There’s an old story over at Nicks Boots that goes like this:
A longtime customer named Robert walked into Nicks’ Spokane workshop one day, in need of some boots his wife would let him wear to dinner—apparently his Nicks logging boots just weren’t making the mark. So the gang at Nicks made him a shorter six-inch boot, popped on a slim rubber sole, and Robert got his wish. And also got a boot named after him.
Robert, it might be time to get some new dinner boots.
Honoring the maiden name of Nicks’ owner Shuyler Mowe’s wife—which adorned the sign on her family’s boot emporium in Chillicothe, Ohio in the 1920’s—Brandle is a completely new, far dressier line made in Spokane by Nicks’ top bootmakers. If a Nicks Builder Pro is Paul Bunyan, a Brandle boot might just be Paul Newman. Or at least peak Paul Rudd.
Shuyler’s guiding light in developing the Brandle 1925 boot was: “Why can’t we make the best boot we possibly can, from an aesthetic, materials, and construction standpoint.” To accomplish that, almost everything about Brandle is new and upgraded: the last, the pattern, and almost every single material outside some Wickett & Craig upper leathers Nicks has used in the past.
JR leather outsoles affixed by dozens upon dozens of tiny brass nails are standard. JR leather is also deployed for midsoles and even heel counters/toe puffs, while the heel stacks from Italy—with the notable exception of the signature brass plate that’s inserted mid-stack (“we trim it with a table saw…very elegant,” Shuyler deadpanned.)
The pattern—while lightly reminiscent of logging boot pattern—is also new, with a semi-swooptie formed by the two-piece heel counter meeting the quarter before shooting back to a long rectangular backstay. Seven small eyelets are standard, while a rolled top is optional. Nicks only offers stitchdown construction and that’s no different with Brandle, although now we’re talking close-trim single row with ~30% higher stitches per inch than a Nicks boot. The visual difference is marked.
Leather options at Brandle’s outset are a very nice rugged/refined mix, including four different shades of veg-tan Double Stuff from 156-year-old Pennsylvania tannery Wickett & Craig, four calf options from recently revived Wisconsin tanning powerhouse Gallun, and even Horween Bourbon shell cordovan.
Three days on the 1925MM last—another ground-up development that’s significantly sleeker and lower profile than Nicks’ standard library—ensures the upper leather and any interior glue settles quite nicely. The 1925MM features a relatively wide forefoot and I’ve been told should generally align with Nicks’ other lasts from a sizing perspective.
One of the more interesting aspects of Brandle beyond the boot itself is an enhanced, deeper customer service experience. Upon ordering, customers will get linked up with a dedicated advisor to talk to throughout the process, from sizing, to leather selection, to customization.
They’ll stay in touch throughout the build process with updates along the way, and then personally bring the boots to your home along with a magnum of Dom Perignon and tons of sparklers like they do when you order bottle service in Vegas (ed note: the champagne/sparklers part is actually unconfirmed but hey this might put some ideas in Nicks’ head).
Brandle prices currently start at $1200 and go up from there for certain leathers (shell cordovan clocks in right at $2k). With plans to make only 20 or so custom Brandle pairs a month to start, there shouldn’t be too much worry about Nicks becoming a dress boot company anytime soon. But it’s fun to see —and not totally out of the question that we might see certain elements of Brandle bootmaking filtering their way into the more general Nicks ecosystem.