It's fair to say that tassel loafers are my favorite type of shoe. I suppose that's why I've been able to justify owning five pair that vary only slightly from one another. About six months ago, an old favorite pair suffered irreparable damage to the leather upper. I wore those shoes with cords and sweaters, flannels and tweeds, and in violation of barely existent sartorial rules, even suits. I was happy to have scored an apt replacement in the form of the above pair of Allen Edmonds in the "Saratoga" model, via eBay for $26.
But these weren't an such an apt replacement. There were too many differences.The vamp on these is much higher, and the toe is a little pointier than I like. Still, I could overlook those things.
What I had trouble overlooking was the tassels. On my old pair, the lace was actually tied in a knot, but on this pair, the tassels were just attached separately. A small detail, but a detail nonetheless. It's kind of like getting cheap boat shoes where the lace doesn't really go around the whole shoe. Add to that the fact that the previous owner had applied (badly) way too many layers of wax polish. Probably read too many #menswear blogs. Consequently, they get much less use than their predecessors.
So when they got a little worn in the heel and needed new soles, I stalled. I considered bringing them to Allen Edmonds for re-crafting. I've seen re-crafted Allen Edmonds shoes firsthand, and I know that the service is worth the $100 or so dollars it costs. They would fix the soles and strip off all those excessive layers of wax polish, but those damn "fake" tassels would still be there.
Then these came along, Italian made for Polo Ralph Lauren, in barely worn condition, for $60 via eBay. The vamp is lower, giving the shoe a more slipper like line, which I like. They have a closer shape to the beloved pair I tried to replace in the first place. The toe is rounder, which accommodates my wide, brick shaped foot better. And they cost about half of what the re-crafting process would cost.
Best of all, the lace is tied, and braided to boot. A zesty little touch. I can already tell that these will get easily double the wear of the previous pair. Given that they saved me money, this is one case where replacement was a better choice than repair.
Better to spend those re-crafting dollars on these Allen Edmonds shell cordovan "Mac Neil" longwings, which also need soles and heels. These are not so easily replaced, at least not at the kind of prices I'm used to paying.
Repair and reuse may be the cornerstone concepts of thrift itself, but they are best tempered with a well timed and occasional replacement.