Otherwise known as slippers or slip-ons, loafers are typically low, lace-less shoes, in the model of moccasins. Though born in Europe, they are more popular in the American continent, especially in North. They are worn by both men and women.
Loafers have relatively a short history but they had a great influence on the fashion trends. There are disputes regarding their origin. Their origin is said to have been in Norway. Norwegian fishermen used to wear the shoes designed in the style of moccasins, though the style was not much popular outside.
One of the earliest designs of loafer to hit the market was the Wildsmith Loafer made by Raymond Lewis Wildsmith of Wildsmith Shoes in England. It was designed as a casual wear for King George VI. Later various models of the shoe were developed by other firms as well.
The modern era of loafers began when Norwegian shoemaker Nils Gregoriusson Tveranger started his business around 1908. In 1930, Tveranger introduced a new design called the Aurland moccasin, named after his birthplace. He later renamed the slip-on Aurland Shoe. This design was inspired from the traditional shoes worn by locals in Aurland. The Norwegians began exporting them to the other parts of Europe, and struck a chord especially with the American tourists.
Soon, the American magazine Esquire ran a feature on loafers, including some photographs of Norwegian farmers in a cattle loafing area. It is believed to be the inspiration behind the name loafers. Later, the Spaulding family in New Hampshire marketed shoes derived from this design, naming them loafers. Another turning point came in 1934, when the bootmaker G.H. Bass started making loafers under the name Weejuns, a corruption of the word Norwegians. His design included a leather strip across the saddle. Numerous designs began to come out, and behemoths like Gucci entered the field. Now loafers are among the most favorite casual footwear.
There are many kinds of loafers, though four types are most prominent ones. The Penny loafer is of course the most classic and popular of them. It has a leather strap across the top of the shoe, designed with a diamond-shaped slot. Then there us the Tassel loafer, which had its origin in 1950s. The Snaffle loafer was born in 1968, introduced by Gucci. Their notable feature is the brass strap in the shape of a horse’s snaffle bit laid across the top of the shoe. The other one is the Apron loafer, which has stitches on them.
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