In the early, humble days of Truman boot company, all boots were built in an old horse barn in Pennsylvania, each pair made-to-order and fully hand-welted. Every aspect of the company was done by Vince Romano, himself, and as the company began to gain traction, it was clear that hand-welting every pair was simply not going to be an option due to high volume demand.
During a fall trip to Oregon, Vince had the opportunity to visit with a cobbler who regularly worked on logging boots. Following an extensive chat with the cobbler about the scaleability of hand-welted footwear and the cost of transitioning to machine welting, the cobbler disappeared into the back room and grabbed a pair of stitch-down logging boots. The cobbler, reappeared, stitch-down boots in hand, and provided a brief explanation of the stitch-down process. Upon returning back to PA, Vince Romano invested in machinery to produce stitch-down construction, and that was the last time a Goodyear welt boot was produced at Truman. Stitch-down was not widely known outside the boot enthusiast community, but worked to our advantage with the size of our team and our made-to-order production model.
As we’ve grown and matured as a company, we’ve realized that using stitch-down construction, the style we are currently utilizing (not the 360 stitch-down widely used in footwear in Italy) is mainly for logging and fire boots. The boot-maker must be highly-skilled and even the best boot-makers struggle with consistency in stitch-down construction. The production of stitch-down is actually a terrible marriage with high-end horse rump and calf hides, as the finer the leather is, the more difficult it is to move a boot through production without defects or blemishes. On a logging boot or fire boot, the end user is not concerned with minor defects and the longevity of the boot is the most important characteristic. The majority of the issues the boot-maker encounters with stitch-down construction will not effect the longevity of the boot and even two to three resoles later, the boot is still going strong. However, anyone looking to wear these traditional logging style construction boots as casual footwear are not going to appreciate certain aspects of the construction style. Occasional imperfections don’t seem to balance proportionally with the price tag when the customer is interested in casual footwear alternatively to workwear.
Presently, five years following our humble beginning in a boot barn, we realize that in order to scale our company the way we need to, we have to consider alternate methods to stitch-down construction. Goodyear construction has been at the forefront of high-quality footwear for a century. And, whilst many footwear brands build with Goodyear construction, most are using inferior components and poor quality materials - all of which, most customers have no knowledge of. To our advantage, we have the unique opportunity to resole many footwear brands and work R&D with our own Goodyear Welt boots, and have found that the use of leather insoles, directly stitching the welt, high-quality shanks and counter materials all make the difference between high-quality Goodyear welt construction and poor.
Our main goal with scaling the company and streamlining production has been to keep fewer jobs on the factory floor, while maintaining efficient living wage skilled positions with benefits. We don’t want to provide thirty minimum wage jobs, but rather, a dozen positions where an employee builds a skilled career. This, in and of itself, has been another hurdle over the previous five years, and we feel Goodyear welting our main collection of boots is a great way to keep labor costs low, while providing high-quality employment positions in the US.
We will continue to build boots using stitch-down construction, but prices will increase as labor and material prices increase. However, we should see an expected price decrease on the Goodyear welt line, as the cost of labor is much less.
We hope to bring the best of both worlds with this shift in our model. Unique leathers, high-quality construction, and an entirely new collection at a more attractive dollar amount.