In today’s climate of footwear, the more substantial penny loafer is often considered a classic shoe. If there's two models to embody this type of shoe it would be the Piccadilly from Edward Green and the Lopez from John Lobb. However, the loafer didn't start life in this robust but neat guise. The first loafer of any proportion is thought to have only arrived on the scene – a good 50 years later than the inception of the best-known Northampton cordwainers. Once in this faction of noble shoemaking companies, Wildsmith are credited with creating the first modern loafer in 1926 for their client King George VI. Shy, delicate and a self-effacing man, who was an inveterate smoker – he would pace around his country houses with worry – and so commissioned the brand to produce a bespoke casual shoe. Except, it was requested the shoe be designed, so that he could ‘loaf’ around his residences. Soon after, Britain’s leading shoemakers adapted the shoe to become slightly beefier in construction to cope with outdoor use, thus entering the realm of ready-to-wear.
Not so long ago it would have been common to see this style of shoe being donned by lawyers in one of the four Inns of Court in London, hedge fund managers in Mayfair, underwriters of Lloyd’s of London insurance market in the City and across the Atlantic by traders on Wall Street. These patches of corporate wealth now lie largely desolate, with only a fleeting visitor coming back to fetch his loafers that were left behind. During this time away from the office, the sleeker versions of the loafer have had a mini-renaissance. Slippers, Belgian loafers and the more continental type of penny loafer have found themselves to be adaptable sources of comfort inside the home. But as the pathway out of lockdown is revealed and we filter back to work or even just take more trips outside of the home the classic penny loafer comes back into the frame as a fundamental choice of footwear. Feet shod in this calibre of loafer are going to benefit in numerous ways and so it’s lucky that The Rake offer an enviable selection from the most well-known British shoemakers.