Posted by Lee Fleming on

While the decision to invest in an Oxford or Derby shoe is the most popular predicament most gentlemen find themselves in the same can apply when deciding between a loafer or a moccasin?

Both casual counterparts with a rich history dating back to the 1900s. The loafer is a laceless slip-on shoe while the moccasin consists of a sole and sides made of a single leather piece which is stitched together at the top. The origins of the loafer can be traced back firstly to a London-based bespoke shoe company called Wildsmith Shoes who designed a slip-on shoe for King George VI as a casual house shoe.

Designed by Raymond Lewis Wildsmith the bespoke design was called the ‘Wildsmith Loafer’ and has subsequently been sold by other London shoe firms under the name ‘Harrow’. Secondly and better known is the loafer’s Scandinavian roots where an Aurland-based shoemaker called 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 the moccasin-like shoe traditionally worn by the workers of his fjord-side home. Named the Aurland Moccasin, the loafer became known throughout Europe.

In 1934, Maine-based shoemaker G.H Bass released its version of Tveranger’s shoe and named it Weejun in homage to its Norwegian inspiration. The penny loafer is one of the most popular slip-on styles made by Barker in their Earls Barton factory (Northampton, England) and features in several of the Barker collections including the BarkerTech, Handcrafted, Creative and Professional ranges.

Caruso - Men's Handmade Leather Loafer By Barker

The Caruso, Jevington and Portsmouth are traditional penny loafer made using the Goodyear welt construction from premium calf and grain leathers or suede. Other loafer styles include the Clive and Studland tassel loafers and the Frank horse-bit loafer.

Imogen - Women's Tassel Loafer By Barker

For women, there are the Amber, Imogen and Sienna tassel loafers which are made on the 5023 and 5024 last shapes at the Barker factory.

The origins of the moccasin leads to North America as and were worn by Native American hunters and tradesmen. The word “moccasin” comes from the Algonquian language Powhatan words “makasin” and from the Proto-Algonquian word “maxkeseni” which mean “shoe.

Jefferson - Men's Moccasin By Barker

The Barker range of moccasins includes the Doug, Javron and Jefferson styles which are made using premium leathers and suede. Both the loafer and moccasin shoes for men are comfortable designs that are effortless to get on and off but if you’re looking for a more formal style the loafer is advised and for a casual house shoe the moccasin wins.

Clive - Men's Handmade Tassel Loafer By Barker

If you are considering a slip-on dress shoe the Clive tassel loafer is ideal for formal events as it’s made from high-grade polished leather and is available in black and burgundy. Explore all the Barker loafer and moccasin styles online or in-store at one of Barker’s London flagship stores located in the west end (Regent and Jermyn Street), in the city (Bow Lane and Old Broad Street) and Canary Wharf.