Tag Archives: Bass

Ad Campaign – Bass Ski Boots, 1948

Bass is best known for their loafer – the Weejun, but they also made other casual boots including ski boots.   These are typical ski boots of that time, and from all I can tell from looking in vintage catalogs and online searches, ski boots pretty much remained the same from the 1930s through the 1950s.  They were sturdy and very heavy.

Another ad from 1948

I recently found this vintage pair.  They are well worn, but really snazzy.  And if you don’t ski they could be used for a door stop or as a leathal weapon.  They are that heavy.

1937 Montgomery Ward catalog

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Filed under Advertisements, Collecting, Winter Sports

Bass Shoes, Part 2, Sunjuns

Since nobody disagreed when I mentioned trying a pair of Bass loafers, I made a trek to the nearest retail dealer.  My plan was to just try on to see if I liked them enough to purchase, and then to return home and look for good used pairs online.  Really, I shouldn’t have even considered doing that, because by the time one figures in the gas and the time I’d spend looking and the postage, how much would actually be saved?

As it turned out, I probably saved money buying retail, as the store was having a buy one get 2 free sale.  Is that not insane?  Since I last visited this shopping center where the Bass store is located, September I think it was, quite a few stores have closed.  This is a really busy place, and even though people were buying, it is obvious things are still in emergency mode in most of the stores.  There were deep discounts all around, including 30% off everything at Coach, and 30% off most things at Brooks Brothers.

Anyway, I’m drifting off topic, as usual.  I ended up with both black and cordovan loafers, and I decided to make the Sunjuns the third pair.  I figured that two pairs of loafers was a good idea because maybe this fall I’ll wear them instead of the vintage Converse which I’ve got to start conserving!

Bass came out with the Sunjuns line in 1967.  They were an big hit, at least in my small town.  I suspect that is because there was one store in town that carried Bass, but it was the only store that mattered.   Dick Schulman’s store of women’s clothing and shoes was Canton’s answer to Neiman Marcus.  Not really of course, but you would have thought as much by attitude surrounding the store.

I can remember that this particular style of Sunjuns – the Sharon – was very popular in the late 1960s and into the 1970s.  It had another surge of popularity during the 80s, when Bass released it with primary colored leather straps.  I looked high and low for a 60s or 70s ad so I could post it, and also to see if my memory is correct in thinking that even the 60s version is very similar to what is being sold today with a rubber sole and a padded  suede insole.  I came up empty, so please help me out if anyone happens to locate one.

 

 

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Filed under Shoes, Shopping

Vintage Shoes – The Loafer

I read a recent study that found that the average American woman wears about 20% of the clothes in her closet, 80% of the time.  It got me to thinking about my own closet, and so I took a little tour, appraising each garment and the amount of time each had spent on my back in the past year.  Fully 50% of the clothing, and even an even higher percentage of the shoes have not been worn in in past two years.

This was eye-opening in a couple of ways.  First, I don’t consider myself to be a “shopoholic”.  I rarely ever shop retail, but I’ll admit that thrift store shopping has let to an over-inflated wardrobe.  Stuff is so inexpensive that I will buy if there is the slightest chance I’ll get it home and love it.   That goes a long way toward explaining how the closet got so full of things I never wear.

Also, I started thinking about why I don’t wear some of these incredible bargains.  I seem to be attracted to certain things that I never wear.   It appears that I have an image problem.  I must somehow *see* myself in flowy linen pants with drawstring waists and loose rayon tees from Eileen Fisher, but in reality, I’m just not that person.

So for the past few days I’ve been going through my clothes and shoes and being very honest with myself.  The donate pile has gotten quite large, but what I’m left with is a closet full (yes, still!) of things I love and know I’ll wear.  I’ve also been working on  a plan of replacing worn items in a more thoughtful way.  You’ve heard it a thousand times from styling experts – buy quality over quantity.

This is especially true when it comes to shoes.  I’ve said before that I’m a real sneaker person.  I have multiple pairs of Keds Champions,  Sperry Topsiders  and vintage Converse All Stars.  I tend to wear them all the time, even in the winter, but this spring I found a wonderful pair of Ralph Lauren oxfords, and found myself wearing them a lot.  So that has me thinking, what other great, comfortable shoes have I been missing out on?

That brings me to a shoe I’ve not worn since elementary school – the loafer.  According to shoe historian, Jonathan Walford, the loafer was developed from the moccasin.   In 1876, George Henry Bass started  GH Bass and Co. in Wilton, Maine.  His product was footwear for the outdoorsman, and included camp moccasins and hiking boots.

In 1936, the company came out with a new shoe – a hard-soled moccasin based on a traditional Norwegian shoe.  Bass called their new shoe the Weejun, and it was soon a favorite for casual wear.  In the late 1940s, and into the 1950s, teenage bobby-soxers  loved their Weejuns (along with saddle oxfords, which were also made by Bass).   By this time other companies were making similar shoes, which were called loafers, or penny loafers because of the slot on the instep which was perfect for inserting a penny.

I’m showing off my cute mother again so you can admire her bobby socks and loafers.  Circa 1945.

1951 Bass Weejuns ad, Holiday magazine

1961 Bass Weejuns ad, Glamour magazine

Penny loafers in a 1962 Abercrombie & Fitch catalog.

This is my cousin Nancy in 1960.  If you can take your eyes off that fantastic basket handbag, you’ll notice she is wearing penny loafers.  In the early 1960s loafers were wildly popular with teenagers and college students.  As a great admirer of Nancy’s style, I had to have a pair of them as well, and I wore loafers to school all through my elementary years.  But by the time I went to junior high in 1967, the loafer’s popularity had faded as Mod finally hit our 2-years-behind-the fashion little town.   I haven’t owned a pair of loafers since.

It seems that Bass is coming back on the fashion scene.  Designer Rachel Antonoff has done a line of loafers and saddle shoes that have received a lot of press, and the next collaboration is with Tommy Hilfiger.   I’m seriously thinking about revisiting this childhood favorite.   Any loafer wears out there?

Another 1940s loafer girl

This is a page from the 1977 L.L. Bean catalog.  As you can see, they used the term lounger instead of loafer.  I have seen this term used in other places as well.   By 1977, Bass Weejuns were no longer stylish, as the loafer of choice became a bit more pricy and was made by Gucci.

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Filed under Shoes, Viewpoint