A few months back, a good pal was in town from the windy city. In his Hulme travel bag, some seriously handsome, well made footwear. Samples of the debut collection from Oak Street Bootmakers. I was instantly a fan.
Founder, Designer and Chicago-native George Vlagos grew up the son of a cobbler. As an apprentice at his father's shop, he learned the ins and outs of the trade at an early age. With Oak Street, George's goal is to honor the craft of fine shoe making while continuing the family trade and traditions passed on to him by his father.
Designed in Chicago, handmade in the US(Maine to be exact) by craftsman with over twenty years experience, the Oak Street line is made exclusively with Horween leathers(a Chicago institution, founded 1905) including their Chromexcel(which incidentally, smells amazing right out of the box). Each pair is designed and manufactured with the utmost attention to detail, fit, construction and durability. The inaugural line is a straight forward selection of the classic and iconic shoes you want on your feet from a blucher to a boat shoe to a penny loafer to a chukka to both a hunt and work boot to my personal favorite, the trail oxford. I'm partial to this one because, well, I was lucky enough to score a pair for a little field testing. And field test them I have.
With a Vibram Christy sole(such a popular work boot outsole due to the fact that they're so easy on the feet), these trail oxfords have been my go to for the past few weeks and they haven't disappointed. The Horween Chromexcel has that buttery, rich goodness to it, the stitching is top notch, and the fit and proportion are spot on. I'm truly stoked on these bad boys. With Fall looming, these are just right for the transition.
And because Oak Street shoes are designed for longevity, they're to be re-soled when the occasion presents itself, so I anticipate seeing plenty of years to come in these.
I've spoken with George and it sounds like there's no shortage of enthusiasm and true love for this new endeavor. It's in his blood. From shining shoes at age ten to apprenticing along side his father in his teens and twenties, Oak Street Bootmakers is a labor of love and like all such things, that means a lot of long hours and hard work. But, from what I've seen and been lucky enough to test personally, it's certainly paid off. George, Ryan and I have talked about new styles and leathers and I gotta say, I'm excited to see where things go from here. I'm extremely pleased to present the very first of what I can only assume to be many looks at Oak Street Bootmakers and their Trail Oxford(the brown Chromexcel should be available online in a few days). Go to Oak Street Bootmakers site for more info, looks at other styles and stockists. (Head over to Denim Debate for a few more looks "on the foot".)