Bits In Pieces: Alden To Discontinue Bit Loafer Following Request From Gucci

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I’d just chatted with Alden president Robert Clark a couple of weeks ago at the big menswear trade show here in New York. He didn’t mention this developing news story, but he confirmed it yesterday via email.

Apparently following a request from Gucci, Alden is discontinuing its bit loafer. “Gucci did ask us to stop using the bit
ornament,” said Clark, “and since the style was not important to us, we agreed to do so.”

There was never a lawsuit, he added, as was discussed on the Ask Andy Trad Forum.

No word yet if Gucci is also leaning on other makers of bit loafers, including Ivy Style sponsors Jay Butler and Oak Street Bootmakers.

Those who despise the shoe may be rejoicing that they will be spared the visual nausea of having to look at them. On the other hand, prohibitions tend to bring about unintended consequences, and perhaps there will be a renaissance of knock-offs and imitators.

In the meantime, if you’ve always wanted to try the Aldens or want to ensure you have a pair left to be buried in, call your Alden dealer right away. — CC

26 Comments on "Bits In Pieces: Alden To Discontinue Bit Loafer Following Request From Gucci"

  1. A “request”, ‘eh? Gucci made Alden an offer it couldn’t refuse, in true Jersey fashion…

  2. When I told a wizened old mentor that I had accepted a job at 20th Century-Fox back in the 1970s, he offered two pieces of sartorial advice: Buy a Rolex; and wear Gucci.

  3. Horatio London is a new company selling made in italy horse bit loafers, could easily be confused for Gucci loafers.

  4. They look a bit like French Shriner Daytons to me. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Black and brush platinum or whatever that is would not be the color combination I would pick either.

    Will

  5. They are hideous.

  6. John Bracken | August 2, 2016 at 3:14 pm |

    All my horse ill loafers have been and will be Gucci. I try to go as original as possible and I love to dress traditional when others are not!!!!

  7. John Bracken | August 2, 2016 at 3:15 pm |

    Sorry meant horse bit loafer.

  8. Guido says, “Alden bit loafers are cultural appropriation, chio baby.” 😉

  9. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | August 2, 2016 at 4:11 pm |

    I never liked that shoe. Yuck. Good for Alden.

  10. They look like formal Wallabees.

  11. Theodore Bouloukos | August 2, 2016 at 4:33 pm |

    There’s only one.

  12. Bags' Groove | August 2, 2016 at 4:41 pm |

    @ Andrew Ingels
    Whoever Guido is, he is not wrong. Call me an old incorrigible purist, but Gucci always were the one and only snaffle bit loafer to slip on your tootsies.

  13. Any word from Allen Edmonds regarding the Verona?

  14. I’m on the fence about this style, tassels yes, penny yes.

  15. Understanding discontinuing them won’t hurt Alden’s bottom line, but why not just redesign the snaffle bit? I suppose Alden could not have cared less.

  16. NaturalShoulder | August 2, 2016 at 7:04 pm |

    I love my tassel loafers but have never owned a pair of bit loafers as I find them ugly. I l thought the Alden version was popular. If so, Alden must have been worried about a lawsuit if they agreed to drop their version.

  17. Ron Aldridge | August 2, 2016 at 7:21 pm |

    Hmmm. Why is Gucci doing this now? “Knockoffs” have been around for many years. I’ve been wearing the Cole Haan version for 20-25 years.

  18. @ John Bracken

    I share the same compulsive indulgence with only buying from the originating source too. For example, as much as I love the look of Allen Edmonds version, I just can’t buy any penny loafers that aren’t made by G.H. Bass & Co.. It’s always the first to market brand that I tend to stick with. Weird personality trait I guess..

  19. Never a fan myself. It is strange that after all these years that they would ask Alden to stop. You can find a knockoff in every “Feet ‘R’ Us” outlet in the country. Wonder what the patent or copyright situation is on that design?

  20. Thanks to the knockoff phenomenon, we are free to choose from among a wide variety of OCBDs and chinos.

  21. Marc Chevalier | August 3, 2016 at 12:05 am |

    It just says “ancient Hollywood agent with hairsprayed, snowy-white pompadour and gold-framed aviator glasses” to me. (I grew up in Los Angeles.)

  22. @ Benjamin J. Dunnigan – I generally agree, but you might consider the Crockett & Jones Boston loafer in Burgundy Calf.

  23. Fashion designs, for the most part, are not subject to intellectual property protection. The only exception is trademarks, which generally take the form of logos, but are occasionally expanded to such distinctive features as Louboutin’s red soles. I think that the precise style of the metal bit itself could probably qualify as a trademark, but the problem is that, as others have noted, knockoffs have been around forever, which dilutes the trademark.

    The essence of trademark is that it is a symbol that a brand uses for marketing. The brand’s efforts at marketing and creating quality products are what (should) make the symbol valuable. When other people use the symbol, they’re essentially trading on your good name. But if the symbol is valuable only because it is objectively attractive, rather than because it is associated with a brand, then it is not a trademark. Or if many knockoff brands make use of a symbol, it can cease to be associated with a particular brand, even if it once was. So trademark, unlike copyright or patent, is must be actively protected or it is lost.

    I think it’s highly doubtful that Gucci has an enforceable trademark in the bit loafer. It’s true that a small group of highly educated consumers know that Gucci is “the original,” but that group of consumers also knows that bit loafers have long been produced by many manufacturers. So the mere fact that a shoe has a bit on it is not likely to cause consumer confusion because the association that consumers have isn’t a trademark type of association.

    That said, kudos to Alden for being gentlemanly about it.

  24. @Jeffrey – my thoughts, too. Or if they were going to try for a trade dress argument, I would think they’d have to have been tamping down on the knock-offs decades ago (as your last paragraph suggests). Ironically, Red Clay Soul just posted a rundown of all the bit loafer knock-offs.

  25. Bags' Groove | August 3, 2016 at 11:02 am |

    @Jim
    I’ll second that. I’ve a pair of C&J Boston loafers, but in brown grain with Dainite soles. A thoroughly classic loafer that will take you anywhere…puddles a speciality.

  26. Andrew Eastman | August 4, 2016 at 11:49 am |

    The real story here is this post’s title: “Bits in Pieces”… tremendous!

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