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.
Jack Erwin has been around for a number of years but doesn’t tend to get a lot of coverage. While they’ve always had a men’s collection of budget focused, yet stylish lace-up shoes, boots, and loafers, it feels like their design team have pivoted towards a more casual or leisure style with a litany of loafers, drivers, and sneakers. I’ve always wondered why Jack Erwin shoes don’t get much love online, so with that in mind, we grabbed a pair of their Luke II dress penny loafers to see how they stack up against other loafers around this price point.
Sleek, long and almost European silhouette.
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.
- Brand: Jack Erwin
- Style: Dress Penny Loafers
- Size: 10.5D US (44 EU)
- Last: N/A
- Construction: Blake
- Upper: French full-grain calfskin
- Sole: Rubber
- Details: Calfskin lining, leather stacked heel, rubber topper
- Extras: Two flannel shoe bags
- Country of Origin: Portugal
- Price: $195 USD
Proper penny storage for the payphone calls of yesteryear.
My pair of Luke II loafers was ordered on a Friday morning and they shipped out on the following Monday evening from a warehouse somewhere South of Atlanta, GA. They were shipped via FedEx Ground SmartPost and arrived on my doorstep on Wednesday morning, just about 36 hours after they hit I-75 Northbound. Not too shabby. Everything arrived in good condition.
FYI: Full-priced items have a 30-day return policy, specifically within 30 days of the original order date, not 30 days from delivery. Their policy also has the usual caveats about shoes being in new condition with no signs of try-on wear or creasing, so be extra careful and ensure you’re trying on the shoes on carpet and not walking around a lot.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Quick shipping, but returns must be back in under 30 days.
Finally Adam gets his TWO shoe bags.
This pair arrived in a gorgeous navy blue textured shoe box with simple, crisp white branding on the lid. Inside, the shoes arrived already tucked into their super soft flannel shoes bags, while the pair were resting on top of another, they do use a larger piece of this flannel material as packing material. While there are no fancy extras in this box, such as shoe horns or shoe trees, I think this was an above average unboxing experience given the sub-$200 price point. Nice!
Score: 4/5 Stars – Lovely unboxing experience. Really like these flannel shoe bags.
Fresh out of the box, I’m really keen on the sleek, long and almost European silhouette. The overall aesthetic is that of a dressy and upscale business casual leather loafer that can easily be worn with both suits or sport coats and slacks. While I wouldn’t personally wear these with shorts, I could definitely see a style like this worn in a “Suit Supply” look with a button-down sport shirt tucked into flat front wool or cotton chino shorts for what we’ll call the “Florida Man Goes to Court” aesthetic. Hah!
Your Honor, that orange juice was tainted!
The uppers are made from full grain French calfskin and are dyed to a warm shade of “light brown” or what you and I would call cognac or walnut, or even “used penny”, and was hard to consistently capture in photos. There are red/copper undertones, but to my eye they didn’t appear as red as they look on the Jack Erwin site. There’s some light burnishing at the toe and along the vamp and edge stitching that helps elevate this rather flat leather. This shade of brown is super versatile and should pair well with a lot of menswear styles. The leather itself feels average – a little thinner than normal and it seems to crinkle easily. It’s slightly better than something from DSW, but not in the same league as calfskin from Grant Stone or Allen Edmonds. Granted, the MSRP on this pair is quite a bit cheaper, so you do get what you pay for. Overall, I think the uppers are fine for someone wanting to try out the loafer styles without breaking the bank. You’ll get plenty of wear with these, and they should look better with age.
One interesting note is that my particular pair has pencil markings on the upper where the assembly team used these marks to line up the penny strap on the upper. You wouldn’t typically find this sort of quality control error on something from Nordstrom, Grant Stone, or Allen Edmonds.
Full grain French Calf leather. Feels mid tier?
Not cheap fashion “leather”. But not but not as nice as Allen Edmonds or Grant Stone.
The interior is fully lined with tan calfskin, once again thinner than what you’d find on higher quality brands but still better than cheap fashion shoes (especially those that use synthetics). The insole is a three-piece unit composed of a leather topper, an open-cell foam core, and a hard fiberboard bottom. The leather topper is actually pretty nice and feels great against bare and socked feet. The middle foam support layer is fairly squishy, which should make most people happy on the initial wears. I’ve found that cheaper open cell foam tends to degrade faster, so that initial comfort may disappear in time if heavily worn or stressed. Again, you get what you pay for there. Finally, the hard fiberboard base layer is what gets glued or tacked to the leather lining. Without peeling up this layer, I can’t tell how it’s attached, but it feels secure enough to withstand many months or possibly years of rotational wear.
Blake stitched rubber outsole has good grip.
The textured rubber outsole was a pleasant surprise. It has plenty of grip without feeling hard or dense, which would require more of a break-in. This outsole is stitched directly to the upper assembly with Blake stitching, which can be seen when you lightly peel back the inside liner.
Score: 3/5 Stars – Average at best for fashion focused loafers. Could be good?
Comfort, Fit, and Sizing
In terms of fit and sizing, I recommend trying a half-size UP from your normal Brannock sizing. I tried this pair in my usual Brannock of 10.5D and the Jack Erwin last is far too narrow or tapered to make this size work, especially with my higher instep. With that said, most people attempt to size down with loafers thinking they want to minimize heel slip and they can bank on a bit of stretching, but that can be a large gamble. It’s best to aim for the correct heel to ball measurement; that is, the widest part of your foot should naturally meet the widest part of the shoe. Assuming there’s no pressure or pain points, you want to nail this part of fitting first.
Leather stacked heel.
Comfort is always subjective, but I can see that these loafers will be instantly comfortable for the majority of people. The calfskin leather lining helps you slide into the shoes, while the foam topped fiberboard insoles give you the initial comfort most people look for.
For size reference, I am a 10.5 D/E on a Brannock device and usually take a 10 D in most roomy 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 Converse/Vans and an 11 in most Adidas/Nike/Jordan/Yeezy sneakers. Have a size question? Email us!
Score: 3/5 Stars – The Luke loafers run small, so size up. Initial comfort is good.
While I haven’t worn many suits or upscale business casual styles that often in 2021, I can definitely still see a place in a modern man’s wardrobe for a pair of dressy loafers. Have a wedding to attend in the coming months? Fancy an upscale dinner out with your partner? Jack Erwin’s Luke II loafers should be on your short list, especially if your budget tops out at $200 USD. The French calfskin leather is fine, the foam and fiberboard insoles are comfortable, and the blake stitched rubber outsoles are grippy and easy to replace should you want to keep these in rotation for years to come. If you end up trying a pair, let us know what you think!
Avg. Score: 4/5 – Not bad! Above average look and feel, especially given the price.
Budget friendly modern loafers that should last.