Norwegians: The Original Bass Weejuns Or Is it a Myth?

| 25 Mar ’09 | 7 Comments

Original Nor-Weejuns - Now I'll Have To Track Down a Pair

Update: Thanks to Anon Trad and Nick in the Comment for pointing towards the answer!

Aurland Camp Moc Uppers Being Cut in the Factory

Aurland Camp Moc Uppers Being Cut in the Factory

Camp Mocs From Aurland in Norway

Camp Mocs From Aurland in Norway

Sorry if you clicked on this post looking for a photo or something, but this morning I was reading the one millionth slightly different version of who / what / where loafers and weejuns were invented and I thought to myself – everyone is repeating this story about Norwegian fishermans slippers being the basis for an entire american industry, but no one has ever shown a pair – not even an illustration.

So far the story that Decline & Fall dug up on Film Noir Buff about the original orders for shoes that became Weejuns seems to be the most authentic vis a vis Bass, but someone somewhere must have an idea of the original shoes and what they looked like?

Strangely, if Bass really started making these in 1936, it would have been near impossible for Nettleton Shoes of Syracuse, NJ to have patented the style and the name ‘The Loafer’ in 1937.

For most of my life I had thought that the ‘jun’ bit was a reference to native american shoes who of course already produced moccasins for thousands of years. This may have been compunded by the rival Trujun brand which featured a Chief in their advertising. I’m not saying there never was a Norwegian fisherman’s moccasin, but it does seem strange that Americans had to go that far to get inspiration that was on their own door step. (Having said that I know it would not be the first or last time for them!)

Of course there is the element that in the very north of Scandinavia the people are very close to being Inuit, who are also close to being Native Americans so there is some credence to that.

I would be interested to hear from anyone who can shed some light on this. You guys in Maine – ask your great grandparents and let me know!

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Category: penny loafers, Shoes, vintage, weejuns

Comments (7)

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  1. Nick says:

    Here is the link to the AAAC thread about the origin of the “Weejun”:

    http://www.askandyaboutclothes.com/forum/showthread.php?t=66752&highlight=weejun

    Once I read the above, I thought the mystery had been solved. That said, the first post is missing some citations. What do you think?

  2. The Weejun says:

    Thanks guys! That certainly explains it in real terms. I’ve added a couple of images from that thread.

    Much appreciate the input.

  3. The Weejun says:

    And thanks to AAAC member Lucky Strike for actually going to the factory and taking photos of the production process. One which would be familiar to any Maine cobbler pre-1990

  4. 3buttonMax says:

    great post–I think one Ask Andy trad forumite -went as far as to order a pair of Aurland cabin shoes, I dont remember the outcome. The Bass ad is great-
    Max

  5. The Weejun says:

    Max I think the outcome was somewhat amusing. The shoes looked great to me, but some of them were saying things like – ” I don’t think they will look so good with a suit” …

    Missing the point entirely.

  6. 3buttonMax says:

    I suspect they did miss the point entirely ,I guess.weejuns at their dressiest for “odd” jacket and trousers-

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