while I do understand the reasoning for a higher price for a made-to-order shoe, it seems to me that it would cost them the same to make a penny loafer as shown on the site as it would to make the exact same shoe with a different color sole. Especially since in both cases the shoe is being made to order for you and thus they're not filling an order from existing inventory.
This is a very good point.
I sent an email inquiry through the website earlier today and, mirabile visu, actually got a reply. I intentionally didn't ask about this fee, but did ask for a price on a makeup I'm thinking about (unlined caramel shell ring boot with aesthetic welt and red sipped sole) and got a price back of $535. Nothing to compare that too, of course, but the base Rancourt shell loafer is $510 and basic chukka boot (more an equivalent in terms of leather used, I'd think), is $550. Doesn't seem like there can be too much of a fee built into $535, even with the lower cost rubber sole. I wonder if they aren't mentioning yet.
Guess I could just ask.
Now to decide whether to proceed with this...