Burning questions around the penny loafer
29th March 2019
If you’re familiar with our history, you’ll know that our heritage is integral to us at G.H. Bass & Co. and continues to drive our design and innovation vision. From the very earliest days in 1876 to today, we have been producing quality, hard-service footwear that stands the test of time.
We’ve answered some of the burning questions around the Penny Loafer to provide you with a one stop shop of our history.
When were the Bass Weejuns invented?
As quality shoemakers known for handcrafted working moccasins and boots, G.H. Bass were approached in 1936 by an editor of Esquire, who had seen a stylish iteration of the Norwegian work loafer on well-dressed men at Palm Springs resorts and wanted to see them recreated by the best American shoemakers of the era.
This partnership led to the playfully named “Weejun”, after its Norwegian roots, that soon became a stylish and comfortable choice for many.
What does the ‘Penny’ in Penny Loafer mean?
As their popularity soon grew, with students across Ivy League college campuses adopting the trend, the legend has it that loafers took on a new meaning as students used the front slot of their loafers to tuck a one cent coin for the pay-phone.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Ivy League fashion became a trend of its own, catapulting the original Bass Weejuns, by now also known as penny loafers, to the forefront of the relaxed-formalwear style for both men and women.
How are Bass Weejuns made?
The G.H. Bass & Co. loafer has kept its place as the true penny loafer as, over eighty years later, we continue to produce loafers with the same handcrafted traditions - hand sewn by a footwear artisan and finished with natural oils and polishes. Bass Weejuns are a tubular moccasin construction, where the loafer is crafted with a single piece of leather wrapped around the mould of the foot, creating a “hammock” of unparalleled comfort.
Who else has worn Bass Weejuns over the years?
From the iconic feet of Steve McQueen and effortlessly cool attire of Paul Weller, the penny loafers continue to appear across diverse style tribes, in different iterations of Mod fashion, modern jazz circles and even grunge or punk subcultures, proving that you can make the Weejuns whatever you want them to be.
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