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The $482 Difference

What makes one loafer worth several hundred dollars more than another? (Sometimes, not very much.) Parsons’ shoe design professor Howard Davis analyzed the components of two basic black models.


  J.M. Weston Loafer, $545
812 Madison Avenue, nr 68th Street; 212-535-2100

1) The Heel
The Weejun’s heel is made out of a composite material. Its heel is secured with fewer tacks. The Weston heel is taller and made of thick layers of leather held in place with several tacks.

2) The Outsole
On the Weejun, the part of the shoe that meets pavement is made of a single leather piece secured with white stitching. The Weston’s outsole is also all-leather, however the craftsmanship shines: the sole is dyed a dark glossy black (not visible here) and its precision assembly hides the stitching with a thin strip of inset leather.

3) The Insole
The floor of the Weejun shoe is made of a small piece of cardboard padded and covered with a perforated black leather lining. The Weston’s all-leather insole is far thicker (which provides more cushioning and insulation). Unlike the Weejun, the Weston’s insole runs the full length of the shoe.

4) The Counter
The rear portion of shoe, called the counter, is important for foot support. The Weejun’s skinny counter is minimalist compared to the Weston, which is thick and reinforced along the entire back of the shoe.

5) The Upper
In the case of the Weejun, one piece of leather wraps around the sides and bottom, like a moccasin, with another piece on top. Small wrinkles are visible in the leather along stress points. The Weston is made of several leather pieces sewn together. The stitching is smaller and more precise than the Weejun, and the Weston’s leather is practically flawless at the seams.

6) The Lining
The Weejun has no lining. Its interior is the exposed backside of the upper’s leather. The Westons have soft leather lining the interior. A special method of sewing called stitch-and-turn hides all the seams, making the shoe comfortable and friction-free; it’s more labor-intensive, though.

7) The Vamp
The top of the shoe, called the vamp, is a showcase for leather. The high-gloss on the Weejun is the result of a finishing process that hides imperfections found in the cowhide. The Weston’s calfskin looks more natural and is more porous, supple, making it comfortable on the foot.


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