This week the e-commerce company Mr. Porter brought out an exclusive collection of Bass Weejuns. And I mean exclusive in every sense of the word: the shoe carries a whopping price tag of $480, a pretty penny indeed.
Today, perhaps to get consumers excited and justify the price (especially when you consider the shoes are made in El Salvador), the brand’s online magazine The Journal posted a Weejuns feature story. I provided the writer with a few quotes:
“It was the right shoe at the right time,” says Mr Christian Chensvold, editor-in-chief of the blog Ivy Style, explaining the Weejun’s immediate success. “It was casual at a time when dress among young people was becoming more casual, and not so expensive that a college student on a fixed allowance couldn’t afford it. The shoe seems to have had a magical quality that made it somehow new and fresh when it was first popularised, and yet also instantly classic.”
Mr Chensvold puts it down to the shoe’s inherent flexibility. “You can make them whatever you want it to be, from preppy to punk,” he explains. “Die-hard trad guys will wear it with a suit, and over the past 70 years I’m sure there have been many guys, both young and old, who’ve worn a pair of black Weejuns with eveningwear. That deliberate casualness, or incorrect correctness, is a distinguishing hallmark of the WASPish, preppy approach to dressing.
“At the other end of the spectrum,” he continues, “guys in the 1950s – in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, according to legend – figured out that the shoe looked great without socks, even though it is essentially a dress shoe. And one step further, with shorts instead of pants. In London, those long-time Ivy guys still really fetishise the hell out of the shoe and associate it with all sorts of mid-century things like jazz and modern art.”
I’m rushing out now to meet with RVP. I’m sure he’ll get a kick out of hearing about these. A penny sure doesn’t go as far as it used to. — CC
Okay, so what’s the impetus behind the price point? Bass did some made in America Weejuns recently, but these are from their usual El Salvadoran plant. It does appear that they went with a Goodyear welt, which is definitely an upgrade. Is the leather particularly good?
Chens, have you actually seen these in person?
Amazing, simply amazing. Hey, all they need is “one” sale and the effort covered their cost!
It should be said that the euro-distributed Bass Weejuns usually are priced around $180-$200, but this is horrendous. I mean, the “Made in Maine”-loafers are $295?
They missed the mark on the toes. Not that I would buy these “burgundy leather” shoes for $100 but they rounded out those god forsaken toes like they were a pair of Rockports that my diabetic great uncle wears with his three piece while sneaking dark n’ stormys at a wedding. Happy to fish for made in USAs on ebay when my current pair runs out… after a few resoles.
Makes those much-coveted Alden Flex Welt Pennies (in brown suede of course, eh GBB?) appear a bargain by comparison.
I grew up wearing Weejuns, but I find it really, really hard to get excited about them these days. I’m definitely not paying $480 for a pair that my sons (college students these days) will just find new ways to abuse and damage. When you have teenage sons, you quickly learn why the relatively inexpensive shoes from L.L. Bean were so popular when *we* were young.
And I’m almost embarrassed to say that my favorite pair of loafers these days are Patriots from Allen Edmonds. I got a fairly good deal on them when they first came out, but was stunningly unimpressed with them for a couple of months. Then they somehow became the single most comfortable pair of loafers that I own. Probably cost 3 x the street price of Weejuns, and are more than 3 x better, at least after those annoying first couple of months.
Might as well go with Alden.
Yep, I just picked two pairs of Weejuns for my sons from the Bass web site. On sale, less than $61 per pair.
$480 penny loafer recalls ditty from New Faces of 1952, “Penny candy, candy for a penny, they’re asking more than a penny now…”
Im – I have been trying to find a suitable penny loafer for some time now and, after various disappointments, picked up a pair of Patriots during the recent AE sale. They seem a bit stiff, but I am pleased to hear that they should break in well over the next few months. Odd, in a way, since I have found AE dress shoes (Balmorals) to be very comfortable almost from the first wearing.
LL Bean penny loafers have leather uppers and leather soles and sell for $99. Why look elsewhere?
I wonder who makes them for LLB? A few years ago Bass stopped selling Weejuns in narrow (B) width. So I bought a pair from Allen Edmunds, looked just like the Bass I have been wearing since 1955. A little expensive though I forget the price. Then Bass came back with narrow; I bought a pair, still new in my closet after 2-3 years. The AE still doing great, I am certain they are better made.
I just returned a pair of Weejuns I bought from the Bass website. They must have been the worst fitting shoes I’ve ever tried. I had to check to make sure I had received the correct size. I had tried Weejuns long ago, but had a similar problem. Just a poor fit for me, I guess.
I am now thinking about a pair of Rancourt’s Beefroll Penny loafers. Actually, I was originally thinking of the Rancourts, but thought I would try the Weejuns first because of the substantial price difference. Too bad.
I bought my Bass Weejuns for £90 about a year ago. Mr Porter is for p[eople with more money than sense.
Only $480 for these? I’m definitely sold and better place my order before they run out.
Anything made in El Salvador has got to be quintessential preppy. But from what I’ve heard, most people down there wear Alden tassel cordovans though. Without socks I might add.
Wow,that’s a steep increase for a pair of Weejuns. I’ve normally picked mine up at the outlet for about 60 odd bucks…actually recently bought a new pair at Burlington’s for about $30.
I’ve only checked the “Mr. Porter” shop a few times, but I have to say he gives a whole new dimension to the term “full retail price”.
You have to suffer wearing them too tight for a while as they stretch. I speak from 60 years experience.
To me, this surely-you’re-joking price for some PLs says as much about Mr. Porter as anything else. Maybe it’s all a joke: get to th6.99e register and they say, “Just kidding, they’re really only $76.99.” Conversely, I don’t like being poked. Bye, Porter, you’ve over-reached on this one.
Oh, yeah, and long live Alden!
Just in case anyone wants to pick some Weejuns at a decent discount, Bass is having a 50% off sale today. Everything except the expensive made-in-Maine models.
Bass has extended the 50% off sale till today. Probably will again tomorrow, as well.
Agree with all those that have spoken. I bought a pair of Bass Weejuns almost 3 years ago off Ebay. Vintage in the sense that the leather was a nice amber color. They were as stiff as cardboard and 40 dollars… They had a leather sole like mattress. I love Alden, LLbean, Eastland, Oakstreet Boot… love all Made-in-America brands, but the hike in the price is just out of control. under $250 understandable.. $400+… let those Mr. Porter buyers enjoy… Good ebay hunting my friends..
I got some superb leather penny loafers in Spain a few years back, which even come in EU half sizes. Handmade in Almansa (where Christian Kimber are now sourcing stock among others). Lormoc by Lorens. The thing is, the quality of the leather makes Bass Weejuns look like cheap tat. I think they cost me around 80 Euros. The Spaniards call this style Castellanos. I got an antique burnished tan colour called 501 – which, incidently, goes perfectly with faded 501s…
I just bought the same Bass shoes off the Lands’ End website for $89. Although I kick myself for not checking the Bass website itself where another poster said he/she bought two pairs for about $61 apiece.
When we had a Bass Outlet Store here, I could buy the same or similar shoes for $45 a pair. Sadly, the store got killed off by our dismal economy a few years ago.
OK, the Weejuns that I recently picked up on sale arrived today. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I probably bought my last pair five or six years ago. That pair really looked like they were made very carelessly, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect this time. And although the newer pair clearly aren’t the same quality that you get from $300+ shoes, they’re much better than my last pair. Definitely a step or two in the right direction.
Many years ago I introduced a friend, a Delta flight attendant, to Weejuns at the Bass outlet store in Maine. She bought a pair in black to wear with her uniforms. Many years later she told me half the Delta flight attendants based in Atlanta (hundreds) were wearing them after seeing them on her.