The Brothers Crisp was born out of founder and shoemaker Joshua Westbrook’s fascination with moccasins: their simplicity, versatility, and enduring popularity throughout centuries of American industry.
Though many have enjoyed and worn out a good pair of moccasins, few are aware of what makes these shoes unique. In this installment of From the ‘Shop, we examine what makes a moccasin a moccasin.
Moccasins are the original American footwear. Native Americans had been making moccasins for hundreds (if not, thousands) of years before the first Europeans began settling the Northeast in the early seventeenth century.
Traditional moccasin construction begins with the leather vamp, which is placed under the sole and wrapped around the foot and over the toes. The vamp is sewn to the plug (the piece of leather that rests on top of the foot) with a puckered U-shaped seam.
Native Americans typically made moccasins out of soft leathers like buckskin. Especially in the forested terrain of the Northeast, a soft, soleless shoe was ideal for protecting hunters’ feet while maintaining optimal comfort.
Early European settlers valued moccasins for their ingenious integration of pragmatism and comfort and began exporting them to Europe as early as the 1650’s.
Moccasin production declined with the advent of industrialization. By the time of the Second World War, moccasins were sold almost exclusively as souvenirs. However, they regained popularity as a casual and sport shoe during the second half of the century.
Since then, the moccasin has experienced many transformations. Popular styles such as boat shoes, chukkas, and driving mocs are all based on traditional methods of construction, the simplicity of which lends itself to endless variations.
Well constructed moccasins will not only endure a lifetime of wear, but also mold to the foot and become more comfortable with age. It is no secret to us why the moccasin has remained a staple of American footwear for centuries!
We hope you have enjoyed this brief tour through the history of the moccasin. More informative updates to come!
The Brothers Crisp