The origins of the loafer

The origins of the loafer as we know it today are generally agreed to be in United States at the beginning of the 1900s although there is some contention. Some people attribute it to Norwegian farmers who wore a slip-on style shoe in their cow sheds and others to the moccasins worn by the native American Indians. Either way it first became a popular style in North America for its more relaxed look than the traditional lace up shoes and boots that were generally worn at the time. It tended to be students who wore loafers or ‘penny loafers’ as they became after the habit for students to slip a penny into the slit on the strap across the top of the shoe. It is thought that impecunious students would do this, so they always had a penny to use in a public telephone box in an emergency. These days loafers are very much part of any gentleman’s wardrobe.

The loafer Matthew Cookson

The loafer was first decorated with tassels in the mid 1940 also in the United States although some people claim that it started in London. However, it was the Italians who really took the loafer over in Europe with the horse bit loafer by Gucci which became very popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Matthew Cookson has two types of tassels loafers, the first, more classic has a stitched apron and our latest model which is handmade with has a clean single pieced unstitched front and a pair of thin tassels for a less classic and more elegant look. As well as tassels loafers, the Matthew Cookson collection has ‘penny’ loafers although without the penny and we have made these with leather soles for town wear and dainite rubber soles for a more country casual look. Our latest butterfly loafer is made with a single piece of leather adorned with a turned strap which gives a twist to the classic loafer look.


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