You have probably seen, just as I have, innumerable photographs of Very Stylish Men wearing Baudoin and Lange’s “Sagan” loafer. In the last year, the shoe has become the shoe of the menswear cognoscenti, the shoe worn by the men at Pitti who obviously know what they are doing and know that they are doing it – the men you actually care to see photos of. If you’ve somehow managed to miss them, take a look at @baudoinlange on Instagram for an endless reel of drool-worthy shoes, and then come back and read the rest of this.
The Sagan loafer is the first RTW project from Allan Baudoin, a product he felt deserved to have its own brand to support it. It began its life as a shoe to wear in the atelier where his bespoke shoes are made, and gained its own momentum when bespoke clients – along with other shoemakers and bespoke cutters and tailors – began asking after them. Now, it’s sold both directly through the Baudoin and Lange website, and has been stocked at a handful of retailers such as BnTailor and The Armoury.
Belgian-style shoes have been experiencing (thanks in part to Rubinacci’s mainstream “Marphy” loafer, often worn by the Instagram star Luca Rubinacci) something of a resurgence across the internet’s various men’s style communities – Styleforum being no exception. It’s not that hard to see why: when you can wear a shoe that’s as comfortable as a slipper, and that is in this case as buttery and supple as anything you could imagine, it makes sense to wear it every chance you can get.
The “classic” Sagan loafer sports an unadorned apron; it is also available in a penny, string, or tassel makeup. The pair I received is of the tassel variety, made up in dark brown suede. This makeup was suggested by Bo, whose last name contributes the “Lange” to the brand, as perhaps the definitive Sagan iteration. He also suggested I order a size 45, which I did – I generally wear a 12-12.5 US, which lines up nicely with the recommendation on their website. All that was left was to wait.
Each pair of Sagan loafers ordered from the Baudoin and Lange website is made to order. The site declares that they are working on a backlog of common sizes to reduce the waiting time, but also says to expect a wait time of up to three weeks (note: at the time of publishing, that window had been increased to four weeks). An old member-written review on Styleforum noted that the early packaging (back in 2016) was sub-par; this is certainly not the case now. The shoes arrived in a slim, handsome box, packaged with little fanfare but entirely ready for wear.
They are, in a word, gorgeous. New, the suede has a luster that connotes (if you are me) a stirring combination of Savile Row smarts alongside raw, animalistic luxury; as if the shoes should be worn with a fur cloak on the set of Game of Thrones and then to the Louvre that same evening, being of course perfectly at home on the plane that would transport you between venues. I opened the box that held them in an unlit room; I imagine that, had you seen me from the outside, my face would have been illuminated as though in a Renaissance painting.
Forgive the hyperbole.
Comfort and Style
In addition to looking not-too-shabby, the Sagan loafer is bizarrely comfortable. I should instead say that it’s cleverly designed, because the cork-and-foam padded insole offers ample cushioning for long periods of wear, and the way that the shoes are built means that they can accommodate a range of foot widths (I am a fairly standard D width) as the suede ‘stretches’ around the foot very nicely.
They are made of unlined suede lambskin, which Justin of The Shoe Snob called “The cashmere of suede.” Similarly, Simon Crompton called the Sagan “The best Belgian-style loafers I have ever worn.” They’ve been featured in The Rake, they’re seen on the best-dressed men on the Internet, and, well, you get the idea. So it was no surprise that the Sagan looks beautifully at home with tailored clothing. What did surprise me was the shoe’s surprising versatility. Shorts? Success. Denim? Check. Wide-legged trousers? You got it. In fact, some of the best looks I’ve seen featuring the Sagan loafer come courtesy of Styleforum member Beepbop, who wears them with a host of streetwear-friendly names.
After a series of daily experiments I decided, in the name of Styleforum and science, to wear them just about wherever I could. I didn’t expect universal success: after all, this is a shoe that is closely related to a house slipper. Besides, the Sagans are so supple and so downright beautiful that it felt more than a little sacrilegious to treat them like just another pair of shoes, and I was reluctant to see them brought to harm – but for your sake, dear reader, I carried on. The following is a short list of activities for which I can fully recommend the Sagan loafer:
- Driving a car with an automatic transition (sadly, a standard transmission was not available for testing by the time of publication – I suspect these would not be ideal for heel-toe shifts, although since Bo van Langeveld is a former competitive driver, perhaps he can chime in)
- Riding a bicycle (with toe clips) to the coffee shop; working all day
- Strolling through the botanic gardens
- Picnicking in said gardens
- Grilling dinner for visiting family members (managed to avoid splattering oil on them somehow)
- Walking the dogs (on pavement) for 1+ hour
- Standing for long periods of time
- General puttering, both inside and out, and lounging around looking cool all day long
And the following are activities for which I do not recommend wearing the Sagan loafer:
- Juggling a soccer ball (I couldn’t bring myself to do it)
- Walking on dirt roads (the stones get in, though not so much as you’d think – what really got to me was the rising panic I felt as I watched them grow dustier and dustier)
- Plyometrics (due to a lack of lateral support)
That’s a lot of activities. Throughout them all, the Sagan performed beautifully – they’re comfortable enough to be worn for long periods of time, good-looking in a way that makes you want to spend a lot of time staring at your own feet, and versatile enough to be worn with a range of garments in a range of situations.
Price, Quality and Final Thoughts
As shown here, the Sagan tassel loafer costs 325 GBP, or about $425. For that price, you’re buying a handcrafted loafer made of the finest, softest, most supple suede I’ve ever seen on a shoe. The quality is what you would expect from a RTW project with bespoke roots: superb. These are, quite simply, stunning shoes. Considering how versatile and comfortable they are, I think that the amount of wear you’ll end up getting from them makes the price well worth it, even if you’re not spending every day in high-waisted trousers and patch-pocket jackets.
I can see these being the perfect travel shoe for a tailored wardrobe, especially on overseas trips when you want a shoe that’s easy to slip on and off and that won’t restrict your feet as they swell like balloons. They’re so slim that they’ll pack easily in a suitcase as well. Add the fact that they’re comfortable enough for a day on your feet and you’ve got a shoe that performs as beautifully as it looks.
Recently I have tried to shy away from outright “Buy/Don’t Buy” recommendations, but for anyone who is on the fence about ordering these, I can heartily recommend you do so. They’re a pleasure to look at, and a pleasure to wear. Others seem to like them as well – I don’t normally hear “I like your shoes” from strangers, but I think it goes to show that they look something special.
Men are, largely, still collectors when it comes to clothing, and this is an ideal shoe to collect. Every time I load up the website I’m struck with the urge to order a second color, and I imagine that when (and it’s probably a when, not if) I do that a third order won’t be far behind.
Baudoin and Lange ‘Sagan’ tassel loafers in dark brown, shown here with cotton trousers from De Bonne Facture, a denim shirt that has lost its tags, and a La Portegna portfolio.
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Allan Baudoin is a London-based bespoke shoemaker. He is also one half of the team behind Baudoin and Lange, the ready-to-wear offshoot of his bespoke atelier which focuses on production of the “Sagan” loafer. Baudoin and Lange is led by Allan Baudoin and Bo van Langeveld. In this article, Allan answered our questions about what led him to shoemaking as a young man, what he loves about it, and about his work at large – both as a bespoke shoemaker and with the Baudoin and Lange brand.
This article has been edited for length and clarity.
Styleforum: On the Baudoin and Lange website, you go out of your way to mention that both of you come from backgrounds not related to shoemaking or even to menswear. How have these diverse perspectives influenced the growth of Allan Baudoin Bespoke and Baudoin & Lange?
SF: Are there aspects of bespoke shoemaking that you were intent on keeping in your RTW line, or that lended themselves particularly well to your project? Similarly, were there aspects of the bespoke process that you knew would not translate – or even be detrimental – to an RTW line?
SF: I’ve heard that before starting your shoemaking line you briefly worked at Apple, and referred to your time as “disillusioning.” Even so, are there aspects of working with a large company that you miss, or lessons you learned during your time there that you think are applicable to your current life as a shoemaker?
SF: What was it about shoemaking in particular that appealed to you? Were there other crafts you found equally enjoyable?
SF: Why did you want this to be your first RTW shoe, and why build an entire brand behind it? How do you see it being worn?
SF:Baudoin and Lange is a very accessible brand. Many shoemakers go the other direction – why choose accessibility over exclusivity?
SF: Can you describe a bit of the “flow” of the creation and production process? I’m aware that you have several partners in the pattern-making and construction processes – can you walk us through the creation and production of a new shoe for the Allan Baudoin line? Does this differ for the Baudoin and Lange line?
AB: I have a pattern maker, a clicker, a closer, two lasters, and a finisher and we all work really well together. I’d say an AB and a BL shoe start exactly the same way and go through the exact same initial process, but the AB goes to only one customer and uses only one skin of leather, whereas the BLs have to made for a lot more people, which requires many more steps.
It all starts with the last. I usually make lasts myself from “unturned toe” wooden lasts, meaning the toe is left wide and rough, while the heel to the joint area are made to the specific measures I give my last “factory” in France.
A first last is made to do the pattern making. This last and pattern will most certainly be modified a few times to accommodate changes I want to make, which happen constantly – I think the Sagan pattern was remade at least 50 times to accommodate changes in leathers, lasts, insoles, and other tweaks.
Parallel to that is the work in sourcing and tanning the leathers we use for soles, insoles, uppers, fitting, bindings, and other pieces – they are all made to our specification and color ways that I have chosen over time. I never use ready-made colors or articles (leathers have countless specs) – you just can’t ask a tannery to have the best taste in color or substance and texture.
I will usually spend a lot of time with my pattern maker and closer when making Sagans (a lot of the work is in the stitching of the upper and the fine design details of each variation), and with my lasters for MTM/Bespoke, as these are always made with different sole types and construction methods. I always quality check every shoe, bespoke and Sagan alike, that comes out of the atelier, to make sure they are made as well as possible. This also allows me to spot problems and constantly perfect the shoes.
Every batch we make is always better than the last one, as I tend to always spot new “imperfections” we can improve upon. I think the Sagan range is now very close to perfection, but we always come up with new things, so it is a never ending process. Perfection does not exist, only the perception of perfection – for a trained eye nothing is perfect. I’m pretty sure you could ask any bespoke shoemaker if they are happy with their last work, and they will say “No” regardless of how perfect it looks to the outside world. We know exactly how good the shoes are, and that’s just never good enough. This is, I believe, the drive (and the curse) of the shoemaker.
SF: You’re still very young – do you feel, now, that you’ve found your niche in shoemaking? Or do you still have a bit of the restlessness in you that took you away from your first career path?
I am always restless. I have found a passion and obsession in shoemaking, and I have built a lot around it both personally and professionally. I intend to keep evolving and see where that takes me. I am always interested in all kinds of crafts and topics related to our industry, so you never what will come out of this!