Love My Bass
18th March 2016
G.H. Bass & Co. has long been known for its classically preppy and functional shoe, the Weejun. The shoe, also known as the “penny loafer,” has been worn by many influential figures throughout American history, from President John F. Kennedy to popicon Michael Jackson, and blends the cool Ivy League prepstyle with a “mod” twist. To say that the Weejun is a cultural trademark in the States simply underscores the significance of the style,
so we decided to go back in history and explore the Weejun’s roots.
Through further exploration we uncovered some interesting facts, which only piqued our intrigue and drove us to take a deeper look into how the Weejun came to be. Although many people believe that the Weejun’s classic shape originated in the United States, the shoes actually claim their roots in Norway. In the 19th century, Norway became a popular destination for the elite Europeans to travel and fly fish salmon. On their travels, Europeans from more cosmopolitan areas noticed the simple vegetable tanned leather moccasin joined by a strip of across the instep worn by local farmers and fisherman. The shoe, built for comfort, had instant appeal. The style was adopted by the traveling fishermen and brought home with them to various urban centers throughout Europe.
This new trend was not lost on the Americans. In 1935, the Weejun was spotted by a representative from Esquire Magazine at a resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Noting the “carefree smartness” of this winter style on European vacationers, Esquire published an image featuring the shoe on two Englishmen. It was an instant hit. Identifying a gap in the market, Esquire partnered with the store Rogers Peet to recreate the style. Due to the fact that neither Rogers Peet nor Esquire had the resources necessary to build the shoe themselves, they commissioned Maine based shoemaker G.H. Bass & Co. In 1936, the Bass Weejun, named for the “NorwegianInjun,” was introduced in America. By the end of the 1930s,the Weejun had become a staple in the wardrobes of well dressed men across the United States.
Although G.H. Bass identifies as American based, it has long recognized the influence European style has had on the brand. While the nature of the brand in America has shifted,the elite, preppy style unique to G.H. Bass has been maintained and is accessible to those who crave the classic style overseas. Today, with the revival of modfashion and effortless dressing, the Weejun is more relevant than ever.
To stay upto date with how the Weejun is being worn and who is being spotted wearing the style, follow G.H. Bass Europe on Instagram & Twitter @ghbass1876 & Facebook ghbass1876 . Also be sure to catch new blog posts bi-weekly!