When most think of Texas, the city of Austin comes to mind as probably the most hip destination in the state. Not only does it host an amazing musical extravaganza in Austin City Limits, but it also plays host to some solid stores, exciting brands, delicious restaurants, and other cultural standouts. Austin definitely bucks the stereotypical image of a rundown, tumbleweed Texas town.
The Story Behind HELM
In addition to all that it is home to, Eastside Austin also houses the office and the brick-and-mortar store of HELM Boots. HELM is a Made-in-the-USA brand that started with founder and designer, Joshua Bingaman, a jack-of-all-trades whose skill-set runs deep and wide. The brand has been going strong for a few years now with several large retailers, such as Nordstrom, carrying their wares.
According to Bingaman, HELM can be simply described as exceptional, timeless boots made of the best materials around; supported with attentive and knowledgeable customer service. After living in Austin for a couple of years, Bingaman realized how much the city fosters creativity and was intent to let this stoke the fire of HELM.
While the ubiquity of fashion in Austin may not be on par with LA or New York, he strongly believes it is trending upward and onward. He feels HELM is very much apart of this wave as well and a reflection of the city’s culture. His small company may be wholeheartedly committed to it’s own goods, but they’re still sure to respect and support other creative ideas that are happening in Bat City.
Like many other niche goods aficionados, Bingaman found himself immersed in the world of footwear from a young age. His own mother first got him hooked, then he stumbled – and fell – into the world of sneakers.
However, it wasn’t until he found and slipped on his dad’s old Wolverine and Vasque hiking boots that really opened his eyes to the vast and wonderful world of vintage boots. Once his brother founded a shoe store, the Subterranean Shoe Room, in San Francisco in 2000, his passion was deepened as he began to learn more about the market and trade.
The story takes another twist as the shoe vendor experience took a toll on Bingaman, causing him to step away from the shoe industry and move to Austin and open a coffee shop. However, during this time he knew he couldn’t take a hiatus for very long.
After six years, he finally decided to take the leap and design a line of boots in the form of HELM; a seemingly a spur-of-the-moment decision but one which was really born out of an unshakeable interest that had been with him all along.
The Reid Shoe
I’ve been following the company for a few years now, and in the fall of 2012, the company released the Reid, a beautiful boot which incorporates raw denim courtesy of Raleigh Denim. Why raw denim and the choice of Raleigh Denim? In the founder’s words:
Raw denim was a logical choice to include with our quality leather. They’re both classic American design staples and we thought they were a natural pairing for our classic American boots. [As for the denim fabric], I bought a pair of Raleigh jeans not long after they came out from a small store in Austin. I liked them so much as they were one of the first to focus on the US-made apparel manufacturing revival.
After reaching out to the owners, Bingaman and Raleigh came to an agreement in which he would buy scraps of the leftover denim post-cut, creating a mutually beneficial and eco-friendly partnership.
The Reid features the traditional lines of an American work-boot with a stylish flair thanks to the raw denim quarter-panels. Keep your eyes peeled for our forthcoming announcement regarding their brand-new boot the Sam, which also features Raleigh Denim.
To learn more about HELM, visit their site.