Designer sneakers have been making a big noise in the echo chamber of men's fashion the last few seasons. But there's another shoe that's gaining ground as a way for men to step out with some style mojo.
Dubbed the smoking loafer or the slipper, it's long been familiar to denizens of preppy haunts such as Connecticut, the Hamptons and Palm Beach, usually seen with initials or an embroidered crest. Now it's increasingly showing up in menswear collections and is being done by tony shoe labels, recolored and reworked in high style.
"You can wear just about anything with a slipper shoe," says Saks Fifth Avenue Vice President and Men's Fashion Director Eric Jennings. "And with guys wearing their trousers a little more cropped, it looks great with a bare ankle and chinos."
The slipper is surfacing in velvet, linen or even completely covered with studs, and the whole point is to throw a sartorial wrench into whatever you're wearing. With a Jimmy Choo slipper in graphic zebra-print pony hair, a Del Toro bubblegum-pink pair with a "medicinal" motif or a summer-ready cobalt beaded skull from Giuseppe Zanotti, you can fly your fashion freak flag with those jeans or walking shorts and T-shirt.
"Guys love a good joke or a conversation starter," says men's designer Michael Bastian, who teamed up with traditional slipper maker Stubbs & Wootton on special editions when he first started showing five years ago and has used them on his runway ever since. This season, they run from Indian motifs to a pair of embroidered red scorpions wandering across the toes, and, as Bastian says, "the shoes are a little one-two punch."