So Good it Hurts | Rancourt & Co. Handsewns

It’s amazing how you feel once you take the leap from “commodity shoes” that are basically made from plastic which is designed to look like leather (at least that’s what it seems like), to the real stuff that Rancourt & Co. makes from Horween leathers. My affinity for Rancourt started last year with a pair of ranger mocs that quickly became my go-to shoe. After buying those shoes I was hooked. Over the past year I have also come to know Mike and Kyle Rancourt personally and even spent some time up at their factory in Maine witnessing first hand how they do business.

Wearing the shoes, knowing the people and seeing the process all leads me to confirm that Rancourt makes one of the best, if not the best handsewn shoes in the world. It’s a bold statement, but one I genuinely believe to be true. It was with this appreciation that, a few weeks ago, I ordered some new Rancourt shoes — a pair of ranger mocs with Vibram cristy soles and a Horween shell cordovan (#8) beefroll penny loafer. As you can see from these pictures, they turned out as perfect as expected.

My decision to do a ranger moc with the cristy sole was largely based on the fact that, once worn, these can easily be re-crafted with a different (more traditional) sole. My decision on the cordovan loafer was to buy a shoes that will never ever need to be changed from now until eternity. If timeless was a shoe, then this would be it. You’d be hard pressed to find a better looking penny than Rancourt’s. The quality construction, shape of the last and the Horween cordovan is the stuff dreams are made of. I basically plan on wearing these two pairs of shoes all the time. To know that these shoes will only get better with age (and will inevitably resoled multiple times) makes all the difference. The future is bright my friends.

Comments on “So Good it Hurts | Rancourt & Co. Handsewns

    elliott papineauon May 4, 2012 @ 3:55 PM:

    looks a lot like the Oak Street Bootmakers trail oxford. Are they made in the same factory?

    Katieon May 4, 2012 @ 5:11 PM:

    I love a classic penny loafer, but these are f*ucking awesome. Im sure you will wear them well…


    Mr. Seriouson May 4, 2012 @ 5:19 PM:

    Beautiful shoes. Thank you for showcasing. The white Vibram sole is sharp. I wonder if that’s an option. Rancourt shows only the black. Love ACL. Have a good May weekend.

    tooshayon May 4, 2012 @ 5:24 PM:

    While undoubtedly gorgeous, those ranger mocs are pretty much identical to the OSB Trailer Oxfords, aren’t they?

    Pat Son May 4, 2012 @ 5:36 PM:

    Those are great, i have been eyeing Rancourt & Co for a few weeks. Are those color #8 they seem a bit more red?

    iain beattieon May 4, 2012 @ 5:38 PM:

    now i think the ranger moc with cristy sole look fantastic, (bit similar to oak street bootmakers) ?….can you tell me the us to uk sizing ?

    Michael Williamson May 4, 2012 @ 5:42 PM:

    Not the same factory as OSB, and they are similar, but not the same.

    Michael Williamson May 4, 2012 @ 5:52 PM:

    And so you guys know, I asked Rancourt to make the Rangers w/ cristy soles especially for me. So they aren’t trying to infringe on George at all.

    iain beattieon May 4, 2012 @ 6:07 PM:

    they look great with the white sole,i wouldnt if i could get hold of these in england

    Phil Blackon May 4, 2012 @ 6:48 PM:

    I just don’t know. The heel stching on the loafers seems a bit….rough…no?

    Paul Cunninghamon May 4, 2012 @ 10:39 PM:

    I don’t own a pair of Rancourts yet, but I can say that Kyle Rancourt is really thoughtful guy. For example, my company makes a fancy leather medicine ball, which is stuffed with scrap leather. For this, I need more scrap than I can generate myself.
    As one may suspect, a shoe factory generates tons of scrap leather that usually winds up in a land fill. Kyle offered to solve both our problems in a wonderfully symbiotic way.
    Rather than throw away his scrap, he boxes it up and has it trucked from Maine to my factory in NJ. The scraps of Horween leather remaining from the production of Rancourt shoes get to live on as the stuffing in the beautiful medicine balls that I make:

    Ryanon May 4, 2012 @ 10:42 PM:

    beautiful mike, i am jealous.

    Ramalhonion May 5, 2012 @ 6:51 AM:

    From a shoe producer, that’s me! These are two amazing pairs… They look absolutely perfect. Congrats, and have fun in them.
    Once someone gets a high end quality shoe, one never goes back!… eheh..

    Thomas Nielsen-Nielsenon May 5, 2012 @ 3:09 PM:

    Do they make the ranger mocs with a crepe sole?

    Jeffon May 5, 2012 @ 6:09 PM:

    I own the ranger pinch penny loafers, and I think they might actually be the perfect shoe. They are easily more comfortable than even flip flops or old running shoes. In fact, they’ve basically replaced my house slippers (though obviously not if it’s muddy outside). They also look great with everything from swim trunks to a blazer and chinos. The versatility makes them the ideal travel shoe.

    PalmBeach WASPon May 5, 2012 @ 6:10 PM:

    @ MW, a custom made pair of knock-off OSBM…that’s weak. You obviously lack creativity and your own style. You’re a step away from that guy that takes a GQ page into a store, and tells the clerk… “I wanna look like this”.

    Jeffon May 5, 2012 @ 6:10 PM:

    Sorry, I meant Rancourt pinch penny loafer.

    Michael Williamson May 5, 2012 @ 6:23 PM:

    @PalmBeach WASP — Your comment reminded me of a story about W.C. Fields sitting with a drink in his hand in his garden one afternoon. His secretary interrupted him repeatedly to tell him a strange man wanted to see him and refused to say what he wanted to see him about. Finally Fields told his secretary to give the man “an equivocal answer —tell him to go fuck himself.”

    Michael Williamson May 5, 2012 @ 6:31 PM:

    That story was actually from an excellent article about Woodward and Bernstein in this week’s New York magazine ( — I thought it worked here though.

    @PalmBeach WASP (terrible name btw): OSB didn’t invent the Ranger moc and they also didn’t invent the cristy sole. They sure as hell didn’t invent combining the two. So get off your high horse. I like George and I like Oak Street Bookmakers, I also like the Rancourt family. I feel as if I support both companies. If that makes me unoriginal, then please do as W.C. Fields instructed above.

    PalmBeach WASPon May 5, 2012 @ 6:58 PM:

    MW, The only thing you share with W.C. Fields is your waste line as-well-as being a clerk.

    Long Islandon May 5, 2012 @ 6:59 PM:

    Love the loafers except for the crinkle-cut detail around the vamp and sides. Is there a reason for that or is that purely decorative?

    joelon May 6, 2012 @ 2:28 AM:

    These are both very sharp looking shoes. It’s straddle the line between elegant and tough-looking in a unique way. It’s obvious whoever designed and manufactured them put a lot of thought into them. Props!

    elliott papineauon May 7, 2012 @ 7:58 AM:

    @Michael Williams agree about WC and PalmBeach WASP. The issue should be about the craft and the process going into production not the end result. A lot of people have their work as part of the shoes above. Vibram, Horween, and Rancourt are why interested parties like these shoes. An interesting question is what are these shoes without the names of the companies and families that went into their existence?

    Mark Paigenon May 7, 2012 @ 8:03 AM:

    Not quite my style, but I have to applaud Rancourt & Co. for maintaining domestic production. It takes a combination of great product and effective storytelling. Hats off to all who support such efforts.

    mr.bondon May 7, 2012 @ 11:36 AM:

    Those moc rangers are just beautiful. Seems they can be worn with anything-jeans or shorts. Will have to look into this brand.

    Peteron May 7, 2012 @ 3:19 PM:

    That color is wonderful.

    Having said that — I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: The “Made in Maine” folks need to change it up a bit. Believe me, neither Rancourt nor Epaulet nor OSB nor Yuketen nor Quoddy nor Russell (ok, wisc) invented moccasins. But now it seems that it’s all a variation on a few (classic, ok) themes. Why is it healthy for the few US handsewn shoe makers to all offer Horween/Christy camp mocs? Sure, one might undercut another on price but the end result is just gonna be lower profits for someone.

    jiheisonon May 7, 2012 @ 3:46 PM:

    Quoddy has been doing some interesting things with different sole options. There must be at least a half dozen by now.

    Beyond that, there is plenty of room for differentiation, albeit of the subtle variety. The most obvious is the last. Just because a shoe is manufactured on a similar (or even identical) pattern does not mean that it fits the same and will suit every customer. For what a pair of these costs (esp. in shell cordovan), buyers should be able to be picky.

    The reason these are variations on a theme is likely that the construction method lends itself to shoes of this variety, and “changing it up” significantly requires tools and skills that fall well outside of these companies core competencies. Besides, which market/style should they pursue that will not incur the same potential competitive pressures?

    Mark Paigenon May 7, 2012 @ 4:18 PM:

    Peter brings up a good point. Innovation is key. Smaller shoe factories need to limit themselves to certain constructions, in this case handsewns. That does not mean that they cannot innovate beyond just changing the outsoles. The same construction can be used with different patterns for new styles that add a twist to “Classic”.

    dstrullon May 8, 2012 @ 1:46 PM:

    Rancourt has a custom shoe program with Taylor Stitch in San Francisco. Call the shop and see what they can do for you. I have a pair of 5-eye boots in Color 8 with a Cristy sole. Damn fine looking and just as comfortable.

    Peteon May 16, 2012 @ 10:17 PM:

    I ordered two pairs of shoes from the Rancourt family this winter/early spring and I have been extremely pleased with both. I also got the cordovan penny loafers which are simply the best pair of shoes I have and it’s not really close. The second are a pair of camp mocs which put similar shoes to shame. And in regards to OSB and Rancourt I believe Rancourt has been making shoes for other labels for longer than OSB has been around. While I appreciate all that OSB offers we shouldn’t act as if they have reinvented the wheel.

    markon May 21, 2012 @ 3:19 PM:

    Kyle and his dad are simply the best handsewn folks in the biz. I just bought a pair of bleu cordo venetians. Amazing shoes, perfect fit and gorgeous. end of story

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