Indian Moccasin


How to say it:  in-dee-uh-n  mokuh-sin

Traditional Features: 

Indian Moccasin

  • made from soft leather
  • usually flat
  • can be shoe or boot style
  • fringing and lace detailing
  • can be fleece lined
  • obvious stitching around toe area and side of shoe

21st Century Indian Moccasins

While the traditional Indian moccasin seems to have been somewhat diluted by the fashion industry, the availability of various versions of the style shows that despite the immense reinterpretation of the look, the moccasin is still very popular in the 21st century. From fleece-lined slipper styles, to fringed ankle-boots and soft slip-ons, the comfort and flexibility of the moccasin makes the shoe appeal to many different personalities, thus allowing it to maintain a stable level of popularity of the style.

Minnetonka TODS

Minnetonka, TOD’S

Tory Burch UGG

Tory Burch, UGG


…of the style: The moccasin shoe is historically linked with indigenous tribes of North America. The soft, leather slipper-like shoe was worn by various tribes around the country and while the basic look of the shoe remained constant, different tribes had their own style; differences were often dictated by the environment in which the shoe was worn and ranged from how it was constructed, to the type of hides used, and the different decorations used to personalise the individual pairs. This occurred to the extent that members of different tribes could identify each other based on the style of their moccasins.

European settlers in North America recognised the comfort and versatility of the moccasin, as well as it’s suitability to the landscape in which it were worn, and began to adopt the style for themselves. While it is likely that Native Americans were wearing moccasins well prior to the discovery of North America by Europeans, and the settlers adopted the style  sometime between the 15th and 18th centuries, the now iconic shoe didn’t really make a mark in modern fashion until the 1940s.

After WWII Americans took to the roads and began to explore their country. During their travels they encountered the moccasin in resorts and souvenir shops, and brought the style back to the suburbs. The moccasin continued its rise in popularity throughout the 60s and 70s as the soft, earthy style appealed to the Hippie and Earth Children movements prevalent during these decades.

In the 21st century the moccasin is a staple style on the footwear market, although it does experience boosts in popularity and availability based on current trends. While the materials may have changed to keep up with the rigours of modern-day life, the basic look of the moccasin still resembles that of the Native American styles, and it is this comfortable and versatile approach to design that keeps demand for the moccasin at a constant level.

…of the name: The term ‘moccasin’ comes from the Algonquian word makasin, however many different groups of Native Americans wore the shoe and most likely all had their own word for them.

Random Facts

  • fringing on moccasins is thought to have been originally applied to the shoe so that it trailed behind the walker, obscuring footprints
  • the Algonquian people were the first Native American people encountered by Europeans

For more info on Indian Moccasins try Wikipedia, NativeTech, Marie Shoes, Indian Village Mall, eHow or the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

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