The best loafers for men: a gentleman's guide

Posted by Lee Fleming on


A favoured Summer casual style by Barker is the Men’s loafer available in several designs including the Penny Loafer, Tassel Loafer and Horsebit Loafer as part of the Barker Spring / Summer 2021 collection. The history of the loafer dates back to 1847 where a London-based bespoke shoe company called Wildsmith Shoes were tasked with designing a casual house shoe for King George VI. Created by Raymond Lewis Wildsmith, the aptly named Wildsmith Loafer style has subsequently been sold by other London shoe companies under the name ‘Harrow’ over the years.

Tassel loafers

Another origin of the loafer can be traced to 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 Moccasin which became popular throughout Europe.

Caruso Penny loafer

 In 1934, Maine-based shoemaker G.H Bass made a Tveranger inspired loafer and named it Weejun in homage to its Norwegian heritage. This G.H. Bass reinterpretation became penny loafer style we adore today as 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 slot of the leather strip.

Slip on or lace less shoes are an important style in the current Barker collection especially in the Summer months as they provide effortless style from Tassel Loafers accompanying suits at weddings or formal events to casual Penny Loafers worn with T-Shirt and shorts. Slip on loafer styles are featured in several of the Barker ranges including the Handcrafted, Creative and Professional collections.

Caruso penny loafer

One of the longest standing styles in the current Barker collection is the Caruso, a timeless Penny Loafer introduced in the early 1960s. Designed by a member of the Barker family, Albert Barker took inspiration from the American Ivy League classic making the Caruso on the number 10 last from polished leather on a full leather sole. Available in Black and Burgundy Hi-Shine the Caruso is a timeless classic that can be worn dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Furthermore, the Caruso Penny Loafer is the inspiration behind the BOEB Archive collection Mears which has been made from premium fine grain and suede leather on a British Dainite rubber sole.

Other Barker Penny 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.

Tassel loafers

Another slip on staple is the Tassel Loafer which came to be from a commission made by the Alden Shoe Company for actor Paul Lukas. The tassel loafer is has an elegant silhouette and is available in the Barker collection in the form of the Clive and Studland styles. A popular slip on style in the Creative collection is Frank, made on the 69 last from premium calf and suede leathers with brass Horsebit detailing.

Several loafer styles currently featured in the Barker Summer Sale including selected Jefferson, Ledley, Litchfield and Newborough colourways.

Explore the Barker Loafer collection and Summer Sale online.