wesco axe breaker

The Stitchdown Patina Thunderdome: THE Boot & Shoe Aging Contest

The Stitchdown Patina Thunderdome presented by Grant StoneStandard & Strange, and Wesco is a seven-month, judged patina contest that will begin October 1 2021 and run through May 1 2022.


The objective, and how winners will be judged, is simple and pure: to wear a new pair of boots or shoes as they were MEANT to be worn—consistently, lovingly. Worn to do things that great footwear can do, but too often doesn’t. But never, ever beaten unnecessarily. Worn…honestly.

Here’s the whole idea: start with a new pair of boots (note: from here on out, “boots” can mean both boots and shoes), and then go live your damn life in them. A huge part of the Thunderdome is to give you an excuse to take that hike, to do an extra spin around the block, to walk the dog in the rain, to travel somewhere you wouldn’t otherwise, along with your most trusted companion (the boots, but the dog can come too).

Let the boots tell their story, and yours. And let everyone see it.

The Thunderdome competition will route through the Stitchdown Premium Discord live-chat where photos will be continuously shared to display how different boots, shoes, and leathers age and become more beautiful over time (they’ll also be shot out into the boot-loving world on the @stitchdown and new @stitchdownpatinathunderdome IG handles).

Keep on reading for contest rules, the honestly kinda insane prize list provided by our amazing sponsors, and more info on our wonderful charity partner, It’s From the Sole.

If you have any questions at all, we’re always available at thunderdome@stitchdown.com. And we’d love to hear from you.

Red Wing Iron Ranger 8111 Boot Review
Stitchdown Patina Thunderdome


  • NO SNEAKERS or sandals. But beyond that, any boots or shoes, ideally primarily made of leather and of any construction style, will be valid for entry. The Thunderdome is specifically designed to not be an exercise in gatekeeping (but hey, we have to draw the line somewhere).
  • All footwear must be unworn previous to the beginning of the contest. Yes, tried on inside is totally fine. That’s why we’re announcing so early—to give contestants time to carefully select the right pair, maybe put in an MTO order, and more importantly, to comfortably save up for it. (If you need inspiration, here’s a roundup of Patina-Worthy Boots you might want to consider.)
  • Brands do not matter! This is not the kind of competition where the most expensive boots (necessarily) win. While we believe deeply in quality, and while certain higher-priced boots absolutely deliver on that, the goal is to have no gatekeeping or elitism here. Wear what you love, and what fits your budget.  
  • The contest will begin on Oct 1 2021, and continue through May 1, 2022. 
  • All contestants must become members of the Stitchdown Premium community by September 30, 2021. Consider it a small entry fee (early subscriber rate through July 1: $5/month or $50 for a year) for the opportunity to win a piece of over $10,000 in prizes—plus, 10% of your membership during the contest will go to the amazing charity It’s From the Sole, which provides shoes to the unhoused in US cities. But our hope is that you’ll find the community so damned wonderful that you’ll want to stay long beyond then. Learn more about Stitchdown Premium and join here.
  • The official contest signup page will be active beginning September 1, 2021, and will remain open through September 30, 2021.
  • While frequent sharing in a dedicated channel in the Stitchdown Premium Discord is strongly encouraged, all contestants MUST submit a small series photos by a deadline each month throughout the competition to remain in contention for prizes (more info on specific submission details to come as contest draws closer)
  • Patina is the name of the game. Footwear will be judged on how effectively it develops into a visibly well-loved, wholly unique, beautifully worn pair. They should tell the story of your life through the ketchup stains, office chair scratches, and scars of everyday wear. This is your pair—live in them as much as you can.
  • Extremely important: the goal is not to intentionally destroy a pair of wonderful boots or shoes beyond recognition—those simply will not win—but rather to create and share with the world a memento of seven months of your/the footwear’s life, and to proudly end the contest with a pair that has another decade-plus of very happy life left in it. 



Wesco Knuckle Dragger (worn 10 months)


We’re beyond honored by what our incredible sponsors have contributed: an amazing prize pool with almost $15,000 in total value

  • 1 pair of custom MTO boots or shoes from Viberg (some leather or other customization restrictions may apply)
  • 2 pairs of MTO Wesco boots from Wesco (two winners)
  • 1 pair of shell cordovan boots or shoes from Grant Stone
  • 2 pairs of non-shell cordovan boots or shoes from Grant Stone (two winners)
  • 2 pairs of boots from a very good forthcoming (but currently secret!) brand, from Standard & Strange (two winners)
  • 1 MTO pair from a special upcoming Østmo collaboration
  • 2 pairs of Meermin shell cordovan boots or shoes
  • 1 $500 voucher for custom boots or shoes from Sagara
  • 1 pair of any Rancourt shoes or boots (excluding shell cordovan)
  • 1 pair of MTO Wesco boots in Black Wickett & Craig glazed harness leather from Signet 
  • 1 stock Alden boot from Signet (shell cordovan excluded)
  • 1 custom fit pair of the Type 1 Commander boots  ($750 value) OR 1 custom fit pair of Willshire boots ($750 value) from Frank’s Boots.
  • 1 custom shell cordovan wallet from Guarded Goods (up to $475 value)
  • 5 pairs of laces of your choice from Guarded Goods (two winners)
  • 10 leather wallets from Rose Anvil (10 winners, their choice of wallet)
  • 4 full custom Oak Bark Shipyard belts from Carmine Jack made with J&FJ Baker leather (four winners)

Prizes will work as such: whichever contestant is determined by the judging panel to be the first-place winner will be able to select their choice of any of the above prizes. The second-place winner will be able to select any of the prizes other than what the first-place winner selected. And so on…

Somewhat obviously, certain sizing restrictions will apply (if you’re a size 19 and your preferred prize is from a sponsor who doesn’t make size 19, it’s somewhat hard for them to get you a size 19). But you can rest assured that all winners will leave quite happy.


The Patina Thunderdome simply would not be possible without our amazing sponsors and their incredibly generous prize donations. We urge you endlessly to support them both within the Thunderdome, and in your everyday footwear-loving life.


Grant Stone Logo

One of the best values in footwear you’ll find absolutely anywhere


standard & strange logo

One of the coolest men’s shops in the world, hands-down.  


Wesco Boots Logo

103 years old and standing the gaff better than ever. 



Brooklyn Clothing Co. Logo

Selling handcrafted boots from Viberg, Wesco, and White’s.


Carmine Jack Belts and Wallets

Incredible custom belts made with exclusive J&FJ Baker leather.


division road logo

The Viberg, Wesco, White’s and Tricker’s makeup maestros.


dr sole logo

Boot repair shop & maker of some of  Stitchdown’s favorite outsoles.


franks boots logo

Extremely serious custom-fit boots made one at a time in Spokane, the old-school way.


Guarded Goods

Guarded Goods: shoelace king and unmatched leathergoods maker.


Iron Heart Logo

Phenomenal Japanese denim, menswear galore, and excellent Wesco collaborations.


Jim Green Logo

Rugged boots at an incredible price, made in—and with all materials sourced from—South Africa.


Incredible value shoes and boots in a ridiculous range of styles.


Nicks Boots Logo

Beautiful boots that just happen to be indestructible since 1964.


Oak Street Bootmakers Logo

Rugged boots. Loafers. Dress shoes. Handsewns. Made in USA.


Østmo logo

Handmade one at a time in the mountains of Norway (by Lars).


Parkhurst Boots Logo

Parkhurst: Ready-for-anything boots and shoes made in the USA.


Generations upon generations of precision handsewn excellence.


Rose Anvil Logo

Leather goods, belts, camera harnesses, and cut-in-half boots.


sagara logo

The original Indonesian handmade bootmaker, and one of the best.


Signet Logo White Background2

Alden, Carmina, Russell Moccasin, Paraboot, Wesco, Attractions, and more, all under one roof in Manila.


Tricker's Logo

The creator of the country boot, and England’s oldest shoemaker.


trinity handmade

Custom kilties that look slick and help you dial in fit. 

Check out Trinity’s Instagram

viberg logo

The Canadian bootmaker that changed the industry forever.


Withered Fig logo with text

Viberg collaborator extraordinaire, plus top-flight menswear.



It's From the Sole

We’re incredibly excited to be partnering the Patina Thunderdome with a charity that couldn’t be more aligned. It’s From the Sole is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that collects and donates shoes to those who most need them—the unhoused in New York and other US cities. 

Again, 10% of all contest entry/membership fees will be donated to It’s From the Sole. 


Judge Gavel

Our judges are wonderful, fair, caring, and incredibly interesting footwear- and leather-obsessed indviduals. Do not try to hoodwink them; they are unhoodwinkable. 

The very nature of this particular industry and passion means that all judges will have ties to one or more brands or shops, but measures will be in place to ensure they remain uncompromised.

  • Neil Berrett: Founder, Standard & Strange
  • Vic Tsao: Dr. Sole Originals
  • Wyatt Gilmore: Founder, Grant Stone
  • Jesse Ducommun: Founder, Guarded Goods 
  • Ben Robinson: Founder, Stitchdown
viberg service boot black cxl worn