Gucci's Horsebit Loafers are Holding the Reins

The Horsebit loafer remains one of Gucci’s most enduring symbols, making it a true representation of the House’s ingenuity
Published: 20 December 2023
Paul Mescal proving that the Gucci Horsebit loafers are still as stylish as there were 70 years ago.

When the Horsebit loafer was first conceived by Gucci—specifically by Aldo Gucci, the eldest son of founder Guccio Gucci—it was said to be a response to loafers popularised by preppy Americans. Gucci was to open its first New York City boutique in 1953. The Horsebit loafer was the perfect design to kickstart an American expansion. It was a familiar silhouette with the addition of an Italian flair—very Gucci.

The use of the snaffle bit within Gucci predates the Horsebit loafer. The House had already incorporated it since the 1950s when it began drawing inspiration from the equestrian world. The metallic double ring connected by a bar was taken from the bit on a horse’s bridle, and was used across different facets of the Gucci universe both as a decorative motif as well as a functional element.

A catalogue of Gucci Horsebit loafers from 1972.
Gucci Horsebit loafers circa 1990.
A thoroughly timeless design
The shoes are still made in-house.
The craft behind the Gucci Horsebit loafers remained unchanged.

One could even say that the creation of the Horsebit loafer was destined to happen. But its arrival at a time when dress codes were changing in favour of more liberal sensibilities, helped propel its popularity. Not only was the Horsebit loafer instantly recognisable, its make and comfort was a mark of Italian craftsmanship. The leather used is supple, and coupled with a construction that lacks an insole, makes the Horsebit loafer lightweight and flexible. One could easily run around in a pair and get it beaten down. Or like Tyler Durden in Fight Club, fight in one.

Gucci has seen numerous creative directors over the decades since, but the Horsebit loafers have been a mainstay. Various interpretations have been brought to the fore recently and will most likely continue to do so under the creative directorship of Sabato De Sarno. Yet, 70 years hasn’t changed the way the Horsebit loafers are crafted. To this day, they’re still produced in Italy, in house, by skilled cobblers. The soles of the Horsebit loafers are also still attached to the uppers with Blake stitching that affords the shoes’ their renowned lightweight and flexible attributes.

The GG monogram and green-red-green webbing may be synonymous with Gucci. But when it comes to a singular design, the Horsebit loafer is one that doesn’t need to be loud to be noticed.

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