from function to fashion

8:53 p.m. on October 31, 2014 (EDT)
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411 forum posts

Another boot discussion I'm compelled to start.

I've been a fan of hiking and work boots from a design and fashion standpoint since I wasn't old enough to know thats what I was admiring.  I didn't have any use for such boots at such a young age, so it was purely aesthetics and associations with things like self-reliance, the outdoors, etc.  Once I was of age, I was mostly utilitarian, and when it came to boots, I struggled to get beyond utility, durability, and such things.  I get beyond it now, but it isn't necessarily natural to go there.

I've noticed that wildfire boot names --like White's, Nick's, Viberg-- are moving into the fashion realm of footwear.  It's sad to see, but if you're going to spend X amount of dollars on parts and Y amount of time to make a pair, why would you accept $400-$500 when you could get $700-$1000.  Same costs.  Same labor.  Same amount of time.  Nearly double your money for the same effort.  It's a no-brainer, correct?  Of course, because it is a trend to want these high-quality, handmade boots from a fashion perspective, the consequence is that you'll estrange your established customer base and not continue to build a worker class relationship with the trades.

It's not just the Japanese driving this market, either.  It's Europeans as well as domestic hipsters with lots of disposable cash to buy a pair of these every month or two.  They also buy Aldens, Red Wings, Chippewa, various proprietary brands actually made by Nick's/White's/Vibergs under boutique names, and just about anything with a Goodyear Welt.  Fashion is their hobby, and boots are like women's shoes and handbags to them.  That's certainly understandable to me.  Boots are cool.  Handmade, well-made things are cool.  Unfortunately, the consequences aren't so pretty.  Prices explode.  Build times lengthen.  Business thesis change.  Workers and outdoorsmen get pushed out.

Danner is selling a fashionista version of their Mountain Light, and it is the reason I finally started this thread.

February 18, 2020
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