mens-hush-puppies-1958hush puppies beagleThanks to Bob, from Zeeland, Mich., who sent the tip that Hush Puppies has reintroduced shoes from its original 1958 line. I did some more research, and learned that this reintroduction is all the more noteworthy because Hush Puppies is credited with introducing the first line of “soft, suede casual” shoes in America, in 1958.

Wolverine — the company that created the Hush Puppies brand — had previously been known for their “1,000-mile shoes” made of… horseskin. I guess that’s what shoes used to be made of! But after pioneering the tanning of pigskin for military gloves for WWII, the Wolverine engineers came up with a breakthrough that enabled them to use pigskin in its soft suede version for shoes. America loved this new leather. I guess all those “hard shoes” were kind of restrictive. By 1963 one in ten Americans had a pair of Hush Puppies… a more casual shoe for an increasingly casual American suburban lifestyle.

women's 1958 hush puppies bootsToday — it looks like there are four styles each for men and women reintroduced from the 1958 line. I put a question into the PR firm a few days ago, but have not received a response yet. I’ll let you know if I hear anything more. It’s also cute that the company seems to be “touring” the new/old line in a refurbished 1958 Airstream trailer. Link: Hush Puppies 1958 line.

Below is an excerpt of the Hush Puppies timeline, from the corporate website. And it’s interesting to read more history on Wikipedia, which reminds us that “barking dogs” once meant “sore feet”… explains how Hush Puppies purportedly saved Keith Richards’ life… and notes why Malcolm Gladwell put HP’s in his book, Tipping Point.

1946 – By the end of the war, Wolverine engineers had created a new leather: pigskin suede, and built a factory to produce it.

1952 – With horses disappearing from the American landscape Wolverine searched for new ways to use pigskin suede. G.A. Krause’s son, Victor led the race.

1957 – A breakthrough came; the creation of soft, suede casual shoes. America would not be the same. Hush Puppies was born.

1958 – Hush Puppies shoes got their name from a treat Southerners used to quiet their barking dogs.

1959 – Wolverine launched the Hush Puppies brand with a heavy marketing and advertising campaign. V. Krause is believed to have said, “There is some promise here.”

1959 – Hush Puppies signed its first licensee: Greb Shoes, Ltd. of Canada. Plans for international expansion were under way.

1963 – Sales of Hush Puppies shoes went through the roof. One in ten American adults now owned a pair of “Hush Puppies”.

    1. Tikimama says:

      Have to agree with Mark, here. I’d love to wear this mid-century classic, especially since they sound so comfortable, and my “dogs” tend to “bark” a lot! I do hope they look into a great synthetic version of these shoes for those of us averse to wearing leather.

      Fun story – I’m going to go check out the website and that Airstream!

      1. Robert says:

        Me three.
        I picked up a pair of “Veggie Suede” shoes recently, but they don’t quite have the casual class of Hush Puppies.

      2. jazmin says:

        Unless the replace the leather with cotton your dogs will continue to bark. Plastic doesn’t breathe or yield ..when you can’t walk at 70 cuz of the bad feet wounds from manmade you’ll possibly regret wearing the jellies

        1. Al says:

          all depends on how you look at it i guess. all the skins are merely byproducts of the meat industry, so until people stop eating pork it seems that the skins are at least put to good use.

          vegan shoes have always been interesting to me. some synthetics look ok, but as pointed out they dont have the same softness, breathability, or feel as most good leathers.

  1. 50sgal says:

    Bass also still carries their BUCS issued in 1956 for men and women. My hubby and I both have a pair in camel. They are a classic and surprisingly light weight for a vintage style shoe. And, of course, the quintessential penny loafer is still around as is the saddle shoe ( a type of buc actually).

  2. Annie B. says:

    This makes me want to buy back from the thrift store a beautiful pair of pale lavender Puppies I donated during the Great Purge of late summer. A day late and a shoe short: the story of my life.

  3. Nina462 says:

    I used to be a shoe buyer for JCPenneys in the 80’s and yes, we carried Hush Puppies. I’ve been to the Zeeland plant (I’m in Kazoo).
    I wore a pair of brown pumps today & someone said they looked “old”. I said they reminded me of spectator pumps – but she didn’t know what they were.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Gavin Hastings says:

    Not for me-

    Hush Puppies cannot be re-soled and are a disposable shoe. I can wear that heel down in half a day…..

  5. Grama Robin says:

    I have an olive pair I found in a thrift store, and a navy pair I looked for a long time for on ebay. Very comfortable in cool weather! I can’t tell if they’re men’s or women’s, but they both fit!

  6. Pencils says:

    I loved the colorful ones I had a decade or so ago (can’t really remember exactly the last time they were popular, but I think I was out of school and working then). Only problem was they got, um, kinda smelly. I’d buy the new ones in a sec, but they only go to size 10! Grrr. Lots of their other shoes go to 11 and 12 (I’m an 11.) I wrote to them to tell them how unhappy I am.

  7. monch says:

    the hush puppies that was made in usa was really diffrent fron the one that is made in china. i purchased one and i realy thought that this was made herre in US but when i received the shoes by mail, i almost return the shoes back ’cause it look different than the original. the shoes still in the box.

  8. Laura says:

    My grandfather was the original designer for Hush Puppies when they came out in 1958. He worked for Wolverine at the time… He was a young man back then and a hard worker…. I am very proud of the dent he made on the shoe industry. 🙂

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