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The History of G.H. Bass

Written by: Rebecca Shires | March 30, 2017.

Footwear brand G.H. Bass has become the iconic choice for American footwear. A brand true to their roots, G.H. Bass value their heritage as much as their success. The significance of the brand is particularly remarkable due to the fact they contributed to the creation of a whole new type of footwear – the classic penny loafer.

It began in Maine, 1876, when George Henry Bass began working in the shoemaking industry as a junior partner in E.P. Packard and Co. A hard worker, it only took three years until in 1879 George had become the sole owner of the company and changed the name to G.H. Bass and Co.

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George’s aim was simple; ‘To make the best possible shoe for the purpose for which it was intended.’ and that they did. Creating footwear for a number of outdoor purposes, G.H. Bass has a hard-won reputation from hardwearing footwear. Their first shoe fit for purpose was the “Rangeley” style moccasin. It was a moccasin made for outdoor activities and campers, and quickly became the standard shoe for such purposes. Much of their subsequent shoes then followed a similar shape and style.

In 1936, the iconic Bass Weejuns were produced which eventually evolved into the standard penny loafer – a fact that’ll come as no surprise given that their original purpose was for ‘loafing in the field.’

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In 1941, G.H. Bass developed yet more hardy, fit-for-function footwear creating a cold-weather work boot for the United States Army 10th mountain division. Later on in 1962 the classic Weejuns boomed in popularity, seeping into pop culture and becoming not only a working shoe, but a fashionable mainstream one. The trend ebbed and flowed until 1984 when none other than Michael Jackson wore classic black Weejuns in the opening to his Thriller video, consequently reigniting the love for the iconic shoe.

To this day G.H. Bass continue to produce popular, top quality footwear. Given their varied history, it’s no surprise that the brand have become known for making shoes for everyone, from the heroes to the homeowners and everything inbetween. The popularity of G.H. Bass products has not waned nor worn over the years and what the brand itself says has shown to ring true – ‘A true original is always in demand.’

Written by Aaron Thompson

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