A Penny For Your...Loafers
You would be hard pressed to find a more iconic shoe than the classic loafer. Sex, style, age – the loafer does not discriminate in its ubiquitous wearability and undeniable style, finding a place among dandies, teddies, tongue in cheek rockers and WASPS the world over. Which got me wondering about these reticent kicks and how they assumed their position as a wardrobe staple among stars and seamen alike.
Lore would tell you that some globetrotting students traveling to Scandinavia in the early 20th C took a liking to a simple comfortable leather shoe worn by Norwegian fisherman. Their utilitarian simplicity mixed with their wearer’s hard-won life at sea lent them the perfect punch of earned attitude. However, if we dig a little deeper we can trace the evolution of the loafer to places such as China’s 12th century Song Dynasty slippers, the patched leather foot coverings of the Sami people in Northern Norway, Sweden and Finland as well as the American Indians, for whom tanned buckskin portions sewn together made for durable and surprisingly resilient foot coverings, embellished by their wearers with beadwork and intricate stitches, proving perhaps that style and expression is not a new aspect of loafer wearing but quite possibly a defining characteristic of their history.
It shouldn’t surprise us then that by the mid-20th century the loafer was a well-worn form, making appearances in the office, the pew, the salon and the grocery. Today the loafer remains a quintessential player in fashions near and far-- something for everyone. One would certainly be remiss to not mention the Gucci horse bit loafer as an enduring character in the shoes history. In 1953 Aldo Gucci and his son noticed that American men were prone to wearing comfortable slip-on loafers and decided to add the style to their offerings-- with a horse bit donned toe to signify its well-bred background. They may not have known it then but it is unanimously understood that they created an item with unrivaled longevity, "from Florence and the Machine’s Florence Welch at LAX in 2013 to Jane Birkin in Cannes in 1969 – all wearing horse bit-affixed goods. Also in the mix: a photo of John Wayne in a Gucci store in Rome in the 1960’s trying on the horse bit loafers and a photo of a young JFK, Jr. at the airport in Palm Beach with his month in 1973."
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