About the Author: Adam Terry is a thirtysomething salesman in the HVAC and hydronics industry. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, raw denim, and working on his
dad bod father figure.
A lot of us are shifting back to working in the office, or at least moving into more of a hybrid model where we may be working from home one day and working from a desk (maybe not your desk) the next. That move might also arrive with a newer, possibly more relaxed office dress code. For those like me who used to wear a suit and tie every day, perhaps now you can wear a sport shirt (OCBD, linen, polo, etc.) with chinos or dark denim instead. Think of the comfort! That’s almost like wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants! Lucky for us, a good pair of business casual loafers, like these from Grant Stone, pairs well with just about everything.
Casual loafers that pair well with the looser dress codes of 2021.
The Adam Review Scale of Excellence (A.R.S.E.)
- 5 – Excellent! No issues and highly recommended.
- 4 – Good. Above average, but not perfect.
- 3 – Average. Minor issues, might be good at the right price.
- 2 – Fair. Below average due to defects, flaws, or imperfections.
- 1 – Poor. Significant issues, not worth purchasing at any price.
A rich, versatile shade of brown.
- Brand: Grant Stone
- Style: Dress Penny Loafer
- Size: 10 D US (~43 EU)
- Last: Alexander
- Construction: 360° Goodyear Flat Welt
- Upper: Horween Chromexcel
- Lining: Full-grain kip leather from Milwaukee, WI
- Sole: Butyl leather outsole (oil dipped for flex) with leather and rubber combo heel
- Details: N/A
- Extras: Two cloth shoe bags, a shoe care mat/cloth, and a mini shoe horn
- Country of Origin: Xiamen Island, China
- Price: $298 USD
Constructed in China with Horween Chromexcel
I ordered this pair of Traveler pennies from our Grant Stone pals on a Monday. They departed Michigan on Wednesday and were delivered on Friday via UPS Ground. Not bad! Fun fact: Grant Stone requests that UPS use the carbon neutral option, which financially helps offset the climate impact of their shoe shipments. UPS uses this funding to support projects that include reforestation, landfill gas destruction, wastewater treatment, etc. Pretty neat, thanks for doing that!
FYI: Grant Stone offers truly free returns within 15 days of purchase. As usual, your returns should be unworn with no signs of wear on the soles or any creasing on the uppers. They recommend trying on your shoes on carpet or on the included cloth shoe bags, which is actually pretty genius.
Score: 5/5 Stars – Easy ordering, quick Earth friendly shipping, and two week FREE returns policy.
Simple box, but with all the trimmings (shoe bags, mini shoe horn, shoe care guide) inside.
As I’ve said before, Grant Stone nails the packaging design and shoe unboxing experience. This pair of Traveler loafers arrived in an elegantly simple cardboard box with minimal branding. The box itself is better than it looks at first glance, having some noticeable density. Inside, the shoes were safely wrapped in a three foot long by one foot wide piece of fiber cloth wrap. I’ll bet you could use that to stand on when trying on your new shoes or boots. Also included is a pair of flannel cloth shoe bags, a mini metal shoe horn, a shoe care guide, and a hand signed thank you notecard. Very, very impressive, especially at this price point. Sadly, no spare laces.. just kidding!
Score: 5/5 Stars – Excellent kit. The box and accessories are great; the signed card is a lovely touch.
Fresh out of the box, the first thing you’ll notice on these Traveler loafers is the gorgeous brown shade of Horween’s infamous Chromexcel that Grant Stone chose for this style. It’s the perfect shade of brown that’s super versatile, whether your aesthetic is wearing earthy tones of olive green, khaki/tan, and brown or you prefer more adventurous and complimentary Springtime shades like tangerine, lilac, canary yellow, or cerulean blue. In any case, this brown pairs well with lots of business casual shades.
Neat, off white moc stitching runs around the apron.
One well-known aspect of Horween’s Chromexcel leather is that it can sometimes be a mixed bag of textures – mostly smooth, clean leather with the occasional patch of crinkled loose grain. I think I won the leather lottery with this pair as there’s just a hint of that fresh-baked brownie texture on one penny strap and a few stray dents/scuffs from their travel through space and time from Michigan to Tennessee. Not bad, and personally, I’m not bothered by this texture as it’s not a structural defect in the material. Leather is a natural product so these textures will naturally vary from one hide to the next.
I’m a big fan of the wide, flat, sweeping curve toe shape on the Travelers. This is a good middle ground design somewhere between Alden’s Leisure Handsewn loafers and the more pointed Allen Edmonds Randolph loafers. The contrasting off-white moc stitching runs neatly around the apron and ends up underneath the sewn penny strap. You’ll be hard pressed to actually fit any pennies in here. Speaking of the strap, it’s neatly trimmed just below the belt line and lays flat against the side, a dressier look compared to the more casual and American “beefroll” penny loafer designs.
Inside, you’ll find a smooth kip leather lining running the full length of the interior, including the toe box. Cheaper loafers tend to skimp here and add fabrics or synthetic materials that wear through much faster. One of my favorite “hidden” features from Grant Stone is their usage of a smooth heel cup. They shift the rear heel seam around to the medial, ankle area to help cut down on heel slip and hot spots. While you can’t see them, there are full grain leather heel counters hiding behind those smooth panels, too, which will better mold to your specific feet over time. Cheaper brands tend to use plastic heel stiffeners, or nothing at all.
One of the stand outs of Grant Stone: smooth heel cups, and the purposeful heel construction.
Underneath your foot you’ll find a leather topped foam sockliner that’s attached to the thick slab of vegetable tanned leather used for an insole. While you can’t see it, there’s a cavity beneath the leather insole and above the leather outsole. Grant Stone chooses to fill this void with granulated cork which will naturally compress and adapt to your specific feet for a more comfortable fit in time. There’s also a triple-ribbed steel shank hidden underneath the cork that helps provide additional stability as you walk. For comparison, some Goodyear welted shoe brands choose to fill that cavity with synthetic foam. While that stuff might provide some initial comfort, it generally doesn’t last as long as cork, nor does it conform to your foot as well in time.
Leather soles with dovetailed heels and finished with brass nails. Fancy.
Rolling the loafers over will show you the butyl leather outsoles. These leather soles look darker than normal because they are soaked in butyl, a rubber like oil chemical that helps enhance the flexibility and wear resistance. Brands such as Alden and Allen Edmonds also use butyl leather soles, so you know this isn’t a cost cutting option. It’s a choice that was made for these specific loafers. Finally, you’ll notice the combination of leather and rubber dovetailed heels, finely decorated with brass finishing nails which are a nice touch.
Score: 5/5 Stars – Great! Top quality materials, craftsmanship, and design details. Well done, GS Team!
Comfort, Fit, and Sizing
Comfort is always subjective, but I do find well-made dress shoes to be pretty comfortable if they are sized and made correctly. Grant Stone uses high quality vegetable tanned leather insoles, cork filling underneath those, a metal shank, and a smooth kip leather lining – all of which add up to long term comfort and support. After a good break-in period of a few wears around the house or the office, the leather components and cork filler will start to mold themselves to your feet and comfort should be great.
The Alexander last runs a half-size large, like their boots, so I recommend trying a half-size down from your normal Brannock sizing. This pair in 10 D fits well in terms of length, but my high arches absolutely need a wider width. While wearing my usual Darn Tough midweight socks, it feels like I’m trying to stuff a 10 pound ham into a 5 pound bag. The penny strap feels like a belt that was cinched two sizes too tight after a Thanksgiving dinner! Granted, this is genetics and not Grant Stone’s fault, but something to be aware of if you’re on the fence. Those of you with flatter or thinner feet (or socks) should have no issues.
These run about a half size large, so you may want to size down.
Note: If you know that you’ll need a wider width, Grant Stone also offers the Traveler loafers in an E width, which is only slightly longer but over a half-size fuller. Grant Stone says the E width is perfect for those that are looking for a little extra room in the instep (like me) or ball area/tox box.
For reference, I am a 10.5 D/E on a Brannock device and usually take a 10 D in wider-fitting dress shoes, including Alden’s Barrie last and Grant Stone’s Leo last. I take a 10.5 E in Allen Edmonds 65 last, as that last runs too narrow for me. I also take a 10.5 in Vans and an 11 in most Adidas or Nike sneakers.
Score: 5/5 Stars – Fits a half-size large, great overall fit and comfort. Careful with high arches.
As usual, Grant Stone nails the perfect business casual loafer. They’re not too polished to pair with jeans, nor are they too unstructured to be worn with a sport coat and wool slacks. This pair in Horween’s classic brown Chromexcel is fantastic and will be super versatile for my usual Oxford cloth button down shirt and chinos office aesthetic. Have a meeting with customers in the morning? Throw on a lightweight sport coat to dress them up a bit and close that sale! Grabbing dinner and drinks with your bourbon club after work? Throw on a denim trucker or leather moto jacket to dress them down a bit. Easy as pie.
Try a pair for yourself and let us know what you think. Best value in Goodyear welted shoes? Yep.
Avg. Score: 5/5 Stars – Excellent! Highly recommend Grant Stone and these Traveler loafers.
Enter here to win a pair of Grant Stone Traveler Penny Loafers in your size. One entry per person. Deadline for entry is 11:59 pm ET 4/14/21. Winner will be notified by email. Good luck, and a big thanks to the folks at Grant Stone for being up for a giveaway!!
UPDATE: Congrats to D. Wallner who won the drawing for these Grant Stone loafers!!