroll penny loafers have the small “rolls” of leather on the sides of the penny strap. Beefroll penny loafers are a very classic look, something that has not been seen in some time. Kudos to Allen Edmonds for bringing this style back. I would live to see a lined version of this loafer!!

    Also, if you look on their website (www.allenedmonds.com) it appears they make a leather soled version of the Kenwood as well as a rubber soled version. At this price I may just order a pair of each… Corrected grain leather or not, They look Beautiful!

  9. I think the Bass Weejun still looks the best sans beefroll. The burgundy shined up with black polish. The price is right, $75-85, and easy on the wallet when the heels/soles go. Just order a new pair. They now even offer narrow sizes again.

  10. What effect does black polish produce? Aren’t the shoes dark enough as is?

  11. The burgundy is actually a result of our polishing the old brown Weejuns with black and then a good spit shine. Dating back to when most guys had been in the military and knew how to spit shine. They don’t look so plastic to me now if I continue the practice. This is to assume you can find a good shoe shine nowdays.

  12. Vern, I noted your comment on the Press post about buying Shaggies since 1957 — amazing.

    Can you shed some light on the high shine of penny loafers? I asked both my AE contact as well as other menswear guys when the lacquered look became the default finish for classic penny loafers. I’ve been led to believe the shoe was always shiny.

    Would these, for example, have had a similar (though undoubtedly higher quality) shine as the ones we see today?

    http://www.ivy-style.com/bass-from-the-past.html

  13. I recall this shine started when the burgundy came on the scene in the early 90’s, maybe late 80’s. I started wearing Weejuns in the mid 1950’s and recall they were nowhere near this shiny, ergo the need for the spit shine.

    The leather quality was far superior and lasted for years and years. Many trips to the cobbler for heels and soles.

  14. these look pretty close to my dream loafer, except for the pinking and corrected leather. why not a simple “pie crust” seam?

  15. Actually, I love the pinking. It adds just the right amount of voom to the shoe.

  16. Moi aussi, je dig le pinking.

  17. In fact, today’s wingtips have not just brogueing and a snazzy medallion but also pinking o’ plenty.

    Perhaps we can all chip in and buy Christian a pair of saddle shoes with pinked saddles! They’ll be a nice contrast to his 5 pairs of Venetians.

    (sound of tongue being removed from cheek)

  18. corrected grain = much cheaper than natural grain
    lacquered = cheaper and much faster than oil finished
    pinked = much cheaper & faster than a proper seamed edge

    Are you planning on selling this shoe at China-mart?

  19. I actually like these. Weejuns may look ok but walk in them all day. Got my first pair of Weejuns in 1983. Not exactly a comfortable shoe but good for the price point.. These are at least corked. Alden makes a corrected grain beefroll penny too. It’s H410 Long Vamp Penny Moc. $255. Some how they don’t do it for me and I’m an Alden diehard. I ended up picking my Kenwoods at a discount and I think they’re pretty nice.

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