THE PENNY LOAFER
The penny loafer: The trademark shoe of casual cool.
For the best part of the last century, this slip-on classic has enjoyed almost continual popularity. Granted, this has been more evident in America, but the loafer is making yet another comeback on this side of the Atlantic.
Originally, Norwegians started making leather slip-on shoes in the style of moccasins in the early Twentieth century, which they exported and sold around Europe. The shoes were picked up by visiting Americans and subsequently featured in Esquire magazine with part of the photoshoot being set in Norwegian cattle-loafing farmland. In the early 1930s the Spaulding Company took the shoes and developed them into the modern style we now recognise, christening them rather appropriately ‘loafers’.
In 1936, G.H. Bass & Co. created their now famous ‘Weejun’ loafer (Weejun being a play on the word Norwegian… geddit?!). The design featured a leather strap, or tab, across the vamp of the shoe, with a small slit in it designed to resemble a pair of lips. This opening later became the focal point of a trend amongst younger generations throughout the 1940s and 50s for putting small decorative objects in it, particularly small coins. Originally, the coins – usually dimes – served the somewhat functional purpose of providing the wearer with change for using a payphone, but they were gradually replaced with copper-coloured pennies to make more of a fashion statement. The shoes’ popularity only increased with the affirmation of cool-status from the likes of Mr. James Dean and President John F. Kennedy, the latter of whom grew the trend for wearing loafers sans-socks, baring tanned ankles, in the 60s. By the 1980s, the trend had developed, taking on a more formal styling, to be paired with pinstripe suits, becoming the veritable uniform of the well-dressed man on Wall Street.
One of the reasons that the loafer has retained such a popular presence in the market is because it is such a versatile shoe; they can be adapted for both casual and formal attire, looking equally as good with chinos and jeans as with a suit, and they’re a flattering for both men and women. Our particular take on this stylish-shoe stalwart has been crafted from the finest calf leather and hand-finished to perfection. All fashion-fads aside, the fact of the matter is that the loafer is a classic, understatedly elegant shoe, and one that is here to stay.