Five Plus One is our weekly series of buyer’s guides. We pick a specific category and dig up five great options along with one that’s a little outside the norm.
A lot of people consider Goodyear welting to be the end-all-be-all of shoe construction, but that just isn’t the case. There are a lot of different methods of shoe making, and they all have their own benefits and detriments. With a growing interest in shoe construction, many other types have seen a surge in popularity as well.
One such method is known as stitchdown, which, as its name implies, features a row of stitching that goes down through the upper and outsole. This type of construction is simple by nature but more complicated variants do exist, which commonly includes a midsole and an additional line of stitching.
Stichdown construction lends itself to some pretty heavy-duty looking footwear, but if that’s what you are into then you are sure to find something on this list that you like.
1) Truman Boots: Black Waxed Flesh
Truman Boots may be a newcomer to the footwear game, but they’re leaving footprints everywhere they go. Their boots are all made to order, which means you can customize them to your exact specifications — leather-upper and sole type, eyelet/speedhook configuration and finish, and toe structure are just some of options available to you. They even offer mismatched sizing for those of us with differently sized feet (although orders that take advantage of this cannot be returned). The model shown here is Truman’s Black Waxed Flesh boot, which uses a black roughout leather that has had the nap waxed down — over time, wear and tear will scrape the nap back up giving these boots a beautiful worn-in appearance.
Available for $470 from Truman.
2) White’s Boots for Old North Clothing: Cruso Boot
White’s Boots has been making boots in their Spokane, Washington home since 1915, but the company’s history goes all the way back to pre-Civil War Virginia. Their stitchdown construction has become a local classic, revered by woodland firefighters not only for its durability but also because of how well it keeps water out. This model is a collaboration with Old North Clothing, and features White’s close trim (single line stitchdown) construction. If these aren’t quite to your liking don’t worry, White’s also offers fully custom boots, which can be made exactly to your liking.
Available for $480 from Old North Clothing.
3) Clarks: Desert Boot in Horween Burgundy
I owned a pair of Clarks Desert Boots when I first got into fashion, but I never really considered how they were made. By the time I had gotten into stitched-construction footwear my Clarks were long gone, so I never got a chance to truly appreciate them. Clarks’ construction is beautiful in its simplicity–single 360° stitchdown, with the outsole cemented to a slip sole. It’s clean, simple, and gets the job done.
Available for $159 from End Clothing.
4) Danner: Mountain Pass in Horween Latigo
One benefit of stitchdown construction is that it is highly water resistant, which makes it a perfect candidate for Danner’s hiking boots, in this case the Mountain Pass. This boot is constructed with the goal of creating a highly functioning hiking boot that is both light and durable. And with durability in mind, Danner chose to use one of Horween’s strongest leathers, Latigo, which is combination tanned: first in chrome, and then in vegetable tannin. They also just released a version in collaboration with Tanner Goods in a natural Essex leather that should patina beautifully.
Available for $350 from Danner.
5) Viberg: Black Fatty Calf on the 1035
Many footwear enthusiasts’ minds automatically snap to Vibergs when they hear the term “stitchdown,” and with good reason. Of all the major players in the stichdown-boot game Viberg’s offerings are arguably the most recognizable. This isn’t just because of their sleek lasts, although that is certainly a part of it, but also because Viberg produces relatively few pairs of custom boots in comparison to White’s or Nick’s. These factors have helped Viberg to form an extremely recognizable brand-image that is more well defined than the other makers on this list.
Available for $730 from Viberg.
Plus One – White Kloud Customs
Alright, honesty time — I did just say that I think Viberg is the most recognizable of the major stichdown brands, but there are also some smaller brands that are far more recognizable, and White Kloud Custom Boots is one of them. They’re a Japanese company, and as such most of their builds cater to the Japanese footwear market, which is more enamored with double/triple midsoles, chunky outsoles, and highly polished edges than you might be accustomed to. Be that as it may, they can make you just about anything you like, and it’ll come out looking unimaginably clean.
Available for ¥95,000+ (~$780USD) from White Kloud.