Downtown Bound: Bass To Target Hipsters

Eager to reinvigorate a stodgy brand in the wake of the Americana fashion trend, Bass is preparing a new marketing campaign aimed at “hipsters,” Harbor Footwear spokesman Jason Lazar told Ivy-Style.

Curious, we probed Lazar, the excutive vice president for Harbor, which holds the footwear license for G.H. Bass & Company (which is owned by Phillips-Van Heusen). Here’s what he had to say:

IS: Tell us about the resurgent interest in Bass shoes.

JL: Bass Weejuns first hit the market in 1936. They are a collection of timeless styles that aren’t subject to fashion whims. At various times their popularity has fluctuated in a relatively narrow range, but they have always been a part of the mainstream. With the resurgence of all things Americana, coupled with that vintage vibe that’s been increasingly prevalent, Weejuns are again enjoying widespread acclaim and approval in the marketplace.

IS: How are you reinventing the brand to attract new customers?

JL: Past marketing efforts have portrayed the brand in a very New England manner: i.e. lots of picket fences, clapboard barns and very pretty people. Starting with Fall 2010, we’re showing the evolution of the brand that reflects its downtown, coolly sophisticated appeal. Gone are the fences and barns, though the pretty people still remain. Photo locations include Brooklyn and the Lower East Side, a far cry from the Nantucket scenes of the past.

Models this season have also edged noticeably younger to better reflect our targeted demographic. It’s a strategic move to better capture its attention through more realistic, real-world cues and attributes. In addition, we’ve committed to a billboard overlooking the High Line Park during the month of October, just to be able to reinforce the Bass message in a new medium in a location that is outside the usual expectation. Bass for fall will definitely have people talking. It’s not what people have been used to, and that’s a good thing.

IS: What are some of the shoe styles you’ll be targeting at the younger demographic?

JL: Women’s and men’s bucks and saddle bucks on brick-color soles, and classic Weejun pennies along with the drop-tassel Weejun in black and burgundy box leather.

IS: What about quality? Longtime Weejun wearers are quick to note a steady decline over the past couple of decades.

JL: The Weejun of today is by far the best quality shoe in the marketplace priced under $100. It is a true-moc construction and handsewn on the last. Many consumers may think that the quality has declined over the years due to the fact that the Weejuns are no longer made in the USA, but all materials and workmanship are consistent with the Weejun made years ago.

Pictured above is a shoe from the Mark McNairy for Bass collection.

14 Comments on "Downtown Bound: Bass To Target Hipsters"

  1. That line about the quality is a laugh. These companies should be made to answer for their decline in quality. But, as predicted, they just parrot a bunch of corporate goobledygook. Anyone who can tell me that the Weejun of 2010 is as high quality as the Weejun of 1980 is blind or a liar!

  2. Damn, I would not be so honest if I was in her position. Pretty hilarious.

  3. “They are a collection of timeless styles that aren’t subject to fashion whims.”

    Hm…he says this while discussing the “Mark McNairy” reboot of the brand…interesting

  4. Rob Moore | July 1, 2010 at 12:57 pm |

    Where can one find those McNairy/Bass shoes? There not on the Barney’s website and I can’t figure out what stores carry them.

  5. Damn hipsters. Wastrels and leeches. They deserve cheap shoes.

  6. Christian | July 1, 2010 at 1:56 pm |

    Except the ones in the photo…

  7. “The Weejun of today is by far the best quality shoe in the marketplace priced under $100”

    First of all, that’s just sad. Second of all, I’m not sure it’s true.

  8. well maybe buying Bass shoes will help “hipsters” to appear less dirty and homeless/jobless

  9. Is any one else tired of the “laquered” leather weejuns? I would just about spend the money on a pair of those Mcnairy loafers, but they can’t be found anywhere around here for sure. The old weejuns, when you wore them for a while, sure, they creased, but the new ones with the laquer on the leather “cracks” instead of creasing.

  10. There is a weejun model – I think it’s the “Gilman” – that is regular full grain leather and not corrected grain, or lacquered as you say.

  11. Thanks for the tip Rob. I checked it out, and it looks quite nice. Does have a softer leather, and appears to maybe have stitching on the tongue, so its not quite as “traditional,” but certainly worth a look. I will compare them to the Aldens. Aldens are quite a bit more expensive, but they are made in America, and I do like supporting US workers where possible. Those Mcnairy loafers are apparently made in the US also, but….who knows where to find them.

  12. “Bass for fall will definitely have people talking. It’s not what people have been used to, and that’s a good thing.”

    Is there a publicly traded stock behind this “new” Bass manufacturer/marketer? If so sounds like a candidate for a stock to short this fall…

  13. Well, as more and more “regular” people copy the simple sneakers that hipsters wear, hipsters will look for new ironic shoe options. Bass Weejuns contain the perfect mix of disuse and impracticality. Look for them pedaling fixies attached to jean shorts in about a year.

  14. It’s time to bring those babies back from obscurity!

    Sent from my iPhone 4G

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.