Quality boots are expensive. When you normally pay $50 – $100 for a pair of shoes, $400 comes as a bit of a sticker shock. However, after thinking about it for a while, those $50 shoes I buy only last a year or two and have a look that can get tired very quickly. The more dirt that gets on those shoes, the less I want to wear them.
Heritage boots are the complete opposite. They become more beautiful the more you wear them, the more they get worn, and the dirtier they get. Each scuff, scratch, and stain tells a story of where you’ve been and an adventure you’ve taken. It’s one of the most masculine items that you can wear. Heritage boots are like “The Most Interesting Man” from the Dos Equis commercials. Classy. Timeless. Yet approachable and comforting.
Selecting the Shoe
I personally went with a pair of Muller Brown’s from Helm Boots. I’m really a sucker for emerging brands who pay attention to details. The beauty of working with a younger company is they are still naive enough to do things the old fashion way and not cut corners.
It’s not to say the bigger brands are bad, or that they do cut corners – it’s just a different feel. When you get to see the owner of the company and the passion they have for the company and the product; it’s a wonderful connection. We wrote about the owner, Joshua Bingaman of Helm Boots earlier in the year.
For my first pair of boots, a lot of it came down to versatility. The Muller’s I got are a cap toe, blucher boot. Depending on your preference, a cap toe or a plain-toe will be a more standard look. I love wingtips, but they are slightly more formal and moc-toes are on the casual side.
I prefer leather soles. I love how clean the lines are, how minimal the look, and seasonally I’ll get more use out of them down here in Austin. I am also more of a city folk, than an outdoors guy. Depending on where you live and how you’ll use your boots you should consider a lugged or wedge sole. Speaking of sole, what really gets me about the Muller’s is the white layer in the midsole. It’s a very small detail that most won’t notice; but stands out from the other boot makers.
I’d recommend going with a brown color for your first pair, with many shades to choose from. Stay away from any fake distressed leathers. The best part of your boots is that you get to tell a story through it’s wear – don’t let some factory worker tell your story. If you want to spice up your shoes, simply buy some $5 shoe laces and instantly dress the boots up or down. You’ll see below that I’ve got both a white open and an red option for when I want to stand out.
Why are they so expensive
When comparing a $300 – $500 pair of shoe to a $75 – $100 pair of shoe you will see the most significant differences being in the construction of the sole and the materials used.
A cheaper pair of shoes will use glue and fake stitching to attach the sole to the upper. The stitching process, whether it be Blake construction or Goodyear, is more costly but higher quality than a glue construction. With a stitched welt process you will get a shoe that is more breathable, lasts longer, is more water resistant, and is easier to resole when the shoes wear down.
The leather materials are greatly different and this is where your quality shoe will last you 20 years to the cheap shoe’s 2 years. A cheap shoe is going to use a manufactured leather, which is shaved of any impurities and chemically treated to look better. Over time these processes will flake and age poorly. A high quality, full grain leather boot is going to age like fine wine.
The quality leather will mold and stretch to your feet. It’s going to be like that wonderful leather chair has built a memory for your incredible ass cheeks. Simply put, you get what you paid for; but if you need more convincing, Kiyoshi Martinez has written a nice article on shoe quality over on The Silentist.
Recommended Boot Makers
As I mentioned above, I went with Helm Boots, but they aren’t the only great shoe maker out there. Here’s a list of a few shoes and brands that I feel comfortable recommending for your first pair of heritage boots. Hope to see your feet taken care of and you looking your best!