C’est La Vie
Welcome to my Review of the Gattaca Belgian Loafers in Cognac Suede by Caulaincourt Paris.
Currently the only pair of loafers and Blake Stitched shoe in my collection.
With an elegant design, comfortable fit and great price tag, how good are these loafers?
Let’s find out in this in-depth Review.
Breaking New Ground
Now that my collection is a ridiculous all-time high again, I shifted my focus towards new styles and experiences.
For example, I received a harsh reminder that Italy can be such a hot place to live and that my summer wardrobe is lacking.
And when I wear shorts, I don’t want to be limited to just sneakers.
I was never particularly fond of penny loafers as I felt they look strange on my feet.
So when I reached out to Caulaincourt I enquired about the Gattaca Belgian loafers which looked casual and stylish for this part of the world.
Caulaincourt was kind enough to provide these loafers for a Review, but as always it important for me to disclose that I paid for them.
My thoughts however are always my own, honest and without holding back as you all know.
Who Is Caulaincourt?
Caulaincourt Paris is a small family shoemaking business founded by Alexis Lafont in the eponymous city.
They have a quite modern, distinct style of shoes that has a modern approach and small unique details to stand out.
Caulaincourt’s specialty is custom patinas, which is a recurring popular theme in France alongside brands such as Septieme Largeur, Altan Bottier and Berluti.
Since my love for handmade patinas is eternal, it makes sense Caulaincourt shoes would interest me.
There is also a strong focus on Blake Stitched shoes, but the quality of the construction is more important.
What is also important is that the construction matches the idea and reasoning behind each model.
I also like that fact that instead of making everything in one place, Caulaincourt uses very specific workshops around Europe that specialize on each thing.
The brand has an aura of modern and “live your life to the fullest” which I really like.
Alexis is also a passionate artist and I recommend you Read an Interview I made with him!
Without entering into too much detail, I will briefly talk about the different ranges Caulaincourt offers.
There is a wide range of both shoes and boots of RTW shoes in multiple constructions.
Since the world is becoming more casual now they also have a dedicated section for sneakers.
Even though I’m not a sneaker head their collection has a lot of unique elements that makes them attractive.
Then you go to limited collaborations and seasonal collections, as well as women’s shoes.
At the top, you have a special Made to Order selection where the sky’s the limit honestly.
Quite recently, Caulaincourt also began offering some accessories and special clothes such as jackets and hats.
There’s a lot of Japanese style inspiration fused with European style in there.
I like to always begin with some of the specifications of each shoe on review:
- Brand: Caulaincourt Paris
- Model: Gattaca
- Style: Belgian Loafers
- Color: Cognac Brown
- Leather: Suede
- Construction: Blake
- Last: Ocean Twelve
- Sole: Leather
- Lining: Unlined
- Size: UK 7.5 (US 8.5D/EU 41.5)
- Price: €295/$315
It’s a great price for what it offers and a very affordable entry into stylish loafer territory.
It took only 1-2 days for my shoes to arrive with DHL Express in Italy.
Everything was well-packaged and tidy and so is the overall box experience.
The box itself is quite simplistic yet functional but I must admit I really like the bee logo of Caulaincourt.
Inside there’s no Hollywood production (nor it should be at this price) and you simply get your shoes and shoe bags.
In fact there is only one shoe bag for this model, which I am not a big fan of.
I also paid for some shoe trees, which they forgot about but sent immediately separately the next day.
It seems that the unboxing experience varies with the range you are acquiring, but correct me if I am wrong.
For example, my friend Mike received a much fancier box.
So I would assume that the experience scales up which is actually quite nice.
I must admit I don’t know that much about the history and origin of Belgian Loafers.
However I noticed a recent resurgence in popularity with many brands launching seasonal models yearly.
After some quick research it seems that the Belgian Loafer originates from the 40’s and had a special reverse turned construction.
A Belgian Loafer is essentially a slip-on with a larger apron on the front that is seamless all the way to the tongue area.
It’s a very simplistic, yet elegant form of slip-on and so is the Gattaca by Caulaincourt.
One of the reasons in my opinion is the longer apron and sharper, low profile last.
When coupled with the think sole and lightweight construction that the Blake Stitch machine allows, it makes sense.
As this was my first interaction with an unlined shoe, there were a few interesting points that I wanted to look at in-depth later.
The color is lovely with a great short nap and will be perfect for the summer in Italy.
I have a few interesting remarks and questions to raise later however the first impression is very positive.
The Cognac Suede Leather
When I started collecting shoes I greatly disliked suede leather.
People told me it looks hard to take care of, it looked sloppier and less formal and it was not for me.
Right now, one of my favorite pairs of all time is actually suede and I adore this leather.
And for this particular style of shoe I think suede is absolutely perfect.
The suede comes from the Sciarada Tannery which is quite close to me in Pisa (Italy).
Their specialty seems to be suede and generally Tuscany seems to have great reputation when it comes to leather.
As I mentioned before the suede has a rich, short nap and is quite soft.
Brushing your fingers on each side changes the color and you can feel the lightness and thinness of the leather.
Especially at the sides where it’s really unstructured your feet are in direct contact with the leather.
Around the topline there’s some calf leather as well as the piping on the apron.
The Lining (Or Lack Thereof)
In simple terms, most of the shoes you see out there consist of two pieces of leather.
The upper, exterior part which is what you see and the lining, which is the inside part of the shoe.
Essentially what you see in the inner walls, under the tongue and all around inside the shoe.
With the addition of a few key pieces such as the toe and heel stiffener, it provides structure and support in certain areas of the shoe.
An unlined shoe doesn’t really have lining, or so I thought.
If you take a quick look at the side panels of the Caulaincourt Gattaca, most of the shoe is indeed unlined.
Under the tongue, under the topline and the heel block you will still find a layer of lining.
Under the toe box there is the toe puff that provides structure and hardens the area.
The same goes for the back, where you have the heel stiffener.
I would need to learn more about unlined shoes and see more samples to compare.
From a purely aesthetic perspective looking at those chopped up lining panels it’s not the prettiest.
However who’s gonna look at the inside of your shoes?
Under the full insole there’s a sort of green/blue material that according to Caulaincourt provides additional comfort.
It’s very interesting and an application left for summer or lightweight shoes, perfect for loafers.
I look forward to feeling the freedom on my feet as the Gattaca looks to be extremely comfortable.
First I though we should talk briefly about the construction method.
The most famous and (according to many) solid construction method for shoes is the Goodyear Welted Method.
It uses a strip of leather that acts as an intermediary between the uppers and insole and outsole.
Blake Construction on the other hand is a much more “primal”, basic construction in essence.
There is no midsole and the shoe is held together by a stitch from the inside that holds together the uppers, insole and outsole.
This means that the stitch markings are visible on the outsole and the shoe is more prone to water.
At the same time, it allows for a very tight, neat and clean appearance with a lightweight feel.
Blake Stitched shoes have a much quicker break in time and have a lot of advantages when applied to the right product.
Loafers for example are prime candidates for such constructions as this is what you want to achieve.
You should always remember that the quality of the construction also matters and a great Blake shoe can be better than a poorly constructed Welted Shoe.
For example the shoes Aubercy makes are Blake and they are phenomenal.
My interview with Alexis helped me change my opinion a lot about Blake and the other forms of construction.
Looking around the shoe I can spot a few “inconsistencies” here and there.
I wouldn’t even bother calling them that, as they are just nuances are perfectly acceptable at this price point.
There are a couple of threads sticking out here and there usually at the backstitch point for example.
Or some “lips” of leather that weren’t trimmed around the heel block.
The depth of some of the Blake stitches was uneven but I’m not sure if that has to do anything with the construction.
Some of the rolling iron marks around the stitching groove is uneven or misplaced, but I think it was by hand.
All in all nobody should ever care about these details as they align with the price point and do not affect the quality structurally.
I should probably mention that the heel block is a little lower than usual at around 2 cm.
The Ocean Twelve Last
I must admit I am a little confused as on the website the shoes say “Ocean Twelve” Last.
However inside the lining and the box it says 037.
Regardless, this seems to be a nice blend of a rounder almond toe.
The more I look at it however it’s more of a medium round shape.
Or at least the apron gives it that illusion.
I actually like this last shape very much and think is a smart choice and very elegant.
The Gattaca has a nice faux blind waist with a tighter curve in the inside arch.
Personally I like it very much and I think it’s a great choice for a Belgian Loafer.
After talks with Alexis about the sizing he recommended half a size down from my usual UK 8.
So as I am typing these lines I am wearing the Caulaincourt Gattaca in UK 7.5 (EU 41.5/US 8.5D).
While I do feel I could wear size 8 I think sizing down is appropriate for this model.
The lack of lining means you will wear thin no-show socks or no socks at all.
According to Alexis these loafers should also have a nice snug fit with your toes just touching the toe box.
I don’t feel any pressure anywhere on my feet other than the big toe at the front.
The more I keep them on my feet the more I think this size is better for me.
However I will update this when I get more relevant data in the real world.
My recommendation would be to size down half from your regular UK or 1.5 from your US sizing.
But as always make sure to reach out to your retailer/shoemaker and ask for detailed information.
Remember that Brannock, measurements or sneaker sizing doesn’t really help them.
While the jury is still out there and I am collecting data I do have a lot of interesting remarks to make.
The freedom that an unlined shoe offers is really enticing especially in such a warm country such as Italy.
I am still trying to get used to my toes touching the front as well as seeing so much of my foot.
However this is a very lightweight shoe and there is real leather to skin contact.
What I’m looking forward to is seeing how my big toe breaks in at the front.
But if you get your right size I think you will enjoy wearing these very much.
How To Wear Belgian Loafers?
To be honest who am I to tell you how to wear them.
The best way would be for you to take inspiration from the internet such as Pinterest and Instagram.
Personally I will be wearing them with chinos and shorts for the summer.
On top I will be using mostly linen shirts and polos.
I really don’t feel comfortable wearing these with a suit unless I get a linen one in the future.
Generally I will try to match textures and the formality levels.
As far as color combinations, the cognac suede is quite flexible and summery but I would avoid extremely dark colors as it will pop too much.
Availability & Final Thoughts
You can physically buy Caulaincourt shoes in 3 locations in Paris and one in Dubai (Link).
Other than that your option is their website, which is fully translated in English.
Their online size selector will help you identify a better sizing by yourself.
If you visit Paris I definitely recommend visiting them to see the process and learn more!
As far as today’s review piece goes, the Gattaca is a lovely loafer that I want to put to good use.
I do not regret spending money on it and nor would you if you are looking for flexible, comfortable and stylish loafers.
The Blake construction is not a disadvantage as you might think and works in tandem with the unlined construction.
Quality wise, it feels like a solid shoe for around $300 and a perfect addition to your summer wardrobe.
I look forward to exploring their different ranges and offerings in the future.
Things I look for in shoe brands include identity and luckily Caulaincourt seems to have plenty of that.
This brings us to the end of my Review of the Caulaincourt Gattaca Belgian Loafers.
A lightweight, stylish and comfortable shoe that is perfect for summer climates and quick escapades.
The price is competitive and aligns with the quality of the shoes on offer.
Also, as a small business owner myself I like to support other small businesses and passionate artists and entrepreneurs.
Caulaincourt Paris and Alexis Lafont have a story to tell and it’s worth listening.
Let me know what you think in the comments and stay tuned for another exciting shoe brand next week!
Thank you for reading,
I like Blake-stitched loafers (and light boots) for the summer heat. They never feel clunky or chunky.
I bought a pair of Caulaincourt tassel loafers last year. The patina is quite beautiful, the fit is good (I also went down half a size), and they are very comfortable.
Great to hear! So far they have been really nice for me too, I am going to buy some light no-show socks this week so I can wear them after the video!
Your usual informative and entertaining article. Thank you, if I have said this before , I am commenting on THIS article and the observations are still valid!
Thank you for reading David!