Over the last two weeks, there is one question I’ve gotten more than any (and I’ve gotten it quite a bit!): “what do you think of your Onderhouds?” Well, the time has come to answer it.
The short take: Onderhoud is one of the best values in footwear that I can see right now, especially in terms of hand-welted boots and shoes utilizing beautiful classic-inspired patterns.
Onderhoud Handmade is a true boutique bootmaker based in Bandung, Indonesia. The team is tight: Onderhoud founder Rizky Afnan, plus a couple apprentices who specialize in various parts of the shoemaking process. Onderhoud’s product truly delivers on the second part of its name: every shoe is hand-lasted, hand-welted, and just about hand-everythinged. The work is beautiful, and only two to three pairs are completed each week because of the time investment all the handwork takes.
Onderhoud had been on my radar for a while. I’m deeply interested in the Indonesian bootmakers, many of whom provide an aesthetically impressive product, and all who deliver nearly unmatched value (often in exchange for a not-exactly-seamless ordering process, and almost always a made-to-order wait window).
But my interest in Onderhoud grew significantly after my Stitchdown Conversation with Ostmo Boots’ Lars Jensen, the Norwegian one-man wonder-maker (see that interview here). When I asked who Lars was impressed by in the space overall, he singled out Onderhoud. So I got in touch with Rizky, chatted a ton, and eventually put a couple pairs on order after spending an unfathomable amount of time on the Onderhoud Instagram, considering every single model and specification.
That product range is tight but impressive: service boots, boondockers (which I highlighted in this The 19 Best Boots Under $300 story), monkey boots, lineman boots, Packer boots, engineers, apron-front split toes, a few very nice low shoe-boots (which I’m always a sucker for), and a handful more. Again, the best way to get a sense of what Onderhoud can create is to scroll through their Instagram. This will likely devour your day.
My primary target was Rizky’s LCV01 low, which I’ve been more than a little obsessed with for a while now. It’s basically a low lineman boot with a very cool but somehow quiet inch-plus burst of toe spring, made in his locally sourced red-brown roughout leather/contrast stitching thread, with stitchdown construction on a Dr. Sole 3070 outsole and double-leather midsole. I also picked up a pair of Onderhoud LCV01 six-inch boots in red-brown pull-up leather, a flat 270-degree hand-welt, leather midsole, and Vibram 2021 outsole, to get a broader taste of what Onderhoud is capable of.
Here’s what I thought.
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Some Quick Background on Onderhoud
Rizky launched Onderhoud Company in 2010, essentially private-labeling through a third-party factory to make a line of shoes and boots. In 2015 Rizky decided it was time for him to learn as much about the craft of handmade shoes as possible, and embarked on a path of two years of reading, watching videos, absorbing tutelage from local craftsman, and “learning by doing,” as he puts it. In 2017, Rizky symbolically changed the company name to Onderhoud Handmade, and set out on his own.
It’s hard to call the work anything but impeccable. The stitching on the outsole is consistent and borderline flawless. “If you look closely,” Rizky told me” you can see that all the stitches are not straight, but tilted. People would that think this is a machine stitch, whereas in fact it is a hand stitch.” The upper stitching displays the same level of quality: three uniform rows with nary a bit of differential between them.
The midsoles are beautifully cut and finished, with the low roughout shoe being left with a natural top to match the flanged-out roughout, and the high boot getting stained all the way around. The “shelf” that runs from the end of the 270-degree stitching and back around is a sight to behold itself. The sharper shelf edge on my friend @tichoblancoshoes’ pair of Cuban heel Onderhoud Packer boots is even more captivating, as it sweeps down to the sculpted leather heel stack.
The short version: in terms of overall construction and finishing, Onderhoud is operating in a very high class to be sure. Simply fantastic work.
Important background: the tannery industry in Indonesia hasn’t undergone the same evolutions as those in the US or Europe or Japan. Also, getting leather shipped to Indonesia is a difficult task, given its relative remoteness, and often very high import duties and other fees. For these reasons, Onderhoud often uses local Indonesian tanneries; Rizky also likes to support their business, which I have a ton of respect for.
That said, the leathers the Indonesian tanneries put out simply aren’t on par with what you’d see from Horween, C.F. Stead, Du Puy/D’Annonay, or Shinki, for example. The red-brown roughout and smoothout leathers both boast a very appealing look, and after a week of nonstop wear, seem like they will more than get it done.
But they also just don’t have the hand-feel of the higher-end leathers you’ll see on most nicer boots these days, the pull-up leather doesn’t buff back to shape as easily as, say, Chromexcel. It also seems as if the creasing on that one will be less than ideal over time in the standard trouble spots.
For that reason, if you’re considering going with either of these leathers, for price reasons or otherwise, I’d strongly recommend opting roughout. I think it’ll have a better life, but I’ll keep posting photos of both boots on the Stitchdown Instagram over time so you can see for yourself.
The only other Onderhoud leather I can personally speak to is Ticho’s raw olive leather on his Packer. It’s also local, and is significantly more supple and a number of steps closer to what I’d consider a really nice leather. So that one should definitely be in play for anyone thinking about Onderhoud.
Now let’s get to the very good part. Rizky is having more and more success sourcing higher-end leathers recently, getting his hands on CXL in addition to some very nice stuff from Italy’s wonderful Maryam (horsebutt) and Badalassi Carlo tanneries. Oh, and also Horween Color 8 shell, and possibly shell from emerging tannery Conceria Cloe. Overall stock and color choices, while they’ll certainly continue to evolve, might be limited at any point in time. And the cost will definitely be more, not least because of those duties.
Overall, my strong recommendation is: if you’re willing to pay a little more, and possibly wait a little longer, invest in a higher-quality leather from Onderhoud. Again, I’m not disappointed in mine. I just think that boots of this construction and finishing quality deserve leather on a similar plane, and that it’s worth waiting for. If you want something fast, or want to keep your price under $300 (more on pricing below), go Indonesian roughout.
While I of course appreciate a good sculpted last as well, I have a deep love for a good chonky shoe/boot, and the LCV01 last delivers on that need so well. It’s pleasingly rounded in the toe while looking down, and the toe bump combined with the toe spring really makes for a very distinctive chonker. It also has a pleasing shape to it overall, flaring out at the forefoot in a really appealing way. And at least for me, these things fit, wrapping every inch of my foot. It’s pretty cool to see that from such a rounded last.
The only other last I’ve seen in person is the Packer last, which is significantly more sculpted and pointy throughout, and has a touch of western boot to it. Not really for me personally, but I could see why people would be very into it.
Plenty has been said about the Vibram 2021 sole, so I won’t go into too much detail here. But it’s my first experience with it, and honestly I love it. While still not formal obviously, the heel elevates it (Pun intended? Maybe?) over a regular wedge, and I think that works really nicely with the high boot. They seem to provide very solid traction so far, although I haven’t done anything truly crazy with them yet.
It’s also my first time with anything from Dr. Sole, the Taiwanese sole-maker who is rightly starting to get a lot more attention. The wedges on the roughout low boots have a unique ripple to them that has been providing excellent traction to date, and they’re honestly just comfy as hell. Onderhoud also offers raw corded soles from Dr. Sole, which I’d recommend considering for anything with a heel stack, plus plenty of stuff from Vibram. Talk to Rizky about your options.
To nail sizing, I started with giving Rizky comp sizing (Alden Barrie, Iron Ranger, Paraboot, Tricker’s etc), and eventually moved to sending him in two simple measurements I easily took with a soft measuring tape. It worked: the low LCV01s are maybe the best-overall fitting shoes I own (the high boots are also a fantastic fit, just a touch roomier because of the leather thickness, I believe).
Out of the box, and so far about a week in, these things are wildly comfortable. The last wraps my foot perfectly, and I walked 10 miles in them one day with zero issues at all.
One interesting thing is that while all Onderhouds are made with a full leather insole, Rizky also tends to make his boots with a leather-topped Phylon foam padded insert, as opposed to just a heel pad like you’ll see on Alden or Viberg boots. If you want just the leather insole and no insert, be sure to specify so he can adjust the last; otherwise there will be a bit more volume than might be needed if you remove the insert.
Ok so this is where Onderhoud starts to get pretty crazy and really separate itself in the market.
Rizky’s prices start at $240. $240! For a handwelted, hand-lasted beautifully finished boot. Which is pretty insane. Mine came in at $280 each. Styles like engineers that just require additional leather obviously cost a bit more.
Now is a good time to remember my previous recommendation of going for higher-end leathers. Obviously there’s an upcharge, but I firmly believe it’s worth it—getting a handwelted CXL boot of this quality, for example, for something like $350 is still just about the best deal you’re ever going to get. CXL engineers will be $400, and he’s currently working on a $750 pair of Horween color 8 shell service boots. I would consider all to be extremely good values, even at the high end (shell, as you may have heard, is not cheap, especially for smaller makers who need to source relatively tiny amounts through third-party suppliers).
The best way to get in touch: just DM Rizky through @onderhoud.handmade on Instagram. Or Line at @onderhoudid. He’s amazingly generous with his time and information despite all the actual, you know, making of shoes that he has to do, and will be sure to work out all the details with you. It’s worth knowing that there may be a language barrier, as he needs to use Google Translate in many instances, but aside from having to ask a few questions different ways to make myself clear, it’s almost never presented a challenge.
Here’s the thing: in addition to the apprentices, Rizky is the company. He orders the leathers and components, designs the boots, makes them by hand, does all the photography, runs the Instagram, etc, etc, etc. So to keep things moving, be prepared with as firm an idea as possible of what you’re interested in, and present that to him. There’s no site, so again, the best way to figure out what you’re into is to scroll that Instagram.
From the time I started talking to Rizky to the time I got my Onderhouds, it was probably two months, maybe 10 weeks. That said, his orders have seen a major uptick since then (whoops!). I can’t predict the timeline you’d see, but there will definitely be a months-long production time. Takes a while to hand-make boots one at a time. I imagine any wait will be worth it.
The Stitchdown Final Take
I couldn’t be happier with both pairs of my Onderhoud boots. Actually, that’s not 100% true. I would be a slight bit happier having the same boots, with the same level of craftsmanship and personal care, just with a higher quality leather—yet I’m still feeling like I just got one of the better deals available anywhere.
I’ve said it before in a couple places, but my final rec: figure out what you want, talk to Rizky about upgraded leathers, wait for those if necessary, and be quite happy indeed when your Onderhouds show up.
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