A real estate developer by trade, Ben Hertz navigates traditional style with subtle ways to break the mold. His company, the Minneapolis-based Benjo's, made waves in the style world when it released colored laces for shoes and boots. The idea came to Hertz when he snapped a pair of laces in Rome and found a bright red replacement near the Spanish Steps. Later, Hertz realized how difficult it was to find colored laces and decided to start his own brand.
Now, the "colored lace guy" has announced a line of vibrant, color-coated pennies that make technicolor standouts of conservative loafers.
The first thing people notice about the pennies isn't typically the coins—it's the packaging. "Unlike our waxed cotton shoe and boot lace lines, the penny project was an exercise in package design," Hertz tells CH. "We worked with Knock Inc. (based in Minneapolis) on the design and production. Just like the original red laces, the matchbook that the penny packaging was based on was found at a favorite Rome restaurant."
When Bass & Co. first released its "Weejun" design and kicked off the penny loafer craze, the aesthetic had a functional component—coins were placed in half-moon cutout for emergency funds. Today, few dandies still sport pennies in their pennies, though the color-coated accessories from Benjo's might change all that. The seven colors on offer go by equally vivid names Sherbet, Wet Canary, Nemo Blue, N. B. Greenberg, Gimme Kiss, Flying Fish and Rosso Scudiera.
Images by James Thorne.