Mark McNairy for Bass Weejuns | A Continuous Lean.

Mark McNairy for Bass Weejuns

Jul 14th, 2009 | Categories: Collaborations, Footwear, Made in the USA, Maine | by Michael Williams

How can you improve on an iconic shoe? That is exactly what Mark McNairy was tasked with when creating his new co-labeled collection of Bass Weejuns. Obviously the shoes had to be made in Maine and from high quality materials like Horween Shell Cordovan and real alligator. And naturally the shoes had to have a twist. What Mr. McNairy (who is also the J. Press creative director and has his own English made shoe collection under his name) accomplished is nothing short of genius. Granted I’m biased, but there is not one pair of shoes in his collection that I don’t want to steal. When I first found out about the new collection I was so happy that Mark was going to be designing everything — I couldn’t think of a better man for the job. What is pictured below is about one fifth of the special Weejuns collection. (The full range will be at Capsule next week if you are a store and want to buy / see the line. The shoes hit retailers come SS10.)

Mark_McNairy_Bass_01

Mark_McNairy_Bass_22

Mark_McNairy_Bass_12

The prices for the line stretch from $300 to an easy $3675 (for the alligator; IWC not included) and as mentioned above will hit stores next spring. I say it is money well spent, you get a high quality version of an iconic American shoe. And just look at those Blucher mocs, how tasty are those? But if good old fashion hand made American footwear isn’t you bag, then I think it is time we might have to stop being friends.

Comments: 46

46 Comments to “Mark McNairy for Bass Weejuns”

  1. Tony
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 8:41 AM

    Very nice! And well worth the wait.. I’ve been looking for some new tassle loafers and I think we have a candidate…

  2. Ryan
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 8:55 AM

    Can’t wait to see it next week!

  3. jubei
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 9:28 AM

    the shell cordovan pair are funny, but kind of defeat the purpose of having shell cordovan shoes… unless there’s something I don’t get?

    I mean, the tanned, glossy hide is now the LINING of the shoe. Just seems like sort of a waste to me.

  4. Sam
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 9:50 AM

    i can’t believe i just got excited for loafers.. but.. wow. some seriously handsome shoes in there

  5. plaidout
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 11:18 AM

    They are all spot-on, but the suede jobbers have me cursing the heavens. Nice job, Mr. McNairy. ACL, the things sell themselves.

  6. andrew
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 11:39 AM

    i think the only nice ones are the plain brown/burgundy colored ones. i think its great that bass is putting out a supposedly good quality, american-made loafer, but i also think this part of an irritating trend. sperry, brooks brothers (and maybe wolverine too…not sure checked their website but couldnt find info) and now bass are american companies that used to be great and eventually went overseas and started making crap. now all of a sudden they want to cash-in on their heritage and charge absurd prices for these high-end collaborations that are made-in-usa like they should have been in the first place.

    if im going to spend my money, id rather buy some allen edmonds (they make great loafers) or alden or some other company that has produced consistent quality over the years. you can say “but bass made the original loafer, i want a part of that history,” and thats definitely valid, but honestly, the bass of “take ivy” and the bass of $3600 alligator loafers are two very different companies. the new bass loafers do look good, and im sure theyre well made, but you have to think about what youre buying into as well. alden or allen edmonds pennys will run you about $280, and these start at $300…

    hope that wasnt too rambling. i do believe this is part of a trend, as i mentioned, and would be very curious to hear what others think about this.

  7. Dave
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 11:41 AM

    Yes, those shell cordovan ones look ridiculous. While the Horween stamp may have been a good idea on paper, it falls down in the execution. That said, the others look good. Especially the suede ones.

    Dave

  8. Dave
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 11:53 AM

    Good point, Andrew. It is an irritating trend. I’m all for mining one’s heritage, but it seems a bit fake that such companies are only now exploiting their good ol’ USA heritage, decades after mothballing their US operations.

    I’m not sure McNairy added huge value to these shoes. The better-quality leather I can appreciate. But it’s not like he’s changed the shape of these in any real way. Ok, the loafers with the deck sole are cool. And the suede ones are nice. But does it justify a $300+ price tag? Whether this is a good example of it or not, I think collaborations are starting to lose the plot.

    Ok. Ramble, ramble.

  9. Lesli Larson
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 12:16 PM

    Really like lacing variation on the camp moc and loafer w/contrasting boat sole. Reminds me of some older loafers by Bean (by way of Heavy Tweed Jacket):

    http://tiny.cc/YaAom

    Hope quality is at the level of original Bass and not some of their modern day offerings (Weejuns for women are a total disaster). Assuming sizing availability will be gents only??

  10. Michael Williams
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 12:18 PM

    Leslie,

    You are in luck, there are a few styles for women in the collection.

    ACL

  11. christopher
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 12:31 PM

    just love the colors on the suede… perfect combination.

  12. Ryan W.
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 1:02 PM

    Great looking footwear.

    The suede loafers with the leather sole are for me.

  13. Tintin
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 1:15 PM

    Nice. I really like the black tassel loafer. Very clean.

    Back from Newport, RI and finished reading LL Bean’s grandson –Leon Gorman’s book, L.L. Bean The Making of an American Icon. Didja know L.L. took a 37.5% mark up. Whatever became of men like that?

  14. R4
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 1:36 PM

    do these come with country club membership cards?

  15. Nick
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 1:58 PM

    “And just look at those Blucher mocs, how tasty are those? ”

    I’d like them better, frankly, if they were in fact blucher mocs.

  16. Michael Williams
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 2:03 PM

    Nick,

    I’d like you better if you were a Blucher moc, frankly.

    ACL

  17. wayne pate
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 3:36 PM

    Wow! A whole lot of loafing going on. I missed the emergence of this Americana sub-trend, I guess that’s because I’m a wingtip kind of guy. At least
    this time around Patrick Cox has nothing to do with it.

  18. jhn
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 4:07 PM

    They look like great shoes, and I kind of agree with Andrew but it’s all water under the bridge by now. But it is a bit odd to have designer Bass shoes. It’s like those designer Chuck Taylors. The whole point of Weejuns is that they’re supposed to be cheap, everyday shoes.

  19. Mack
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 4:13 PM

    I recently purchased the newly styled penny loafer from Bass (Dover-black) and I absolutely love them. the white-soled penny is sweet. GQ had a similar Ferragamo in black last summer. I hope these are closer to my price point. any idea on whether these come in black?

  20. Eric
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 5:42 PM

    They all look great. Let’s hope they are priced like the normal Weejuns.

  21. Michael Williams
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 8:16 PM

    I don’t think it is odd at all to have a designer Bass collection. I guess you guys just want the same old stuff made cheap in China or India or whatever. I think that well made shoes can come from those places, but this stuff is special. If you don’t understand that then there is a serious disconnect here. This Bass collection is no different price wise than what RL does and nobody is complaining about that. If there is one thing in your wardrobe that you should spend money on it is shoes, with clothing a close second.

    Andrew — if you don’t like American companies that want to get back to their roots and make domestic goods again, then I honestly don’t know why you are on this site. What you are saying is crazy talk. It is good to have the option of something new and different then Alden and AE who largely operate with binders on. While I think those brands are endearing to some degree, I think it can be staid and uninspiring.

    Also, concerning the inside out Cordovan, I have one word for you. Japan. Try and imagine you had a line of clothing. Now try and think where you could sell said clothing. Would you want to do business with Japan or just turn out the most basic boring product possible for the 100 stores in the states that can sell anything that looks good? I know a lot of you don’t work in the business, but try and think before you comment.

    ACL

  22. Michael Williams
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 8:18 PM

    Wayne Pate — good to see you around these parts!

    ACL

  23. Greg
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 10:10 PM

    Wow! Awesome shoes, I never thought I’d like alligator shoes, but I’ll take em!

  24. JP
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 10:42 PM

    Feeling kilties and tassels hard.

  25. Darian
    on Jul 14th, 2009
    @ 10:54 PM

    Mr. Williams,

    What you said is sad but true about the general publics lack of understanding around hand made in the U S of A, as well as the sheer importance of it. I wouldn’t think it’s that hard to grasp the concept of quality versus quantity.

    I’m Canadian and largely support made in North America because it tends to have not only history but quality, which is reason enough to spend the money.

    People often forget how cheap it is to make things in 2nd and 3rd world countries, hence the lower prices. (Ugh, suburbia.)

    $300 is completely reasonable for a hand made shoe, not made by children.

  26. Nathaniel Edwards
    on Jul 15th, 2009
    @ 2:16 AM

    Mr Williams,
    I think that Andrew feels more that Bass may be “selling-out” so to speak, that the return to domestic US and hand-made manufacturing is less a move to restore its heritage, and more to cash in. This is sort of a cynical view. I, nor he or you (as far as I know), work for Bass and ought not try and represent their reasons for the return to the US. But, I would like to assume that it is an attempt to glorify the great American heritage in an appropriate way, for sentimental and value gains! I don’t think anyone here is arguing against hand-made or domestic made products having their benefits; at least I hope not! But, he may be right in thinking that “made-in-America” and “hand-made” are becoming trends for certain companies that may not be as value or quality oriented as Bass, and misuse the labels to misrepresent the quality and value of their own products. Those companies I agree are only cashing in on the “trend,” as it were. I do not think Bass is such a company, nor do I think that any of the recent heritage-claiming companies are. Maybe less cashing-in, and more waving the banner! Maybe I am just too optimist and sentimental for companies like Bass…
    Best,

    N. T. Edwards

  27. Isaac Buie
    on Jul 15th, 2009
    @ 10:18 AM

    Just bought a pair of Bass Gilmans. I’m re-soling them with rubber. Good to know in the future I can simply purchase the white-soled McNairy Weejun. Love the collaboration. Side-note I’d love to see a designer collab with L.L. Bean.

  28. Lesli Larson
    on Jul 15th, 2009
    @ 12:24 PM

    Michael–

    What can you say about the leather used for the mocs and non-croc, non-cordovan shoes? Is is it from a special tannery like Horween? Chromexcel curious.

    LL

  29. jhn
    on Jul 15th, 2009
    @ 1:00 PM

    Michael, it’s odd to see the *Weejuns* name on a designer item. It’s like seeing a designer Hanes T-Shirt or something. The price isn’t bad, it’s the product positioning. Jarring. Of course, it’s sad that the classic Weejuns brand is being made overseas, too. Both are bad. There’s nothing to be done about it, though, as the alternative is an economic fantasy world.

  30. Dave
    on Jul 15th, 2009
    @ 2:00 PM

    Ok, Michael. Indulge me for a second here. While I support bravery in design, I think the inside-out shell cordovan is too big a break in cadence from the rest of the line and compromises the brand.

    Of course it’ll sell in Japan. Their thirst for individuality and cachet is unquenchable. But such a move is opportunistic, full stop. I could use your logic to support compromising a brand six ways to Sunday, knowing it would sell well somewhere.

    Would/should RRL do a distressed cowboy shirt made out of tennis ball felt, knowing that folks in Tokyo would line up around the block to get their hands on one? How about Levi’s doing a pair of 501s constructed entirely of iridescent purple (selvedge!) SurfStyle windbreaker fabric? Red Wing doing a gingham workboot?

    Dave

  31. Michael Williams
    on Jul 15th, 2009
    @ 2:04 PM

    I’d love a pair of Tennis ball boots. Maybe Mark can do that for AW10.

    If you don’t like it, you don’t like it. I can’t argue with a man’s taste. But to say this collection is compromising Bass’ brand is just ridiculous. But that’s just my opinion and you have your opinion. I’m cool with that. You know what they say about opinions? I think you know this one…

    ACL

  32. Eric
    on Jul 15th, 2009
    @ 2:47 PM

    These shoes are going to be the hit of the (capsule) show next week.

  33. wayne pate
    on Jul 15th, 2009
    @ 5:05 PM

    Thank you Mr. Williams. Checkin’ ACL daily and keeping my mouth running to a minimum unlike some of these jokers.

  34. larkabout
    on Jul 16th, 2009
    @ 2:18 AM

    Unbelievably amazing.

  35. ad ease
    on Jul 16th, 2009
    @ 11:18 AM

    I think overall these are pretty sweet actually. The Horween on the outside is initially amusing but smacks a little of what Band Of Outsiders did with Sperry, the whole inside-out thing. So while I am not as opposed to the opportunistic Japan-luring concept as some folks on this forum, I am opposed to the relative inoriginality of it. Plus I thought the Sperry ones were silly too. But i would sport most of these flavors. Agree with Darian, American made footwear by adults should cost more.

  36. The Look
    on Jul 16th, 2009
    @ 12:25 PM

    I’m happy to put up with a few of those monstrosities if it means having decent ‘Made in USA’ Weejuns again.

  37. Rafael T
    on Jul 27th, 2009
    @ 11:25 AM

    They look good, but what I really would like to see (and I have been thinking about contacting Bass, myself) is a Weejun with a slightly higher vamp and a bit of a sharper toe. A more modern look, but with the versatility and no-sock wearingness of the original. I would expect something like this to sell in the 100 dollar range.

    3000 for a pair of Weejuns, even alligator ones, is a bit preposterous.

  38. CE
    on Jul 31st, 2009
    @ 5:42 PM

    I got a pair of Made in USA Allen-Edmonds Walden loafers ($225) in the mail last night … then I stumble upon this post. Mr. McNairy certainly does his job and breathes life into (what I thought was) a dead and gone shoe company. Fortunately I don’t see anything that makes me regret my purchase. Certainly not at $300+. But I’ll definitely keep an eye out for Mr. McNairy’s work in the future.

  39. Jim Shaw
    on Aug 1st, 2009
    @ 12:30 PM

    Way back in 1966 when I was in High School my parents spent a then astronomical $30 for a pair of Bass Weejun penny loafers for their then very collegiate son (me) and they almost choked at the cost. Fast forward to about 20 years ago and I purchased my latest pair (after about 30 subsequent pair between me and my wife over the years) at a Bass outlet store in Myrtle Beach for about $80, well worth the price for a hand made shoe out of Maine. NOW that the Bass Weejuns are made in some god forsaken place like Sri Lanka or somewhere just as bad by poor little kids making 10 cents an hour, you can forget my business as I am now buying SES shoes, including pennies. Will I pay $300 plus for hand made Bass Weejuns now…NO WAY!

  40. Aaron Sarfati
    on Aug 8th, 2009
    @ 6:36 AM

    Being a wearer of and seller of weejuns, I don’t really see who is going to spend the mega bucks for these “special weejuns” . Exotic leathers do not make a better pair of shoes, just more expensive. The quality of shoes goes into the tanning process and manufacturing process of the shoes. It’s no different than using some exotic metal to manufacture a pipe. Sure the pipes is made of fancy metal but it doesn’t change what the pipe is used for.

  41. LuxuryObsessed
    on Aug 9th, 2009
    @ 3:27 PM

    I can’t wait to see these.

  42. Sam
    on Aug 12th, 2009
    @ 8:53 PM

    The absolute best buy I ever made was to buy every pair of oxblood, not cordovan color – not leather, Weejuns in the Bass warehouse around 1990 when I read that they were closing the Maine factory. I found some mid night brown ones later that year. I have black, brown and two oxbloods now, with my last oxblood unworn in the box.

    The only comparable penny loafers are Edmonds or Alden/Brooks Brothers at $588/pair and worth it.

    All Bass needs to do is make a quality shoe like they did, and charge a comparable price, about $175, which is about what we paid willingly when adjusted for inflation. They were about $25 when I was at Georgia Tech in 1969. A 911 Porsche was $5,000, and a Caddy was $6,000. The Porsche and the Weejuns were obviously the buy.

  43. chris
    on Oct 19th, 2009
    @ 1:34 PM

    Gawd, the third ones down are slick. How much are they gonna’ drop for?

  44. ian h. campbell
    on Nov 23rd, 2009
    @ 8:57 PM

    Sir, are you making the mens penny loafer in navy blue leather , if so , what is the cost/pair and what is the delivery time after order , thank you.
    I.H.C.

  45. robbor
    on Dec 4th, 2009
    @ 4:53 PM

    in 1969 i paid $19.00 for my last pair of Bass Weejuns

  46. Jon o'Keefe
    on Feb 4th, 2010
    @ 10:17 AM

    I love classic preppy Weejuns.Will they be available in 13e.I buy old ones that are made in Maine.Love the backs crushed down with white socks!Call me on 302-226-5505