If ever I made a purchase to dethrone the Smythson notebook, this could be it.
On several occasions I tried to explain these shoes to my wife. Each would produce puzzled looks. “You what to get what?” She would ask. “Why Alligator loafers?” The idea to have a pair of these exotic loafers was originally planted in me years by way of Mark McNairy, who I worked with at J.Press. At that time it was just an idea, a moment of inspiration and nothing more. It wasn’t something I was really ready to act on. Years passed and that Alligator loafer inspiration just floated around, rarely reaching the surface. Along the way it would bubble up when I went to see Gucci loafers being made in Italy and my interest and thoughts on ostentatious loafers really started to resonate. Then after shopping at Sid Mashburn in Atlanta on afternoon something clicked.
The next day I called Rancourt & Co. and asked if they ever do exotics. “Of course we can.” They told me. “We make Alligator loafers on a made to order basis.”
I’ve worn Rancourt loafers for years now and consider them the best made and the most comfortable. I’ve been to Lewiston and seen the factory first hand, plus I know the what the family stands for. More than that, simply from a product perspective, I consider Rancourt to be the quintessential American handsewn shoemaker. The quality is superior and importantly, the last shapes are perfect. In my opinion, Rancourt makes the most authentic penny loafer out there. My quest for a pair of the perfect Alligator loafers was about to become a reality.
I typically wear the beef roll penny loafers. I have them in a few different leathers — from suede to Horween Shell Cordovan. But for the Alligator, I decided to go for something a bit cleaner (especially since the materials were stylistically much louder.) In the end I commissioned a pair of Rancourt & Co. Alligator pinch penny Loafers and have enjoyed them immensely. When I placed the order I asked Rancourt if they would document the process of making these shoes. I figured it would be a good ACL story. I also figured there was a chance people would have a melt-down when they see how much I spent to do this — which would be fun in and of itself.
After seeing these beautiful shoes I even think my wife has started to come around. She was asking me if Rancourt makes women’s loafers. I told her that these aren’t decisions you make over night. Let’s give the idea at least a few years to settle in.