Dating all the way back to the 1930s, Spokane, Washington fixture White’s Boots has built flagship products like the Smokejumper and Semi-Dress with their trademark handsewn stitchdown construction—a pretty darn unique process in the industry that involves a single master bootmaker lasting, welting, and bottoming each boot by hand.
White’s has also traditionally made “regular” double-row stitchdown boots—machine-stitched through the outsole without White’s hand-stitched “rolled welt”—although to date it’s largely been applied to the brand’s more truly work-focused boots.
Well, we’re going to be seeing some shifts there. White’s has just released two stitchdown construction (non-handsewn, sorry to keep hitting on this but we just want to ensure the terminology is clear) models based on a duo of its classics: the C350 Cutter and C350 Cruiser.
While we’ll run through how these boots are and aren’t a radical departure from their handsewn stitchdown counterparts, they are nonetheless a sign o’ the times—a pandemic era that has demanded new solutions from even the most iconic boot companies.
So, yes, this is a change for America’s oldest bootmaker! Best part though? The new stitchdown boots look pretty fantastic so far, offer an even cleaner look in terms of outsole stitching, and will be coming in at a significantly lower price than the classic White’s construction.
Lot to go through here…let’s get down to it.
Wait, Back Up—What Is Handsewn Stitchdown?
White’s Boots has long offered their signature handsewn stitchdown construction for their legacy models. Also referred to as a rolled welt construction, handsewn stitchdown meshes together a handwelting process—handstitching the vamp layer to the insole with a strip of leather acting as the intermediary—with rapid outsole stitches that secure the vamp to the sole layers, like in standard stitchdown.
Sounds Cool. What’s The Downside of Handsewn Stitchdown?
Handsewn stitchdown is a distinct, durable, and totally rebuildable construction method. And while outsole stitchers are used on all White’s boots, the handsewn stitchdown construction is significantly closer to the platonic ideal of a “handmade” boot. But compared to other construction types, it also takes a significant degree of skill and time, both of which are at a premium these days.
The lead times for White’s legacy models have ballooned to roughly 20 weeks in the past couple of years, due not only to supply chain disruptions but also staffing shortages—it can take years to properly train a bootmaker to make said boots, and some real physical and artistic talent is required as well. You can’t just be pulling people off the street to make these things.
Why The Move Towards Standard Stitchdown?
White’s wants to get more of their bestselling boots on more feet more quickly, and they believe the best way to get there is through standard stitchdown construction. Stitchdown is a tried-and-true method for White’s, already offered on some of their current models, and is faster and more straightforward to produce than handsewn stitchdown, while still capable of being resoled and rebuilt. Using a traditional stitchdown construction means White’s can build their boots more efficiently, and replenish their stock offerings more often. Also they really do come out looking damn clean, while the outsole stitcher can grapple with that rolled welt at times.
Is There A Significant Difference Between Handsewn Stitchdown and Standard Stitchdown?
Standard stitchdown is the same construction method utilized by other Pacific Northwest boot companies such as Nicks, Frank’s, and Wesco. For virtually all intents and purposes, the performance and durability of handsewn stitchdown vs. standard stitchdown is the same. Both methods involve hand-lasting and hand-bottoming the boots to ensure a comfortable fit.
If you’re someone seeking more of a unique heritage-style build, you certainly might gravitate more towards handsewn stitchdown—it carries some real history and is, again, quite unique. But, if you’re looking for a classic PNW boot silhouette and aren’t hung up on intricate construction details, you’ll be perfectly happy with a standard stitchdown construction.
Wait, White’s Isn’t Discontinuing Handsewn Stitchdown, Are They??
White’s has assured us that handsewn stitchdown isn’t going away. For those seeking this classic construction, you’ll still be able to place an order for the original legacy models in handsewn stitchdown, but with longer lead times. In addition to keeping around the handsewn stitchdown models, White’s will also be rolling out more of their legacy models with standard stitchdown in the future.
Is Standard Stitchdown Less Expensive Than Handsewn Stitchdown?
Yes! While handsewn stitchdown products will be priced at around $700 going forward, the new stitchdown models—starting with the C350 Cutter and C350 Cruiser—will be priced at $575.
What Are The Details On The New C350 Boots?
White’s is inaugurating their new stitchdown Cruiser and Cutter with a leather that is new to the brand, Seidel Double Shot. This combination-tanned leather is hot-stuffed with fats and greases and naturally dried, with the result being a leather with significant pull-up characteristics that has a lot of memory in its fibers and holds its shape quite well.
Seidel describes Double Shot as being somewhat of a vintage throwback product, akin to leathers from the mid-20th century that were made with less-refined ingredients and methods. It’s comparable-ish to another prominent combo-tanned leather, Horween Chromexcel.
The initial volley of Double Shot C350 Cruisers and C350 Cutters includes color options of Black, Brown, and British Tan. Burgundy and Natural are available as well, but currently have a 6-to-8 week lead time. As always, the Cutter and Cruiser are built on White’s 55 Arch-Ease last, with their signature leather shanks and midsoles, along with some Vibram 430 mini lug outsoles that are attached with double-row rapid stitches (just like the handsewn stitchdown models).
When Will The C350 Boots Be Available To Purchase?
Right…now. Check ‘em all out here.