Built to Last: 4 Boot Brands to Invest in This FallOct 12, 2023
Fall is here in the Northern Hemisphere, and while some people may be stoked to get their hands on a Pumpkin Spice Latte or to decorate for Halloween, we’re most excited that boot season is finally back!
Not all boots are made the same, however. The good ones don’t come cheap and the cheap ones typically aren’t the most sustainable. Can’t there be an option that’s responsible and affordable?
Before we get into our picks, it’s worth mentioning that this list is not vegan-friendly. We’re fans of leather, but the leather industry comes with its own unique set of sustainability challenges that we can’t ignore. Ideally, products made with leather should be using Leather Working Group (LWG) certified materials. LWG has been a leader in the responsible leather space for years and they’ve made great progress in helping the textile industry reduce their impacts from leather materials. That being said, if a company we list on this blog post doesn’t use LWG-certified leather, rest easy knowing it has other sustainability specs we think are admirable. We’ll get into that more later on…
Now, let’s get into it! We’ve researched - and have some firsthand experience with 😉 - the best boot brands out there.
Based out of Spokane, Washington, Nick’s makes boots for all of your work or outdoor needs. At first glance, it may seem like Nick’s doesn’t offer a lot in terms of sustainability criteria, but I encourage you to think outside of the box.
Nick’s handmakes each pair of boots in the United States and claims to source all of their leather from U.S. suppliers. This system of sourcing and manufacturing domestically is commonly referred to as onshoring, something that has been gaining support nationwide and is even considered the backbone of the newly reintroduced FABRIC Act in New York.
In this video with Nick’s owner, Steve Mowe, explains how his goal for the company is to go beyond providing a living wage for employees and instead provide what he calls a “thriving wage.” This is a new term for us, but we kind of love it!
Of course, there’s a big difference between saying you’re going to do something and setting out a plan as to how you’re going to achieve the goal, so we’d love to see Nick’s release their strategy for achieving a thriving wage for all employees.
Nick’s is making great strides on the operations side of things, but what is it about their product we love? Each pair of boots are customizable to your preferences, including shoe length, width, and leather choice. This ensures that the boot is made to fit your foot and will provide the ultimate comfort. This practice encourages consumers to hold on to their boots for as long as possible, barring any damage. And if your boot is damaged? Because of Nick’s construction, each pair of boots is designed to be repaired and resoled as need be.
Nick’s is on the pricey end of the spectrum, but if you’re looking for a durable boot designed to last for a lifetime, it’s worth the investment. Remember: if you’re looking to save some dollars, you can always check resale websites like eBay, Depop, and the like to find used boots at a lower price.
Another work boot company, White’s boots are designed to last even through the toughest of conditions. The Washington-based shoemaker has been in business for over 160 years and over the course of time, White’s has only improved their product and manufacturing process.
Leather is the main material used throughout their products, allowing for increased durability and product lifespan. However, on the off-chance your boots get put through the wringer and need a pick-me-up, White’s offers a repair program to keep your boots in action for years to come. This low-consumption model helps keep footwear out of landfills and will also help you save money on shoes year after year.
Image Credit: White's
White’s doesn’t just make work boots - they offer hiking boots for all of your outdoor needs as well! If you spend a lot of time in the backcountry, consider picking up a pair of White’s before your next excursion.
White’s boots vary in price, but you can expect to pay anywhere between $200-$700 USD, depending on what your needs are. Although they are more expensive compared to other boots, their durability is worth the investment.
If you don’t need a work boot, but still want a durable shoe designed to last, check out Red Wing. The Minnesota-based company has been designing shoes for all since 1905, but in more modern times, they’ve expanded their product offering to include those outside of trade work.
Their Heritage Footwear line was created for all those who want durable leather boots for day-to-day wear. Although they don’t have the same technical specs as their work line, the heritage line still offers comfortable options that put durability at the forefront.
While durability, or building products to last, is ideal, sometimes things happen and your shoes experience some damage. Not to worry - Red Wing offers repairs for a wide selection of their boots. Compared to the above-listed companies, Red Wing handles their repairs a little differently. Customers can either invest in their premium package for $150, which includes resoling the shoe, repairing the stitching, and more or choose from their various a la carte repair options.
Durability can only get your shoes so far - as consumers, we also need to make sure we’re taking care of our items to the best of our ability. Red Wing helps customers with this by offering free care guides for any of their shoes on the website. Simply type in your shoe’s style number and receive care instructions instantly!
For most of Red Wing’s heritage line, you can expect to pay around $300 per pair, but like the other brands we’ve mentioned, it’s an investment that you can expect to have for years.
Perhaps the most famous company on our list, Blundstone has been a long-standing name in the leather boot game. Based out of Australia, Blundstone has become a fan favorite among a wide variety of consumers around the world. From outdoor enthusiasts to fashion aficionados, Blundstones have made it into the closets of all those who appreciate comfort, style, and durability.
Blundstone is a little different than the other brands we’ve mentioned thus far, however. They don’t claim that their shoes can be repaired, and while durability is a pillar of their product, their production process isn’t as intricate as the other brands. That being said, Blundstone has directed their sustainability efforts to other areas beyond durability.
Some of their sustainability efforts include recycling water at the manufacturing phase of production, encouraging suppliers to transition to renewable energy, are 100% compliant with the EU’s REACH regulation, and 95% of their leather is sourced through the Leather Working Group. And while all of this is great, it doesn’t look like Blundstone shows any signs of slowing down their sustainability efforts and we hope they keep up the good work!
Image credit: Blundstone
Blundstone is the most affordable of all the brands we’ve featured so far, with boots costing around $200 USD. Understandably, this may still be too high of a price point for some consumers, but thankfully Blundstone is a partner of REI, and through their ReSupply program, oftentimes consumers can get used Blundstones for a cheaper price.
That wraps up our list of our favorite boots for the Fall season - hopefully you found a brand or a product that fits your needs!
This blog post focused heavily on the durability and product lifespan aspect of sustainability, but we can always do more and do better. These brands have done a great job of creating products designed to last, and we encourage them to continue on their sustainability journey by adopting preferred materials, implementing safer chemistry, ensuring safe working conditions throughout all phases of production, and much more.
Durability is just the start and we’re looking forward to seeing what these brands accomplish in the future.
Top 35 Things to Know if you're learning about Sustainability in the Apparel Industry. Have you downloaded the guide yet?
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