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Loafers are my favourite shoe. It helps that you can get plain and tasseled. Being my age, I am second generation MOD/Two Tone kid, they appeal because they looked so right, and worn by one of my favourite bands ever The Specials.
Two Tone was it MOD? But hey what it did do was bring loafers on to the feet of many young people. The proper ones cost a fortune then and still do! But the quality is so much better.
The original Loafer was designed just before the 2nd World War and has its origins in Norway. Norwegian farmers would wear a shoe when ‘cattle loafing’, hence the name. The shoe developed further in America by the company BASS, and they called them Weejuns, after the Norwaygians. They added the all important strap across the front of the shoe.
The term ‘Penny Loafers’ comes from prep school students wanting to customise their loafers, the penny being wedged in the front strap.
The Loafer look for MODS, I assume, comes from the Jazz players, meaning the Blue Notes lp etc. and because of the college boy look, ie, Harringtons, Levi’s and Loafers. A defining look even today.
There are several makers these days as you would expect. Prices in the UK vary a lot. You can buy an ok pair for about £50, but spend a bit more and go for a old school make and you can feel the difference. BASS Weejuns are a thinner shoe, where as the Loakes have a more sturdy look and feel.
Tassel loafers came into being in the post-war period of the 1940s, right when tweed jackets, Shetland sweaters, and penny loafers dominated prep schools and Ivy League campuses. As college students graduated, they wanted something as comfortable as their slip-ons, but were a bit dressier and more sophisticated for their new life in the business world. It was around this time that an actor named Paul Lukas came back from Europe with a pair of oxfords. They had little tassels at the end of their laces, which Lukas thought made them look more lively. So he took them to a couple of New York shoemakers to see if they could make something similar, and they in turn took the job to Alden. The company’s president at the time, Arthur Tarlow, came up with tasseled loafers and they were an instant success. That makes Alden’s model the original, and Paul Lukas the first man to wear this style of footwear.
The above is taken from the website http://putthison.com/post/30457460870/the-charm-of-tassel-loafers-i-really-like-tassel