It might seem like an odd adjective to use to describe a footwear company, but when it comes to contemporary shoe brands, there’s no one more grounded than Lewiston, Maine’s own Rancourt and Company. Since the 1960’s three generations of the Rancourt family have been designing and producing footwear, and it is their pragmatic approach that makes them one of the most talked about names in shoe production to this day. When you visit Rancourt’s site you won’t find shoes with neon colored accents, or bizarre dress shoe/sneaker hybrids, instead what will find is a collection of gorgeous, American footwear that at once seems to harken back to New England’s hand-sewn traditions and embrace the novelty of modern menswear. Rancourt seems to adhere to an ideology that to us might feel remarkable only in its simplicity, yet is adopted by a surprisingly small number of brands: “Give people what they actually want.”
I can’t say everyday starts the same, but I can say everyday starts with the same shirt. Or, should I say, a similar shirt. For years now I’ve worn a blue or white oxford, with the occasional university stripe thrown in there for good measure, nearly every day. It’s one less thing to worry about in the morning, and I prefer the simplicity of a solid oxford over the forced experimentation of some overly checkered plaid any day of the week.
A couple weeks back, as I was digging through the Bengal Stripe’s archives (which while unfortunately retired, is still as relevant and well-written as ever) I found this piece by Nico about graduating school and moving away from the “scholarly look.” Nico’s lament about moving forward into the working world spurred a realization that for me the opposite has been true.
Long before the days of Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World” or Old Spice’s “Shirtless Guy in the Bathroom Talking in a Deep Voice,” there was “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt,” the catalyst for all the bizarre and inexplicably intriguing ad campaigns that would follow. The story of “The Man in the Hathaway” has always fascinated me, not only because it hails from the glory days of American sportswear and manufacturing, but because from an advertising standpoint it’s probably one of the smartest ads ever created.