Monday, August 30, 2010

First Look: Oak Street Bootmakers.

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".)















18 comments:

Jon Gaffney said...

Nice post James! I've been drooling over picking some bluchers up from Oak St. I like the Trail Oxfords a lot more on the foot than I did in pictures by themselves.

Hope all is well!

L.A.S said...

Hot damn! These are some incredible looking shoes.

OTC said...

Nice - those are some sharp shoes. May have to get myself a pair.

berger said...

i'm ordering mine on friday, and i am so beyond stoked. i wish they still had the brown vibram sole oxfords, but i'll take navy.

thanks for the great write up, it sealed the deal.

JOEL M K said...

I like to see Chicago getting on the board, taking advantage of having Horween down the way. George is a real nice guy to talk to, Looking forward to receiving my shoes!

tito.jakey said...

great write-up! very proud to see friends' efforts take form. congrats to ryan and his team.

blackandtannedny said...

So, so dope. Hot damn. Awesome write up, James.

A Financial Statement said...

Great post! I just ordered mine this afternoon in Navy. I would definitely love to see these shoes in a hunter green. Nonetheless, these shoes are amazing. Can't wait for these.

victor said...

They look like copies of the Quoddy and for the same retail prices I would rather go with the proven product. Now if these were much cheaper it would be a different story.

james said...

victor, I understand the inclination to go with the tried and true, but having walked a mile in these shoes(alright, many many miles) I can personally attest to their quality. As for the price points, in my opinion, they're pretty damn reasonable for a shoe made in the US using Horween leathers. Not sure how much cheaper they could be.

drinkinanddronin said...

ahhhaaa! i was curious what those were on your feet last time i saw ya. great looking shoe, have to take a look into them more.

the loafer has got me yearning...

St. Crispin said...

Kind of funny that the company founder and designer says he learned shoemaking from his father who he calls a cobbler. Cobblers repair shoes. Shoemakers make them. Shoemakers don't like to be confused with cobblers. You would think he would have learned that in his "over 20 years of experience."

Otherwise OK shoes I would never wear. Where are the boots the company name promises?

Anonymous said...

All shoemakers are cobblers but not all cobblers are shoemakers. Also, the shoemakers are the ones with 20 years experience, not the designer. So yeah. As for them not having boots, my guess is that it's hottest September on record and they'd rather use their limited resources on shoes people will actually buy. We'll see, but I'm willing to bet you'll be proven wrong about them not having boots once they're capable of meeting demand.

St. Crispin said...

"Prove" me wrong? The site doesn't offer boots. Simple, I win the bet.

If people are going to act like they care about this sort of stuff, they ought to take some time to actually educate themselves and each other about real quality and the traditions that produce it. You have an internet right in front of you. That probably one of the few genuine miracles ordinary people will ever witness.

http://www.thehcc.org/backgrnd.htm

"A distinction preserved by cordwainers [related to cordovan as in Horween idolatry] since the earliest times is, that a cordwainer works only with new leather, whereas a cobbler works with old. Cobblers have always been repairers, frequently prohibited by law from making shoes. Going so far as to collect worn-out footwear, cut it apart, and remanufacture cheap shoes entirely form salvaged leather, cobblers have contended with cordwainers since the Middle Ages. In 16th-century London, the cordwainers solved their conflicts with the cobblers of that city by placing them under the authority of the cordwainers’ guild, thus merging with them."

Anonymous said...

st. crispin your simply wrong. i don't think he claims he has "20 years of experience," rather, those who produce them do. do you understand the distinction? he mentions his he gained his knowledge from his father who was a "cobbler." yeah, so what? can you produce a shoe? can you repair a shoe? can you even design a shoe? i doubt it! you can, however, make lame pointless arguments. and how do you know there won't be a boot? the company is brand new! anyway, i think the designs are timeless and he uses the some of the best cowhide leather out there. thanks for the post. great shoes!

Anonymous said...

Brown Trail Oxford with Vibram sole just like James' is available now!

http://oakstreetbootmakers.com/footwear/brown-vibram-sole-trail-oxford.html

vespa said...

Sorry for the late chime in . . . but I dig the shoes and George is a super nice guy. Will be ordering in the near future. And St. Crispin..you're so impressively smart and witty...googled your way right to some knowledge. How 'bout that? Now quit being a douche.

Anonymous said...

Yikes. You've got some testy posters on here. By the way, Oak Street does have boots and they're badass!

How have the Vibram soles been holding up? Does the white sole clean easily and stay white or does it start to yellow or brown over time?

Great post. Can't wait to get a pair of these Oxfords. Can't decide between the camp or vibram sole. Both are clutch.

Nathan B.