Tassels In The Air: Nettleton’s $1,500 Heritage Loafer


Collectors of vintage shoes and fans of mid-century advertising will no doubt recognize Nettleton as a preeminent brand from the heyday and early purveyor of the loafer, a term which it trademarked in 1937. Looking to capitalize on its history, Nettleton has undergone a relaunch and introduced its Heritage Line of Goodyear-welted shoes in traditional styles.

The story of the company reads like a heritage brand narrative par excellence. The once-prominent maker, relegated to obscurity by corporate acquisition and diminished production standards, has been reacquired by the founding family with a renewed commitment to craftsmanship.

The price, however, leaves us wondering exactly where in the marketplace Nettleton will find its niche. At $795 for calfskin and a stratospheric $1,500 for shell cordovan — which the brand’s website lists as an “exotic” leather — Nettleton is more poised to compete with the likes of Alfred Sargent and Edward Green than with traditional American stalwarts Alden or Allen Edmonds.

The Heritage Line is comprised of eight models, but the Barrington, a traditional tassel loafer pictured above, and the Bentley, a split-toe Venetian loafer, stand out as the most heyday-inspired styles.

Nettleton has provided this promotional video that claims each shoe possesses “the slow, prideful touch of the artisan,” but fails to state precisely in which country said artisan works:

After contacting Nettleton, Ivy Style was told that the shoes are handmade in Belgium, using leathers tanned in France and soles produced in Germany. A pan-European effort, but at a price point that rivals the finest makers in Northampton. The brand certainly has the history to support a heritage rebranding, but Nettleton’s “Shoes of Worth” beg the question, “Yes, but how much?” — ZACHARY DELUCA

14 Comments on "Tassels In The Air: Nettleton’s $1,500 Heritage Loafer"

  1. I’d have to agree. I cannot see too many people paying this price. I’ll stick with my Alden’s

  2. I believe nice things cost a little more, but that’s a down payment on a car. I’ll pay a little more for shoes (or try to find them on Ebay for less…) but that’s too much for any quality of shoe. Honestly, I feel it borders on distasteful at that.

  3. Hmm, should I pay $795 for calf skin or $650 for cordovan?


  4. If I’m going to pay that price, I’d rather bespoke John Lobb’s.

  5. This does seem like a venture doomed to fail. Why would you buy this instead of the Brooks calfskin when they have a sale? The point of the clothing is that it is good value. Timeless fashion that you pay a bit more for, but you know it will last and will always be stylish no matter the fashion of the moment.

  6. I’d be interested in seeing a take on the old Nettleton penny loafer. That was a great looking shoe.

  7. @ all above:
    True dat! I found a pair of Allen Edmonds polished cobler calf full wing tips, previous years model, at an outlet store for under $100.00. I wear them frequently, they polish well, and they will outlast me.

  8. We very much enjoyed Zachary’s article about Nettleton. He clearly has an understanding of fine footwear for gentlemen. He is correct in saying that we are poised with the Church’s, Lobb, Green and similar high-end purveyor’s of footwear. We use only the finest materials such as Aniline leather, heavy duty outsole leather, soft Italian leather linings. Our “craftsmen” produce a hand-crafted shoe that is among the finest in the world. When you hold a Nettleton Shoe in your hand and better yet put it on your foot, you will know why we are considered at the upper end of the industry. The response from the market has been very encouraging. We are in fact on the front cover of Ben Silver’s latest catalog. In addition to our in-stock program, we offer a “Personal Pair” program wherein they select an in-stock style, choose the leather type and color and lining color, and thread to create their own personal pair complete with their name handwritten in the lining. There are overt 1,500 various combinations when you factor in all elements. Pairs are delivered within 6 to 8 weeks after ordering. Taking things a step further we have a “Custom Shoe” program which takes all the aforementioned choices and add a custom last for that customer and make his shoes to the specifications of his foot. We can deliver these in a 8 to 10 week period. Both programs have been well received and the results are spectacular.
    Thank you for your posting, keep up the good work, we are fans of your site and look forward to learning more from you and your readers. Sincerely the Tognoni family.

  9. I have never developed an appreciation for tassel loafers, but those are looking pretty good.

  10. Why would I buy from a shoe company in Missouri trading on an American heritage born in New York assembling its current product in Europe? Maftei and Ludwig Reiter have attractive shoes in Vienna should I want something Continental. If I don’t feel like driving crosstown to the Beverly Hills store, I can fly to Leather Soul in Honolulu- even with the extra airfare, that’s an Edward Green worth a couple of days in the Islands.

    And, Mr. Tognoni, do have someone review the copy on your website for spelling and readability.

  11. For those of us who live in the real world:


  12. The promo video and the website sound like a bunch of words cobbled together from a thesaurus by somebody not really sure how to use one. The website reads like an e-mail I recently got from the Prime Minister of Nigeria, who wanted my banking info so he could transfer me some gold. Overblown and mangled English. Is the Prime Minister of Nigeria making shoes now?

  13. Etymologue | March 1, 2014 at 12:05 am |

    “This website presents our line of Nettleton Shoes for gentlemen and associated accessories.”

    Shoes for associated accessories?

    Or did they mean to say that gentlemen were accessories?

  14. I agree with Bebe. There seems to be little connection to the old shoes made in Syracuse. A little more about the company is in this article:


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