My House Shoes
Of all the shoes I own, none get more wear than these simple leather moccasins, which I use as a pair of house shoes. I bought them from Town View Leather after Jesse wrote about them two years ago. Town View Leather is a small family-owned business, located in Central Maine, and operated by people who’ve been making moccasins since the late 1980s. Yes, these kind of play into the Maine fetish Chris Rovzar recently wrote about, but I think they’re without any kitsch or affectation. Their website, for example, is as simple as can be.
Town View Leather’s moccasins are handmade, though in footwear, that doesn’t mean no machines are involved. For many of the seams - such as the one connecting the thick leather sole to the upper - a sewing machine is used. What’s executed by hand is the signature moccasin construction that Maine is known for. That is, two pieces of leather are sewn together, using what’s known as a saddle stitch, in order to form the upper and sides of the shoe. The process involves passing two thick needles through the same hole, with an awl first piercing that hole and then guiding one needle through. This gives the area the flexibility it needs while also maintaining a strong seam. 
Unfortunately, as Pete said, expensive things aren’t getting any cheaper. When Jesse first wrote about Town View Leather, their moccasins were available on eBay for about $60. I think their website at the time offered them for $80. They’re now $95.
Still, that’s more affordable than the $150-300 you’d pay for similar shoes from Arrow, Quoddy, or Rancourt. Admittedly, when I first got mine, I was initially a bit unimpressed. The heel slipped a bit, and the shoes looked a bit too basic for the price. After wearing about six months, however, I saw how well the leather breaks in and how nicely the shoes conform to your feet (which, by the way, will eliminate any marginal heel slippage). With a pair of jeans or chinos, it’s hard to find something more comfortable for lounging. 

My House Shoes

Of all the shoes I own, none get more wear than these simple leather moccasins, which I use as a pair of house shoes. I bought them from Town View Leather after Jesse wrote about them two years ago. Town View Leather is a small family-owned business, located in Central Maine, and operated by people who’ve been making moccasins since the late 1980s. Yes, these kind of play into the Maine fetish Chris Rovzar recently wrote about, but I think they’re without any kitsch or affectation. Their website, for example, is as simple as can be.

Town View Leather’s moccasins are handmade, though in footwear, that doesn’t mean no machines are involved. For many of the seams - such as the one connecting the thick leather sole to the upper - a sewing machine is used. What’s executed by hand is the signature moccasin construction that Maine is known for. That is, two pieces of leather are sewn together, using what’s known as a saddle stitch, in order to form the upper and sides of the shoe. The process involves passing two thick needles through the same hole, with an awl first piercing that hole and then guiding one needle through. This gives the area the flexibility it needs while also maintaining a strong seam. 

Unfortunately, as Pete said, expensive things aren’t getting any cheaper. When Jesse first wrote about Town View Leather, their moccasins were available on eBay for about $60. I think their website at the time offered them for $80. They’re now $95.

Still, that’s more affordable than the $150-300 you’d pay for similar shoes from Arrow, Quoddy, or Rancourt. Admittedly, when I first got mine, I was initially a bit unimpressed. The heel slipped a bit, and the shoes looked a bit too basic for the price. After wearing about six months, however, I saw how well the leather breaks in and how nicely the shoes conform to your feet (which, by the way, will eliminate any marginal heel slippage). With a pair of jeans or chinos, it’s hard to find something more comfortable for lounging. 

It’s On Sale: Unionmade

Unionmade has just marked down a lot of spring/summer clothing 40 percent. Unionmade has one of the broadest selections of niche mens wear outside of megastores like Barneys, and although the discounts aren’t as deep as others’ might be, the selection is solid. Some of my picks: a Drumohr cotton cardigan, Quoddy penny loafers, olive twill jeans from Raleigh, New Balance 1300s in an excellently neutral colorway, a cotton/wool SNS Herning cardigan, or a fresco blazer from Barena. Union Made also carries a lot of Gitman Vintage, and some solid color linen models are in the sale in addition to their wilder prints.

The sale is valid in-store as well at their shops, and Unionmade’s discounted items are final sale.

-Pete

Camp Mocs

In the last 100 years or so, Americans have invented some of the most classic slip-on shoe styles for men, but they usually start with an idea borrowed from somewhere else. G.H. Bass, for example, invented the classic American penny loafer, but they came up with the idea after having seen moccasin style shoes made and worn by farmers in Norway. Alden, similarly, came up with the tassel loafer when actor Paul Lukas asked if they could make something similar to a pair of tasseled oxfords he picked up in Europe.

Yet another example is the camp moc, which was invented by LL Bean’s founder, Leon Leonwood Bean, in 1936. He came up with a slip on shoe that could be worn out in the wilderness by taking some ideas from Native American moccasins. Like many of his company’s clothes in the mid-century, LL Bean’s camp mocs eventually made their way to college campuses. At that time, many students liked to repurpose outdoor clothes such as parkas, trail mocs, and camp mocs for everyday use. 

LL Bean still makes their camp moc, but I’m afraid it’s not what it used to be. It’s a decent shoe, to be sure, and probably the most affordable one out there at $79. However, the leather quality leaves a lot to be desired.

If you can afford them, you can find better camp mocs from Oak Street Bootmakers, Rancourt, and Quoddy. Rancourt’s has the advantage in being fully made-to-order, so you can customize them however you’d like. Alden also makes a model through their Cape Cod Collection. It’s typically built on a less than ideal driving sole, but Harrison seems to have it available on a leather sole with a stacked heel (less traditional, but nice looking). I also like the ones from Russell Moccasin (Sid Mashburn has better photos) and Eastland’s Made in Maine. Eastland’s Made in Maine collection is significantly better than their mainline (which also has a camp moc), but to be honest, I find them a bit overpriced for their quality. On the upside, they’ve somehow escaped internet hype, so it’s easier to find them on sale and (occasionally) eBay at heavily discounted prices. Their camp moc is a pretty good value if you can find them half off or so, but note that they’re a bit low on the instep.

Two other good makers are Arrow Moccasins and Town View Leather. They’re both small, family-owned operations that make fully handsewn moccasin style shoes. I like them a lot, especially at their modest price point. They give you the option of making your moccasins with a crepe or double leather sole. I have a pair of double leather sole moccasins from Arrow, and like them for short walks and use around the house. Jesse has also taken his for longer walks. The leathers these guys use is thick and supple, and nicely conform to your feet after a few months worth of use. 

At their core, however, camp mocs are meant to be abused and worn down to the ground. Many of the aforementioned brands make camp mocs from higher-quality leathers, which means they’ll last a bit longer and look better with age. However, even the LL Bean ones have a certain charm as they’re falling apart. Buy ones that are right for your budget and feel free to put some hard use into them.

(Photos via Reddit)

It’s On Sale: J. Crew’s Third-Party Brands

J. Crew is offering 25% off orders over $150 or 30% off orders over $250, as well as free shipping, when you use the coupon code WINTER.

This normally wouldn’t be that interesting since J. Crew offers 25-30% discount coupons frequently, but this time, it appears you can apply it to their third-party brands (something they rarely allow). Perhaps they’ll take these off later today, but for the moment, that yields the following deals:

Take a look at their "In Good Company" section for more deals.