Had the above picture done because I wanted to talk about the strains within the MOD spectrum.
So to my way of thinking it is split up like this;
Suited and booted MOD, Dandy MOD, Indie MOD, Scooter MOD & Hard MOD.
Each of the styles has a different shoe style as well.
The Suited and Booted mod to me, is the classic look. 3 button suit, ticket pocket, nice fabric, tie with tie pin and on the feet smart looking leather shoes. The shoe will have a thin sole and be a two, three at most, laced affair. Sometimes a slip on, and sometimes a different shade. So not always black.
The Dandy Mod, will have exaggerated Chelsea boot look, possibly in white, or maybe a two colour brogue. The look is very regency, and Brian Jones of the Stones pulled it off to a T.
The next one along is the Britpop MOD, taking their cue slightly from 80’s casual, amalgamated with Damien from Blur. This look was everywhere in the 90’s and to a certain extent hasn’t faded. Rare Adidas and Fred Perry. Personally I think it is a “trendy dad” look now. Saying that I love getting new trainers!
The Scooter Mod, is more a throw back to the MOD Revival and defo born agains. This look combines lots of shoe types and mingles in with the scooterist. So sometimes even DM’s are seen. But again classics are worn here, desert boots etc. But also the look has the Jam Shoe and Bowling Shoes. At the bigger scooter rallies you always someone kicking around in Jam Shoes.
And lastly the Hard MOD look. To me this borders Skinhead and Suedehead. Certainly around Peterborough at the moment this look is popular. As you would expect Tassel Loafers and Brogues. And very popular ‘red socks’.
Now I wanted to draw attention to the styles because we call ourselves MOD Shoes. And I think that all the above styles fit in with the very “broad church” that we call MOD. We sell loads of loafers, which started making me think, in terms of numbers of people, are there more MODS of one type than another?
We ran a picture on Facebook recently to gauge reaction, and it was interesting that some thought the shoes were great and awesome, where as others didn’t, one saying they were ‘vile’ and only fit for pimps! Personally I though they looked great for a dandy MOD look. But the Dandy look is not especially widespread, whereas the Hard MOD look seems more popular, or has a broader reach.
What am I trying to get at here? My main aim is really just trying to think what should we be trying to find for our customers. It is ok for me to think they are smart and never sell a pair, whereas others sell loads!
Personally at the mo, MODSHOES are trying to find a decent weaver shoe and some cord boots, like desert boots. If you have any suggestions please get in contact.
I ask the question because reading around a few sites on the net and talking to some MODS they feel that the ‘feathered loafer’ really is a Ska, Rudeboy or even Skinhead shoe. The kinda of people saying this though, do tend to be of the 60’s mod end of the scale! But to counter argue, I know lots of lads that are more street mod, revival or dare I say it scooter MODS, that think they are great!
So what’s the history?
Looking around the net at the 60’s guys in pictures where you can even see the shoes, it looks like more thinner soled leather shoes. There are plenty of Chelsea boots as well. The first you see of the Classic Tassel Loafers is the smarter side of the Original Skinheads.
Now I think this may be where the confusion starts, where did MOD stop and Skinheads start!
Certainly I think outside of London, the MOD fashion would have carried on developing. I also think that outside of London money would have been tighter and also availability. Which leads me to a conclusion that you would want a shoe that’s going to last, because you probably didn’t have the money to buy another pair of shoes for a while, and if you even had the money where would you buy them?
I have been told by several 60’s mods from around here that you could get Loake Loafers, but you had to hunt them out. I dont know about Bass Weejuns, but again I am sure these were a Modern Jazz shoe. Loakes make sense here in the midlands because it is so close to Northampton and the major British shoe manufacturers.
Loake have been making the Brighton style Tassel Loafer since the 60’s. And it sold well throughout the 70’s especially in the Northern Soul circles.
The Loake Brighton is heavy looking shoe and the style that has been adapted by Delicious Junction and Ikon for their classic Feathered tassel loafer. A lighter tassel loafer, with feathers is a spainish variety I have seen some people in and this has more rounded toe section. Both varieties of shoes seem to divide the opinion of MODS
In this picture you can see 2 distinct styles of the Tassel Loafers with Feathers. The first two pictures are of a ‘Bostonian’ i like these, i especially like the brogue at the front of the shoe. The 2nd pair are by Ralph Lauren. Both styles are a Fancy perhaps even Dandy shoe, and not a mile away from a Female Tassel loafer !
So back to the question.
So the above history is why i think the Feathered Tasseled Loafer is thought of as a MOD shoe. Similarly the classic MOD scooter has a great big whip Ariel , but you don’t see any of them in Richard Barnes MODS book.
So moving onto the Mod Revival, again this period got intwined with the Two-Tone phase. A lot of styles got muddled between a lot of the younger fans of The Jam and The Specials. Certainly for this author, I had several pairs at school. I loved both bands and thought the line between the bands and their followings wasn’t that far apart. Meaning we were as happy listening to The Specials 1st lp as we were to Sound Effects!
And again I think this might be why we think of the shoe as a MOD shoe. it wasn’t till later into the 80’s that people starting looking further than the bands and into 60’s soul, and that I think, is why MODS starting looking for more stylized loafers.
As the decade progressed some MODS turned into casuals and went for a more casual style, similar to the Delicious Junction Paolo Hewitt style shoes. Some MODS went for the Bass Weejun style and I can remember from rallies and seeing pictures of London Mods going in this direction, which as you would expect, filtered out across the rest of the UK.
Then the shoe faded away and I think only recently come back with what is known on the scooter scene as ‘born agains’ And the tail end of the Britpop era of Oasis etc.
The next point I think is very important. The ‘Born Agains’ are older, which is obvious, but more importantly they had/have more money and wanted the things they had when they was younger, but better!
A lambretta or Vespa is not the cheap option anymore and neither are the accessories! And shoes , along with clothes, fit into this neatly. I have spoke with several customers on the phone and they say, ‘ I want the ones I had at school, but better’ or ‘ I always wanted a pair because my older brother, mate etc had a pair and always fancied some for myself one day’
More evidence is the poll that’s has been running on this site recently (oct – nov 2012) Tassel Loafers with Feathers has come up top.
So without getting into the bigger argument of what is even MOD, MOD as we know “is a very broad church” (copyright Eddie piller) , and so what one person thinks is spot on, another thinks is ugly!
So what do I think ? and possibly conclude !
I think that ‘Tassel Loafers with Feathers’ are MOD, in the same way I think The Specials are MOD. Perhaps not pure MOD, but then neither is Northern Soul and i can think of plenty more examples of other things that are not pure MOD.
So for that reason, we included them on MOD shoes.
Where do you start with Soul Shoes! There is a big enough argument to what is Soul, which possibly needs defining before you could define a soul shoe. So I suppose going to stick with what I have seen through my time and what have been told.
So looking around the recent soul dos I have been to, there is not a clear winner, particularly in the modern northern soul circles, there is a smattering of moddy types, smattering of lads with Oxford bags and what you might call just normal looking people. So on the shoes it varies like mad.
At the most recent northern do I went to here in Peterborough I counted 40% tassel loafers, 20% brogues and the rest was made up of comfortable flat shoe. I was genuinely surprised by that figure and didn’t go thinking that I would see that many.
So Soul shoe types, this is we’re I am stuck, being to young to have been a soul boy in the 70’s let alone the 60’s. What I can see though is in the early seventies, it stands to reason that tassel loafers would be popular as would brogues, because the shoes a fashion item at the time. Other styles which popular at the time include, Solatio , a monster of a shoe, which has strips of leather sown together. Mainly in brown, but also in black and two tone styles. The shoe is currently being remade by Ikon shoes.
Other shoes which can be seen on the northern soul scene included standard looking Oxford shoes. I am again assuming a good solid shoe, with a leather sole. And as we know a leather sole glides around the floor and makes obvious sense to wear.
This neatly brings on to Bowling shoes. Bowling shoes can be seen in several pictures in the 60’s being worn by mods.
The Bowling shoe works on the dance floor, it is very light and comes in a multitude of colours, which means your eyes are drawn to. Being light means you can dance for much longer, obvious I know and also why karate shoes became popular. The point being though both shoes are rubbish to walk in. Bowling shoes have a soft sole and step in a puddle and you are instantly socked!
Moving into the 80’s soul changed from the fast paced Northern Soul into the more disco orientated style. The tassel loafer morphed into a lighter shoe, with a very thin sole. Moccasins became very popular and the casual looked prevelled. The shift again with the rave generation and into Brit pop of the 90’s. The smart shoe got left behind in kickers and timberland boots. Britpop seemed obsessed with Addidas trainers. But this has nothing to do with soul!
Has the smart shoe has made a return though. With the present recession taking a hold in the UK there is a desire have smart shoe, that’s going to last a while and look classic meaning ideally it won’t go out of fashion, it may look dated, but still stylish. Decent pair of Levi’s, a Ben Sherman shirt and some decent shoes you are not going to look out of place at any Soul Do. Whether this be 60’s soul, 70’s or 80’s. I conclude in the next paragraph with ………
So the classic soul shoe, I am going to go for a classic tassel loafer, with a proper leather sole, and if needed a leather heal,as well. Its a classic going out shoe, not something you would were in the office.
Disagree then say so below, and ideally send some pics to prove it.
The traditional Mod tassel loafer shoes are as distinctive as they are iconic. A classic choice, always in style, as smart as they are comfortable and practical. They are the perfect smart-casual footwear to take you from day to night.
They are perfect to dance in, especially when combined with a leather sole. When worn with casual attire they can instantly bring your look up a notch.
The key buying factor with tassel loafers is always to go for the very best that you can afford, quality shows and does not come cheap.Look after them well, remember to polish soon after an all-nighter, as the talc could dry out the leather.
The world has been in love with loafers for over half a century, but what accounts for this legendary status?
A Little Brief History Lesson.
Tassel Loafers, with their aura of timeless sophistication, often evoke the elegance of the 1920’s, thus confusing some clothing historians into mistakenly believing that this is where they date from. In fact they originate from the post World War 2 era, when tweed jackets, Shetland sweaters and penny loafers were synonymous with the upper tier university campus.
As college students graduated, they wanted to wear a shoe as comfortable as their slip-ons, but with a touch more sartorial elegance.It was at around this time that an actor named Paul Lukas, ( a rather debonair character from such classics as “The Lady Vanishes”), returned from a trip to Europe with a pair of Oxfords.
The shoes sported little tassels at the end of their laces, which Lukas thought made them look more lively. He approached a couple of New York shoemakers to see if they could craft him something similar.
They took the job to Aldens, manufacturers of quality shoes since 1884, whose company president at the time, Arthur Tarlow, came up with the tasseled loafer. The earliest examples were often 2-toned, and soon became popular in Hollywood. That makes Alden’s model the original, and Paul Lukas the first man to wear this style of footwear.
In the USA the tassel loafer is often seen as synonymous with lawyers, a symbol of elegance and the good life for successful professionals and business men.
In the UK the shoe is popular with some business people with a bit of flare, but for most people will know the shoe, because of the MOD – Skinhead fashion.
The styles are different though, some tassel loafers are a very soft shoe, which is a very popular casual shoe in the USA. The Alden style is more traditional harder leather shoes. The classic MOD style is like a BASS Weejun. The Skinhead style is more rounded and heavy looking.
The styles we have for sell here are the ‘Merton‘ similar in style to the classic Bass Weejun and the heavier ‘Rudeboy‘ Two Tone shoe. Both types are very popular and come in black, brown and Oxblood. The ‘Merton’ also comes in a mottled blue leather.
The Tassel Loafer (or Tassle Loafer) is a classic Mod style. For me it started with The Specials and the Two Tone movement of the late 70’s. In many of the pictures, the band can be seen in a cross blend of MOD, Skinhead & Rudeboy style. And on their feet a mixture of shoes, but two favorites, Brogues and off course Tassel Loafers.
The tassel loafer is a variation on the Penny Loafer. Examples of the shoes can be seen certainly in the 50’s with the IVY League look, Alden’s and Bass Weejuns everywhere. The original shoe was a copy that Alden made, I believe in the 30’s. The Alden loafer is more pointy than the traditional MOD loafer.
As we know a lot of the look for MODS and Early Skinheads was taken from the IVY League look and I also think the Jamican Rudeboy look. The Jamican look I assuming came also from Black America!
Recently I have been trying to find Blue Note, Modern Jazz players wearing the shoes, but no luck yet, but I do seem to think this may also be why the shoe in on the scene.
Style wise, there several variations, Bass Weejun just have the Tassel, where as Loakes Brightons come with the feather. IKON is very similar to the Loake. Delicious Junction, who we stock, do both styles. The Merton is very like the Bass weejun and the Rudeboy, as it name suggest has the classic feathers.
The Rudeboy has the leather upper and sole. Stitching at the back of the shoe and a hi shine. Meaning the shoe looks great straight out of the box. To me the box is important as well, as I like to keep my shoes in tip top condition, so a decent box means I can keep them on top of the wardrobe out of harms way.
Colour wise, the shoes comes in 3 colours, Black, Brown & the very Popular Oxblood. The Oxblood colour is not a pure colour, but very nice effect in a cherry red , which has had a slight bit black shoes polish added which gives it a Vintage look. If you look at the picture you can see the effect. It reminds me a lot of the look that Trad Skins went for in the 80’s when they were trying to distance themselves from the OI Boys.
The shoe as always looks great with a suit and jeans. Looked after the leather upper and leather bottom will last ages. I personally have a pair and they are really comfy and not at all like the cheap shoes I had as a 2nd generation mod in the 80’s.
The Oxblood Tassel Loafer is a very popular style with us, feel free to ask questions.
What can be said about the Tassel Loafer, to me they are the Street MOD shoe. The tassel along with the feather exsudes MOD. Again, I think this is because so many people have had a pair. Other than the Desert Boot nothing signifies more of what the public think as MOD.
They go in and out of fashion and are definitely a throw back, but why not. They are a shoe for going out in! They are a shoe to dance in, all night. They can come with leather soles which means you slide around a dance floor.
They look excellent with jeans, and a suit. I think you get my drift.
Like the rest of the classics loads of people make them, and again buy the best you can afford. Cheap ones look cheap and fall apart. Looked after well and polish straight after an all-nighter, you don’t want the talc drying them out.
Tassel Loafers Review
Delicious Junction, Loake, Ikon and Bass Weejuns get a review. 4 different types of Tassel Loafers, including a womens pair!
Tassel loafers came into being in the post-war period of the 1940s, right when tweed jackets, Shetland sweaters, and penny loafers dominated prep schools and Ivy League campuses. As college students graduated, they wanted something as comfortable as their slip-ons, but were a bit dressier and more sophisticated for their new life in the business world. It was around this time that an actor named Paul Lukas came back from Europe with a pair of oxfords. They had little tassels at the end of their laces, which Lukas thought made them look more lively. So he took them to a couple of New York shoemakers to see if they could make something similar, and they in turn took the job to Alden. The company’s president at the time, Arthur Tarlow, came up with tasseled loafers and they were an instant success. That makes Alden’s model the original, and Paul Lukas the first man to wear this style of footwear.
Loafers are my favourite shoe. It helps that you can get plain and tasseled. Being my age, I am second generation MOD/Two Tone kid, they appeal because they looked so right, and worn by one of my favourite bands ever The Specials.
Two Tone was it MOD? But hey what it did do was bring loafers on to the feet of many young people. The proper ones cost a fortune then and still do! But the quality is so much better.
The original Loafer was designed just before the 2nd World War and has its origins in Norway. Norwegian farmers would wear a shoe when ‘cattle loafing’, hence the name. The shoe developed further in America by the company BASS, and they called them Weejuns, after the Norwaygians. They added the all important strap across the front of the shoe.
The term ‘Penny Loafers’ comes from prep school students wanting to customise their loafers, the penny being wedged in the front strap.
The Loafer look for MODS, I assume, comes from the Jazz players, meaning the Blue Notes lp etc. and because of the college boy look, ie, Harringtons, Levi’s and Loafers. A defining look even today.
There are several makers these days as you would expect. Prices in the UK vary a lot. You can buy an ok pair for about £50, but spend a bit more and go for a old school make and you can feel the difference. BASS Weejuns are a thinner shoe, where as the Loakes have a more sturdy look and feel.