There’s a few shoes that stand the test of time, that are a constant staple in wardrobes worldwide. There’s very few that stand out quite like the Bass Weejun Loafer.
In 1936, Esquire and Rogers Peet, a men’s clothing store, collaborated and seeked out a shoe maker, that being G.H Bass and commissioned their first loafer, proving to be such a hit that is resulted in them bringing out a female version just two years later.
However, things weren’t always plain sailing. As G.H Bass faced two problems. Materials and price. Once Bass had found the right supplier for the leather, they still couldn’t find the right price. After receiving the go ahead to produce the shoe at their best price, it was now down to Esquire and Rogers Peet to sell the shoe. Using the popular Palm Beach as a selling point, they placed an advert in a May issue of the New York Heralk Tribune, using the slogan:-
First seen at Palm Beach
First at Rogers Peet
First shipment a sell out!
The shoe became a huge hit on Ivy League campuses across America, as it offered a casual shoe to be worn to and from lectures, paired up with anything from shorts, chinos and jeans. This became highlighted by the highly sought after ‘Take Ivy’, where a group of Japanese friends, all inspired by Americana, travelled to college dorms to take pictures of the student style.
The shoe popularity grew massively across America with celebrities such as Paul Newman and James Dean seen sporting the slip-on shoe. Mr G Bruce Boyer quoted in his book, Elegance, “there was virtually not a middle-class man or woman in the whole of the United States who didn’t own a pair of Oxblood Penny Loafers.” Even JFK was spotted wearing a pair bringing style to the White House.
The loafer also proved a hit later on in the U.K. as the Mod scene looked to the shoe to offer something to be worn with an iconic 3-piece suit, or with a knitted polo and Sta-Prest trousers. Modern day mod David Pottinger, of Move On Up Blog, added “Where to start with Bass Weejuns? The king of all loafers and the pinnacle of Modernist footwear. I remember hearing about these Ivy League beauties when I first got into the scene at 14 and I was in awe of their design and quality. Here we are 8 years later and I’ve managed to accumulate two pairs, both of which I’d put in my top 5 shoes of all time. Paired with selvedge and red socks or strides they look equally as good. I don’t think there will ever be another loafer that touches these, certainly not in my lifetime. They’re certainly a shoe of the sussed.”
Now, G.H Bass have released the loafer in various styles, including the iconic ‘Larson’ Penny Loafer, available on their website using this link.