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How to not look corny in loafers
Chris Black comes thru for some TURBO-MODE RARE-LOAFER TALK
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Look at this Leisurely King, kicking back on his bon vivant s**t … shades on 5% tint … navy-polo / sockless-loafer combo GOING HAMMER under California skies. This is Chris Black, a style writer (at GQ & New York); a podcaster (he co-hosts the interview series / macrobiotic-food-appreciation-hour How Long Gone); and, thru his consulting shops Done to Death Projects & Public Announcement, a professional brand-swag-upgrader who drops SUCCESS-GEMS on any client savvy enough to back up the MF-ING BRINKS TRUCK…
All those gems would be exposed as STRAIGHT FUGAZI, however, if it weren’t for the fact that Chris is a certified BBSP Homey who not only purchased a Blackbird Spyplane Cla$$ified Recon tier subscription but also calls us (accurately) “the coolest newsletter!!!” thereby verifying that his taste levels are Mach 3+. (Chris’s only flaw in our books? His “lack of enthusiasm for the outdoors”/ total GORP-BLINDNESS, but we vow to convert him to this crunchy life next time he comes up to the Bay.)
Since we are the no. 1 source for “unbeatable recon” on under-the-radar joints, we hit up Chris the other day and asked him to serenade a rare & cherished possession… He chose a pair of French-made J.M. Weston “180 Moccasin Leather” penny loafers, pictured below right — featuring actual birth-year pennies in the slots to make it clear that he is really with the s**ts when it comes to loafer culture.
Here at BBSP HQ we happen to maintain a zero-loafer wardrobe, BUT we are also open-minded students of life, so we were psyched to get into some TURBO-MODE LOAFER TALK and expand our damn horizons…
Blackbird Spyplane: Yr from Atlanta, u lived in NYC for 12 years, and now yr in L.A. on a semi-temporary basis. Have u already felt yr “New York style” start to shed and reshape itself in Los Angeles?
Chris Black: “Well, people dress like s**t here. It’s a known fact, because they spend all their money on cars. I’ve only been in L.A. since July and the biggest difference for me personally is that I’ve only worn shorts, but just because it’s so hot — I’ve always been pro-shorts. I’ve been preaching 5-inch-inseams for a long, long time. Besides that I’ve always been a ‘uniform’-type dresser, and L.A. hasn’t changed that: I think it’s the smartest way for men to be. Experiment too much and you can go left.”
Blackird Spyplane: I’m glad u chose loafers for this interview, because I’m a loafer-agnostic bordering on skeptic. My frames of reference are mixed — no matter how many cool ppl I’ve seen in them, I also can’t shake the mental image of, like, Michael Bloomberg at some Davos-type evil-worm-conference wearing enormous chino shorts and loafers with ankle socks — a.k.a. some wack “Good Old Boy” s**t. How off-base am I?
Chris Black: “So, your initial disdain isn’t misplaced — I get that. I wear navy polo shirts and it’s like, ‘Are you trying to look like a guy at a country club?’ No, but that’s what I grew up wearing, and it’s what I like to wear, and it’s the case with anything: The twist you’re able to put on something is the true meaning of style.
“I was raised in the south, so my memories of men in loafers are basically all southern Michael Bloombergs! But if you’re confident, you can take any garment and make it look good — like, I think Gucci loafers are corny as fuck but I’ve seen ppl wear them and look great.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Tell me about yr Westons — just like 1/2 of my DNA, these are French-made, which I gotta respect.
Chris Black: “I’ve been wearing loafers forever — it’s something my dad wore, and my mom used to put me in them as a kid. So, once I got over my rebellious phase — like, everyone dressed bad from 2006 to 2009, okay? But once I recovered from skinny jeans I found myself drawn back to loafers, because a classic loafer is something you can wear with everything, day after day — especially for summer, there’s no better shoe.
“For a while I wore Bass Weejuns, and as I got older I said, ‘This is something I’m wearing every day, I might as well spend real money and get something nice.’ I’d heard of J.M. Weston before, but my friend Curtis really put me on — he had multiple colors, he had derbies, and what I liked about how he wore them, and how I like to wear them, is the idea that you should basically treat them like Vans. Wear them to the beach, wear them to the pool, wear them out at night. I wear them into the ground, and they’re so well-made I can get them repaired no matter what I do to them — within reason. And that’s how they become more interesting as a piece of footwear and clothing. You put them into every environment, and you see how versatile they are.
“One thing that older ppl compliment me on and that younger ppl make fun of me for is that I put birth-year pennies in the slots for good luck. I don’t know the origin of that tradition — it’s something my mom told me at one point and I’ve done it ever since.”
“Also, I like that J.M. Weston are best known for their loafer — they make other things, but this is their iconic thing.”
Blackbird Spyplane: U wanted to buy yr loafers from the loafer store!
Chris Black: “Literally — I went uptown on a whim, it’s this small store on the upper east side. I had a Pellegrino and bought a $1,000 pair of shoes. And I feel no remorse! I went back and got the derbies for winter!
“I don’t spend a lot of money on my clothes — since I’m in the fashion world, I see what goes into this stuff, so it’s not that interesting to me to spend a ton of money on designer clothes. But shoes have always made sense to me as something to actually spend on.”
Blackbird Spyplane: When u look at someone in loafers and think to yrself, ‘Damn, they’re f**king up,’ what mistakes r they making?
Chris Black: “I don’t like when ppl wear fussy white socks with loafers — that’s a little delicate to me, and I think that trend has waned in popularity, mercifully. And brown isn’t an option: To me a black penny loafer is the only way to go — anything else feels a little funny. I don’t love the tassel loafer. I’ve seen it done right, but it’s not for me. And a Belgian loafer is great — I love those — but it’s not as wearable as the classic penny, in the sense that you can’t wear it as many places… But I see ppl wearing loafers right most of the time, because loafers are hard to f**k up. They just look good on everyone: men, women, all ages. This is a democratic style, shoewise, and you can get it at every price point.
“Like, adding wack pants or a obnoxious sock will f**k them up, but that would f**k up any shoe. That’s part of the appeal: They’re teflon. If you f**k them up you’re really doing something wrong.”
-Chris is on Instagram and Twitter
-His podcast with Jason Stewart, How Long Gone, is on Apple here and Spotify here
-Done to Death Projects is here & Public Announcement is here
-If yr “on it like that,” u can cop black J.M. Weston pennies from Mr. Porter for close to a rack here — alternatively, if yr a 9 1/2 men’s u can cop them from eBay for $179 here.
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