The Loafer and Cap Toe Oxford from Anthony Alan Footwear are excellent examples of barefoot shoes for mass appeal. They are decidedly the most classically handsome minimalist dress shoes in my collection, but at almost the most “shoe-like” for the enjoyment of a broader audience. Click through to hear my thoughts on the Loafer and Oxford from Anthony Alan Footwear!

About the Anthony Alan Loafer and Oxford

Here’s what Anthony Alan Footwear says:
“Walk Barefoot in Your Shoes” I think we can all agree that our feet feel most comfortable when we are walking barefoot; either in our house, on a nice grassy lawn or at the beach. Likewise, our feet tend to be the most miserable when we are wearing our stiff, rigid, and sleek casual dress shoes. At ANTHONY ALAN Footwear we incorporate key design features in all our shoes so that when you wear them you almost feel like you are still barefoot. When a person tries our shoes on, they immediately noticed the unique feel and often calls them one of the most comfortable shoes they’ve ever worn.
Weight Loafer 9.5 Ounces in a mens size 9 Oxford 10.2 Ounces in a mens size 9 (less than half the weight of a standard dress shoe, but heavier than other, more minimalist offerings in the market) Stack Height 15mm (without removable sock liner) 20mm (with removable sock liner) Sizing I normally wear a size 9 (US) or 41/42 (euro) and both the Anthony Alan Oxford and Cap Toe Loafer fit me best without the removable sockliner/footbed. A fairly wide toebox gives plenty of room for many foot types and the removable footbed allows for some customization of fit. Barefoot Rating Great for all users looking to have some barefoot benefits in a nice-looking shoe, thought minimalist enthusiasts may find want to find a thinner and more flexible sole. Ideal Uses Walking around, office, dress up, ready for casual and formal occasions! Pros Zero drop Wide toebox Excellent full-grain leather Classy looking Relatively lightweight Footbed allows for customizable fit for different foot volumes and levels of groundfeel Cons Some will seek a thinner sole and lighter shoe Some may find themselves “in between” sizing with and without the footbed Neutral Looks like a “normal” shoe

Photos

Oxford Loafer Other minimalist dressy shoes

Sole and Design

The design goal for Anthony Alan footwear is to provide barefoot/minimalist runners with an authentic casual dress shoe option—both in looks and function—for when they weren’t wearing their running shoes. Anthony Alan Footwear is the brainchild of Todd Miller and Gary Pitman; both industry veterans with over 50 years of combined experience in the shoe world. Mr. Miller and Pitman had a hand in launching Altra Running, so I was very interested in seeing what they came up with for their latest dress shoe project. Altra is well known for having “minimalist-light” shoe that may not have the same low stack height of, say, the thinnest shoes in the Vibram lineup, but still feature zero drop soles and wide toe boxes that would facilitate proper form and barefoot benefits. I expected that these dress shoes from Anthony Alan won’t be Bullhide RunAmocs or perhaps even Vivobarefoot Jays, but will have more forgiving for non-barefoot enthusiasts and have a more traditional look.
The classy, and more conventional-looking, minimalist dress shoe
The classy, and more conventional-looking, minimalist dress shoe
The purpose of these shoes is not to provide THE MOST groundfeel, flexibility, or lightness—leave that for thinner shoes in this category. The purpose of Anthony Alan Footwear is to provide stylish shoes with barefoot features that everyone can enjoy. Proving its minimalist chops, the Loafer and Oxford from Anthony Alan are zero-drop and have a wide toe box—plenty of room even for my duck feet. However, their stack heights are a bit thicker than your typical minimalist shoes at 15-20mm (5 mm removable sock liner). Both shoes have a high-traction, high-durability carbon rubber outsole with an EVA base with nice herringbone treads. They provide excellent traction for anything you would need these shoes to do, but to be honest, the treads are definitely aggressive enough to do a bit of rock hopping in a blazer, if you are so inclined! In fact, these soles are more aggressive than anything in the “dress” shoe market of barefoot (and barefoot-like) shoes, with deeper treads and a compound rubber that is both durable and sticky. While the plasticky Vivobarefoot soles can slip a bit in wet conditions and on smooth floors and the bullhide sole in my RunAmocs from Soft Star Shoes will enable Mario-Kart power slides in a tea shop, the Anthony Alan shoes have some honest capabilities in urban settings, the office, or if you happen o want to take the long way to work through a choppy path.
The 15mm sole from Anthony Alan is zero drop, has excellent traction, and provides the platform for a wide toebox
The 15mm sole from Anthony Alan is zero drop, has excellent traction, and provides the platform for a wide toebox
Overall, they are the most aggressive of the barefoot dress shoes I’ve reviewed, which is actually not saying much, but is worth mentioning. In reality, these shoes have lugs and treads (and the sole in general) that are very similar to a typical light dress shoe. Of course, standard dress shoes—for whatever reason—are usually built upon soles that that could double as heavy duty boot bottoms. The shoe industry would save a lot of weight and provide a ton of smoothness to their wearers if they would incorporate some minimalist features, which Anthony Alan does, but not to the same degree as other minimalist dress shoes that we have previously reviewed. The soles are not nearly as flexible as other shoes in the minimalist dress shoe category (we have previously reviewed Vivobarefoot, Tune Footwear, and Soft Star Shoes in this range), but they are more flexible than typical dress shoes and allow for a lot of broad market appeal for not only minimalist lovers and transitioning folks. You can still bend the shoes in half with a bit of effort, but you won’t be able to ball them up like some other barefoot shoes.
The sole, while not as "ball-able" as more minimalist casual shoes, is still pretty flexible
The sole, while not as “ball-able” as more minimalist casual shoes, is still pretty flexible
If you have never thought about minimalism, you can great a ton of benefit from these shoes. They are thick enough for anyone to wear, but provide minimalist benefits. In fact, many people that may be interested in minimalist shoes and will try “transitioning” shoes, but these shoes can really be marketed simply excellent dress shoes, no minimalist intentions needed. With that in mind, many people will become “converts” on their own without any prompting. Very sneaky indeed!

Fit and Materials

Both the Loafer and Oxford have impeccable craftsmanship. The stitching is very well done and the full-grain leather is very nice. The Loafer and Oxford have a classy, solid look. Excellent full grain leather is used throughout their construction, which feels very durable and will soften up over time. Full grain leather eventually forms a nice patina through use and this gives it a nice worn look with lots of character. I would expect these shoes to become more interesting looking over time.
Excellent leather quality, craftsmanship, and stitching
Excellent leather quality, craftsmanship, and stitching
Wearers have two choices with leather such as this. You can either really keep up with the maintenance of the leather with various conditioners, shiners, and buffers to keep things nice and shiny or you can let the leather naturally age and build character for a rough and rugged look. Full grain leather refers to hides that have not been sanded, buffed, or snuffed (as opposed to top-grain or “corrected” leather) to remove imperfections on the surface of the hide. The natural grain of the hide remains, allowing the maximum fiber strength, breathability, and durability. Among all leather types, full-grain is considered the best and most durable. Top grain leather has a “split” layer cut away in its construction, making it thinner and more malleable than full-grain and has a more plasticky feel (but not anything like “pleather”, but less soft and warm than full grain). New buck (or Nubuck) leather has been sanded or buffed on the grain side to create a more velvety surface. This leather is very soft to the touch and scratches more easily than full grain leather. There is actually a ton of variety to leather types, but these are the three types that are pretty typical, with full grain being the most natural, durable, and preferred for most applications, such as for shoes, bags, cases, etc. As I said in my review of the Tune Footwear Penny V2, a removable footbed serves two purposes. First, the footbed provides some customization to the groundfeel and flexibility of the shoe and it also provides some customization of the fit as well.
Footbed in, Footbed out
Footbed in, Footbed out
In the case of the Loafer and Oxford, plop the footbed in for more cushioning and/or a snugger fit or keep them in the shoe box for more flexibility or some extra volume in the shoe. I am glad that the two shoes are actually very different in terms of their looks. Anthony Alan did not just take out the laces from the Oxford and remove the toe cap to make the Loafer; they are two unique and wholly different shoes in terms. In terms of looks, the Oxford is classy with its toe cap, laces, and visually contrasting stitching. There are a number of “running” stitches on either sides and back of the shoe to provide a sleek and overlapping look. Overall, it’s the more substantial looking of the two models and is the most reserved looking of the two—though they essentially weigh the same at 9.5 for the Loafer and 10 oz for the Oxford. Compared to the Lems Nine2Five, the toe cap is smaller and the shoe overall looks more formal thanks to the running stitches and the solidness of the shoe (the Nine2Five does have 6mm less sole than the Oxford at 9mm vs 15mm). While the Nine2Five can look a bit floppy (though comfortable) out of the box, the Anthony Alan Oxford is definitely more ridged and traditional looking. The shoe is finished with flat laces, which tend to hold better than round ones. They also lay flat within the lacing window and tongue for a cleaner look. Between the two, I like the loafer design the most. It’s very chic-looking with its overlapping leather panels and has both a minimalist and crafted aesthetic. They are very handsome in black and are easily among the best-looking shoes in my collection. The elasticized tongue section provides just the right amount of pressure, provided you get the fit right with the aforementioned footbed (take it out of more voluminous feet and keep it if your foot structure is more svelte).
The Anthony Alan Loafer is my personal favorite. Sleek, comfortable, and easy to wear
The Anthony Alan Loafer is my personal favorite. Sleek, comfortable, and easy to wear
Compared to my other minimalist loafers, the Anthony Alan Loafer makes them feel downright fragile as it is a more traditional, and therefore more sturdy-looking, shoe. You can still force it and the Oxford into a boomerang, but you’ll be hard pressed to roll it into a tight ball.
The Oxford is a great choice if you want your minimalist-inspired dress shoe with laces
The Oxford is a great choice if you want your minimalist-inspired dress shoe with laces
For comparison, I have provided photos of the following minimalist dress shoes for a looks comparison: Tune Footwear Penny V2, Soft Star Shoes Bullhide RunAmoc Dash, Vivo Jay, Vivo Dharma, Vivo Ra, and Patagonia Advocate Stitch. From a looks standpoint, I found the Anthony Alan Loafer to be the best looking of the lot. Overall, both shoes are the most “traditional” looking insofar as a dress shoe is concerned. They simply look more like “normal” dress shoes than the rest of the crowd. Of course, the other shoes are going to be more flexible and light to varying degrees (some way more so) than the Anthony Alan shoes, but that’s only part of the story and your enjoyment of any of these shoes will depend on your needs and level of “minimalism”. Some may like the quirkiness of truly barefoot shoes, but it is definitely not for everyone.
A less quirky-looking, more traditional casual shoe. Fewer looks built in!
A less quirky-looking, more traditional casual shoe. Fewer looks built in!
The Patagonia’s are the lightest and most flexible at a >4 oz and a stack height of 3-4mm, while the Loafers are 9 oz and have a 15mm stack height. Obviously while all of these shoes are “minimalist” dress shoes, they are very different shoes with difference purposes and audiences in mind. When walking around with these shoes, I did notice that they were slightly bottom heavy when compared to my other minimalist shoes, but not so much so that it was too distracting. I can say that these are definitely not the most barefoot shoes, nor are they your run of the mill dress shoes from a department store. They are decidedly somewhere in between. The zero drop sole means that you won’t be scrapping your heel as you walk and the EVA and rubber base provides plenty of comfort for whatever you may encounter around town or around a park. Usually, the heels are the first part of a shoe to wear out if there is a sizable drop. Over and underpronators will wear on the outside and inside of the heel respectively, until the point where the shoe has to be replaced due to imbalance. With the Anthony Alan’s zero drop platform, this is less likely to happen and your shoes will last longer.
With a zero drop platform, your heels will thank you and be more durable
With a zero drop platform, your heels will thank you and be more durable
Of course, the litmus test of any minimalist dress shoe is if I can run in them. In this regard, the Oxfords and Loafers performed admirably. While they are a bit heavier and thicker than my other dress shoes, I was still able to make a dash across the Green Line tracks to catch a bus without feeling too awkward about it. There is enough minimalist chops to keep from heel striking and while I would not wear these for a true run, I can definitely get away with a quick race for coffee or something along those lines.

Summary

Both the Loafer and Oxford are marketed as beautiful dress shoes with barefoot benefits and Anthony Alan definitely succeeded in this goal. A fashion-minded individual who is looking for more comfort, or someone with less experience in minimalist shoes, can greatly enjoy these shoes. These are shoes that were designed to give minimalist benefits without substantially changing the classic “dress shoe” look. You will find a wide toe box, zero drop sole, and great craftmenship for a reasonable price. If you are in the market for a formal dress shoe, any dress shoe, you should definitely consider the Oxford and Loafer from Anthony Alan Footwear. If you want to try them out, you can get them for 20% off at the Anthony Alan website using promo code “Dad.” A huge thanks goes out to Anthony Alan for sending me the Loafer and Oxford for review.