I’ve been a big believer in Mark Albert Boots, and its founder Mark Barbera, since I first covered the Somerset, PA bootmaker earlier this year. Starting a shoe brand from scratch isn’t easy work. Doing it the right way, in the US, is even harder in many ways. But I’ve been continually impressed with Mark’s products and vision and execution—so it was incredibly exciting to work with him over the past few months to design a collaboration that we felt reflected both of our brands, all rolled up in one shoe.
When we started talking, we both agreed we wanted to make something extremely wearable, and very versatile, but still distinctive. I’ve developed a deep love for Mark’s derby shoe—which his factory originally made to adorn the feet of US Navy officers—largely due to its deeply classic, simple pattern. No room for too many frills; only shoe.
I’ve always felt that there are just certain shoes that every guy needs to have in their collection—whether it’s 30 pairs deep, or three. A brown plain toe derby (or blucher, or whatever it may be) is one of those essential shoes. And when I looked at my collection, I realized I had a gaping hole where that shoe was supposed to sit.
So we made it: the Stitchdown x Mark Albert Boots “Roadmaster.“ The name stems from a number of places, but starts with Horween’s beloved Chromexcel in a shade you rarely see: Havana Brown.
I’ve long been obsessed with the old American cars in Cuba (specifically Havana), and the Buick Roadmaster is amongst the most ubiquitous. The Roadmaster name also says a lot about what this shoe is capable of—especially thanks to its Vibram 430 mini-lug sole, which can handle whatever the road (or sidewalk, or trail, or office floor) throws at you. The midsole edges, like seemingly every car in Havana, are beautifully antiqued. The gold eyelets provide provide some real pop and the chestnut stitching thread really…um…ties it all together.
Add it all up, and you’ve got one extremely wearable, versatile, Goodyear welted, made in the USA shoe that’s built like a boot, all for just $319.