George Henry Bass began working in the footwear industry in 1876, when he joined E.P. Packard & Co. as a junior partner. He quickly worked up the ranks and took over the business as the sole owner in 1879. After changing the name of the company to G.H. Bass & Co., he moved the headquarters from Wilton, Maine, to another town called Wilson Stream. The manufacturer continued to focus primarily on shoes for the better part of a century. Outdoor footwear was the niche it targeted from the start, and shoes made under the Bass brand early on included moccasins and boots.
When George Henry Bass died in 1925, his sons John and Willard took over control of the company. One of the brand's longest-lasting innovations took place in 1936, when Bass adapted a Norwegian farm shoe into Weejuns--the world's first penny loafer. From shoes, the manufacturer expanded into general apparel in the late 20th century. It continues a constant commitment to manufacturing both clothing and footwear according to incredibly high standards, however, and many of the brand's shoes are still hand-stitched. Bass has changed hands several times through the years. Most recently, it was acquired by PVH Corp. in 1987 and remained under that parent until 2013, when it was bought by G-III.
A focus on shoes made from high-end materials like leather and suede continues to define Bass as a brand, and you can find several different types of shoes in the women's collection. Slip-on loafers are still sold under the Weejuns name, and these products are available in different colors and styles. Variations on the traditional shoe include lace-up options, heels, and wedges. Boots and booties meld functionality with fashion, and these products are tough enough to complement an outdoor lifestyle while still having a certain stylistic flair.
In apparel, the brand offers plenty of tops--including button-down shirts, henleys, sweaters, vests, pullovers, and cardigans. Sweater dresses and shirtdresses are also available. Outerwear options keep you warm, even in the chilliest weather, and they include anoraks, parkas, and puffer coats. In pants, skinny jeans are cut to match the latest trends. Leggings and jeggings are also popular for their flexibility and adaptability to various activities. Bass also makes loungewear and sleepwear for women to wear around the house. Accessories from the brand include cold weather items like hats and scarves, as well as handbags made from fine leather.
Bass has always been a high-end brand. In its early days, the main appeal was that its shoes were particularly hearty and could stand up to the elements. While the same is still true today, Bass has also gained a reputation through the years for its luxury fashions. Shoes like Weejuns are available at numerous price points based on their materials and various adornments, so it's possible to get a pair for under $100 and also possible to spend several times that amount. Since the brand's products are very well made, however, buying clothes and shoes via consignment is also a great idea. We give Bass 4.5 stars out of 5.
- Established 1876
- High-end footwear and outdoor apparel
- Sold at:
- Bass Outlets, high-end department stores, specialty retailers, online
- Types of items:
- Penny loafers, moccasins, boots, booties, slip-on shoes, button-down shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters, cardigans, vests, jackets, jeans, leggings, loungewear, sleepwear, hats, scarves, handbags
- Related brands:
- Andrew Marc, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Wilsons Leather, Karl Lagerfeld, Vilebrequin, Kensie, Guess, Jessica Simpson, Dockers