The Anti-Sneaker for the Well-Dressed Man
All Images Credit Baudoin and Lange
There’s a reason why over the past two decades sneakers have become acceptable as casual business attire. For men, the choice was nice looking uncomfortable shoes that resulted in sore feet after a long day in the office. The other option was horrible-looking shoes that felt good while looking as if you were recovering from orthopedic surgery. Thankfully Baudoin & Lange has created the panacea for men’s footwear with a line of shoes that mold your feet out of the box, are comfortable to wear, and look great from in the office and on a night out. In short, the up-start London shoe brand has designed the anti-sneaker that lets you put your running shoes back where they belong, in the gym or on the track.
The story of Baudoin & Lange is similar to one of the pillars of the women’s fashion industry. In 1974, Diane Von Furstenberg created a revolutionary garment that became the staple of women’s fashion and, even today, it remains the iconic design for her brand. It was the wrap dress that was perfect for the time as women were becoming liberated and required practical fashion that was stylish, comfortable, washable, and did not require ironing. Six years ago, these two unlikely entrepreneurs saw a similar opportunity for men in the office who needed footwear that was comfortable, professional and stylish. They perceived this glaring void in the market and from there, Baudoin and Lange was launched.
Just as Dianne Von Furstenberg made a name for her brand from one perfect design, so has Baudoin and Lange. The design is the uber comfortable Belgian Loafer. A slip-on with no need for tying, buckles, or other fasteners; shoes that simply come on and off. Their iconic style is noticeable upon sight, elegant, stylish beyond reproach with a diamond-shaped vamp covering the instep, pliable leather, padded insole, and durable leather bottom soles. What is instantly noticeable along with the style is the meticulous craftsmanship.
As most prestigious shoe brands tend to be a half-century old if not more, Baudoin and Lange is clearly a johnny-come-lately to the shoe game. But perhaps it’s this youthful naivete that allowed them to understand the need for a shoe that goes back to a few basic needs – to simply look good and to be comfortable. Is that too much to ask? Since the six years that they launched the brand, they’ve shown success after success with each new variation building on the strengths of previous models. The young brand has evidenced a progression of craftmanship, smart designs, business acumen, and a reputation that is refreshing to behold.
Baudoin and Lange Burlington Arcade Boutique
Today their shoe lines are available online or at their flagship store in the heart of London in its oldest shopping street, the Burlington Arcade. Additionally, you’ll find them on display at upscale retailers including The Armoury in New York City along with Barneys, Harrods, and Selfridges as well as retailers in the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and other locations. To cater to their quickly growing clientele in the US, a new boutique is set to open in Manhattan this spring.
Modern Day Shoe Wizards: Allan Baudoin and Bo van Langeveld
Baudoin (l) Langveld (r)
From their past careers, one would never expect the founders of Baudoin and Lange to have created a highly regarded luxury shoe brand. From an impressionable age, Allan Baudoin was drawn to the charisma and vision of the tech maverick Steve Jobs. After graduating from London Business School, he followed his pc potentate to Apple where he worked in business development. Upon the death of Jobs, Baudoin lost interest in the company and decided that a tech career was not for him. Having grown up in Paris, he was mesmerized by the fashion industry from an early age so he turned his back on the tech world to go in a completely different direction. With that, he dove headfirst into the unlikely career to become an apprentice shoemaker. He learned the trade on his own by conducting extensive self-study into the craft and was eventually mentored by a master shoemaker. From there he began creating bespoke shoes for a small but growing clientele, one fine pair at a time.
While Baudoin was starting his career at Apple, Bo van Langeveld was pursuing his career as a race car driver. What? Yes, a race car driver in his homeland of the Netherlands. When his dreams of F1 eventually faded, he hung up his racing gloves to attend the London School of business as well, be it a few years behind Baudoin. Upon graduating, he went off for a successful career in finance and investments. While in the boardrooms or behind the desk, he noticed how uncomfortable shoes for himself and his colleagues. He also noticed that toward the end of the day, men would take their shoes off under the desk for a few stolen moments of foot relief.
The story of the brand’s founding is one that all entrepreneurs would love. As it was destined to be, Baudoin and Lange came together and discussed what they perceived as a gap in the market which was to create comfortable dress shoes that one could wear from the office and into the night. While Baudoin was toiling to make his pricy artisanal shoes, he had made a pair of work shoes for himself. They were Belgium loafers. Langeveld saw them as the perfect office shoe, comfortable, pliable suede, stylish, and easy to take on and off. Baudoin’s work shoes, which you can still see in their flagship store in London, became the prototype of their brand’s now-iconic design and the root from which the upstart shoe brand built its company. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Rediscovering the Belgian Loafer
Although not as well-known to the closet of the fashion aficionados as the Cap Toe Oxford, Monk Strap, or Wing Tip, the Belgium Loafer is seeing a resurgence as a must-have for today’s dapper man. The style of shoe has a seen revival in recent years due largely in part to brands like Baudoin and Lange and other’s brands who have followed in their wake and created their own line of loafers.
The Belgian Loafer was created by Henri Bendel whose company is better known for bringing the Chanel brand to the U.S. He worked with a 300-year-old shoe manufacturer in Belgium to come up with this unique cut and style of shoe. The shoe style was created to be as comfortable as a house slipper but elegant enough to be worn on any occasion. The shoe became the favorite of New York high society and elites from Beverly Hills in the 1960s and beyond.
Creating the Perfect Shoe Design: The Sagan
Fast forward to today, and Baudoin and Lange have reimagined the style into a premium shoe of the finest craftsmanship. Their vision has been manifested in a shoe that looks great and feels comfortable. After working through many prototypes, they found that making the shoe with the finest leather would mean that they would not need a lining, creating a pliable shoe that would mold to the foot. Instead of needing to be broken in it wraps around your foot like a glove and feels like a house shoe. This shoe, that would one day revolutionize the high-end shoe market, was appropriately named the Sagan, after Carl Sagan, the late French astrophysicist.
Once Diane von Furstenberg created her A-frame dress, she realized she had the perfect design and style and from there created hundreds if not thousands of variations with fabrics, colors, adornments, and varied hemlines. A la Furstenberg, Baudoin and Lange also took their perfect design with the trademarks of a low vamp on the instep, low heel, and padded insole along with their fine craftsmanship and created hundreds of variations that every man and, eventual women, would love.
The original Sagan is made from sheep leather purchased from the finest tanneries in Europe. Supple as butter yet durable with the leather sole for a long day of work and ready for the night. Sagans work well with a blazer, button-down shirt, and slacks, or even much more casual wear. Their range of shoes adds versatility to the wardrobe with or without socks, for office wear, or even with shorts at a picnic.
Now with the perfect model, the brand created numerous variations including a range of colors, tassels, a penny loafer, and an ornamental stap and buckle. The variations continued with full-grain deerskin and their own Asteria suede made from Mediterranean goats and tanned by a family-run artisanal tannery in Cyprus. The brand also has a line of casual shoes, the Sagan Stride, with the same cut and feel with rubber soles idea for a long drive or a day at the beach.
The B&L also boasts a line of exotic line shoes made from crocodile leather in obsidian black, green, and brown. For the formal affair, the brand offers a range of black-tie patent leather and black velvet opera bow shoes. These spiffy slippers are ideal for the next red carpet and without a doubt, they will be seen at this year’s Oscars, Cannes and Venice Film Festivals, and countless New Year’s Eve galas.
Boardroom Ready – The Grand Sagan
The Grand Sagan
One of their lines of shoes is sure to have the approval of men’s fashion cognoscenti, the Grand Collection. Although still true to the hallmarks of the Sagan line the Grand Sagan takes it to the next level. One could say that if the Sagan line is made for the office, the Grand Sagan is made for the Board Room. This dress shoe is more structured than the original Sagan made with French calf leather and cushioned cork foam insoles. As with any well-created model, there are a number of variations and including penny loafer and tassels, suede or full grain, and many wardrobe appeasing colors.
With all true luxury products, it comes down to a few things: scarcity, the finest materials, craftsmanship, and reputation. Baudoin and Lange have searched far and wide for the finest leathers from artisanal producers. The details in the craftmanship are beyond reproach based on the lofty demands of the self-described perfectionist Allan Baudoin. You’ll notice these little details as you admire the shoes, especially when unboxing. The craftsman’s star where the heel meets the sole, the ornate stitching at the bridge of the penny loafer, or their iconic trademark, the three gold dots in the back of the heel. It’s the little things done right that make these shoes special.
Just as Diane von Furstenberg created the perfect dress for women at the perfect time, Baudoin and Lange have done the same for me with their comfortable and well-styled Belgian loafers. At a time when men rebelled against uncomfortable footwear by opting for sneakers, they’ve provided the alternative to this level of dressing down. For those in the know, it’s clear to see why this modern-day classic has brought the brand such success with a cult-like following of well-dressed men around the world.