It might seem like an odd adjective to use to describe a footwear company, but when it comes to contemporary shoe brands, there’s no one more grounded than Lewiston, Maine’s own Rancourt and Company. Since the 1960′s three generations of the Rancourt family have been designing and producing footwear, and it is their pragmatic approach that makes them one of the most talked about names in shoe production to this day. When you visit Rancourt’s site you won’t find shoes with neon colored accents, or bizarre dress shoe/sneaker hybrids, instead what will find is a collection of gorgeous, American footwear that at once seems to harken back to New England’s hand-sewn traditions and embrace the novelty of modern menswear. Rancourt seems to adhere to an ideology that to us might feel remarkable only in its simplicity, yet is adopted by a surprisingly small number of brands: “Give people what they actually want.”
So, as our never-ending winter finally thawed out, I decided that this spring was going to be different. As opposed to buying the same old cheap-yet-entirely-not-worth-it, plasticky loafers that I’ve bought for years now, I was going to finally pick up a pair of loafers that I could proudly wear this year and beyond, and for that Rancourt was the only name I needed to know. As I cycled through the plethora of options on their site, with everything from boat shoes, to chukka boots, to ranger mocs, I nearly lost my head, so I decided to narrow it down and begin by shape. While in the past I’ve mainly stuck with beefrolled loafers, I’ve never really found them flattering, so I opted instead for what Rancourt calls “the Weltline” which for all intents and purposes is a very clean take on the full-strap loafer. I had entertained the idea of buying a shoe in a light brown, or even natural chromexcel, but in the end the chance to say the phrase “summer snuff suede” was just far too appealing, and so I went with the repello suede that Rancourt offers. With the shoe itself pegged down, I came to what was for me, the best feature of all: Rancourt’s”Made-to-fit” option. Instead of being able to only buy what was in stock in a wide width, I ordered the specific shoes that I wanted without constraints, and the Rancourt team constructed a pair especially for me in an E width. And so, after four weeks of (im)patiently waiting, I unboxed the exact pair of shoes that I’ve been looking for, and when it comes down to it, what more can I ask for than that?