Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Shopping from the present: Arrow Moccasins

Editor's note: While Tom prefers open toe footwear for summer, I typically opt for loafers or lace up moccasins. New to my line up is a pair of shoes made exclusively for the Tannery by the Arrow Moccasin Company. Unlike most premium Mocs, the Arrows are sized to fit men and women. I purchased a pair from Jason last month as part of my Archival Moccasin review project.

I asked Jason McKenzie, friend and The Tannery proprietor, to write up a report on his Arrow Moc collaboration.


Arrow Moccasins for The Tannery

I chose Arrow because they are the most locally sourced shoe we have (a tad closer than Alden), and we are a store predicated on footwear (not my space, but the business as a whole, was footwear only for 30 years). I think it is very important to represent local industry, and The Tannery is the de facto, "big show." (We are the footwear news independent retailer of the year this year.)

The leather is Swiss hide, tanned in England. Nobody uses such thick, supple leather. Nobody. When you hold these next to Quoddy's, Yuketens, etc, you will see that for yourself. It makes for a tough break-in period (as you are now finding out), but it also makes for incredible longevity.


I don't have a name for the new mocs (which is odd, because I always name my projects- I was writing major). I like Peanut Butter Cups- that was actually the name assigned by one of my coworkers. Paul Oulette, who is Arrow Moccasin, doesn't like to put crepe on his shoes, but our customer is more urban, and I felt strongly that the leather bottoms were less palatable for our clientele- at least to start.

Another reason I chose Arrow, besides their close proximity, is...how to put this delicately? Well, it is an established operation. They are not a new "blog brand." They have been at it for 50 years. Paul is the second generation of maker. Before you gasp, let me explain: I believe strongly that AC is the premier new heritage brand. The market is being flooded with these at-home projects, and none of them hold a candle to your quality. I could give you a laundry list, but you can figure out who I mean. This consideration is especially applicable to two things: backpacks, and leather goods. You should see how many sub-par products and brands have come at me. I am in this position because I can separate the wheat from the chaff.



I chose the model based on the look alone. And I was torn between this and the canoe moc. The Two Eye Tie most closely resembles the classic New England boat shoe, infused with a Native American aesthetic. I will probably mess with the Canoe Moc next time 'round.

The scrap is from Oi Polloi's custom dyed run of Arrows. In keeping with the spirit of repurposing (you may remember my first project was that Bailey Works bag made from old tents), I thought it was cool to use big boys' detritus to make something that ended up more unique. One man's trash...


Gary Drinkwater- who is a local haberdasher (the first Engineered Garments account outside of Nepenthes, by the way) wants me to try Walter Dyer's Mocs, but those are less known, and only come in leather soles. They also don't have as many styles available.

It's funny, we sell those heinous vibram five fingers, and I try daily to convince folks that the Arrows are actually better at helping improve posture and gait than the monkey shoes, and will last at least ten times longer. There is no insole, no midsole, no shank, and that is a strange concept for a lot of people to grasp, but once they do, a lot of folks prefer it.

LL's Arrow Mocs on test on the synthetic rocks at REI

14 comments:

PAPA NUI said...

I'm sure I saw these arrows at Hollywood Ranch Market in Tokyo maybe 12-13 years ago. I remember thinking to myself, "Now here's a moc that's stripped back to it's essence" and I marveled at the quality in a rustic sort of way. There's an appeal to these that says to me hand crafted 'soul'. I can't wait to see the canoe version as well.
Good job!

Anonymous said...

Very rugged, but no good for indoor wear because the leather stinks to high heaven. The low-tops would probably work well for running. I had the lace boots -- the flared collar collects debris, so not recommended for jaunts in the woods.
Wish I had something nicer to say.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I do. They're very impressive, you just should be aware of their limitations. I imagine the higher-top boots are quite the thing.

Karen + Sara said...

these are great! sick of my d rings!

Lesli Larson said...

Anon--

I don't find that the shoes "stink to high heaven" at all. They smell like leather (which they are) but not in any sort of over-powering, offputting way. I'd stick to a classic moc style like this one or the camp moc for max versatility.

pop said...

@Anonymous

I swear people like you stay up at night finding things to complain about. Really? it smells like leathers? And it's so pungent that they can't even be worn in doors? Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

Nah, I wore them for two years trying to like them. It was the strongest-smelling leather I've ever encountered outside of a shop. Maybe I got a super-fresh pair (I went to their workshop in Hudson, MA). Maybe I have a sensitive nose -- I've heard one other person say something similar about their Arrow mocs. It did wear off a bit with time.
I don't think they suck, and would consider getting a pair of the boat shoe style mocs for running.

My Affair with Michael Bastian said...

Gorgeous Mocs...

Fern said...

Thank you for posting! I've wanted Arrow Mocs for about 5 years now, but have held off because I am wary about ordering custom shoes online. Good to see product photos at different angles, since they are woefully lacking on their website.

On the minimalist crepe sole/leather shoe subject, last winter I purchased some locally made in Austin desert boots by Dimovi. The crepe soles are very soft and thin, and the leather is pliable- they do not offer much support at all and are challenging to wear with socks, especially, as my feet slip around. So the fact that VFF's hug your feet are probably a good thing.

http://boytoms.posterous.com/2010/12/bear-feet-womens-desert-boots.html

Lesli Larson said...

Fern--

One thing about Arrow is that the shoes are stock styles and you can return them if sizing does not work out. The thin crepe sole IS a custom option so I'd recommend ordering a stock pair to try out before you opt for the add on sole.

LL

Ernie said...

LOL I agree pop. I LOVE the leather smell, but what do I know, people say I'm weird:)

Dan R-M said...

I'm looking to buy some mocs for their relatively low resource-impact, as I'm trying to get away from synthetics and rubber. I landed on the Arrow website, and they look great.
Futher looking netted this post, which I found extremely helpful for filling out some of the details their site doesn't have. (Being completely unfamiliar with the world of moccasins I need some info to work with.)
One question, though: what exactly are the crepe soles, and what are they for? Why, for instance, would you use them instead of leather? Thanks for some great content!

Tom Bonamici said...

Hi Dan R-M,

Crepe pretty much just means a low-density rubber sole. It's soft and shock-absorbing, which is especially important when walking on pavement!
Leather is great if you're in the woods or on the prairie, but it gets shredded on pavement and your heels will hurt like hell.

Cheers!

Tom

Anonymous said...

My last pair of Walter Dyer Double Rings were to the scrumptous delight of my Irish Setter, awakening to half of one consumed the morning after the first day of owning them.
The smell is strong but keep them in a high place if you have a woofer.