Almost two years ago, intoxicated by alcohol and my new pair of Tournaments, I bought a pair of Common Projects canvas Expedition boots. For the next two weeks - customs spent a good while admiring them, apparently - I wondered if I'd made the right decision. Opening the box and putting them on, the answer was an immediate yes. I loved the slight shine of the (waxed?) canvas, the layers of the stacked leather heel, the tarnished metal of the hooks and zipper, and the elegant carved curve of the sole right before the heel. (There's a bunch of little "dashes", a bunch of small scratches, between two layers of the sole, if anyone knows what those are, tell me!) Buying clothes online reminds me of the suspense and joy of being a kid at Christmas. Having seen pictures and done research online, or nagged your parents incessantly, you're reasonably certain of what you'll get. But not 100% certain, there's still the possibility of surprise or disappointment. The materials might look different in person, or feel weird, or the piece might not fit. These boots, like a perfect present, made me glow with delight for days. I'd wanted something like them for longer than I've had a serious interest in fashion and clothes. Five or six years ago, inspired by pictures of The Dillinger Escape Plan or somesuch, I scoured Victoria for the perfect pair of boots, but I was sorely disappointed by the clunkiness and size of Dr Martens, Red Wings, etc. These are what I was looking for: the last is sleek, the shaft is narrow, and they are easy to put on. (Revolve's pictures did a good job of hiding the zipper. Seeing it's pull tab peeking out at the top of one of the boots was the moment I decided to buy them.)
Since getting the boots, I've probably worn them more days than not. They're cool enough for all but Victoria's hottest summer days. (It's a temperate place.) WIth a wool insole, I can wear them all winter, unless it snows. With a Topied sole, they can hold off a decent amount of rain. They've trudged through muddy fields. They've jumped in puddles. Because I walk around a lot, I've never had a pair of shoes last through this much wear, and while they're in need of a new round of Topies, I see no signs that they'll need to be retired soon. I've grown quite attached to them. And the age, in my opinion, has made them look better, wiser; my girlfriend thought they'd come pres-distressed and was surprised to learn that they'd started off black and pristine. By comparison, the Tournaments I mentioned earlier are now haggard; their uppers are torn, their sole has been worn through, and their eyelets are rusty.
Canvas is not your regular boot material, but I love it. It gives a softer impression than leather. I remember rolling my eyes hearing a girl say to another "that dress is so
you" in a clothing store, but I can't think of a better way to express it. Canvas is so
me. It suits my personality. I was tempted by the leather version of the same boot, but now I think they would have been too strict, too authoritative, too military. Canvas is harder to clean, and the dirt makes it more relaxed. It's imperfect. And it means I can wear them through the spring and summer.
I'll end with two criticisms. First, while the speed hooks are more interesting to look at than another six eyelets would be, the laces tend to fall off of them, especially when I unzip the boots, forcing me to retie. I'm not a huge fan of tying shoelaces. And even though the hooks are pretty, they spend most of their time hidden under my jeans. Second, one of the zippers called it quits after six months. My cobbler replaced it with a less pretty one. It's not too bad because they're hardly visible on the inside of my foot - it took one of my friends a while to even notice they had zippers - but it was still disappointing. Despite these flaws, they're a pair of boots I thoroughly love. Someday I'll probably want to buy another pair of boots, and I hope I can find another pair I like as much. Or half as much, even.