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A short history of the driving shoe

Just like trench coats and aviator sunglasses, the driving shoe started life as an object of pure function - and has evolved to become a must-have of the modern wardrobe. If, like us, you’ve got more than one or two pairs lurking in your closet you might be surprised to hear that this footwear icon is only a few decades old.

Designed by Gianni Mostile and patented by the snappily named Italian brand Car Shoe in 1963, the driving shoe did exactly what it said on the tin - provided drivers with an alternative pair of shoes to avoid wearing out the soles on their formal loafers or brogues. The perfect accessory for the classic Ferraris and Alfa Romeos coming out of Italy at the time, they were an instant hit with the wealthy gents who could afford expensive leather shoes for this specific purpose. Practical and chic, the driving shoe took the form of a traditional moccasin but was fitted with rubber bumps on the sole and extending up the heel to provide better traction on the pedals and offer greater connection between the foot and the pedal, making driving easier and more responsive.

But, while they may have been the invention of Car Shoe, it was another Italian brand that made driving shoes internationally famous: Tod’s. Spearheaded then and now by Diego Della Valle, the Tod’s owner immediately spotted an opportunity to bring the driving shoe to the masses, using modern production methods to offer them at a more affordable price point. It wasn’t long before Tod’s driving shoes became the de rigueur design for international style icons, including John F Kennedy, Gianni Agnelli and Gunther Sachs, and the world accordingly followed suit.

Now renamed the Gommino in homage to its rubber pebble sole, the driving shoe remains one of Tod’s best sellers to this day and is available in a vast array of colours, leathers and suedes - and has become a summer favourite in both bright colours and more traditional hues. The driving shoe hasn’t lost its star appeal either, with celebrities running the gamut from Alexander Skarsgaard to Prince George spotted sported a pair in recent years.

Grey Suede Driving Shoes

Grey Suede Driving Shoes

£150

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Caramel Suede Driving Shoes

Caramel Suede Driving Shoes

£150

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Navy Suede Driving Shoes

Navy Suede Driving Shoes

£150

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Of course, with their lightweight construction, versatile design and timeless appeal, Tod’s did not maintain its monopoly for long and there are now plenty of brands to choose from when it comes to investing in your next pair of driving shoes. Take Aurélien’s butter soft suede driving shoes (above), for example. Complete with all the classic hallmarks of the early driving shoes, it also features a boat shoe-style tie cord and is available in a range of caramel, blue and grey-toned suedes creating a more casual feel perfect for longs days in the Mediterranean sunshine.

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