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