Driving moccasins were invented in the early 1960s to accommodate the persnickety needs of European exotica owners. Sports cars from that era had cramped interiors and small pedals. Most well-to-do owners wore clunky dress shoes, which made changing gears and throttle modulation a chore. Driving moccasins offered a svelte alternative — a narrow build allowed drivers to do the three-pedal dance with ease, while the the minimal, “nubbed” soles provided both grip and pedal feel. And, slip-on construction meant they could be easily put on and taken off once drivers got to their destination.
Today, though, there’s less of a need for the purpose-built driving shoe. Cockpits are roomier, most cars come with an automatic transmission and modern sneakers offer many of the same benefits that driving moccasins do at a fraction of the cost. Today, driving moccasins are more commonly seen on style-savvy men and women than on out-and-out driving enthusiasts. Yet modern driving mocs are nearly identical to those of the ‘60s, meaning they’re incredibly handsome, comfortable, and plenty suited for a spirited drive. If you’re looking for an elevated, purpose-built driving shoe, look no further than these six stand-out car-minded moccasins.
Jack Erwin Parker
A loafer that looks and feels like it’s worth twice its actual price. Jack Erwin’s Parker is made from a suede upper (available in eight different colors), has a full leather lining, and underneath they have classic, “punched-out” rubber nubs making up the outsole.
Minnetonka PW Driving Moc
Minnesota-based Minnetonka has its own unique, American spin on the classic European style. The PW Driving Moc (named after company founder Phillip W. Miller in honor of the brand’s 70th anniversary) is made from Horween leather and is cut and stitched by hand, on a made-to-order basis.
Cole Haan Grant Driver
Like the Minnetonkas, the Cole Haan Grant is hand stitched, but uses a more finished leather for a dressier look. If the commute to work involves three pedals and a twisty road, they won’t look out of place in the car or in the office.
Rancourt & Co. Westbrook Driving Moc
Maine is home to some great American shoe brands — L.L.Bean, Quoddy, New Balance and Rancourt. At Rancourt’s facility in Lewiston, the Westbrook is hand stitched with rich, full-grain Roan Pampas leather from the S.B. Foot Tannery in Redwing, Minnesota (which supplies leather to iconic boot maker Red Wing Shoes).
Italian outfit Piloti is a favorite among enthusiasts for their performance-oriented driving sneakers. But the brand’s Officina is a touch more luxurious, combining the classic look of a traditional Italian driving loafer but with a more substantial sole, with thicker, blockier treads and a rounded heel for optimal grip and comfort while driving.
Tod’s Gommino Nubuck Driving Shoe
Tod’s didn’t create the driving shoe, but it has become nearly synonymous with the style. The Gommino has been around for over 35 years, and not much has changed since their creation: you get the same pebbled rubber sole as the original with a nubuck upper stitched together by hand in Italy.