There’s nothing I love more than someone leaving an oppressive day job in favor of following their dreams. Like many of us, Andrew Svisco sat at his desk for upwards of 12 hours a day thinking of better things. The big difference between him and us is that he actually did something about it. In 2018, Svisco left the fast-paced life of a stock-trading analyst to form Parkhurst Boots.
Made in America
Svisco got the idea for Parkhurst when he became interested in American-made boots, but found many of them to be prohibitively expensive. Working those long hours, he began to wonder, “Is there some way can I make a boot right around $300—or the mid-$300 mark, make it here, and use many of the same quality components, like veg-tanned leather insoles, midsoles, and upper leathers from world famous tanneries such as Horween, Seidel, and C.F. Stead?”
Svisco first pitched his concept to the PW Minor footwear factory in Western New York. The company had existed in some form since 1867, but went under in 2018. Out of their ashes came Artisan Boot & Shoe, with new ownership but the same space, equipment, and many of the same longtime employees. He formed a partnership with Artisan to manufacture Parkhurst at the launch of both their companies, and they’ve been working together ever since.
Parkhurst was launched in Fall 2018, named after the street Svisco’s grandfather lived on all his life. A steelworker, Svisco’s grandfather had seen industry slowly leaving his home in western New York, which partially motivated Svisco to keep the company so close to home. Not only would producing footwear locally ensure a higher quality of product and allow much-needed oversight by its founder, it would also guarantee work for long-time artisans and promote the craft.
The team at Artisan are integral to the Parkhurst brand and have helped Svisco hone his designs to their current stage. The support at the factory has allowed Svisco to take a deeply-detailed approach. Unlike many brands, which simply rebrand factory patterns as their own, Parkhurst’s boots are entirely conceived by Svisco. Everything from the last, to the pattern, to the hand-picked materials are designed by Svisco and finessed by Artisan’s team that he considers his “second family.” Though more costly in the long run, this approach has allowed Parkhurst’s products to reach a unique level of quality and comfort—and things are being dialed in and perfected all the time.
With plenty of history and hard work at the helm, Parkhurst was able to meet its key goal of affordability. Parkhurst’s boots run, for the most part, between $300-$350, although custom-made boots can go for more if a customer selects a bunch of premium details.
Parkhurst’s boots are well-made, typically from veg-tan-based leathers, which have been transparently-sourced from reputable tanneries. The in-house lasts and unique patterns help differentiate the boots from their competitors, of which there are many. Who isn’t making some kind of service boot these days? Sleek, simple, and with ample arch support; Parkhurst’s boots have an incredible value and punch well above their weight.
When acquainting yourself with Parkhurst, Svisco recommends starting with the Allen Boot, their plain toe service model. Many of their boots are beginning to transition to a newer, more forgiving last, but as with all bookmakers, it may take some trial and error to determine which of the brand’s fits are best for you.
When asked about essentials, Svisco named three models of the same boot, but with different leathers. The Natural Dublin shown above, the Spruce Kudu, and the Dark Chocolate Waxy Commander. (The latter two are unfortunately sold out.)
If you wish to support someone who not only followed their dreams, but is helping bring back industry to his home region and make more affordable American-made products, then Parkhurst Boots will most certainly be up your alley.