The loafer never set out to be a slinky, sensual, form-fitting or foot-fetishizing example of men’s footwear. The name itself comes out in a gurgle and recalls heavy carbohydrates and somnolent time-idlers who loaf around looking for something to do. Neither of which, one would willingly agree to put on a foot. But one glance at a brand new leather loafer, in all its bespoke glory, makes it easy to understand the shoe’s versatility and timeless nature. In a single century, the slip-on has gone from hobby utility shoe, to prepster mainstay, to an ankle-baring fixture for punk and hip hop artists. How did this iconic shoe secure its place in international men’s fashion? To understand, it’s important to note that the loafer is not one style of shoe; it’s seven.

Bass Weejun, Kiltie, Penny, Aurland, Gucci, Belgian, and Tassel. While these would make noble monikers for purebred dogs or suites at a hunting lodge, they are, in fact, the most influential kinds of loafers in the footwear’s densely packed 100-year history. Most delineations stem from the Bass Weejun and the Gucci, and the others are more like exciting spinoffs.

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