Custom White's Boots ... Thoughts? - Page 285
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So the first thing to say is that the quality of these boots is mind boggling. I always thought that Red Wing boots, because they were ‘handmade’ and welted using full grain leather, were about as good as boots could get. Man was I wrong. The comparison that comes to my mind is of a Toyota and a Porsche – White’s boots, while they are still just boots, are a totally different thing. This is something that does not come across from photos, discussion, or even a short viewing. And this is not to bash Red Wing or any other shoe maker, but the extra money that you spend on these boots clearly goes some where – this is not just a brand thing. In fact I would say now that buying whites is the opposite of paying more for a brand.
I think there are three aspects to examine the boots from to understand how they are differentiated from cheaper contemporaries, the first and perhaps least significant is the leather. I’m a layman when it comes to leather and I’m not clear on where it is sourced from and in what way White’s leather is systematically superior or otherwise to other boot makers, all I can judge on is my direct experience with the leathers I’ve got. It’s difficult to describe in what way they are superior other than it’s just better. For those of you with experience of high quality Japanese denim you would understand that to say that it is ‘thicker and richer’ than off the shelf Levi’s just does not do any justice. This leather is the same. On the one hand it’s primary characteristic is that it is thicker and richer, but that is a very shallow description. The leather is buttery and moist, deep and nuanced, smooth, soft and tough. The feeling on the feet is contradictory – feeling incredibly supple and ultimately strong at the same time; it is a strange sensation. The key point though is that photos just do not do justice to the empirical delights the leather brings.
The second thing that sets these boots apart from what I am used to is the build quality. In my mind italian artisans making delicate and light shoes or high fashion designers making outrageously expensive women’s fashion shoes were the definition of precision and accuracy in craftsmanship, but in these boots I have seen these values in action within a different sphere. These are certainly work boots, and they are tough, yet they encapsulate that specific attention to detail that would not be out of place on a fashion runway – every thing is millimetre specific. It’s hard to explain, but it just all hangs together impeccably. Each part of the construction of the boots fits with and complements each other part in such a effortless way as to suggest ease; but the brute strength of the demeanour leant by this conflation quickly reminds us that this product has literally been stretched and hammered into submission. How one can engineer to such fine tolerances in a product so very robust is beyond me and reminds me precision mechanics in the beauty of it’s power. The ideal I enjoyed most when I started wearing full grain leather shoes was that my foots was ‘encapsulated in leather’. While that is true in the other brands I have experienced, it seems more true in White’s – my foot seems to even more one with the machine that these boots are – a machine of many separate piece moving in harmony to achieve their result.
The last and most important aspect that differentiates these boots from others I’ve worn is the fit. Oh my god the fit! Let me preface this by saying that in the past I have been unguided in fit and consequently have made poor decisions, buying boots that were probably too small. But that fact belies the reality that with non-custom boots you just have to take what you can get size-wise. Is it true that red wing 875’s only come in E? What’s up with that?? So this is where Kyle at Bakers saved my life. I told him two important measurement; total length of my foot and circumference of the ball. Based on those two measurements he totally nailed the size, giving me a 9.5C. These boots are insane – they fit like a literal glove. You have to experience it to understand. But it is not just size, it is fit. My foot literally ‘pops’ into place in the boot. It is so satisfying to put them on and hear that sound and feel the foot slide home, like the feeling you get when you hit a golf ball clean – effortless and crisp. The last (here I am talking about the C461 last) is so unlike the last’s I’ve experienced in competing products. They seems generic and shapeless, this last seems purposeful. Like they understand the shape that feet are. There is no heel slip in these boots, not loose points or tight points. As I’ve worn them they has stretched maybe one millimetre, and that is so noticeable, it feel massive, and that is a testament to how accurate and exact the fit of these boots are. For about one minute after I first tried them on I thought ‘Oh shit, that arch ease is SO uncomfortable it’s not going to work’ – man did that change quick. You literally can feel the whole front of your foot relax over the arch. I never really believed people that said that their work boots were comfortable out of the box because I have had so much pain and blistering in every single pair I’ve owned, I just thought it was what needed to happen. Now I know different and I won’t be going back!
I did my best to get some good pics, but you just can’t capture what these boots are in two dimensions.
Edit: In response to a question via PM; It's hard to say if the semi-dress last fits different than the C461 last because the dress brown leather is so soft that it makes the feel quite different. Also, the double leather sole may be playing a part in it as well. I would say that the semi-dress with double leather sole is the more comfortable in terms of the sole of the foot. I wouldn't change the size of either (I think both lasts should be the same size). For a 9.5C my foot is 27cm long and 10cm wide. The circumference of my ball was 24cm. To quote Kyle from an email:
You’re at 24CM (9.45 inch)
A 9.5 length has these ball measurements:
D width ball = 9 7/8”
C width ball = 9 5/8”
B width ball = 9 3/8”
I went with a C because the B would be too tight and I think a D would be too loose.
In my experience White's measurements are exactly the same as the Brannock Device; I measured 9.5C on that and Kyle measured me the same.
Edited by gregornz - 7/5/14 at 8:17pm
Well, I had ordered 7 inch semi-dress with a rolled top. They arrived today and they are 5 inch with a cut top. Disappointing. I've reached out to Kyle for an explanation, I suppose he'll get back to me after the weekend. When I ordered the boots Kyle didn't have any problem with the order, so I'm not sure whether it is White's or Bakers that have made the error, and now I am not sure whether it is even possible to do a rolled top 7 inch semi dress or not. I'll get to the bottom of this and confirm though, and I'll be returning these.
In the mean time here are some pics of some beautiful semi-dress in dress brown. I love the double leather sole in brown. The hooks at the top are annoying - I asked for the 'top three' to be hooks on what I though were going to be 7 inch boots. As they are now it's quite an annoying placement.
@gregornz Nice boots.. I am sure Kyle should be able to help you out with the SDs.
How is the fit between the two lasts? Also I would really appreciate if could post your Brannock size, your foot length and the circumference around your ball of the foot. It looks like we are around the same size and it might help with my sizing. .
Enjoy your new boots.
That`s really interesting Gregornz, I`m a 27cm and 24cm ball of foot too, and 10cm across...without socks. Are your measurements without socks, or thin socks? I once ordered a 9.5D but found it too big, sold it, and have 4 pairs in 9D, but I do think a 9.5C could fit me as well. The question then is on the Northwest last, do I go for a 10C?
Those bison and rough out are very very nice!!
Edited by daizawaguy - 7/6/14 at 6:34am
I see your Semi dress have the leather mid sole and single leather bottom layer, on Whites when "double leather mid or outer soles" are ordered they are called "triple leather soles" . 2 layers on one layer equals 3 layers of leather, are your boots are one layer on one layer equaling 2 layers?