The laceless, slip-on loafer is believed to have evolved from the Norwegian clog, an early overshoe. It is known with greater certainty that the Weejun loafer was named by a cobbler from Wilton, Maine, Henry Bass, after the final two syllables of “Norwegian.”
Bass began making sturdy, over-the-ankle shoes in 1876 for New England farmers. He eventually expanded his line to include lumberjack shoe and specialty footwear on request. He constructed insulted hiking boots for both of Admiral Byrd’s successful expeditions to the South Pole, and lightweight flying boots for Charles Lindbergh’s historic transatlantic flight. In 1936, Henry Bass was shown a Norwegian slipper moccasin that was fashionable at the time in Europe. He secured permission from the Norwegian manufacturer to redesign the shoe for the American market, and the finished loafer launched his Bass Weejun line of footwear. By the late 1950s, the Bass Weejun was the most popular hand-sewn moccasin ever made, a collegiate status symbol in the ancient tradition of the shoe as statement of social position.