Nothing beats a good drive and every good drive needs driving shoes. Whether you’re exploring the unspoiled pieces of backcountry, road tripping with your family or preparing for all this year’s racing events ahead, there’s something admirably satisfying about getting on the road. In 2020, roadways have proved more invigorating than ever and with travel restrictions still in place and escapism on our minds, we can only expect car travel to become even more popular in 2021.
You will need the right shoes that will help you to put the pedal to the metal – and what’s better for that than the polished driving loafers? First introduced by Italian brand Gianni Mostile – later purchased by the Prada Group – in 1963 and followed by a collection from Tod’s, this wave of new footwear emerged that allowed the car and its driver to form a closer bond. Now, nearly 60 years later, driving shoes are back in the spotlight. Fusing the suave look of classic moccasins with rubber pebbled nubs on their outsoles, they retain their mid-century features and are sprinkled with modern flourishes that cater to all your needs, whether business or pleasure.
This is our guide to the best driving shoes for the season ahead.
Tod’s Gommino Driving Shoes
To say that driving shoes are a Tod’s classic would be an understatement. Founded in the 1920s, the Italian company capitalised on the demand for an affordable driving moccasin and began producing the shoe for the masses well in the style’s prime time of popularity. It’s known for Tod’s to look inwards for inspiration and its commitment to heritage and timeless style is evident in each pair’s construction and design – from velvety soft and pebbled leather through butter-soft suede and a plethora of iconic embellishments such as laces and exotic skin trims, if you’re looking for a pair with history, look no further.
Price | £670
Hugs & Co. Tasselled Driving Loafers
The pinnacle of sports-luxe style, British footwear brand Hugs & Co prides itself in creating classic silhouettes with a refreshing twist, while also introducing sustainability to the luxury shoe market. Its commitment to upcycling is visible through the TS1 driving loafers that combine old car tyre with Italian leather, while the suede tasselled loafers remain an ethereal choice that shapeshifts to fit every occasion. Whether you’re driving an SUV, retro convertible or a sports car, this pair comes in a variety of colours that will perfectly match your set of wheels.
Price | £145
Salvatore Ferragamo Parigi Driver
Although Salvatore Ferragamo is well-known for its line-up of luxurious shoes, the style that immediately connects the dots between the brand’s heritage and style is the Parigi driving loafer. The Italian label releases a new iteration of this silhouette every year, and the 2021 style is particularly eye-catching. Combining oxblood with a deep blue hue and brown trims, it’s finished with the iconic Gancini hardware. If you’re more of a minimalist, the Gaucho style, on the other hand, boasts a one-tone silhouette that swaps the embellishment for a sleek rope to help you channel the label’s innate sophistication.
Price | £461
Prada Crocodile Leather Loafers
Put your outfit up a gear with Prada’s luxurious driving shoes. Having started as a humble leather goods shop in 1913 selling imported English steamer trunks and handbags, the Italian fashion house has quickly become a favourite of the aristocracy and the best-dressed members of the haute bourgeoisie in Europe. Today, Prada is renowned for utilising minimalist designs to achieve traditional style with modern influence and its driving shoes are a testament to its rich heritage. If you want to match the status of your best car to your outfit, reach for this pair made exclusively from crocodile skin.
Price | £1850
Arthur Knight Silver Metallic Driving Shoes
Started as a humble family business in the heart of British shoe manufacturing, Northamptonshire, in 1910, Arthur Knight has grown into a prestigious label praised by magazines such as GQ and Vogue. Perfect for the warmer season, these smart slip-ons are imbued with traditional driving shoe details such as tiny pebbles on the outsole for optimal grip. The penny-style silhouette is the ideal complement to wide-leg trousers as well as midi dresses, while the metallic coating will harmoniously match the gleaming hardware of your ride.
Price | £116
Car Shoe The Original Driving Shoes
A historic Italian brand created by Gianni Mostile, Car Shoe could easily be named the ‘father of driving shoes’. In 2001, The Prada Group took over the company with the intention of preserving and reviving one of the most sophisticated and emblematic Italian brands – reintroducing the iconic 1963 logo and restoring the original quality, image and style. Since then, there have been many collaborations with car manufacturers which brought new models into the spotlight but if you really want to show others that you know the game, The Original pair is your best bet. With an elegant square toe, exposed seams and a laid-back rope detailing, the unisex pair blends history with contemporary design to cater to every sophisticated car owner’s needs.
Price | £340
Gucci Leather Ayrton Driving Shoes
Italian fashion powerhouse Gucci has adapted the driving shoe silhouette by doing nothing else than tweaking the comfortable, warm-weather pair with its story of iconic embellishments. Crafted mainly from tanned Italian leather or suede and presented in various finishes like for example the exotic crocodile skin, its line-up offers something for every type of shoe connoisseur. The Ayrton are named after Formula 1 star Mr Ayrton Senna and are graced with the House’s iconic Horsebit hardware atop the two-tone Web Stripe – helping you to blend in perfectly with Mediterranean backdrops on your next coastal road trip.
Price | £435
Bally Pearce Driving Shoes
Reinventing the sleek loafer silhouette to create its go-to archetypes, Bally’s driving shoes are intended at everyday use and not just for the road – although the generously pebbled outsoles certainly reveal who you are. Each pair effortlessly exemplifies the label’s expert craftsmanship and penchant for using only the most luxurious materials. A true perennial favourite is Pearce – a classic split-sole moccasin with contrasting lining and the brand’s Stripe detailing across the vamp – while Dravil is crafted from Russian leather in a water-repellent finish perfect for the unexpected British weather.
Price | £340
Aurélien Leopard Driving Shoes
Cut and stitched by hand to offer an exquisite finish and incredible comfort in and out of the car, each Aurélien pair is made in Italy to the most enacting standards. While there are many colourways and iterations to choose from, we think the leopard-printed pair is packed with the type of attitude that will brighten up any dull day. Pebbled soles are invisible at a first glance, meaning that while they’re excellent for gripping city streets, they will also effortlessly complete your smart-casual edits.
Price | £170
Isabel Marant Foggia Embellished Suede Moccasins
Giving the classic driving shoe silhouette a typical Isabel Marant treatment, the Foggia moccasins are designed with the traditional loafer silhouette and crafted from suede, yet they’re graced with a sea of miniature crystals and burnished studs that are worthy of their own spotlight. A sleek leather sole and smooth lining make them the ultimate pair for nonchalant summer rides around the city, and they certainly won’t disappoint when you step out of the car too.
Price | £300
Polo Ralph Lauren Suede Driving Shoes
Regardless of whether you’re dressed for the office or simply heading out for Sunday brunch, Polo Ralph Lauren’s driving shoes will always act as an elegant addition to your ensemble. The brand’s styles nod to its all-American heritage in a subtle yet refined way and are perfect for slipping on at a moment’s notice due to their timeless design. Equip your shoe arsenal with this minimalist, suede pair and style them with chinos and cotton shirt – the logo detailing at the heel will subtly hint at their coveted background.
Price | £115
Ermenegildo Zegna Highway Pelletessuta Driving Shoes
It’s obvious that driving shoes aren’t just supposed to make your favourite activity more comfortable, but also make you look instantly more sophisticated and elevate both smart and casual looks with luxurious flair. Known for producing its fabrics in a wool mill in Italy and sourcing fibres directly from their country of origin, Ermenegildo Zegna is the brand to look for timeless style and quality craftsmanship and the Highway driving shoes are proof. The eye-catching Pelletessuta pair are created by using innovative Nappa leather yarns masterly woven on a loom replicating the traditional method of weaving cloth. And the result? Precious fabric recalling cashmere’s luxuriously soft feel.
Price | £566
Cole Haan Evelyn Driver Loafers
Entering the scene armed with its all-American heritage, Cole Haan proves that you can’t simply judge a company by its country of origin. Although the brand now focuses merely on modern designs, due to its history that spans 90 years it is known for manufacturing comfortable dress shoes that stand above the rest in terms of value, quality and comfort. The Evelyn Driver is a pair that perfectly reflects the label’s work-to-weekend aesthetic. Cut from gently pebbled leather with a moccasin construction and free from any embellishments, this women’s pair is perfect for every day.
Price | £122
Lacoste Plaisance Driving Loafers
While Lacoste’s iconic crocodile polo shirts are world renowned, its accessories and shoes are equally impeccable. The Plaisance pair encapsulates enduring French elegance with a smart driving shoe silhouette – ideal for days when comfort and versatility is key. The butter-soft suede construction is juxtaposed against the rubber pebbles that help with grip and add a pop of colour to the minimalist profile, while the brand’s lettering and traditional webbing across the vamp create that desired athleisure feel – a must-have pair to bring with you on holidays on the French Riviera.
Price | £120
Scarosso Carlo Driving Loafers
Scarosso is a label established by two university friends specialising in premium, hand-made Italian shoes sold at a mid-market price – but don’t be discouraged by their affordable value. Best known for its leather tassel loafers and Chelsea boots that are fully customisable through the brand’s online configurator, the duo’s brainchild is rapidly growing in size as well as popularity – in 2015, the founders Marco and Moritz have already been interviewed by Forbes. Their passion for materials and artisanal heritage is visible in each pair, and the iconic Carlo driving shoes are just as polished and sleek as the rest.
Price | £185
Bottega Veneta Drivers Loafers
Bottega Veneta’s heritage plays an important role in its modern-day identity, and under the helm of creative director Daniel Lee, the label’s cult status is only growing. While the most recognisable sign of the Italian powerhouse’s DNA is the Intrecciato weave, the new season is all about playing with architectural silhouettes and therefore the aptly named Drivers might just be your best choice to impress. With a sleek calfskin profile set atop a two-part rubber sole that wraps around the heel, this pair is made for the brave men who know how to make a statement at all costs.
Price | £495
All imagery courtesy of the brands featured. Leading image courtesy of Hermes.