13 May 2008

Weejun Love

Many aspire, few achieve. When it comes to loafers, however, the Weejun penny loafer can be counted amongst the latter. First introduced in 1936 by G.H. Bass & Co., who derived the name and moccasin design from Norwegian shoes, it became popular with the prep school crowd and college students. It is an American classic.

On a recent visit to a G.H. Bass & Co. retail establishment, I picked up a pair of loafers in burgundy. Weejuns and I go way back. In fact I recall a family photograph depicting me age 8 or 9, wearing Weejuns with tan cords, argyle socks, and a Shetland crewneck sweater. During summer holidays in Connecticut and New York I wore them almost constantly, usually without socks. I took them seriously. On boating and fishing expeditions to Ontario or the Thousand Islands, rows would ensue with my chums over the comparative merits of the brown versus the black Weejun. Which colour was 'cool'?

Back in England, where the footwear of choice amongst my schoolmates was an English-style black loafer from New & Lingwood, I added the Weejun penny loafer to my collection, replenished thereafter by regular visits to J.Simon in Covent Garden. My Weejuns attracted notice wherever I went. During one of my first visits to Kenya in East Africa, where I liked to imagine Hemingway once wore the Weejun, a brand new pair of penny loafers disappeared from my tent one night.

Today, though tempted at times by similar offerings from firms such as Alden and J.M. Weston, I remain loyal to G.H. Bass. I still wear Weejuns in casual settings. There are few pleasures in life that can match the sheer joy of going out for the morning paper and a cup of tea in a blue OCBD shirt, khaki shorts, and a pair of old Weejuns.

The allure of these shoes only grows stronger over time. I experience it daily. Each morning, as I prepare my clothing for the day and reach for a pair of brogues or tassel loafers, my hands are drawn as if by an unseen force to the loafers from G.H. Bass. Such is the power of the Weejun.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wax the weejun, scratch the tweed.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

I've got a buddy here who once shot some rapids in a pair. The guide mentioned that he was the only one to ever do so. My friend swears by them. In black.

3button Max said...

Well done Admiral-
My go to shoes are all vintage weejuns and have been for years-I even have a battered pair of black tassel-before all of this kiltie nonsense.
They dropped the original tassel I think some years ago.They work w/virtually any coat &tie combo-I havent felt theneed to go upmarket to Aldens.

Heavy Tweed Jacket said...

Weejuns were always on the feet of HTJ, but alas I have nary a single pair anymore. Nearly heretical I know, but your post has me thinking fondly of them again. The Weejun burgundy color is very unique and looks great with anything casual or tweedy. One Q: Is the quality what it was 25 years ago?

3button Max said...

as per Q from the tweed-
No I doubt the quality of the Bass weejun has stayed consistent in the post 1998 off shore era.That which I have seen-albeit outlet store-dissapoints.Still something of a bargain if under 85$-and there were some posts on AAAT fairly recently about using alcohol-I guess to remove the purplish hue Bass now palms off as cordovan-add leather balm and shine w/ cordovan polish-grand finale is having shoemaker install real leather heels(and cheaper if gleaned or cannibalized from some other pair!)
I think w/the weejun and many other trad icons from days of yore are hyped beyond their actual real quality based on status in trad canon or the time and place (in our lives) when we wore said object. Reality is the weejun although an old friend, was never really high end upmarket to begin with.
max

Laguna Beach Trad said...

Well said guys. It would be hard for me to compare today's Weejun with a pair I had, say, 15 or 20 years ago. They are very low-end shoes, obviously, but I do find them comfortable and they look good (especially sockless). For what I use them for, I don't need them to be more than what they are. Plus, as Max puts it so well, there is some sentimental value in the Weejun brand, for me at least.

Anonymous said...

Bass Weejuns are OK But Florsheim Berkely are especially hot sockless!!!!!