A loafer is typically a low-heeled shoe that resembles a leather moccasin. It originated in Norway and was introduced in the 1940′s. Like the moccasin the loafer is a slip-on shoe with a front panel that is laced. The loafer can also be seen as a high heel version for womens shoe fashions. The loafer is a shoe that is primarily worn by men. Women have been known to wear the shoe as casual footwear.
Source: The Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Fashion and Fashion Designers