About the author: Brian Footer loves the restaurant scene in his hometown of Philadelphia and is the founder of his own law firm that specializes in tax compliance and planning, tax controversy, and business consulting. When not drowning in scintillating statutes, Brian does his best to avoid dressing like an extra in The Firm.
I presume this is the Jack Erwin pitch, “Suede driving loafers in a summer appropriate color for a cool hundo. Try it! You’ll like it!” Since the shipping is free in each direction, and grey drivers are the definition of impulse purchase, I surrendered to internet window-shopping.
First, a quick word on Jack Erwin. This is a young company based in New York. The shoes are made in Portugal or Spain, and the direct-to-consumer model supposedly cuts costs enough to deliver a superior product. Intriguing. Yes. Ordinarily my own personal perception of shoes in the $100-$200 retail range is: DO NOT BUY*, unless they used to retail for closer to $350. Sure, you might find a pair of Cole Haan or Florsheim shoes that are great, but for me, the odds just don’t seem to be in our favor. Anyhow, I had high hopes.
Classic shape. Leather lined. Made in Spain.
The buying process was streamlined and the color depicted on the site matched what arrived. Shipping is free both directions, but they use UPS SurePost, which can cause delays (SurePost is a combo UPS/USPS shipping method, with the Post Office making the final delivery). I was happily spared any delays and UPS shipped the package direct, making the total transit time two business days.
The Ernies are a standard driver. The silhouette might be slightly on the narrow side, which matches the overall brand design philosophy. The toe shape and proportions are pleasant and classic. The rubber bits on the heel are subtle and are patterned on the sole in such a way that you won’t feel off-balance. No wobbling about. Driving loafers have a unique feel because they require you to balance on a tiny forest of stumps or another grippy surface. And most don’t offer the best support. However, after testing these out a bit on carpet, I didn’t notice any leg or foot fatigue.
The suede is a split-calf, rather than the reverse full grain brown suede used on their more formal collection. I don’t know how that will affect durability, but split-calf is absolutely appropriate at this price point. That being said, the material feels a bit thin. The stitching is mostly even, but I did notice a few errant threads especially near the heel. Unfortunately, these shoes did not fit me. It wasn’t even close. I read the warnings about sizing down, but I have a feeling the driver’s run even larger than the formal shoes.
When I look at these shoes I can’t find much objectively wrong about them. That being said, I won’t be exchanging them for a smaller size. They felt, to me, a bit too light. I was also expecting thicker suede. I blame the siren call that misters Jack and Erwin wrote, “No middle-man = more shoe than you could normally afford!” Instead, consider these shoes appropriate for their price point. The only trouble is, adequate and appropriate don’t drive impulse purchases.
Your turn guys. Got a pair of Jack Erwins? What do you think? Anyone have the “Ernie” driver in particular? Leave it all in the comments below.
*Editor’s note: An understandable philosophy, but some can work in that range.