The Swedish fashion brand Acne has created its versions of the penny loafer with glitter and oversized tassels. Tommy Hillfinger has made several variants with colored soles and checkered wool fabric. Comme des Garcons has collaborated with the traditional shoe manufacturer Trickers and made shoes with white rubber soles. Burberry has been inspired by the Incan Indians, while Yves Saint Laurent has created it’s own twist with a 10.5 centimeter high stiletto heel. But behind all the unique creations and exciting designs is the true father of penny loafer moccasins, a Norwegian farmer named Nils Gregoriussen Tveranger. Learn more about the Aurland shoe – a journey from a Norwegian local to an American icon.
The penny loafer originated in the early 1900s when a Norwegian farmer named Nils Gregoriussen Tveranger wanted to improve the design of the teser, a traditional laceless shoe that was worn by local fishermen and peasants. The teser was a tough yet lightweight slip-on style that was made from leather. After going to America to study the art of cordwaining, he created the Aurland moccasin when he returned to Norway, which combined elements from the teser and the Iroquois Native Americans’ moccasins.
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The easy appeal of the loafer was that it was comfortable as well as smart. The strap on penny loafers was originally a design feature, there to add intrigue to an otherwise simple silhouette. It was the Aurland shoes that inspired the American shoe manufacturers to make moccasins, now also known as “Weejuns”, named after “The Norwegians” because of their origin from Norway.
But why are they called penny loafers?
The strap had a small slit was the perfect size to hold a coin, and back in the days when using payphones was the norm, many young men and women would keep money in their shoes in case they needed to make an emergency call. Years later, preppy Americans adapted their loafers and added silver coinage to their shoes to make a statement. And so, the penny loafer was born.
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The most common legend about the coin is about the practical value of carrying around extra capital. These coins could save a fashionable lion home from a party. With the 25 “øring” (Norwegian coin) from one shoe, you could call home for a ride, and with the other 25 øring, if you didn’t get a ride, you could just afford to take the last bus home.
Likely the first pair of dress shoes that you owned as a child, the penny loafer is akin to a pair of khakis or a polo shirt – it has transcended seasonal trends and is regarded as a timeless essential. One of the particular appeals of penny loafers is that they can be worn as both formal and casual wear, for men and women. From high-flying lawyers and accountants to sharply dressed Yale students, the penny loafer has been a style that defies subculture and has truly stood the test of time.
Perhaps it is the versatility of the penny loafer that has resulted in its unshakeable popularity throughout the years. After all, it can be argued that no other shoe style can offer as many styling possibilities: the penny loafer can elevate the most laidback looks while also being the perfect finishing touch to smart casual ones – equally at home whether paired with tapered trousers or linen shorts.
Penny loafers are an incredibly versatile shoe that can be worn all year round when paired with the right outfit.
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Penny loafers go great with skinny fit jeans or chinos, don’t forget to roll up the ankle to show off your shoes and create a great casual look.
Try wearing penny loafers without socks to create a clean, minimalist silhouette from head to toe. Suede penny loafers offer a versatile option that can be dressed up and dressed down for any situation
Wealthy sportsmen and the well-traveled elite wore the Aurland shoes back home in fashionable places like Palm Beach, where an Esquire magazine staffer spotted the first pair in 1935. According to Esquire, the Aurland shoes were usually paired with light-colored suits and a Panama hat or a fedora.
Penny loafers can be worn with suits; pair a light-colored suit with a similar tone of loafer for a great summer look and a dark suit with a patent loafer for a more formal look.
Shiny jewelry and fast money don’t just belong to the hip-hoppers of our time. Throughout the moccasin’s history, there has always been room for a cheeky decoration. The old Aurlandskoen was not only used for dancing, but was also part of several Norwegian national costumes (bunad).
And today you can’t go wrong with Cromwell Loafer
Pair it with pretty much anything in your closet and you’re good to go. Want to look sharp on a hot summer day? Go for Cromwell in navy or dark brown suede to spruce up a pair of shorts and a linen button-down. For a more formal setting, you can’t go wrong with pairing the dark brown full-grain leather Cromwell with a navy suit or blazer.
From a Norwegian Local to an American Icon, written by Tor Kjolberg