Spring is in the air, and you know what that means don’t you? No, not hayfever and the re-emergence of bees in beer gardens… it’s time to crack out the moccasins. And right on cue, the new colour of Oi Polloi x Arrow Moccs have padded through the door looking all tanned and pleased with themselves. And hot on their heels are another amazing offering from Quoddy, in the shape of the canoe mocc. We thought now would be as good a time as any to talk you through some of the best examples of shoes with one foot in the past… or in some cases, both feet.
The word moccasin derives from the Algonquian languages. No, we’d never heard of it either. But as you can probably guess, it relates to Native Americans, specifically those from the East Coast of North America, all the way down to the Rocky Mountains. We’ll not get too bogged down in etymology though, what we’re interested in is their shoes and how they’ve shaped what we wear on our plates of meat today.
One for the purists, the Arrow Moccasin (above) is probably the most faithful moccasin we stock. It’s handmade from start to finish by a team headed by the son of the founder, Paul Ouelette. Using Swiss hides and tanned in England, these are constructed in Massachusetts, and when we say constructed we mean constructed.
On a slightly different tip, but just as traditional is the Quoddy Canoe Mocc (above). In a colour brilliantly named ‘Calico Shark Blue’, it features a white sole and a rather traditional mocc lacing system, where the lace wraps around the ankle and the back of the heel. Gold deerskin lining too and nickel eyelets. Posh as posh can be.
The Yuketen Ranger Mocc SBR (above) is pretty much the Daddy when it comes to this kind of thing. Top quality expensive leathers underline a shoe that not only looks great but also gives the impression it’ll be around forever. The sole unit is like a dense, sturdy version of a vibram on a par with quality you’d get from Tricker’s and the like.
A second entry for Yuketen, the Angler mocc (above) is what obsessives may refer to as “a thing of beauty”, probably before raising it to their nose and going “oof, have a whiff of that leather”, as everyone in the room tries to ignore them. They’re made from what we call super-suede, it’s like suede but better. Dead strong and thick but with that lustrous (great word) quality that makes them so flipping comfy. See, we’re getting carried away just talking about them.
Bit of a curve ball here, just to throw you off the scent. Common People is a newish brand, and the Crosby shoe (above) is named after David Crosby, guitarist and songwriter. Maybe he’d like them enough write a song about them. They look like they’ve had a bit of Germanic engineering injected into them, with the sole being what we call a negative sole unit – it goes down a bit at the heel. It’s a nice juxtaposition (another great word) between traditional native American techniques and modern comfort technology.
The Clarks Weaver. Now seemingly a permanent fixture from Clarks, the Weaver was one of those shoes that people used to harp on about, saying they wished it’d make a reappearance. And then it came. This Oakwood colour is our favourite, kind of like beige but better. Better-beige. With their comfy crepe sole, they were described by one of our own as “gloves for your feet”.
At the opposite end of the scale to your Weavers and your Canoe Moccs is the Red Wing Mocc toe boot (above). Available in several colours, this is like the bodybuilder version of moccasins, built for trampling twigs and hunting animals (which obviously we don’t condone unless they taste nice), Red Wing make seriously sturdy footwear using all the traditional moccasin construction techniques that seem more familiar on lighter models.