Joseph Cheaney Harry Tassel Loafer: Real Value in 2022
Price: 395 GBP / $428 USD
The Cheaney Harry tassel loafer offers a great value, with high quality build, at a comparatively affordable price.
The Cheaney Harry tassel loafer can be hard to get outside of the UK, and isn’t the most comfortable option.
|Materials||Calf Upper / Leather Outsole|
|Size||11 F UK (12 D US)|
|Weight||494 g / 1 lb 1.4 oz|
|Country of Origin||United Kingdom|
Joseph Cheaney & Sons, or just Cheaney for short, is one of the oldest shoe companies still operating today. Founded in 1886, and located in their Northampton factory since 1896, they originally focused on making white label goods for other companies before striking out on their own in the 1930’s.
Purchased by Church & Co in 1966, the brand eventually fell into the hands of Prada. In a weird twist of fate, the decedents of Church & Co’s founder bought the Cheaney brand out and now Jonathan and William Church run Cheaney, while Prada runs Church. I’d say this is for the best, a few years back Prada announced they were going to double the price of Church shoes and… not change the quality at all. Simply because they said they felt they should charge more.
Cheaney instead focuses on offering a product with a good value. I know which of the two companies I would want to support.
What encouraged me to take a look is that the brand is currently positioned right where Allen Edmonds was around a decade ago when they took the #menswear forums by storm. Can Cheaney offer that perfect blend of value, quality, and design that AE had back then? Let’s find out by looking at the Cheaney Harry.
For the Cheaney Harry tassel loafer, the brand decided to keep things as classic as possible here. The upper, made entirely of smooth black leather, is essentially a single piece. Only the leather band of the tassel and a panel to hide the stitching in the back are separate.
Speaking of the tassel, it has three visible sections on each side, and meets in a tight knot up front. Unlike a lot of manufacturers that leave a bit of slack, this tight knot keeps the tassels from flopping around quite as much when you walk. This gives the shoe a bit more formality, which is fine for a black pair, but if you plan on wearing these more casually it might not be what you’re looking for.
Other embellishments on the upper include the faux-moc toe stitching along the toe, and – Alden x Brooks Brothers fans rejoice – foxing on the back. In my mind, this is exactly the right amount of additional style for a tassel. Any more and it becomes too much, any less and the shoe looks like it’s taking itself a bit too seriously.
The stitching itself is pretty good, though not perfect. You can find a few loose threads here and there, and the spacing on the toe is a bit uneven. That being said, none of it is really worth worrying about. Especially at the price point these shoes come in at.
Inside, a cream lining covers the entire interior of the shoe – with a hairy suede at the rear to keep your foot in place. The stitching inside is a bit wonkier, though nobody but you will ever see that.
Mid- and Outsole:
The bottom half of the Cheaney Harry tassel loafer is just about perfect. Really, there isn’t anything to complain about.
The black welt is held on with incredibly even and clean stitching. While maybe not the highest stitch-per-inch possible, it’s still visually dense enough. The side of the outsole, coated black, carries a bit of flourish. Flat up front and around the heel, it is rounded near the midfoot. While not unique to Cheaney, this makes the shoe feel that little bit more special.
Moving to the bottom of the loafer, the full leather outsole features a number of graphics. From the Cheaney logo in the middle, to triangle designs along the edge, there is some visual interest here. Not that any of those logos will still be visible after you wear the shoes more than twice, but it’s still nice to see the effort.
The Cheaney Harry tassel loafer is exactly what I hoped it would be visually. With no major glaring errors, it offers a shoe that looks great from four feet away – which is really what matters.
I know that tassel loafers get a lot of hate, but I’m a huge fan. Expect a full post defending them in a few weeks. Personally, I find they are a perfect fit in 2022, where navy and charcoal suits have given way to sport coat and trouser combinations.
These loafers will be worn with mid-grey pants and sport coat combinations. There is always a place for black shoes, but if you’re looking for something a bit more versatile, consider a brown option.
Fit & Comfort:
The Cheaney Harry, like all Cheaney’s, use British sizing. For folks in the U.S., that means going down one full size. Cheaney also uses “F” to mean standard width, which would typically be listed as a “D” in the U.S. To provide an example, the size I typically try first in the U.S. is a 12 D, so for these I ordered an 11 F.
For a full list of sizing in every shoe reviewed on this site, click here.
These are built on the 214 last, which fits like most tassel loafers. That is to say, they are average length and quite narrow in the toe. Out of the box they were actually too narrow for me, but going any larger would have resulted in me stepping out of the shoe, so with some wear I broke them in.
If toe space is a concern to you, Cheaney also makes tassels on a more accommodating last known as the 146. These, called the “Harry II.”
It’s important to point out, not everyone will fit in a typical tassel loafer last. This is really a shoe you either need to try on, or be comfortable eating the very expensive return shipping. I’ve personally lost quite a bit of money trying to make Alden and Allen Edmonds tassel loafers fit, and have always had to sell them after a few wears.
Setting aside the last, I have to say the Cheaney Harry tassel loafers are not the most comfortable shoes in the world. The leather outsole is fairly thin, and doesn’t offer much in the way of support. Normally that would mean the shoe would be flexible, but the stiff leather of the upper doesn’t allow for that.
The combination of the upper and outsole put these shoes in a bit of a weird no-mans land. They are not quite a casual throw-them-on-without-thinking pair, and they are not supportive workday-warriors either.
That isn’t to say they are specifically uncomfortable. You’ll have no problem getting through a work day if you’re working at a job where a tassel loafer is appropriate. Just be aware that these might not be the pair to wear if you might be called to move boxes or need to run through an airport to catch a plane.
Materials & Construction:
Being a fairly simple shoe, the Cheaney Harry tassel loafer is also fairly simple in materials. The black upper is made entirely of box calf. Cheaney is a bit cagy with exactly where they get their leather from, only saying it comes from the UK or Europe unless otherwise stated. That being said, the leather itself feels perfectly acceptable, and is completely blemish free.
Underfoot, a full-length leather insole sits below a leather heel pad. Just below the insole, Cheaney uses a cork filler with a wooden shank for support. As someone who has never had a wooden shank break on me, but does regularly go through security, I’m a big fan of them.
The outsole is a single leather outsole – slightly thinner than what you might typically find. The heel looks to be made of leatherboard stacks, with a full leather layer on the bottom. I wouldn’t let the leatherboard worry you, it’s a very common construction material for shoes in this price point, and if you’ve reached the point you’re wearing into the stack, it doesn’t matter what it’s made of. A dovetailed heel cap finishes it off.
While there is nothing here that will blow you away, there is also nothing here to really complain about.
On almost every shoe they make, Cheaney uses a goodyear welt construction. The Cheaney Harry tassel loafer is no exception. The construction method uses the 270-degree style, keeping the shoe looking neat and tidy.
If you want a more in-depth explanation of goodyear welting, click here. For a cliff notes version, the goodyear welt construction is basically attaching a piece of leather (known as a welt) to the bottom edge of the leather. This piece of leather is then sewn onto the outsole.
The benefits of this construction include that it is incredibly easy to resole, and because the stitching is going through the welt and not the upper, it can be resoled numerous times. The draw backs of this style of construction are that it is more expensive than most other choices, and can take a bit of time to break in.
Most people consider the goodyear welt construction style to be the best combination of style, price, and longevity.
Ease of Care:
The Cheaney Harry tassel loafer doesn’t use any exotic materials, so nothing out of the ordinary here.
You’ll want to condition the loafers every so often. The exact amount of time will depend on how often – and how hard – you wear them, but most people will only need to condition 3 or so times a year. I recommend using Bick 4. It’s more affordable than the other options and in my opinion does just as good a job. Others prefer VSC or Saphir.
This leather also really likes a bit of a polish to it, but with the foxing I would strongly suggest avoiding anything high shine. A cream would likely give better results over a harder waxy polish, though this is ultimately personal preference.
When it comes time to resole them, Cheaney offers a standard resole for 125GBP, and even include a rewelt if needed. While this price is pretty reasonable, it is only available in the UK. No US, and no EU. Alternatively, with their goodyear welt construction, the Cheaney Harry should be resoleable at almost any local cobbler for around the same price.
Pricing & Value:
The Cheaney Harry tassel loafer is priced in GBP, 395 if you’re in the UK or EU, 329 if you’re not. That works out to a U.S. price of $428.30.
That being said, it’s fairly easy to find them on sale. I would suggest checking ebay if you’re looking to grab a pair. I was able to find this pair for well under half that price, and at time of writing the same seller has a pair for around the same.
Alternatively, Cheaney themselves put the Harry II on sale for much less fairly regularly. At time of writing, the brown suede pair comes in at 162GBP (210USD).
This is going to put them around or below most of their competitors. Here in the U.S., the Alden tassel loafer comes in at $593, and the Allen Edmonds is $395 (though almost always on sale). From the UK, Crockett and Jones’ pair is $640. Though, I don’t fit in any of these due to the lasts so it’s hard for me to recommend any of them at any price.
Really, the only shoe I’d compare these to is the Grant Stone Tassel Loafer. Priced at $318, it comes in slightly under the Harry at full price, and slightly over when you search for sales. I personally find the Grant Stone pair offers a fit and comfort level that can’t be matched in tassels, but that is an entirely subjective position.
I’ve been waiting for this section this whole review! So much so I’m skipping the wrap up and focusing that here for the Cheaney Harry.
10 years ago, at least here in the US, if you were not a “shoe guy” but you wanted something good, you could walk into Allen Edmonds and walk out with a good deal. Unfortunately, even at their low price, Allen Edmonds doesn’t offer the same value today they did then.
Maybe it doesn’t sound like high praise to say this shoe feels exactly like an Allen Edmonds did a few years back. However, I mean it as extremely high praise. While I love my Vibergs, rare shell Aldens, or Edward Greens, I’d say that they are not the right shoe for most people. Unless you’re a weirdo who writes weekly shoe reviews, the value proposition is hard to find. However, there are tens of millions of people in the US alone that would benefit from a shoe of this quality, at this price.
Are you starting off and need a shoe for your office job? Get a Cheaney (though maybe not a tassel loafer). Looking for something to beat on so you don’t wear out your “nice pair”? Get a Cheaney.
Wondering if you should? Get a Cheaney.