Even though the art of shoemaking seems to be on the brink of oblivion sometimes, there are many people out there keeping it alive, even helping it thrive. Standard Handmade is the new kid on the block when compared to these American makers. Unlike Italy, England and Japan, whose shoemaking prowess has thrived for a long time, here in the US, we have the problem, or rather, the challenge, of relearning what we’ve lost.
These following makers have done just that. And it makes me feel great that I am not alone. There is a demand for footwear that is made by humans and in which human qualities are imparted into the footwear.
It’s important to note that I am only including makers whose process is similar to mine. That means makers who offer hand-lasted, hand-welted, hand sewn, and generally all around handmade footwear. I believe that it’s important to recognize and salute the makers whose process is truly executed by hand.
Cord Shoes takes a stance on offering durable, long-lasting, quality footwear. All of their footwear is made in their shop in Atlanta, GA. I kicked myself when I discovered them just after I visited Atlanta. It would have been great to connect with them.
One of the great things about their company is they offer what almost no one else offers, a women’s work boot. Not that you have to work in them. They are made much the same way as ours, sewn using what’s called a Blake stitch to secure the sole to the upper and insole, rather than just cement. The shoes literally have no way to come apart. Also, once you’ve worn your sole down enough to require a resole, this stitching makes the resoling process easier. Cord Shoes has done this intentionally, so that you can love your shoes for years.
Cobra Rock Boot Company:
We (my wife and I) are particularly fond of Cobra Rock due to their proximity to us. They live and operate their company in Texas! We are neighbors, and though we’ve met them only once, we feel like they are friends. Colt and Logan are of the nicest people we’ve met in the shoe world. They chatted with us about their process and approach to running their business, and we thought it was generous of them to share it with us.
They offer great boots that blend western boot design with modern aesthetics. On their website right now you’ll find that nearly everything they offer is sold out. You have to be quick when they post a new product! The boots are that stunning! I particularly like their collaboration with Ft Lonesome on the Sky Highland Boots. I love the rough-out leather with the embroidery.
Truman Boot Company:
Truman Boot Company prides themselves on staying small, and I have to respect them for that. They keep their production to a certain number and that allows them to control the quality of their product. In other words, they aren’t too big for their britches. It takes a lot of wisdom to know how to do that.
I love that they use the stitch down method in their construction. We tend to see it more in mass produced footwear, however it is a classic construction method that some claim to be the best. One of the great things about their website is the fact that you can customize almost everything while you’re choosing your boots.
Brian the boot maker is an interesting fellow. Not only does he run his brand of Role Club boots, he also takes on shoe repair opportunities. We follow him on Instagram and it’s quite interesting to see some of the old work boots and such he repairs. We like that he’s open to repair work. That is something we are not yet set up to do in an efficient manner, yet. It’s great when people have a sentimental connection with their shoes and we’re glad he supports that.
He’s most known for his engineer boots with a woodsman heel. They’re great, however, recently he has outdone himself with his Boondocker Coyote roughout boots. They are simply incredible. Another great thing is he posts a new video to social media every Sunday, and they make for great peaks into the art of boot making.
Greg Morgan has a great philosophy at Ryaton. He’s committed to making better things rather than cluttering the world with more junk. I certainly agree that there is enough junk in the world. Every time I read through his website I feel inspired and my love for well-made and handmade is rekindled.
His black boots are beautifully designed and executed. I think of them as a blend of Viberg boots and Helm boots. With the difference that they are made on a smaller scale with every detail covered during construction (as a side, I like both Viberg and Helm, they are great companies). And the black leather he uses is quite buttery.
Michael Grey Footwear:
I’ve had just a few interactions with Michael Grey via Instagram and email. He is a hard working individual who creates very unique shoes and boots. I’m always interested to see what he comes up with next. He’s kind, and is always sure to respond to a comment or an email. He operates his business in New York.
What we like most are his shoes with a half wing tip and brogue on the vamp. He also uses some great leather colors that really pop, like canary yellow, or an almost pastel green. He also has the coolest inserts around. When you’re in New York, you have to make a statement!
What inspires me here is that we now have some choices in the handmade shoe world, and not just custom shoes that start at $2000. Though few, there are some great companies out there re-pioneering the way footwear is made in the US, how it should feel, how long it should last, and what quality really means. If you don’t choose us for your footwear needs, choose one of these great companies mentioned above.
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