The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on our daily lives and continues to cause significant changes to our personal life and livelihood. Many businesses have discovered benefits in the work force operating from home but what does this mean for the footwear industry? The long-standing tradition of suiting with formal or dress shoes as the standard of professional attire is being reconsidered with business casual and relaxed elegance going from strength to strength. A move away from the classic mens oxford shoe for work means a variety of handmade men’s shoe styles will be seen more in the office or boardroom, in particular, the loafer slip-on shoe.
A timeless laceless shoe style that has a rich history around the world, the loafer’s origins trace back to an English royal commission for a new type of house shoe but Norwegian Nils Gregoriusson Tveranger is often seen as the inventor of the loafers and moccasins seen and worn today having reinterpreted traditional Native American and Norwegian footwear. The ease of slipping on a loafer combined with the formality of its construction, made generally from premium leather and suede makes it the perfect companion to both formal and casual wardrobes.
Championed by the American Ivy League, the penny loafer for men is a gentleman’s wardrobe staple since its introduction in 1936 by the G.H. Bass shoe company and became an instant classic amongst the wealthy undergrads at Ivy League Schools in the United States. A timeless penny loafer by Barker that was originally introduced in the 1960’s by Albert Barker, the Caruso penny loafer is made on the oldest last shape still in use in the Barker Earls Barton factory, the number ten last. Made from high-grade polished leather using the Goodyear welted construction with a full leather sole, Caruso remains in the current collection and proudly features in the Barker Icon Series. Other Barker penny loafers available include the Jevington loafer from the Handcrafted collection alongside the Gates (BarkerTech) Portsmouth (Professional) and St Paul's (London) slip-on styles.
A timeless slip-on shoe style that can easily be worn dressed up or down is the mens tassel loafer, originally a commission for a well-known actor by the American brand Alden, the tassel loafer was introduced into the Massachusetts shoemaker's collection in 1950 and remains a frequent style in every shoemakers collection around the world. The Barker Newborough is a fantastic tassel loafer from the Barker Handcrafted collection and is made from premium gain leather with a full leather sole. Furthermore, the Studland tassel loafer is a Professional collection staple that is made from calf leather and suede on a durable rubber sole.
The horse-bit loafer is another mens casual slip-on shoe style that has become a modern day classic recognized instantly by the signature snaffle bit hardware detailing. The horse-bit loafer was introduced in 1953 by Aldo Gucci, the innovative son of the company founder, Guccio Gucci and has remained a fashion staple ever since. A recent addition to the Barker Creative collection, the Frank horse-bit loafer is made on the 69 last from premium calf leather and soft suede on a single leather sole.
Explore the latest Barker loafer collection.