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.