Wednesday, May 30, 2012
The two great casual shoe styles of summer are the boat shoe and the driver. Boat shoes are of course the domain of what remains of American prep, worn for leisure with either madras shorts or a madras shirt and sometimes both. The driver on the other hand is Italian, evoking in its wearers' minds the image of themselves on the Amalfi Drive in a Ferrari California with Monica Bellucci in the passenger seat. It is typically a moccasin with nubs on the heel and the sole that are intended to help the driver work his pedals without wearing the finish off his dress oxfords, and from the maker's point of view the brilliance of the design is that the nubs wear out quickly when worn to walk on concrete so the shoe requires frequent replacement (a characteristic that has helped make Diego Della Valle, founder of Tod's, one of the world's richer men).
Drivers are to the best of my knowledge a phenomenon of post-War Italy. I have written in the past about the firm of Calzaturificio Miserocchi, which may have originated the driver. There were two brothers involved in that company and they apparently had a falling out. One brother kept the brand name, which he later sold to Prada who now makes Car Shoes in great volume by machine in Eastern Europe. The other kept the factory, where he apparently makes similar shoes in an artisanal sort of way. These latter became well known among those of us who follow this sort of thing when the late style icon Gianni Agnelli was photographed on several occasions wearing a pair of red ones (he must have sent someone to pick his up in person as the artisanal brother took my money six months ago but has never sent me any shoes).
This driving shoes with a suit thing is what makes drivers special to my mind. They look good, in a sprezzatura sort of way, and the combination can almost be justified if a man is within a couple hundred feet of his car and arguably has not had an opportunity to change back to conventional shoes. In red calf of course. The red socks are optional.