The Myth of the Bass Weejun

Myth of the Weejun

It is no secret that I am a big fan of the Bass Weejun. Even when I try to step up my footwear game I end up coming right back to the it (All About that Bass). That is why when I read Arnie’s comment about the myth of the Weejun over at Ivy Style (See the article here) I thought that it deserved to be highlighted.

In this comment Arnie explains how the Weejun that we all think of as a very casual shoe was derived from the shoe that Norwegians would wear to formal events. When I was re-reading this comment it reminded me of the ‘Plausible History of the 3/2 Roll‘ post and how the true origin of things are often altered by time…and marketing. I am not sure if this version of the Weejun story is true, but it is certainly worth thinking about.

Arnie | October 23, 2015 at 2:30 am |

The myth around the Norwegian origin of weejuns deserves a comment. Here in Norway similar looking shoes called “Aurland sko” have never been used by so called poor peasants. On the contrary – the Aurland shoe is used by Norwegians when we wear our national costume “bunad” (a very formal dress that can replace white tie ensemble e.g. at royal banquets and other events that call for formal wear). But when Americans discovered the shoe in Norway back in the early midst of last century they modified it by removing the silver buckle and created what is known as the loafer or penny loafer. As in so many cases we should be thankful for American modification and invention. But in Norway, the traditional loafer with a silver or metal buckle, was an expensive shoe back in the old days. And it is not suitable for wear in a tough, cold and harsh climate. Most people wore boots or sturdy shoes year round in the late 1800’s and early twentieth century. Only the ones with money (and remember that Norway was, together with Ireland, the poorest country in Europe) could afford an Aurland shoe. I had to get this of my chest, or off my foot… That said – the American penny loafer is popular in modern Norway. We owe a grateful thought to the Americans who made them affordable and available in modern, wealthy Norway. CC, keep up the great work on Ivy Style. Greetings from the far northern corner of Europe where we only wear the original weejun at formal occasions, but the penny loafer all other days when we aren’t snowed down!

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

8 Comments on "The Myth of the Bass Weejun"

  1. Absolutely love the photograph, especially the socks peeking out between the loafers and the khakis. How comfortable are the Bass Weejuns? I’ve got a pair of LL Bean tasseled loafers and a pair of Johnston-Murphy loafers (for rainy days), and to be honest neither is terribly comfortable after 8-10 hours of wear. Hard soles and no apparent cork footbed like, for instance, Allen Edmonds et al, which remain comfy all day long. What are your thoughts?

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich von B.

  2. oxford cloth button down says:

    Heinz-Ulrich von B. – Thank you! I wish that I had a good answer for you. I find the Weejun comfortable, but I don’t think that I would if I were doing a lot of walking. The Weejun has more flex in the forefoot than any Allen Edmonds that I have tried on. That is probably due to the blake welt stitch of the Weejun, but my biggest struggle with AE has been finding a loafer that fits my foot. Rancourt is the loafer that I want to try, because of its higher quality and it is blake welted.

  3. Roger C. Russell II says:

    In grew up with the Bass Weejun. I miss being able to wear them. Years of jogging has pounded my feet to 7.5 E, and Bass no longer offers the traditional Weejun in anything other than a D width. The best color is gone as well. I will really show my 47 years here. Along with the oxblood and black they offered cordovan. I personally think they are limiting their customer base by not offering more widths.
    In my part of the world the young cats have replaced Weejuns with Colehan Driving Mocs.

  4. Roger C. Russell II says:

    Please excuse my spelling error. Cole Haan

  5. CAY says:

    Although I definitely like the look, the Weejuns have never fit me well, either. They are always too tight, despite the fact that every other shoe I wear is a D width. After trying these more than once, I have given up on them.

    I do need a new pair of loafers. I am looking closely at Rancourt–probably the beefroll, since my daily routine is more casual than dressy. That being said, I am thinking of having them MTO with a darker thread and lined. I prefer lined shoes for comfort and the darker thread would dress them up a little, me thinks.

  6. oxford cloth button down says:

    CAY – It is the worst when the loafer you want won’t work. I think that a darker thread would be a great choice. I am not a fan of the contrast stitch for the exact reason that you mention.

  7. Roger C. Russell II says:

    I hear really great things about Rancourt quality. However, I have read that they have some requirements up front in the ordering process that scare some customers off. I am really thinking about the A.E. Cavanaugh. The shoe looks beautiful and the have a nice offering in widths. I have read several reviews and they are a little alarming. The shoe sole has worn out fast on some people and there has been some complaints about the stitching of the shoe. However, for anything I have ever tried with A.E. I have always been very happy.
    The sad thing is I have looked at both of these companies just trying to purchase a shoe like a Bass Weejun was made back when they had good products.

  8. SFSteve says:

    Well, I have ordered a couple of pairs of casual shoes from Rancourt (Clymer, boat shoe) and I sure don’t recall any scary up front requirements. No problems with the shoes themselves, either, though that’s in good measure attributable to the Horween Chromexcel from which they are made.

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