Why, you ask, would you need a driving shoe when, if you are looking for footwear in the similar slip-on style, the loafer is perfectly fine? Well, it is precisely because you are on a drive, more specifically a very long drive like, say, from the heart of the city all the way to a mountain escape, that you need a shoe purposely built for the task.
The thinner sole of the driving shoe allows you to accurately judge the amount of pressure needed when stepping on the gas, brake, or clutch. And those little round nubs, which run from the sole right up to the back of the heel, improve traction, preventing your feet from slipping on the pedal or mat, an annoyance that can become critical when, for instance, your foot shifts during a sudden turn.
Also, and maybe most important, the construction, softer and more supple, makes the shoe comfortable to wear amid all that pumping and shifting and driving, which is really reason enough to get one (just imagine stop-and-go drive in a bulky leather boot).
Louis Vuitton's Monte Carlo driving shoes are inspired by the fun-and-play district in Monaco.
Just a couple examples of the over 1,000 combinations possible with Salvatore Ferragamo's made-to-order driving shoe progam.
Tod's Gommino driving shoes features 133 pebbles on its sole.
It was the Italian industrialist, Gianni Agnelli, who helped popularize the driving shoe when, in one of his many moments of breaking the rules of style, he paired a suit with the casual footwear. There was no pooh-poohing the Fiat titan’s choice because, well, he was the Fiat titan and the combination actually worked: The loucheness of the driving shoe complemented the soft tailoring of Italian suits and, when paired together, it only amplified that elusive attitude of sprezzatura.
With the influence of Agnelli and the availability of the style from shoemakers like Giulo Miserocchi (who reportedly created the very first), The Car Shoe Company (who secured the original patent), and Tod’s (who popularized the style even more with the introduction of its 133-pebbled Gommino), the driving shoe made the leap from an item reserved for the one-percenter (who else would fork over many, many shekels for shoes that will only be used while in a car?) to a staple in the wardrobe of men.
On the pavement, it projects a particular kind of lifestyle. The driving shoe says: I am taking it easy. It is 11 a.m. on a Monday and, yeah, I am walking to the neighborhood café.
And of course, even divorced from the pedal, it still conveys the idea of getting away on journeys that end in an idyll where the sun always shines, time doesn’t matter, and walking is not a sweaty endeavor but a pleasure.
You may not be able to afford to play hooky on a weekday or embark on a grand ol’ tour right now, but the feeling you get while wearing your own driving shoe will be a close approximation of that slow and perfect leisure.
1. Keep going
Driving shoes can also accompany you on an existential journey while being on an actual journey. At least that’s what Salvatore Ferragamo projects in a series of videos featuring SoundCloud founder Alexander Ljung, racecar driver Mathias Lauda, and photographer Johannes Huebl. While these men muse about their hard-won successes, they are wearing Ferragamo’s made-to-order drivers, which see over a thousand combinations of body, sole, and that iconic Gancio hardware. Observe, too, its soles with square islands instead of nubs. These are more suitable (read: durable) for conquering the roads of your perfect getaway. Greenbelt 4
2. Dog’s barking
Your drooling Labrador can now get in on the action. Dots of Life by Tod’s, the visual treatise on the driving shoe lifestyle, adds a new category for you, your favorite Gommino, and your pet. Some entries on the online feed: a pug mugging by the sea, a kitten popping out of a shoebox, and… is that a puppy chomping on a shoe? Even fantastic beasts are welcome. We spy an iguana sunning its striped hide beside a Gommino in bright orange suede. Greenbelt 4
3. Color popping
Don’t count out the French: House Louis Vuitton marks the 10th anniversary of its Monte Carlo driving moccasins with an explosion of colors. The brown waxed alligator and black patent versions are definitely standouts, but consider a dusty blue in textured calf leather. Pack this on a sun-and-sea holiday. Greenbelt 4