The moccasin has as solid an American pedigree as you’ll find. The footwear of North America’s aboriginal peoples–its name, in fact, comes from the Algonquin word makasin–it was a sturdy and reliable piece of footwear, particularly for tribes who needed protection from the winter elements.
Over time, the moccasin insinuated itself into European-American culture, first on the feet of early American outdoorsmen. In the post war era, it regained popularity as a comfortable casual shoe for millions of vacation-hungry Americans.
Made from the tough hide of animals like buffalo, moose and deer, the moccasin typically has soft sole with a U-shaped vamp, although a number of modern versions have fused the traditional leather moccasin upper with a harder rubber sole.
One of America’s finest purveyors of hand-stitched moccasins is Wassookeag Moccasins, a shoemaking concern out of Dexter, Maine. For two generations, Dexter was home to the eponymous shoe company, a solidly managed enterprise that cratered after its acquisition by Warren Buffet.
As my feet are different sizes, (the right a 9.5D and the left an 8E), I’ve never been able to partake in slip-on shoes, whether loafers, boat shoes or moccasins. Wassookeag provided a solution to that conundrum.
Because they don’t begin making your shoes until you order them, there’s no additional charge to get the correct size for each foot. In essence, a Wassookeag moccasin is a made-to-order product, with a bevy of choices for leather, color, lining and sole.
This Christmas, I found a pair of buffalo hide, deerskin-lined Wassookeag moccasins under the tree. They are truly a thing of beauty, an emblem of American craftsmanship at its finest. Not only are they made by American hands, but they are also constructed of materials sourced exclusively from American suppliers.