In Style + Design

How Tod’s Became Synonymous With Driving Shoes

At first blush, the term “driving shoe” might elicit an image of a certain type of human being with whom you’d really rather not share a car.

There is an argument that the only people who wear overly colourful sneakers emblazoned with car-company logos are small children, but that they can’t afford them.

The only thing worse than those at kind of driving shoes are actual racing boots – big lace-up numbers, just like real racing drivers wear, the difference being that they actually need them, because their feet dance between the pedals in Astaire-like fashion.

There are plenty of men out there, however, who will wear racing boots in public with only the slightest provocation – they’re at a motorsport event, they might be attending a drive day, it’s sunny outside so they went for a drive.

Fortunately, however, there is, as any style-aware man will tell you, a different kind of driving shoe, one that brings genuine class, and desirability, to the idea. That’s because these driving shoes – Italian, beautiful and yet practical – don’t attempt to look like the footwear you’d find on a Formula One pit-crew’s feet, they look like what you’d find on someone who could afford to buy an F1 team.

The original Car Shoe, and the company of the same name, dates back to 1963, in what was a wondrous era of Italian machinery, with many cars that delighted their world with styling that screamed of the country’s love of driving.

Even today, hardly anyone buys automatic cars in Italy, because they all enjoy being engaged in the driving experience by using a clutch (Mazda’s MX-5 isn’t even offered with an automatic gearbox in Italy, as it is everywhere else).

That love of driving, and the need to be able to feel and operate the pedals with typical Italian enthusiasm, led to the invention of the Car Shoe, a modified loafer made of soft leather and with, vitally, little rubber nubs on the sole.

It is those nubs that provide an extra level of grip for the driver, and which clearly mark this kind of footwear, even from a distance, as something different entirely.

Just a year later, another Italian shoe company that was well on its way to becoming one of the world’s best, and most loved, Tod’s, came out with its own Driving Shoe.

Initially, these were shoes only for the rich; the kind of people who could afford to buy a special pair just for driving, but Diego Della Valle, whose grandfather established Tod’s in the early 1900s as a tiny shoe factory, came to see them as an opportunity to sell soft, comfortable shoes to the masses.

Not only were they great for driving, but they could be just as comfortable and practical for summer wear, with their sockless, ankle-breathing look.

These Tod’s Driving Shoes, have since become synonymous with men’s fashion, and gone from strength to strength.

Some of the Tod’s Ferrari kicks Photo: Tod’s

Tod’s, which refers to the nubs on its shoes, cutely, as “rubber pebbles”, now hand makes special driving shoes in a joint venture with Ferrari. It’s the perfect marriage, too, as the ridged, racy pedals of these super cars mesh exactly with the soles of your driving shoes.

The Tod’s Ferrari collection also includes sneakers and moccasins in leather and Nubuck, but it is the Driving Shoes that are truly desirable, and share an appropriate heritage with the famous Italian car company.

These shoes, in particular, are even stitched using the same process used on the seats of Ferraris (and you can choose them in the distinct, dark Ferrari red hue).

Tod’s describes its tie-up with the famous Prancing Horse brand as being “in the highest tradition of true craftsmanship”.

“Tod’s, a brand that is synonymous with tradition and exceptional quality in the world of shoes and leather goods, could not fail to be a part of the creation of a Driving Shoe, which will undoubtedly draw the attention of the collectors of these brands and customers alike, people to whom exclusivity and exceptional quality are of imperative importance.”

There are, it seems many different types of driving shoe, but only one you’d really want to own.

(All images:  Tod’s/Facebook)

Published 23 March, 2018