Review: Jack Erwin Suede Parker Driving Loafer
If you don’t already have a pair of driving loafers in your shoe collection, you’re missing out. And the coming warmer months are a perfect time to get into these amazing shoes. They are perfect to balance between looking a bit more dressed up than people around you, without being to dressed up at the same time. Running out to the supermarket? Wear your driving loafers (sock-less, even) and look better than anyone else there. It’s the perfect shoe for a quick drive, a lazier day when you don’t feel like getting dressed up, but still want to look put-together, or just running out of the house quickly. We’re big fans around here.
Trouble is that it’s actually harder to find a really good pair of driving loafers (at a reasonable price) than you might think. Get the wrong pair — too chunky, square, pointy, or a poorly styled design — and wearing a driving loafer can have quite the negative affect on your look. Recently, though, Jack Erwin introduced a whole bunch of new colors and designs to their line, and the Jack Erwin Suede Parker Driving Loafer ($115) is one of the best looking pairs out there, especially at that price.
Packaging & Experience
Jack Erwin has always been one to provide the awesome startup experience for the customer. Their website is clean and neat (although I find the new redesign to be more like big bog fashion retailers than their old site, and strongly prefer the older design; still, it’s simple and easy to navigate), and the ordering process is super simple. Shipping is fast and free, and will arrive in just a few days. The shoes come in a standard shoe box, well-packed, with shoe bags for travel or storage. And, best of all, returns are free and the return label is provided in the box. A+
Style & Design
Like we said above, these are, without question, some of the best looking driving loafers available right now, even at any price point. Their shape is absolutely perfect. They are sleek and beautifully cut, and the penny strap across the front is executed flawlessly. Not the mention the raised back heel — a detail which Jack Erwin, I believe, pioneered, and which helps with heel slippage and pant drape over/around the shoe. They are not too chunky at all, nor too aggressively thin. The toe box is not too round nor two square, instead striking the perfect balance between the two. These loafers look great at any angle, something that cannot be said for most. I also love the rubber nib soles. Some driving loafers don’t do this well — with either rubber soles that are too large or too thick, or have too few nibs. These are done perfectly.
And then, of course, there are all the wonderful colors the Parker loafer comes in. They have more classic and plain shades — browns, grey, and so on — and then more fun and unique colors like purple or green. They come in unbuckle, suede, and now pebbled leather as well. The caramel color we went with for this review is stunning in person. No pictures do it justice. The shade is absolutely perfect, goes with just about any color pants you can throw at it, and is the perfect balance between being unique while not being over the top. I was nervous that the color would be a bit too much, but, in person, it’s just a truly luxurious deep caramel suede that is a killer finish to any outfit. I’m in love with the color of this shoe. A+
Quality & Construction
These shoes are very well made. The footbed is comfortable and padded, with a bit of arch support, even. As stated above, the raised back heel is a nice detail. The nap to the suede is the perfect depth, and these feel like they will last a long time. Driving loafers often suffer from feeling quite fragile, but that is utterly not the case here. These things feel solid. They are super comfortable, mold to the feet over time, and are, truly, a pleasure to wear (though might get a bit sticky/uncomfortable if fully sock-less just given the suede upper and the regular leather footbed). Of course, these are not meant to be beater shoes, but, as far as quality and construction of these things goes, there is nothing negative I can say about them, nor anything I would have done differently. (In fact, a few years ago, Jack Erwin offered an earlier iteration of a driving loafer, and any negative feedback they rolled into this newer version — released a while ago but recently refreshed with new colors — to make it basically perfect.) A+
Here is my lament: these shoes do not come in half sizes and I am an 11.5. I have emailed them about this, I have spoken to representatives, and have been wishing for literally years now that they would release these shoes in half sizes. Alas, they have not. Despite their site saying to order a size up or down depending on how snug you like the shoe to fit, the truth is that the 11 is too tight, while the 12 has my heel slipping out of the shoe. I am in love with these shoes, and would buy multiple colors, but cannot buy a single pair, because they do not make them in my size. It’s a tragedy, I know. And, seriously, loafers need to fit perfectly in order to be wearable. Unlike oxfords, or any lace-up shoes, which can be tightened by nature of them being lace-up shoes, loafers must fit perfectly out of the box. It’s quite absurd that Jack Erwin offers half sizes in every shoe they make but their loafers. It should be the other way around, if anything. Although, really, half sizes should always be offered. For many people, a wearable (forget proper, no, wearable) fit simply cannot be achieved without them. And I am one of those people. If you are not a half-size, then none of this will pose a problem for you. If you are a half size, you very likely will not be able to wear these shoes; that’s the simple truth here. C+
Value & Conclusion
Jack Erwin Suede Parker Driving Loafer — $115: I think you know what I am going to say. If you have any desire at all for a driving loafer, and you are not a half size, I truly think these are the best value for the money, hands down, end of story. They look incredible, come in a whole bunch of colors and now styles, are well-made, and will last a long time. I think at any price, they are tough to beat. At this price? They are almost a steal. But there is a good chance they will not fit you. Final Grade: A-