I have a bugbear about driving shoes. I hate the ridge, bobbles or gommini that all brands put on the back of their shoes, as well as the sole. Originally, I presume this was to retain grip on the floor of the car, seeing as your foot would be pivoting on its heel as it caressed the accelerator.

But no one wears driving shoes to drive today, and the rubber bits on the back mean that one’s trousers bunch up at the back, sitting on the rubber rather than flowing smoothly down to the heel. This is a particular issue with bankers that wear driving shoes with suits. The way the trousers bunch up makes them look like pyjamas.

So the first thing I noticed about Fin’s shoes is that they don’t have any bobbles on the back. Just smooth suede or leather.

Fin’s is a young shoe company run by a friend of a friend, Alexandra Finlay. Always interested in entrepreneurs of any type, and shoes in particular, I gave her “simple, fuss-free and fun” shoes a try. And bearing in mind my rather slight bias and connection to the company, I have to say they are remarkably comfortable.

I only owned one pair of driving shoes previously, from Massimo Dutti, and Fin’s are a big improvement on those. At first blush they also seem more comfortable than Tod’s or Bally, though having only tried on those brands I can make no direct comparison.

The shoes are made by a family-run factory in Portugal and are partly hand-stitched (the long moccasin stitch joining the vamp to the upper). Says Fin: “Portugal is renowned for providing fantastic quality at great value. In creating a brand that centred around the ethos of affordable luxury I knew that the balance Portugal offered would be ideal for Fin’s.

“The factory is entirely dedicated to making shoes; their set up is amazing, a cavernous room with the shoe-making process operating from start to finish in an anti-clockwise arrangement. The process starts with a man cutting the patterns, and works its way around to another man wrapping the finished shoes in tissue paper and boxing them up. Visiting the factory at production time is one of my favourite things to do. It makes you appreciate the finished product so much better when you see the work and craftsmanship.”

The construction and padded insole is remarkably comfy, although I must admit that part of that insole cover is coming away in my pair, which I have been wearing daily for two weeks. The insoles are removable though, which should aid any repairs and also helps air out sweaty feet a bit better.

It’s hard to argue with Fin’s philosophy of comfortable, simple shoes, easily ordered (next-day delivery) and in more colours than you could possibly want. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend wearing them with suits though.

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Mr Brown

Nice to plug your friends new thing – best luck to her.

Bit odd to write-off driving shoes (excuse pun etc) on the grounds of a couple of charlie’s caught slaughtering them.

There’s room in life for more than one pair of summer mocc’s after all.

David Sucher

Why is it desirable or necessary to have special shoes for driving a car? Riding a horse or bike or skis or even carry golf clubs — sure, you need special shoes. But driving a car? Sounds odd to me. And yes I have driven hundreds of thousands of miles.

Carey

Hi Simon,
Do you know if they have a US distributor? Shipping to the US is 45 quid, half the cost of the shoes!
thanks!

TMR

Surely the problem here is not with the ‘gommini’ on the soles or heels, but rather the pairing of such shoes with a suit – on a banker or otherwise…?

The problem is – as you have alluded to elsewhere on your blog – is that styles which work on young Italian men in Rome / Milan / etc. just do not translate to the Anglo way of being / doing / walking / wearing.

As for Fin’s, I love the small company ethos of your friend’s friend and I want to like the shoes – but i just think they are stubby-toed and a bit too dumpy…

Anthony White

Seems to me this is like the problem of people who refer to brogues as golf shoes. There are technical golfing shoes that are brogues, and technical golfing shoes that aren’t brogues. And there are brogues that are golfing shoes, and brogues that are straight brogues.

There are technical features that make a moccasin a driving shoe. These red shoes don’t have them, hence, they are moccasins, not driving shoes. Except in the hands of an advertising copywriter, who can make anything into anything else.

A driving shoe has a sole that wraps around from the sole up along the back of the heel. That’s key. Your foot pivots at the heel, and having a smoothly curved heel on the shoe spreads the load and makes the shoe more comfortable against the heel of your foot. Long drives in a shoe with a square heel applies pressure to the heel of your foot unevenly, and becomes uncomfortable. This is particularly the case with a very low seating position, where you are practically on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. For me, normal shoes are uncomfortable for long drives in old Alfa Romeos.

The other important factors in a driving shoe are the small size with stubby toe and grippy sole. This allows for heel-and-toe downshifting in a tight footwell.

The effect of driving shoes on the back of your suit trousers when standing up doesn’t matter, because, well, you’re not standing up. You’re sitting in your car, driving. And how comfortable they are for walking in doesn’t matter much either, as they’re not walking shoes. I have driving shoes that I wear on long drives. When I reach my destination I kick them off and put on my not-driving shoes.

Most people don’t need driving shoes for driving. They drive moderns with upright seating positions, auto boxes, widely spaced pedals, and can’t heel-and-toe. Most people don’t know what heel-and-toe shifting is either. They don’t need driving shoes, and don’t know why other people would need them either.

But then I figure that golf is just walking around a paddock carrying some sticks, and don’t understand why you would need special shoes for that.

James

Hi Simon,

I have a different complaint about suede driving shoes: they get dirty far too easily. Is there something you do with yours for maintenance?

– James

Anonymous

Bought a bright red pair, thinking they would look good for summer casual, but my three daughters thought that as a 50 something yesr old I was pushing my luck, so I now wear them as slippers around the house, and find then extremely comfy.

Nick