Fun fact: Weinbrenner/Thorogood made boots for CC Filson in the 1990s. And when Archival started, we met with Thorogood to discuss a possible collaboration. That project never materialized, but here’s a variation on an oxford I wish we had released:
Andrea Cesari, sewing savant and pattern historian, unearthed info on another US footwear company lost to time: Trot Moc. Trot Mocs were made by the Ashby Crawford Company of Marlborough, Mass, whose ads pitch the shoes to men, women, and children in the pages of mainstream publications like Saturday Evening Post, Outside and Ladies Home Journal in the 1910s. Like all our fave heritage footwear examples, Trot Mocs were handsewn, goodyear welted, and made from “tough and long wearing” tanned leather.
Since visuals of Trot Mocs are limited to a few scarce catalogs and scratchy, microfilmed magazine reprints, here is a verbal description of Trot Mocs: “The toe is plain, without cap or stiffening, and since the shoe is made on Blucher lines, a perfect adjustment can be made by lacing. The soles and heels are fitted with steel grippers which are rivetted through so they cannot hurt the foot. The shoe is unlined.”
In the absence of Nike and New Balance, Ashby Crawford marketed Trot Mocs as everyday wear, perfect for sport, play, and vacation (in ads, the shoe is billed as the “national play shoe” and the “back to nature shoe”).
But here’s what I love most about Trot Mocs: each pair came with a cast metal stick pin:
Even as folks declare the death of heritage as a codified style gents (think: workwear, historic brand revivals, heavy denim, plaid shirting, work boots, tin cloth cruisers, etc.), I still remember its beginnings. I remain fascinated by this mode of dress especially as it exists (or does not) for women. In a recent Reddit thread on the closure of Archival, the highest vote betting comment was from a gent who wrote: “Bong bong bong, death tolls for the heritage trend.” I find the heritage dirge ironic given that I started my own blog in 2006 because no heritage garb existed for women (hence, my mantra of shopping from the past to find what I could not find in the present day).
In a future post, I’d love to document what amounts to brief but tepid history of heritage offerings for women from some of our favorite heritage labels from 2008-2016: Barbour, Filson, Wolverine, Private White V.C., Woolwich, Nigel Cabourn, Pendleton, etc. Nothing lasted and nothing seemed to stick. Princess panels, compromised fabrics, shifting fit profiles, overpriced offerings and competing messages (style over function) seemed to be the order of the day. It’s 2016 and I’m not sure we’re much further along in terms of core, capsule offerings in the areas of footwear, jackets, knitwear and base layers. Bright spots include shirting (thanks to Tradlands and Taylor Stitch), denim (always available), moccasin style footwear (Rancourt and Quoddy) and some fashion facing outerwear (think FWK Engineered Garments, Japan only Nigel Cabourn, and infrequent and inconsistent offerings by Filson).
Suddenly, heritage is dead but – for many of us – it barely launched. Taking a cue from the past, I’m hoping for a future time when “Rufstuff” re/emerges as a defining trend for women (and gents) characterized by clothing that is “as smart in line as it is practical . . . . [d]esigned to meet the demand for camp and country and stand the roughest usage at an extraordinarily reasonable price.” Possible? Evidence from the past:
Here are excerpts from my favorite vintage Abercrombie and Fitch catalog from 1939. During this era, Abercromie & Fitch field jackets and outdoor clothing showed a tailored, British influence. Many of the garments came in dress fabrics like high count cotton poplin or wool gabardine. The catalog contains sections for both men and women. While identified as a high end outdoor clothier, A & F offered practical, stylish clothing that could be worn at camp or for home chores. Many of the garments, especially the denim outfits, could easily be adapted for modern wear.
Should you wish to make a purchase, I’ve reprinted the original order form which should be mailed to the Madison Avenue address post dated 1939.
Dry Bones is a terrific clothing company out of Tokyo, Japan. While their primary focus is on denim, Dry Bones also makes beautiful, 50’s inspired outerwear. My favorite is this insulated, wool tweed car coat (google unreliably translates the model name as “Pharaoh“). I love the two-tone flecked wool, exposed 2-way zip and knit ribbed collar and cuffs. The inside of the coat looks as stylish as the outside. This is one of those pieces that absolutely looks like it has been shopped from past.
While the Left Field crew is marketed to gents, it’s trim fitting enough that the women of AC were able to handle the review. Our test sweater came in size 36, the smallest available. Petite women and slim gents might petition Left Field for a size 34. Here’s a detail view of the sweater’s most visually arresting feature — its vintage-style, wide crew collar. Wool and knitting expert Erin noted that the raglan sleeves were mostly likely seamed together with a sewn-on ribbed collar which she identifies as “very old-school athletic wear construction.”
In addition to the vintage collar detail, the Left Field crew is most notable for its soft merino wool. The sweater is made from a worsted, Canadian merino yarn in a heavier than average gauge. Left Field no doubt sourced merino for its soft, itch free properties. Although I love feel of a soft merino, I do worry about its potential for pilling. My own preference is for a longer stapled wool yarns that exhibit both durability and softness. Tester Sara wore the Left Field sweater to work over a Made in USA Splendid turtleneck. She deemed the sweater “cozy” and liked the fit, especially the long slim arms with ribbed cuffs. Coworkers admired the crew neck collar. At Archival, we endorse clothing that is well made, best quality, locally manufactured and reasonably priced. The Left Field crew is currently on sale for $148 through the Left Field web shop. This is a good deal for a domestically produced, heritage sweater. I hope to see future editions of the Ivy crew made available in a more robust yarn. And our female testers would like to see the sweater offered down to a size 34 or 32. Otherwise, this sweater is a nearly perfect reissue of a classic style.
Full disclosure:Wolverine sent me women’s shoes and boots from the Wolverine 1000 Mile Collection for review.Since I primarily shop from defunct companies or out of print catalogs, this was a happy turn of events.Even without testing, I can highly endorse the Wolverine 1000 Mile collection as a rare example of heritage footwear offered for women without compromise in design or build quality. Like the original version for gents, the Wolverine Collection for women is made in the USA and is based on the same original 1000 Mile boot pattern.Both shoe and boot styles are made from Horween Chromexcel leather (an A.C. favorite) and are constructed on a women’s last with a stitched Goodyear welt.
Catalogs in the 30s and 40s sold this style of boot for farm and heavy duty outdoor wear. Sizes were offered for both men and women. Price point was determined by quality of leather and method of construction. In 2010, the traditional work boot is a rarified, special edition style selling at a premium price point in menswear specialty shops (or in Japan). We’d love to see more of these classic, stylish, well built, American boots made available to the general public.
Some use notes and photos:
Wolverine 1000 Mile Boots for women on test
When I first received them, I immediately had Cat’s Paw protective rubber half soles affixed to the bottoms of my new shoes by a local Eugene cobbler, Baker’s. The climate here in Oregon is wet and it’s treacherous to walk tiled hallways or to bicycle w/full leather soles.
In my field testing, I’ve found that I prefer the boots since their look is more classic and they work better w/my stove pipe trouser legs. I would say that the sizing is generous. I normally wear a women’s 8.5 wide and both boots and shoes fit a little on the loose side – in the width. However, with midweight wool socks, the boots fit well and are extremely comfortable.
I’ve been wearing both the boots and the shoes in rotation. After sporting loafers and camp mocs for so many months, I had forgotten how much support and structure a traditional work boot provides. Steel shanks, solid arch support and leather heel counters have virtually disappeared from modern footwear. Though the Wolverine boots were originally designed for heavy outdoor use, they break in and become comfortable for urban applications like office work or even shopping.
My main critique of the boots is the choice of an antiqued brass finish for the hardware (eyelets and speed laces). Wolverine may have chosen antique brass as a way to signal that the boot design is vintage–something from the past. I’d prefer a normal (shiny) brass finish that would show my own history of wear and aging.
Solid brass hardware. I’d prefer a non “antiqued” finish.Star rivets. Stitching detail. Gusseted tongue.
The Addie wingtips are sleek, modern, classic without being gratuitously feminized. I love the contrast stitching along the welt. For my own purposes, I’d prefer the oxford in dark brown. I challenge you to show me one other US company producing a classic, US made, low top oxford for women in top quality materials. These used to be standard issue.
Leather stacked sole (great for keeping your foot on a pedal)
Leather sole (pre-Cat’s Paw installation)
Handstitching on sole of shoe. I do wish the stitching were recessed into a channel to prevent wear.
Example of recessed stitching on a pair of Tim Little brogues
Favorite detail: hard rubber sole. You never see these on modern shoes for women.
For interested parties, Wolverine 1000 Mile boots and shoes for women are currently available at Leffot (http://www.leffot.com/) in NYC. Leffot will do phone orders and ship anywhere in the world. We’d love to see these shoes and boots become available in brick and mortar stores on the West Coast.
Evidence that perfectly realized heritage collections for women (including belts, breeks, hats, jackets, shirts, boots and accessory ukuleles) have already been manufactured, marketed and buried in the past.