For the next in my series on How Great Things Age, here are my beloved gommino driving shoes from Tod’s.

I’ve had them for three years and wear them almost every day. They are my default shoe when I come home from work and usually for any time around the house at the weekend. Given this intensive wear, they have worn very well. No stitches loose, no cracks in the leather and they have become more and more comfortable over time.

Of course I look after them pretty well in other respects. They get a coat of shoe cream every month or two that refreshes the skin and prevents any chance of drying out. The difference is particularly marked on the sole, which can start to crack otherwise. You see them here just before they get another coat of cream.

I do occasionally wear them outside – when popping across the road to get milk for instance (with two kids under four this is a frequent errand) – but try to keep this to a minimum as the detrimental effects on the leather around the heel are obvious.


Tod’s driving shoes are handmade in most respects, but then then there isn’t much to the construction really. A layer of rubber nubbins (the gommini) is inserted through the leather body of the shoe, an internal rubber layer added on top and then a leather insole. The vamp is sewn by hand around the front; all other sewing around the tongue and collar is by hand-guided machine.

The quality is in the materials and the quality control, as with many luxury products (socks being a recent example cited here on the blog). They are all made in Italy’s Cassette d’Ete, the town were Tod’s head Diego Della Valle was born and both his grandfather and father worked (the former a cobbler). Tod’s talks a lot about the more than 100 steps involved in making a pair; a good portion of this is management and quality control.

Let’s close with a rather pertinent quote from Della Valle: “If you examine the iconic products around the world, whether a watch, a pair of sunglasses or a pair of shoes, there is a simple test to their authenticity. Do they become more charming as they get older? I love to see a man wearing a very old Rolex that he got when he was young and made his first money. To see how it has aged with him, how it has shaped his experiences – that is real elegance.”

And that is the reason that, so far, I have resisted buying a second pair of Tod’s driving shoes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


For more in this series on How Great Things Age see:

Bentley Antiques
Dunhill box
Globe Trotter luggage
Edward Green shoes

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Anonymous

Hi Simon,
This a very instructive piece! By the way, while pondering on menswear blogs in the latest weeks, I have come to realize that yours is ABSOLUTELY among the handful best ones in the entire world. So I wish you all the best for 2012!
John

Anonymous

Hi Simon, completely off topic but I thought it best to ask this question here rather than contacting you directly. Roughly a year ago I decided I wished to dress better, this coincided with stumbling across your fantastic site.

I have upgraded my suits and shoes however I have been having severe problems with the barker shoes I bought. I know you are not a huge fan of the brand but at the time I didnt know much better. I bought three pairs just over a year ago and since then they have all needed resoled several times!

Could this have something to do with the way I walk or something else I am doing wrong? At £100 a time (bearing in mind they can only be resoled thrice) the value seems quite awful. Out of the three pairs I have, each has been resoled twice (at least).

Your opinion or advice would be greatly appreciated. For my next pairs I plan to upgrade to C & J but am concerned about the extremely excessive wear my shoes are experiencing, even though they are rotated daily.

Thanks in advance for your help Simon.

Anonymous

Hi Simon,

I agree with the comment above about just how great your blog is. I have a question about the formality of certains shoes and what occasions/ outfits they would be best suited to. Specifically I was wondering if you could comment on the black chelsea boot and the black suede penny loafer.

Best,

P

Mark

How have the soles on these shoes held up? The rubber tends to wear down quickly, I hear…

Florian

Sorry to interrupt the love-fest, but… if you don’t wear them outside, what’s the point? These are glorified slippers? Bizarre. Tod’s are meant to used and disposed seasonally. Fun to wear in the sun.

Darragh

Beautiful pair of Tod’s. Florian, I doubt many have a yearly $400 budget for disposable slippers.

Anonymous

What type of shoe cream do you use on these shoes? Is it available online?

Kris

Like other comments I wear mine outside and therefore are a bit battered. Still look good for beach wear etc.

Simon, have you come across anyone that replaces rubber section from inside?

Jonathan

Hi Simon, do you recommend putting shoe trees in Tod’s driving shoes? I just got a pair and would like to keep them in great condition. Thanks.

Sarah

it is mostly idiotic to compare shoes to watches. a rolex is built to last. NO leather shoes are! doesn’t matter how expensive they or how cheap they are. Surely anyone with sensible expectations can see that.

MIKE

Thanks for the article, it’s very interesting.
I love driving shoes, so I recommend a website (www.boonper.com) I found this web and they sell loafers like Tod’s but cheaper, they are handmade in Spain, I bought some and I’m in love with them.

I hope it helps you,

Best,
Mike

Robert E. Sullivan RN

I have a pair from the late 70s
Love them.. I wonder if you can get the soles replaced?