Just got my order from Russell and thought I would share some thoughts with the forum: I would like to preface this by saying that I am by no means an expert on shoes/boots so the quality comments should be taken with that in mind. I ordered a pair of Signature South 40s from Russell Moccasin with a few custom requests. I wanted the Driftwood Navigator leather in Expresso (I compared swatches to Chromexcel and it seemed nicer to me), a 7" height, no speed lacing, and a Vibram Multipurpose sole. This boot is quite pricey, one of the most expensive they make (except for the exotic leathers), but it came standard with the other options I wanted so it was either this or trick out a Safari PH - I opted for this. The ordering process started with me getting a catalog - I highly recommend this as the pictures are much better than the website (although still not great), and there is a very helpful foot measuring guide. I got my roommate to measure my feet for me (an arduous task that has to be done by someone else), and after about 20 minutes we split a six pack on me. After mailing in the order form with my measurements a very nice old sewer named Doug called me up - and woke me up in fact as I am on the west coast and not
a morning person. He wanted to go over the specifics of my order and took down the custom requests. It was a good experience, but I emailed them later that day when I was fully awake to make sure we got everything correct - the reply I got was quite grateful that I had checked up to make sure I wouldn't get the wrong order in 4 months. Then the waiting game started. This is the hard part about ordering from a company like this - if you need instant gratification go to the mall. For the love of god don't punish yourself! The reason I say this is that about a week after my boots were supposed to ship I finally called Russell. They awnsered promptly and asked me for my order number - which of course I didn't have because it was only on the confirmation slip they snail mailed me. They looked up my order by last name but this was onerous so I emailed myself the order number after she found it. *Note to future buyers - put your order number somewhere you will remember. After they located my order I was told that the leather I had requested had been out of stock for a while so my boots had not been cut.
I was then told that the Navigator was due in that week so they would get right on my order. I was given a new ship date. This date (3 weeks later) was quickly approaching so I decided to be smart (hah!) and call to check up. Lucky that I did because it turns out that now they were out of the Vibram Multipurpose. Being pretty desperate now I switched soles to the Vibram Newporter (not on the website) to speed up the process. This was supposed to fix my problems. As that
ship date rolled around I made another call to ensure my boots were done and shipping and the nice woman told me she would check on them and call me back - this was the morning. Not having heard anything by 4PM their time I called again and spoke with the same woman, who again told me she would check and call back - still heard nothing. The next day I called and spoke to a different girl who kept me on hold and when to the shipping dock, and told me they were shipping out that day. This was last Thursday and I got the boots today. So, what are my impressions? These are very very nice. The leather is exceptional - thick but supple with a beautify sheen. Stitching seems good all over and the overall feel of the boot exudes quality. The packaging, not so much. For boots north of $400 I would appreciate something more than a cardboard box and a piece of tissue. Initial fit is excellent (after I realized I told Doug I wore insole and they built the boots accordingly), but they will require break-in, especially around the ankles. The tongue is attached to the uppers, and it is pretty tight, so getting a foot in is a bit of a challenge. Also, the laces seem a bit short. If I lace to the top eyelet I don't have enough slack to tie a bow. Not sure if they never intended to be laced to the top or if this is an oversight - the second eyelet is fine. Overall they are very comfortable and silent. There are no squeaks and the foot is quite cushioned (good for me as I am a heel striker). Time will tell if they are 'perfect' or not but right now they seem great. Oh and they look bad-ass
Final Thoughts: - While I do think Russell could have done a much better job handling my order a couple of things come to mind. Russell Does not use a computer system. They have email etc. but order tracking is done by hand - there is no customer database. So, the reasonable person might say "If they were out of something why didn't they just search the database and call everyone with that order to see if they would rather switch than wait?" one has to understand that they would have to do that manually. Not an excuse, but an explanation. They seem to be operating under the impression that you are more than willing to wait for their product - if not, well they have lots of orders and probably don't need your business. Not to say that they are not nice, they are indeed quite pleasant people, but customer service in order fulfillment is not really their focus. - The product really does speak for itself. I have seen some pictures of boots made with the standard leathers and I am quite glad that I went with the top of the line. If boots are going to last a lifetime might as well wait a few months right? Don't forget that these are hand made for you, and are as custom as you want them to be. - Are they worth it? For me, yes. This is the most I have ever spent on shoes/boots but I have feet that are a half size different so going custom is a great option for me. I hated when I was younger and couldn't really spend serious money on shoes for fear that I might outgrow them. As an adult you can really buy things like this for a relatively short period or for the rest of your life - I prefer the latter. That being said, if your foot is easy to fit and off the shelf shoes often do fine for you, the wait might not be worth it. You can find many high quality boots for the same or less money that you can have today. As someone above mentioned, the Russell Sale list on their website is a great place to find good deals on their boots.