Chelsea boots are a major force in the footwear world. Historically, they’ve been The Thing at certain points in the US and Europe (see: Beatles, The). Currently and forever, they’re apparently the only boot anyone in Australia has ever heard of—the Blundstone portion of which has bled out absolutely worldwide.
And yet, in my experience, it’s remarkably difficult to find a great, classic, clean casual—but not truly work-imbued casual—Goodyear welted, largely-leather construction Chelsea at a decent-ish price. Enter Christian Daniel Boots, which is seeing if they can change that…and just launched a Kickstarter today.
Christian Daniel is the baby of Christian Ramos (Daniel’s his dad!), a first-generation Mexican-American born in San Francisco and now splitting time between San Diego and León, Mexico’s bootmaking capital, where CD boots are manufactured in a small-ish workshop.
There’s a bit of shoemaking in his blood—his aunt made women’s shoes in Guadalajara when he was growing up. I’ve had the good fortune of spending time with Christian, and I can honestly say there are few people in and around the industry so constantly bursting with more raw joy and excitement for great boots. Said industry isn’t a simple one to navigate—especially out of basically nowhere—so that goes a long way in my book.
The best way to frame the Christian Daniel Chelsea boots I’ve come up with is this: they’re Chelsea boots.
But no I’m serious! There are dress Chelsea boots, and hardcore work Chelsea boots (I love my Jim Green Stockmans and happily beat them silly btw), and fashion Chelsea boots, and HIGH fashion Chelsea boots, and brogue Chelsea boots (not my bag, but hey they’re out there). There are high Chelsea boots and low Chelsea boots. There are, once again, the ubiquitous Blundstones (which I’ve actually come to respect over the years just because my wife loves hers so damn hard and they honestly do look pretty great all beat up). Hell there are even Birkenstock Chelsea boots!
And then you’ve got Christian Daniel Chelsea boots. They’re not dressy—CD’s #199 last provides nicely rounded toe shape that stands in stark contrast to many pointier, and the 360-degree storm welt removes any question at all. But it’s also not so overly round that it so much as even reads as a work boot—and the Dr. Sole Supergrip half soles (on the black model) and Dainite-y Dr. Sole Cushion Gentleman full sole (on the Maple color) contribute to that.
It’s just an all-around Chelsea boot with a clean three-piece pattern and fairly straightforward elastic gore section, that’s Goodyear welted with a veg-tan leather insole, midsole, and welt, and features a steel shank and natural cork filler. A Chelsea boot that’s handsome in many ways, but doesn’t feel the need to be smoldering. And I really think there’s a place for that—the lane is more wide open than it probably should be.
I’ve actually been wearing a sample of the Maple-colored Christian Daniel Chelseas with the Dr. Sole half-sole for about six months now, and I’m definitely feeling good about them. They’re immediately comfortable, sturdy in a way that inspires confidence, and get off and on easily, Are there more stunningly finished boots out there? Of course. But 1) mine are just a sample, so take that for what’s it’s worth, and 2) at $380 (or $360 through the early-bird Kickstarter), you obviously can’t be expecting Edward Green. But as a casual all-rounder that you feel just fine beating up? That’s the sweet spot for these guys.
Given Christian’s heritage and where the boots are being manufactured, it almost seems fated that the first Christian Daniel boots use upper leather from LeFarc, the Mexican tanning powerhouse that you don’t often see shouted out in brand-marketing pitches, but makes a ton of leather for the footwear industry among many others.
The wax-finished, combo-tanned Albatros leather (chrome first, then chrome + veg re-tan) has a nice little hit of pull-up—nothing too extreme, but it’s definitely there—and a bit of a sheen without being legit shiny.
On my pair, it scuffs somewhat easily, but light scuffs largely vanish on their own with time and wear. Big scuffs stay more noticeable, but I’ve had success working them out with aggressive brushing. The hand isn’t luxurious per se, but it’s honestly pretty nice and confidence-inspiring. The grain break has been pretty nice and quiet so far, with a bit of exaggeration around the toe puff on one of the boots. It’s pretty darn solid stuff.
The Last and Fit
All Chelseas currently come on CD’s #199 last, which I took true to Brannock size at 11, in an E width (I’m pretty much between a D and E, with a somewhat high instep). They fit pretty darn well, and I couldn’t imagine taking another size even if the feel a touch long on my feet (although not in any bothersome way).
The Christian Daniel website and Kickstarter recommend going with the same as your sneaker size, although I can’t quite agree with that—it’s been a while but I’m generally anywhere from an 11.5 to 12 in Nike, Asics, New Balance, etc.
So There We Have It!
Welcome to the boot world, Christian Daniel Boots. We’re very glad to have you here, as we are with any small emerging brand that was driven into creation by a sheer personal love of great footwear, a ton of work, and just pure passion. Best of luck!