Is fall’s hottest shoe a status symbol — or a crime against fashion?
Sitting down on the second floor of Bloomingdale’s, I slip a fur-lined loafer over my swollen, aching foot. It feels like a warm hug from a cuddly cocker spaniel puppy.
After all, I’ve spent all day trying to track down a pair in my size 8. In this Lexington Avenue shopping mecca, I’m finally able to find fashion’s brass ring of the season — Gucci’s $995 kangaroo-fur-lined unisex loafer with horse-bit detail.
As I ponder the hefty price tag, a tall salesman approaches.
“It’s the only pair in your size. We won’t have them very long,” he warns. Then he whips out his iPhone, pulling up the brand’s ad, which has been prominently displayed in every fashion magazine from Vogue to Marie Claire this month. It features a woman’s loafer-clad foot dangling out of a car window.
“My husband and I travel, and I want to hang my foot out of the window just like this,” the salesman gushes, adding that Bloomingdale’s doesn’t have them in his large size, so he’s going to forgo his employee discount to buy them at retail price elsewhere.
“It’s worth it,” he says with the pie-eyed conviction of a cult member.
He’s not the only one lusting after them. These distant cousins of your grandma’s house shoes, from Gucci’s “Princetown” line of fur-trimmed kicks, is the most buzzed-about shoe of the fall. Vogue.com said they were “head over heels” for the shoe.
A recent post breathlessly proclaims: “It comes as no surprise that the chief item on vogue.com’s shopping list was those fur-lined loafers: A grand total of five staffers had it down as a must-buy for fall.”
Fashion heavyweights like designer Marc Jacobs, British stylist Katie Grand, and bloggers Man Repeller and Bryanboy have already Instagrammed themselves in the fuzzy soles.
“It’s this season’s statement shoe that screams luxe in a new way, much like Céline’s fur Birkenstocks a few seasons ago,” says Yahoo Style’s Editor-in-Chief Joe Zee. “Fashion people love something that is a new take on something familiar. Like Céline’s fur Birks [$785], this fur and horse-bit loafer does the same. It’s a classic, timeless item given a new luxe spin.”
And the nearly four-figure price tag isn’t slowing down shoppers.
“Designer shoes are expensive now, and knowing how many people paid for those Céline [spring 2013] Birks, I think this will have just as many waiting for them, if not more,” Zee says.
While a Gucci representative didn’t respond to a question regarding actual sales, a salesman at their Madison Avenue store said it’s the most popular shoe they’ve had in years. When I ask if they have a pair in my size, he lets out a yelp.
“We probably won’t get them in your size until October,” he says. “They flew out of here.”
To some, all of this frenzy is farcical.
“My colleague came in wearing them the other day. If he [were] a friend and not a co-worker, I would have told him, ‘You’re wearing Teddy Ruxpin,’ ” says Mordechai Rubinstein, a fashion publicist who moonlights as street-fashion photographer “Mister Mort.”
Rubinstein says he’s been hearing about the loafers nonstop from his female friends and colleagues. But he won’t be purchasing the shoes for himself.
“I don’t want to get on the subway with the fur hanging down and dragging on the ground,” he says. “Maybe I’d get them if I had a fireplace and people over for a party where I could sit on my fancy couch. They’re limousine shoes.”
But Leandra Medine, of the popular fashion blog Man Repeller, snapped up a pair in July and hasn’t waited for fall to sport the furry shoes. In August — which saw temperatures in the 90s — she paired them with denim cutoffs and blouses. She even wears them while going to fitness classes that don’t require sneakers.
“They’re quite comfortable,” Medine says. “They look nice on the foot, were styled well on the runway, and maintain a familiar comfort — a logo [the horse-bit] that has been around so long, people can connect with it emotionally.”
The collection includes the slipper as well as a fur-lined clog and a slingback red pump. The line signals an auspicious restart for the storied Italian fashion house, which is now under the stewardship of creative director Alessandro Michele. During his inaugural shows for men in January and women in February, the previously unknown designer rolled out the surprising accessories to much fanfare.
“I think he’s doing a phenomenal job at the house,” says Medine. “The accessories are seeing a sort of face-lift that respects old house tradition while adopting a more modern point of view.”
But the fur has already drawn criticism from some animal rights activists.
“Kangaroos in particular are highly social creatures,” Daniel Ramp, director of the Centre for Compassionate Conservation at the University of Technology, Sydney, told news site Quartz last month. “They’re a wild animal, and they need to be left alone.”
A spokesperson for Kering, the company that owns Gucci, confirmed to the site that the fur was from wild kangaroos, but insisted it was harvested under their guidelines, qualifying as “sustainable.”
The line comes at a time when fashionistas are hungry for pelts used in unconventional ways, says Erica Russo, Bloomingdale’s fashion director for accessories and beauty.
“No longer hidden away as a practical lining, this season fur is all about adding standout drama to your accessories, whether it’s used as a trim, embellishment or all over,” says Russo. “Fur adds a playful and unexpected update to classic styles.”
As for me, after my chat with Mister Mort, I agreed the shoes just aren’t practical. I took a photo and returned them to their rightful owner, the shoe department, letting another lucky size 8 have this coveted pair.
Preferably someone with a generous Uber budget.
And don’t forget the Gucci goat-fur explosion
Nope, that’s not Donald Trump’s hair — it’s an $1,800 slip-on from Gucci’s new “Princetown” collection. Call it the Cousin Itt to the popular leather, fur-lined loafer.
Unlike its slightly more dignified counterpart, which is merely stuffed with kangaroo fur, this slipper is completely covered with genuine goat hair, with the signature Gucci horse-bit detail buried in the pelt. It has a leather sole and is categorized online as a “salon shoe.”
The hirsute slide hasn’t yet hit stores, and a company source tells The Post there were only 20 pairs made for the entire United States. So don’t get your hopes up.
Department stores such as Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s currently have it on their websites for preorder, meaning it likely won’t arrive for months.
“I have seen it on social media. People are both raving and lambasting it,” says Bevy Smith, host of Bravo’s “Fashion Queens.”
“You can go to a dollar store and get those pink ones and save so much money.”