We’ve got a rangy roundup for you this week, spanning stalwart favorites as well as some new faces. There’s a duo of Natural Minerva Lofgrens at Standard and Strange, a new line of ready-to-wear boots and shoes from Acme shoemaker, and of course a whole lot more in this Shoes ‘n’ Boots of the Week!
Previous weeks, previous shoes, ‘n’ previous boots can all be found here.
[Ed Note: while we never choose anything specifically because of them, some of these recommendations contain affiliate links—the price is the same for you, but Stitchdown gets a small commission if you make a purchase. It’s essential to keeping the site alive, so we really, really appreciate it.]
Division Road in many ways made their name with collaborations that cut against norms in an industry that can be a bit traditionalist. This weeks release doesn’t have stark-contrast uppers or high-shafted MP’s, but upon closer inspection, you’ll find DR’s fingerprints everywhere.
There’s a subtle-chonk lineman patch in British Tan that matches the same-shade CXL uppers, a White’s stamp on the collar usually reserved for custom boots, and a traditional hand rolled welt in natural CXL instead of one that matches the upper leather. From the side, White’s 55 last and Vibram 430 mini-lug combo make for a boot that could plausibly be edited onto a black and white photo of Otto White, which in our humble opinion is never a bad thing. On the other hand…
…the 350 Cruiser is a bit more modern without wandering too far from the White’s Ur-Boot that I’m confident is floating through deep space somewhere. As with the lace-to-toe’s, you’ll find natural Chromexcel on the welt and the gusseted tongue, but there’s another DR favorite as well: the beach tire of boot soles, a Vibram 2060 wedge in sand. Also present are olive waxed flesh uppers from Horween and eyelets all the way up.
Lace-to-toe boots, Lofgrens included, have become rightly popular in the heritage boot world the last few years. But whether they draw inspiration from Czech surplus boots or vintage roofers, most modern monkeys clock in at a 6″ inch shaft height.
Standard & Strange is now accepting the first pre-orders of an 8″ Donkey Puncher ever. To take advantage of the extra real estate, they’ve selected Bone Minerva cowhide from Badalassi, a go-to tannery for patina-prepped natural veg-tan. The beefed-up 120 last, half sole, and woodsman heel make for a decidedly Americana silhouette, completed by a 270-degree storm welt and removable kiltie. In case you’re thinking what I’m thinking… these don’t ship until December, so maybe next Thunderdome?
The Steel Gang Boots can be thought of as the Donkey Puncher’s more approachable sibling. They feature an identical sole and last, but with regular, service-boot-style quarters and a 6″ shaft. In addition to the natural tan of the Bone Minerva, they have cotton laces that I can only describe as plum. (As an aside, I’ve always found the internal logic behind lace-color selections at Lofgren fascinating, especially when they switch up the color on their cotton laces.)
If you recognize the Baxter, it’s almost certainly because Leffot and Rancourt released the first version of the shell cordovan moccasin-construction boot as a special edition in stock release for their 10th anniversary bash earlier this year. That run sold out quick! Now, Leffot has brought the Baxter back for pre-order. The specs, right down to the Lactae Hevea wedge, Horween Color 8 Shell, and rawhide laces, are identical. Few do shell handsewns better than Rancourt.
Some cuts of bovine leather are tanned into stiff slabs of natural veg-tan for soling, while other areas are stuffed with oils and waxes for uppers—and never the twain shall mix. There are of course excellent reasons for this, but Volpi Conceria knows the rules well enough to break them.
At Viberg’s request they’ve vegetable-tanned a batch of 7-8oz double butts—aka “bends,” the extremely dense traditional soling cut—with the result being a double butt leather definitively tanned for uppers. For this run, it finds itself on a 9-eyelet, 2030 brogue cap toe Service Boot pattern with the quintessential Viberg double-row stitchdown construction, and a Ridgeway sole.
A cult-worthy Chinese workshop that sprung up during the early Covid days, Acme Shoemaker is a young king in the high-end dress-casual custom footwear space. At least they were.
This week Acme moved into the ready-to-wear zone in a major way with new Acme and Marvel Series lineups featuring the same bountiful handwork as their custom shoes. The Moritz, for example, isn’t just hand welted, but hand stitched to the leather sole with a blind-channel stitch, with a fiddleback waist and top-quality dye and polish work. The hatch-grain leather and beautiful Norwegian welt stitching are something of the “house style” at Acme, frequent motifs in their custom work.
We like boots too! Like the Moritz, these split-toes are distinctly Acme, with their 180˚ Norwegian stitching and strongly textured leather. They have a softer, rounder beveled waist on their leather sole instead of the angular lines of the fiddleback, but they retain the same sense of craft and dressy-casual personality.
SEMI-RELATED: If you’re interested in craft that goes into a handmade dress shoe generally, we recommend check out Siroeno Yosui’s YouTube channel. He has zero association with Acme, and there are notable differences in their making processes (not least of which being Siroeno is an independent, full bespoke maker), but still an incredibly educational resource.
At a slightly more accessible price point, the Marvel split-toes have a Vibram Eaton sole with a visible, open channel stitch in place of the Acme Line’s sculptural leather. Instead of overlapping Norvegese stitch-work where the upper joins the sole, these feature a more straightforward style of handwelt stitching, which joins the welt to a channel in the midsole on the inside and then directly to the outsole. While the Acme character isn’t quite as strong the sole and welt still thin and taper strongly at the waist, and the shapeliness of their shoes, though toned down, is still very much present in this last.
You can check out the rest of the lineup on Acme’s website.
Between all of the folks here at Stitchdown, there aren’t that many things we haven’t seen on a boot, but I tell you what, a blue sole stitch is one of them. That’s exactly what you’ll find—along with a subtle but present navy edge dye and Navy Chromexcel—on one colorway of Unmarked’s new Full Color Hunter boots. Like the previous iterations, it has dense, neat, double row stitchdown and a studded Itshide sole that’s nailed down in the waist. In addition to navy…
…they’re available in Brown (edge dye and stitching included)…
…and a thoroughly murdered-out (sans eyelets/hooks) black.
Oak Street has been pushing the envelope with their indigo-dyed and over-dyed leathers intended to produce boots that don’t just look interesting, but patina in interesting and usual ways (it would be really cool if someone made a contest about that or something…).
Whitewash Overdye Abtone, developed with Italy’s Volpi Conciere, looks a lot some leathers we’ve seen with a thick layer of white wax. Wear however, will revel that it’s in fact a thin layer of white dye over a natural, veg-tan core. On Oak Street’s Trench boot, it’s complimented by natural midsoles and Itshide Commando soles. A tonal white flat-welt and silver eyelets complete the look.