Shell Cordovan Loafers Reconstruction: Before & After

About six months ago, I thought I found an incredible deal.  In a search for ‘shell cordovan’, these Ralph Lauren X Crockett & Jones Marlow Penny Loafers popped up.  And the price was incredible.  After some negotiation, I got them for just over $100.  I couldn’t believe it…the retail on these is $1350, so I was ecstatic.  Dark brown shell?  Yes.  I couldn’t wait to get these, shine them up, and get them in the rotation.

Upon arrival, I picked up the box and thought it felt awful heavy for a pair of loafers.  After opening them, I realized that I had made a mistake.  These loafers had been resoled, which the seller mentioned, but I didn’t realize it was done so poorly.  They had ‘upgraded’ these with the heavy Vibram soles, which completely ruined the wearability of the shoes.  They literally had zero flexibility, and were like wearing blocks of wood.  I was highly disappointed, but since it was only $100, I didn’t make a big deal of it.  I put them in the back of the closet…out of sight, out of mind.

Fast forward to October…  In a random IG conversation, my buddy @putterho sent me a picture of a pair of ostrich quill Footjoy Classics that he had just received back after a reconstruction.  They looked incredible…  Josh mentioned that they were done by a company called LaRossa Shoe out of Weymouth, MA, and that Bill, the owner, wanted to reach out.

Bill and I connected, and besides being a super cool guy, he gave me a little history on their company.  LaRossa Shoe has been around since 1923, and takes shoe repair very seriously.  There are places you’ll get resoles done, and there are places you send shoes that are special cases.  I told Bill about my loafers, and sent him some pictures (the ones above).  He said very simply: give me the opportunity to fix these…they’ll fit better than ever.  I did, and about four weeks later, I got them back:

What Bill did was nothing short of a miracle.  He literally deconstructed the shoes, gave them a new cork underlay, new midsoles, new Butyl Oil treated USA-made full soles, a new leather heel block (also USA-made), and he stripped off all the old polish and dull wax, and refinished with Saphir products.

The result: loafers that are more flexible, constructed the right way, and feel better than new.  Over time, the cork will form to my feet, and be very easy to wear.  Comfort is key, and I can attest that these feel completely different than they did upon their initial arrival.

Needless to say, I am absolutely blown away.  LaRossa’s reconstruction cost is anywhere from $175 – $225 depending on the work required (these were on the high end).  Bill was fantastic through the process.  The communication was thorough, and he was sure to follow up to ensure that they met my needs.  How’s that for service?

Full disclosure: Bill comped this reconstruction.  However, I have two pairs of shoes that are in need of some work – a pair of Church’s cap toes and a pair of snuff suede loafers – and I will 100% send them up to Waymouth and gladly pay without hesitation.  I invested a lot in those shoes, and am very glad to know they will be in good hands.

I talk about this all the time: buy good shoes that are able to be resoled, and repair them when needed vs. replacing them.  It increases the value proposition of your investment exponentially.  It was like Christmas morning when I opened these from LaRossa…I can’t wait to do it again.



  1. Nem
    11/20/2019 / 7:56 AM

    Those look fantastic! I’m not usually a fan of the full strap look, but the transformation on your pair is impressive. Linking to LaRossa now for some Aldens I have that need rescue.

    • 11/20/2019 / 8:17 AM

      I think Alan Edmonds does a similar treatment on their shoes for about $125. Nice post!



      • Brandon
        11/20/2019 / 8:46 AM

        I just got some back from allen Edmonds and was shocked. good as new

      • Trip
        11/20/2019 / 11:53 AM

        I would say that Allen Edmonds uses a sub-par sole in their recrafting. You’re better off getting a local cobbler, or someone like LaRossa, to use a thicker, higher-quality sole like these or JR soles.

        • Nolan
          11/20/2019 / 4:23 PM

          FYI: AE will use a JR sole on their Shell Cordovan shoes. Their craftsmanship has gone down hill recently however it seems

    • JRS
      11/20/2019 / 11:34 AM

      Take some before and after pics…love to see restorations of great shoes.

  2. BB
    11/20/2019 / 9:51 AM

    I have owned these RL loafers and they are the most uncomfortable shoes I’ve ever had – Aldens blow them out of the water and are half the price. (Sold mine on eBay bc they were that bad.) Not sure what the deal is but the cordovan is absurdly stiff and like walking in wooden shoes as you mentioned. It’s awesome if you were able to get them out of that state bc the brown is a great color. Well done.

    • JRS
      11/20/2019 / 11:35 AM

      That’s been the rumor on these C&J Marlows for years. That’s why I was excited to find a pair that were somewhat broken in.

      • BB
        11/21/2019 / 1:22 AM

        Any advice for suede reconstruction? Picked up a dark brown suede pair of ferragamos from eBay for $70 that could use some work… Blake welt which is dicey but couldn’t resist.

  3. steve
    11/20/2019 / 1:59 PM

    Hey there. I grew up in Weymouth. Know LaRossa well. Weymouth (and many other towns in Eastern Massachusetts) used to be the shoe capital of the world. Stetson shoes had a huge factory in our town, and made some pretty fine hats too. Walk Over, Footjoy, Bostonian and a bunch of others were what we were known for. Now, only Alden (great company and great shoes) remains. It’s the old offshore-driven demise of once stalwart American goods. Happily, there are still a few old world craftsmen around – Lotuff leathergoods is another of them,
    in Fall River. It’s good of you – and all of us – to support them.

    • Nem
      11/20/2019 / 2:19 PM

      Wearing my Walk-Over saddle oxfords from D. Ferguson’s in 1989 today. What a quality shoe!

  4. RWK
    07/17/2020 / 2:52 PM

    I wonder if you might be willing to give us another update on your loafers now that you’ve had them back for some months, and have presumably worn them enough times to decide if the re-crafting made them pliable enough to be comfortable shoes for wearing at least a few days a week.

    I own a pair of the Marlow tassel loafers in the brown cordovan, and similar to your experience, they are the least comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned. I’ve tried wearing them many times over the last five years, including forcing myself to endure the pain of walking around NYC in them for business meetings, in the hopes that if I pushed through the pain, they’d eventually break in and become comfortable: no dice. I think the problem is – at least in part – the double-thick leather soles, which are very stiff. Did you find that the oiled sole made the shoe more flexible and able to move with your foot when you walk in them?

    I’m eager to know what you think of your shoes now that you’ve had some time to live with them. Any feedback would be much appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Me
Looking for Something?
Post Categories: