In the early 20th century, a young Italian named Guccio Gucci worked as a porter at the Savoy Hotel in London and was surrounded by the luggage of the elite. The soft, richly tanned leather bags and their owners fascinated him so much so that, when he returned to Italy, he began to build a saddlery shop just outside of Florence, specialising in finely crafted accessories for the well to do, most of whom were equestrians. From the very beginning, horse culture, riding and training was part of GUCCI’s image. When Guccio’s eldest son, Aldo, took over the company in 1953, he incorporated the horsebit into the loafer.
Their construction process, although not without the intervention of machine, is pretty damn hands on. Their workshop, apparently a small discrete building outside of Florence, is where the craftsmen hand cut, sew and colour each pair. Their sole and their calved uppers are Blake stitched, which gives them a softer and more comfortable almost slipper-like wearing experience. Unlike a Goodyear welt from Alden, the Blake stitch also allows the upper to rest closer to the sole, which is an irreplaceable asset of the design, allowing the loafer to achieve a super-sleek, effortless, almost invisible sole aesthetic.
As the only shoe in the permanent collection of New York’s MoMA, the Horsebit has been worn by film legends like Jean Yonnel, Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Francis Ford Coppola, just to name a few. GUCCI’s unwavering dedication to the core principles of design means they are the only manufacturer that can release a calf loafer with their subtle semi dress, semi- casual silhouette, and honestly say they pioneered it. Everyone else becomes copycat. They’ve managed to reimagine these principles dozens of times, reinventing the way they’re expressed, but, of course, never really compromising them. Cartier has the Tank Américaine watch, a longer sleeker Louis. Gucci has the Jordaan loafer. They both have conviction in their design and infectious love for their DNA.
THIS ARTICLE APPEARED ORIGINALLY IN THE APRIL 2019 EDITION OF ICON MAGAZINE.