The Bass‘Weejun’ loafer: a campus classic that never loses its appeal
Getting your footwear right in summer is never easy. While the sort of posh chap who rocks salmon-pink cords at the weekend can probably keep his brogues on all year round, the rest of us need an alternative.
Step forward the slip-on loafer, specifically the Weejun by American shoemakers Bass.
If you’re in any way interested in style – and let’s assume you are as you’re reading this – then you’ll know the Weejun. A key component of the Ivy League look, it encapsulates perfectly the informal style of 20th Century USA.
Interestingly, the backstory of the Weejun begins, not on the campuses of New England, but around the fjords and rivers of Norway, which wealthy British men visited to sample the local salmon fishing.
According to the Ivy Style blog, these anglers started to wear a local slip-on shoe called the ‘teser’, which by the early 1930s had been adopted by visitors to upmarket European coastal resorts, and by 1935, at Palm Beach, USA.
It was here the shoes were spotted by representatives from Esquire magazine, who approached moccasin maker GH Bass with the idea of producing an American version. The Weejun (it’s a shortened version of ‘Norwegian’) was born.
In its initial marketing campaign for the shoe, Esquire boasted that, “The leather is sturdy yet soft and comfortable. Across the instep a strap is stitched on…. The shoe provides for slipper-like comfort for end- of-the-day wear, yet it may be worn about the house without fear of guests raising their eyebrows, for it is not a slipper. It cannot slip off at the heel because of a trick of construction that holds the back of the shoe tightly against the tendon Achilles while you are walking, yet permits it to relax while at rest.”
Since then, and despite the rapid casualization of American style, the Bass remains a staple for men in love with the idea of mid-century American menswear.
And on an early summer day, coupled with a pair of chinos and a light-blue, button-down shirt, few things will make a man feel more complete. An essential purchase.
This article appeared in Issue 12 of Umbrella. Find out more about Umbrella here