You’re seeing it too, aren’t you? Those guys walking down the street, mid-winter’s morning, wearing an outfit straight out of the backwoods of Wyoming. It’s as if they’ve been transplanted into cities around the world. Some call it the “Americano” look; buffalo plaid, dark washed denim, camp socks, and those every so-stylish winter boots. Oh, and I’m not talking about your run of the mill rubber middle school boots folks. I’m talking about the tough and rugged man boot; the type that could climb any mountain while being photographed by Scott Schuman. Men are rushing out to their surplus Army/Navy stores and thrift store searching for that perfect weathered looking boot. It’s as if we are all anxiously preparing for the snow-mageddon that will most likely never happen.
I’ll be the first to admit, I own a pair. I bought my “winter” boots (note- there isn’t really a winter in Cincinnati) three years ago from Gorilla Boot Co. in NYC. I seriously love them. They are my favorite boots that I own, and yes, they’ve gotten better with age. What’s the fascination with these boots all of the sudden? Is there a memo I missed? A designer who started a trend that I didn’t get noticed? Well, we could all debate on how it really came to it’s present state, but that my friends isn’t what I want us all to do.
Men have always worn work boots. Many professions required their employees to wear only the best; steal toe, heavy duty construction, stitching that lasts a lifetime, and most importantly, high quality leather. It’s that all-around edgy look boots give any outfit. They’ve been part of our society for hundreds of years. Each pair of boots tells a stories like none-other. They travel places, handle serious work, and stand the test of time. We hope, like all of our purchases, they grow to become something special that we can pass down through generations.
The hard part for the common man in today’s market; picking out a pair. We’ve been inundated with brands, styles, and colors. You’d spend most combing the internet for the best pair. So, I shorten the process and narrowed down my favorite five of the season.
First up: The Wolverine “Emerson” 1000 Mile Boot
I had the chance to meet up with the gents behind Wolverine 1000 Mile at Capsule last year. They make a great pair of boots. One of my favorite of their collection is the “Emerson”. It’s rugged, heavy duty construction makes it great for what they are truly meant for; work. They’ve designed them, though, with the option to dress it up a bit. Don’t be afraid to through on a pair of slim trousers with these. The Emerson is made with Horween Leather (one of the best cow leathers out there) and finished off with Filson’s heavy cotton twill. Oh, and they’re super comfortable; the Goodyear welt makes them flexible enough to take any kind of terrain.
Next: Helm’s “Reid” Boot
Raleigh Denim panels (straight from the U.S. Cones Mills)- Check. Horween Leather from Chicago- Check. Heavy duty Blake Stitching to last the test of time- Check. Helm’s “Reid” boot just might be this year’s underdog. I’ve watched closely over the past few years at Helm’s work, and judging by their newest boot, they are making themselves known in the boot world. Thinking about buying? From what I hear, they have a limited run on this edition. I’d recommend placing your order before it’s too late.
The Classic: Red Wing’s 9016 “Beckman” Boot.
The Beckman series, named after Charles Beckman, the companies founder, taps into Red Wings’ roots as America’s premier boot maker. Custom tanned in the Minnesota, the 9016 Beckman provides it’s gent with light-weight, durable leather. A quick polish to these will have you ready for any occasion.Personally, I think they look better when they’ve been aged and beaten up a bit.
The Boot of Boots: Ralph Lauren’s RRL Brunel Leather Boot
Inspired by the 1930’s hunting boots, the Brunel is made from Nebraska’s finest drum dyed cow leather. This, my friends, is a boot. We are talking a pair that will only improve with each day’s wear. Although not a dressy as the others, it serves a different purpose; work. Yes, their stylish, but more important their durable. Many would not oblige, though, to pairing these with a dark denim for a stroll through the streets.
I’ve been into the pebble grain leather style recently. Grenson has been around since 1866, and they continue to produce some of the best boots in the market. Pebble Grain is gaining popularity throughout the industry. Visibly simple, the Hadley will, with proper care, last you a lifetime.
Every man should own a well-crafted pair of boots. It’s a stable to any wardrobe. No, not all of us need them for their “primary” purpose (you know, heavy duty work), but they can be used in the snow, work around your dwelling, or even hiking through your city. It’s not about guys trying to look “nostalgic”, like a woodsman, but rather our appreciation for well-made boots. It’s something that I know I only want to buy once.