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Minnetonka is a casual footwear purveyor, and in today’s review, which hits close to home, as they are headquartered right here in Minneapolis in our home state of Minnesota, we focus on their famous moccasins, with an emphasis on wearing those moccasins as house shoes or slippers.
If you’re interested in Minnetonka moccasins as driving mocs, you can find a dedicated guide to that subject here. And if you’re considering Minnetonka products as casual everyday shoes, most of the information here will still help you make your decision.
Driving Mocs & Moccasin Guide
Minnetonka was founded in 1946 as a manufacturer of souvenirs, trinkets, and keepsakes evocative of the American Midwest and local indigenous peoples.
The brand was named after Lake Minnetonka, which means “great water” in the Dakota Sioux language. Incidentally, Minnesota means either “clear or cloudy water.” We’re pretty big on water here in The Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Minnetonka collectibles were distributed at roadside stands and gift shops across the region, including a collection of leather moccasins. Philip W. Miller, a Polish-American immigrant, saw potential in those moccasins. He bought a partnership in the company and made moccasin production a central focus of the brand.
By the mid-1950s, Miller and his son, future CEO Marshall Miller, had full control of the company, and in 1955, they introduced their first huge hit, the Thunderbird moccasin, which was very popular with young men and counterculture figures in the 1950s. Minnetonka would further embrace its counterculture status by catering to the hippie aesthetic throughout the 1960s. Popular Minnetonka products from this era include fringed boots, a popular fashion symbol, and the two-button boot, which were popularized after appearing in the 2019 film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
In the 1980s, Minnetonka enjoyed another surge in popularity, buoyed by two very different sources. For decades, Minnetonka moccasins had been worn by well-heeled, East Coast, old money; West Coast, new money; yuppies; and suburbanites, who adapted them while vacationing in the Northeast, Midwest, and Northwest. This cemented Minnetonka moccasins as an icon of the prep style.
Conversely, the “country craze” that began in the late 1970s went mainstream in the 1980s with the national popularization of line dancing, cowboy hats, and the John Travolta classic “Urban Cowboy.” Yeehaw!
1986 saw the introduction of dedicated driving mocs to the Minnetonka line, with slippers introduced the following year. While men had been wearing Minnetonka moccasins as driving shoes and house shoes for decades, these releases saw the traditional Minnetonka moccasin construction augmented with purpose-built detailing like rubber nubs for the driving mocs and plush sheepskin lining for the slippers.
In the 1990s and 2000s, Minnetonka expanded its reach, releasing lines of sandals and sneakers and further innovating its existing boot and moccasin line, including a collab with Hello Kitty. Minnetonka has become an iconic American brand with a considerable impact on classic style.
In addition to the famous moccasins, Minnetonka also offers a full range of casual footwear for men, women, and children, including slippers, boots, sandals, and sneakers. Since Philip and Marshall Miller took over in the 1950s, the Miller family has remained at the helm of Minnetonka in various capacities.
The current CEO, David Miller, is Marshall’s son, and his daughter, Jory Miller Sherer, joined the company in 2010. Another of Marshall’s grandsons, Davis Lyons, joined the company in 2017 to oversee production.
Still headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnetonka is a relatively small company with an estimated annual income of about 35 million dollars and an increasing dedication to charitable work, especially involving environmental and indigenous causes.
Minnetonka products are sold directly from its online store and through a variety of third-party retailers.
From its inception, the Minnetonka brand has emphasized its reputation for dependable, well-made, and for moccasins, durable footwear that is casual, comfortable, and laid back, with style informed by a rugged, genuine, American aesthetic.
For those of us interested in classic style, the clean lines, neutral color palette, and style heritage of Minnetonka moccasins offer several potential uses – including as a driving shoe, a casual summer shoe, or even a house shoe.
But do any of us here at Gentlemen’s Gazette regularly wear Minnetonka moccasins as house shoes? Find out in our separate guide where we reveal what we really wear at home.
Men’s Classic Pajamas, Slippers, & Robes (Dressing Gowns)
Before learning about particular Minnetonka shoe lines, let’s take a quick look at how these shoes are made.
Starting at the beginning, Minnetonka shoes are available in a number of upper materials, including leathers like cowhide, cowhide suede, moose hide, deerskin, sheepskin, and Horween-branded leathers, and various fabrics from wools to synthetics, and even recycled materials like plastic bottles and cardboard. Interior linings available include natural materials like fleece or wool and also synthetics like pile or Berber.
These materials are sourced from tanneries in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and China, and then assembled in Minnetonka factories.
The main factory was opened in the 1990s in Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic. Minnetonka owns this factory. They are able to control standards, costs, and working conditions while taking advantage of the skilled labor available at reduced costs in this nation. Additional workers are also outsourced to a Chinese factory in Shanghai, where conditions and quality standards are overseen by local agents.
Most Minnetonka moccasins are made up of four to five individual pieces of material with the sole and sides made from the same leather, stitched together with an apron. Pieces usually made from rawhide or woven cotton appear on the apron with additional decorative detailing like fringes and hand-laced plugs.
As mentioned, actual detailing varies based on models. So, let’s take a quick overview of the Minnetonka slipper collection.
The slippers most associated with Minnetonka are their soft sole line. Consisting of a bare-bones design with a soft sole made from the same material as the body of the loafer and no additional outer sole. So, they’re intended mainly for indoor use. Variations include models that are pile-lined or sheepskin-lined.
The Ultimate Loafer Shoes Guide For Men
The hard sole line is very similar to the soft sole, but with hard soles. Seems simple enough. Those hard soles are intended to protect the body of the shoe from wear and tear, making these shoes a great choice for indoor-outdoor situations.
These soles are usually made from rubber and are available in pile line suede, sheepskin lined suede, with high-contrast Tartan fleece lining, durable mousse height with sheepskin lining, and bovine rawhide laces. A veritable turducken of footwear.
Minnetonka also offers a double-soled moccasin with two layers of suede outsoles, combining the flexibility and lightness of a soft sole with some of the durability of a hard sole. Although, it is still recommended for indoor.
Other moccasin variations vary slightly in their appearance with features like Berber lining, removable contoured footbeds, exposed lining, water-resistant treatments, and men tread outer soles made from rubber and rice husks.
Now, let’s meet the slippers that I’ll be reviewing today, and please note, this post is not sponsored. To fully explore all that Minnetonka has to offer, we’re considering two pairs of moccasins on opposite ends of the spectrum: the simple and back-to-basics, leather-laced soft sole and the fully-lined, rubber-soled, sheepskin moose slipper.
The leather-laced soft sole was first introduced in 1951 and is the standard of the brand. Retailing at $59.95, it is made from suede with a padded insole and no additional lining or additional outsole.
The laces included plugged elements around the apron and are made from rawhide with additional reinforcement stitched around the heel. It is available in two colors: brown and tan; and regular sizes 6 to 13.
Today, we’re assessing a size 12 in tan. With a simple and unobtrusive design, this shoe stays true to the iconic moccasin look and is well-established in classic style.
Although limited, the earth tone color palette pairs well with casual outfits, especially those typical of warm weather. I definitely feel like this tan color is nice and rich and pairs quite nicely with contrasting colors and an outfit that I would wear casually – for example, dark denim, perhaps a white button-down shirt, or a polo, maybe even with shorts. I think there’s a lot of opportunity to wear this with a warm weather outfit into the fall time with some chinos or pants that are green or burgundy, other earth tones that might complement that tan. I think it’s actually quite versatile.
Some online commenters feel the proportions of these moccasins make their feet appear elongated, and either too skinny or too wide. On my feet, I can say they definitely don’t feel overly elongated, but I do feel like I do notice the slender portion of my foot at the ankle a little bit more, just with how I’m shaped, as opposed to making my feet look, to me, exceptionally much wider than normal. That’s just my opinion. But, I suppose depending on your foot size, and ankle size, it might vary from person to person.
I definitely feel that there is sufficient room in the toe area. If I was to wear this long-term, maybe something that’s a little bit wider might be a little bit more comfortable in the toe area. I don’t believe I have much issue keeping my foot secure with the laces on the moccasin.
For normal use, it’s more than comfortable and definitely feels secure like they’re not going to slip off. I feel like the grip at the back of the heel is quite secure, especially when the shoe is properly laced and tied. I don’t feel that the shoe is too tight. And, again, it is a leather-based material, so I do feel that over time it will start to shift and get a little more comfortable as I break the shoes in. But, I do wonder about how long-term wear would affect the looseness on these sides around my ankle.
As far as the fit goes, because my feet can sometimes lean on the wider end of the spectrum depending on the brand, this particular model, although wearable, I would probably want to explore, looking at a size 13 – just to see how that differs and gives me a little bit more comfort. But, this is wearable.
So, the shoe is quite comfortable. I can definitely see the appeal of wearing something like this throughout the day while at home, while relaxing.
As far as arch support goes, it’s not really built for someone who has a very strict arch requirement in their shoes. If that’s you, you might want to explore looking for some other kind of external insert you can put inside of the shoe to give you that kind of support if need be. But, for day-to-day use, while at home – comfortable, casual, just to relax – I don’t feel like it’s going to cause anybody any major problems.
The cushion on the inside of the shoe is comfortable. The external suede is quite pliable, very flexible. On any kind of break-in period, I feel like most people could just pop this on and be comfortable right out of the box. You can feel a little bit of the rawhide on the inside of the shoe, but it’s not causing an issue for me. But, if you got sensitive feet, maybe you want to put on a small sock.
The stitching does not appear too thick or bulky. It definitely keeps a nice, slim profile around the shoe, and the suede does not appear to have any blemishes. Long-time users have noted that the soft external soles have become shiny with wear and can become stained, looking darker over time.
Accordingly, Minnetonka recommends that these shoes only be worn indoors. Minnetonka also maintains an impressively thorough website on the care and keeping of their shoes.
Overall, it is very, very comfortable, so I highly recommend people check it out.
Next up, the sheepskin moose slipper has moose hide uppers with a genuine sheepskin lining. Minnetonka advertises this pair of slippers with classic, cold-weather comfort. With a retail price of $112.95, it comes in three colors: black, caramel, and chocolate, and sizes 7 to 13 regular.
Today, we’re assessing a size 12 in caramel. Although noticeably more bulbous than the previous model, this moccasin maintains its classic lines, thanks, in part, to simple stitching around the apron, rather than that full rawhide detailing.
Again, the neutral palette makes these shoes extremely versatile. Although the high-contrast laces on the black model might be too bold for some, the caramel model I have here is something that I feel is not too distracting.
I am pretty comfortable wearing this color with most things, and as this is a particular shoe that you wear outside, I feel like I have a lot of different opportunities to wear this with different types of outfits.
Although the fit is a little bit similar to the last model, the extra plush cushioning of that lining on the inside does make it feel a little bit softer and just a little bit more comfortable initially. I definitely feel like there’s still sufficient room for the toe area.
Would I like it to be a little bit wider if I were to wear this long term for hours and hours and hours throughout the day? Yes, that extra lining, while providing warmth, does take up a little bit more room, but it does feel comfortable on my foot.
Similar to the last model, I run on the ankle. It does start to feel a little bit loose, even while laced. Around the ankle tends to be where my foot starts to thin out, and it’s not a terrible thing. It doesn’t feel uncomfortable. It’s just something I noticed, especially when walking.
The extra plush cushioning of the lining on the inside of the shoes makes them more comfortable, although it feels a bit loose.
When I kind of hit that bend in my foot, that’s where I start to see a little bit of looseness around the ankle, but nothing that’s making my foot pop out or feel uncomfortable. I feel like I’ve got sufficient support in the moccasins for general comfort. It’s not necessarily something, like I mentioned before, that I probably think I would want to wear for six-plus hours without taking them off and letting my feet breathe, but I think that for a short time, I have no complaints on comfort.
The moose hide does feel pliable and flexible with the foot. I don’t feel like this shoe is going to have much of a break-in period. It seems like it’s going to be quite comfortable for most people right out of the box.
The sheepskin definitely improves the warmth for the shoe. I think it’s going to be pretty fantastic to test these out when it’s cold outside. The density and the neatness of the stitching that’s used on this particular model is quite clean. It’s a little bit thicker around the toe, which I know is that signature look, but as we get down to the sole area, around the base of the shoe, it gets a little bit smaller and a little bit neater, which I happen to like a little bit more personally. But, I can appreciate how the thicker stitch around the toe is part of its signature appearance.
With this rubber sole, Minnetonka notes that this shoe can be worn outside under dry and relatively clean conditions. Long-term users generally agree that wearing these soles is similar to what you would normally see with a rubber sole, so only wearing them indoor doors will help the soles to last longer.
Overall, I really enjoy this particular shoe. In relation to its previous model that we’ve reviewed, I feel like they’re both of great value, but I can definitely see the ease of wearing this last model with the outsole and the sheepskin lining for warmth and comfort. So, for me, that would probably be the one that I would end up purchasing first. I personally would highly recommend checking that one out.
So, are Minnetonka moccasins worth their price, or do these mocs deserve mockery?
With a relatively low overall cost, classic versatile lines and colors, quality materials, and an impressive range of options, we believe that Minnetonka is worth it – assuming, of course, that their laid-back and casual styling is in keeping with your personal style.
These shoes are ideal for lounging doing chores around your home, or even running errands. And because you can select particular linings, outsoles, and materials based on your needs, it isn’t difficult to find the right pair for you.
While you can find similar appearing moccasins for about half the price, the construction materials and quality assurance of Minnetonka justify this price increase.
That being said, if you have slender or wider feet, it may be hard to find a good fit. However, many online reviews claim that simply sizing down or up, respectively, will work most of the time. Also, if you prefer house shoes with more arch support or padding, the Minnetonka line probably isn’t for you. And, of course, if moccasins aren’t your thing, these won’t be the shoes for you either.
Slippers in Menswear
Fortunately, you can always find a pair of house shoes more to your liking in our slipper guide.
Armed with this information, you are now empowered to determine if Minnetonka moccasins deserve a place in your wardrobe as a slipper or house shoe. Let us know in the comments what your experiences are if you own a pair, or if today’s review has inspired you to acquire a pair of this classic example of Minnesota footwear.
So, for today’s outfit, I’m wearing a tan-colored polo from Ralph Lauren, a navy pair of shorts, along with the Minnetonka moccasins, and from Roberto Ugolini, I have the Azzurro fragrance.
Roberto Ugolini – Azzurro