A laceless staple in the Barker collection is the loafer and the rise of this slip on shoes style has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and its persuasion on the way gentleman are dressing. The origins of the loafer can be traced back to the London-based bespoke shoe company Wildsmith Shoes who designed a slip-on shoe for King George VI as a casual house shoe. The bespoke slip-on design by Raymond Lewis Wildsmith was called the ‘Wildsmith Loafer’ and has subsequently been sold by other London shoe companies under the name ‘Harrow’.
The second origin of the loafer is in Scandinavia where Aurland-based shoemaker Nils Gregoriusson Tveranger designed a loafer in 1908 that was originally worn by Norwegian farmers. In 1930, Tveranger developed his design having been inspired by Native American footwear and named his creation the Aurland Moccasins which became known throughout Europe.
In 1934, Maine-based shoemaker G.H Bass released a loafer-inspired by Tveranger’s shoe design and named it Weejun in homage to its Norwegian roots. It is this reinterpretation by G.H. Bass that has become penny loafer
style we adore today. The colloquial Penny Loafer name was introduced in 1950s America when the Weejun became the shoe of choice for college students who thought it fashionable to keep a dime in the half-moon cut out a slot of the leather strip.
The gentleman’s guide to Barker loafers includes several loafer style designs that feature in several of the Barker collections including the Handcrafted, Creative and Professional collections
. The Penny Loafer remains a popular slip-on style in the Barker collection with one of the longest-running Barker shoe styles, the Caruso being a Penny Loafer designed by Albert Barker in the early 1960s. Inspired by the American Ivy League classic, the Caruso was and still is made on the number 10 last shape at the Barker factory in Earls Barton.
Available in Black and Burgundy Hi-Shine the Caruso is a timeless
classic men's loafer shoes
that can be worn dressed up or down depending on the occasion. The Mears Penny Loafer from the BOEB Archive collection is a reinterpretation of the Caruso but made from different calf, grain and
suede leather loafer
on a British Dainite rubber sole.
Other popular Barker black loafers
include the Gates (BarkerTech collection), Jevington (Handcrafted collection) and Portsmouth (Professional collection) which are made from a variety of premium calf and suede leathers on a choice of leather or Dainite rubber soles. The
is another classic slip-on style that has an elegant silhouette especially the Barker Clive, Newborough and Studland tassel loafer.
A recent addition to the Barker Creative collection is the Frank
loafer also known as a bit loafer due to the horse-bit detailing on the leather strap. Made on the 69 last from premium European calf leathers
, Frank features a Goodyear welted construction, single leather sole and tasteful brass saddle detailing. For women, there is the Imogen loafers which are made on the 5023 and 5024 last shapes from premium calf, grain and suede leathers in several colourways.