I think you opened yourself to criticism simply by stating your opinion that you are fashion conscious and well-dressed. Those shoes - no matter what the brand, price or quality - had people thinking otherwise. Take it to heart. If you are set on loafers, search SF for examples that are well received then find something similar in your price range.
Picture of the sock liner? There is a pair listed on Kijiji in Ontario.
I seem to recall these shoes were more readily available in the Canadian market and certainly not out of reach for the common man, of which my father certainly was.
More correctly, Ugolini is a bespoke shoemaker with a long history of doing trunk shows in Japan. He developed the lasts in cooperation with Isetan Japan. Isetan wanted to do a RTW line, something that Ugolini was not interested in. Isetan tapped Vass to produce the shoes and Ugolini worked with Vass to ensure a workable product . Kalman Berta, produces the lasts for Vass.