If there’s one shoe we’re obsessing over, it’s the backless loafer. Currently the only footwear you’ll see worn with raw hem jeans on the Insta-elite, the Stan Smith pales by comparison.
The renaissance started with Alessandro Michele’s reinvention of the loafer (as part of his Gucci overhaul), less as a means-business work shoe — occasionally kooked up with a sassy ankle sock — but high fashwan and fabulous... Kangaroo hair-lined (which our resident flat shoe expert Hannah Rochell assures us is ‘is sustainable kangaroo, which is a by-product because it is farmed for its meat’ on En Brogue), floral, metallic.
It’s almost unlikely, but the world has got on board and — I can speak from personal experience — they beat a babouche. Something about the smart, slick loafer mixed with the casj cool of a slide — they’re that niche shoe gap you could never fill when it’s unacceptably cold to wear your Birks but you’re mourning their easy-to-wear-ness. Even those truly tricky pieces, like culottes (what shoes to wear with culottes?!) or cropped jeans, which look fairly ridiculous in all but a few select styles of shoe, are totally doable with a backless loafer.
Like the loafer, they’re Monday-Sunday wearable — boardroom to bar? They’ve got it covered. It's all about ankles out (what's the point, otherwise?) — cropped, rolled-up or, if it's your thing, you can even brave with a mini skirt (as championed by backless loafer pioneer Leandra Medine.) #Like.
What you gain in zero potential for ankle rubs, you might think you lose in potential for ankle socks, mais non — with the right look (maybe an on-the-ankle jean and jumper) you can definitely sock up, though maybe keep it for the weekend and practice walking beforehand as sock + no back can = serious slippiness.
Yes we all want Alessandro’s, but sometimes life is cruel and the expense of what you truly want can’t be justified, but the high street has some slip-ons to fill that Gucci gap.
Loafer legends G.H.Bass have updated their classic pennys with a back-free style, while Topshop, Whistles and Other Stories have got that sleek shape right.
Here are 10 pairs we're deciding which to buy from now...