*Updated two year review available HERE*
White Kloud boots is a unicorn in the raw denim and heritage clothing world. Very few people are even aware that the brand exists. The unique aesthetics mean that few people are seriously interested in buying a pair, and even fewer people are able to actually obtain a pair. This is because the boots are not only quite expensive, but the owner and sole maker, Show Goto, requires that the client meet with him in person at his workshop to be measured and get to know him before ordering a pair of his boots. I had fallen in love with White Kloud boots from the moment I saw them being posted on the Iron Heart forum back in 2013 and was heartbroken when I found out that I had to go all the way to Japan to get a pair.
After thinking that I would never get my dream boots, I had the opportunity to go to Japan with my brother in the summer of 2017. When this trip was scheduled, I immediately contacted Goto-San from White Kloud to make an appointment. The process of meeting with him is covered in this article https://almostvintagestyle.com/2018/01/10/japan-trip-part-1-tokyo-and-boots/ . To summarize, it was an absolutely incredible experience that made me indescribably excited to finally receive my boots.
I scheduled my meeting around one year in advance and it took a little over a year after that to finally receive my boots for a total of a two year process. The boots took roughly a month longer to arrive than originally predicted, but Goto-San was very open with communication and I was very comfortable throughout the entire experience. Furthermore, I requested that he send me some pictures of the construction of my boots and he was kind enough to oblige. Needless to say, this only increased my excitement. Without question, I had never been as excited to receive any item as I was to receive these boots. Did they live up to the hype?*
In terms of specs, they obviously did because… well, they are custom. White Kloud definitely has a certain style which includes a very large, plain toe packer style boot with double row hand sewn welt stitching, and thick, beautifully carved woodsman heels with a very high polish. However, one look at the White Kloud Instagram page shows that there are quite a few options available for these boots https://www.instagram.com/show_goto/?hl=en .
For my pair, I went with his standard packer boot style that he calls the ‘blucher’ boot with the smallest round toe last that he offers, standard woodsman heel, double row hand sewn welt and sole stitching, brown vibram outsoles that match beautifully with the edge finish and look far better than a black rubber sole would, and Badalassi Carlo Minerva leather in cognac. I had not seen any boots in this exact specification prior to mine, but I was extremely happy with how these turned out. I feel that they preserve the unique style of White Kloud boots without being too extreme or bulky as many of his boots are.
The boots have four rows of eyelets and two rows of speedhooks and while I don’t love speedhooks and both the eyelets and speedhooks appear to be made of brass. The length of these laces makes them far more convenient than they are on my Moto boots. There are leather heel tabs at the back, the tongue is gusseted, and the laces are a lightweight, waxed cotton variety that look very nice on the boots. Finally, the boots are half lined in the interior, adding to their comfort.
One of my favorite aspects of White Kloud boots is their unique style. As with many Japanese boots, they certainly take inspiration from Pacific Northwest packer boots such as Whites and Wesco, but any boot enthusiast will be able to tell immediately that these are not to be confused with any of those brands. The shine of the outsoles, the welt stitching, the black finishing on the sole, and the unique imprints on the uppers next to the stitching give these boots a lot of great touches that help them stand out. The very large lasts are not to everyone’s liking, but it is at least safe to say that White Kloud has its own unique style.
As customizable as the boots are, there are only two different leather types to choose from: Horween chromexcel and Badalassi Carlo Minerva leather. On the plus side, he offers what appears to be every single color available in both of these leather types. I have seen pictures of well-aged Badalassi leather in cognac and was always certain of this choice for my boots. This leather is one of the best known from Italy, being an extremely high quality vegetable tanned cowhide that ages with stunning grace. You can look at some examples of John Lofgren engineer boots in this leather to see how well it develops and patinas.
Even in brand new condition, the color of this leather is possibly my all time favorite leather shade. The depth of color is quite intense upon close inspection and it is certainly stiffer than chromexcel at first, but not as stiff as the vegetable tanned Japanese leathers that I have encountered and owned. Aside from the vegetable tanned Italian horsebutt on my Clinch boots, this is my favorite boot leather available right now.
Overall, the fit is excellent. My Role Clubs fit ever so slightly loose and these fit ever so slightly tight. With that said, these have been an absolute breeze to break in and are already my most comfortable boots to walk around in. The heel and arch support are especially perfect for me and as a result, I was able to wear them 12 hours straight on the very first day with essentially no discomfort. This was very impressive and they have already become my most comfortable boots overall. The boots fitting snugly was largely my fault, just as the minor fit issues with my Role Clubs. However, these are still my two best fitting pairs of boots. It is unclear exactly how customized the fit of the boots is due to the language barrier, but I am personally very happy with how these fit. I will not go into sizing details because you must meet Goto-San in person to order, so if you do order a pair, he will work with you on that personally.
Of course, the biggest reason that I purchased these boots was because of the insane levels of craftsmanship. I have gone over these boots very closely several times and cannot find a single fault. In fact, these boots go beyond being flawless. They are artistic in their construction. The upper stitching is very tight, consistent, and clean. There are other companies that nearly are able to match this level of upper stitching, but not quite. The straightness is almost mesmerizing. Adding to this trance of beauty is the imprinting that sits next to most of the upper stitch lines. It almost looks like wheeling, but it is very consistent and actually quite a unique and welcome touch.
As beautiful as the uppers of these boots are, the real magic is in the soles. The most noticeable feature is the double row hand sewn stitching which is a signature feature of White Kloud boots. This is executed to perfection and is wonderful to look at. These stitches are shockingly straight and neat. Another unique aspect of these boots is the black paint finish on the top and bottom of the sole unit. This gives the boots a more refined touch and really shows just how much thought was put into every single aspect of the boots. Finally, there is the beautifully carved woodsman heel with the mirror shine that is consistent throughout the entire edge of the sole. This level of shine is not only mesmerizing in itself, but would not be possible if the sole stacks were not perfectly smooth. This is without question the most perfectly finished pair of boots I have ever owned.
Overall, these boots are as close to perfect as I have ever seen any item of clothing to be. What is more, the experience of meeting Goto-San, being measured, and choosing the options was a once in a lifetime moment that I will never forget and again, I highly encourage you to read about it here https://almostvintagestyle.com/2018/01/10/japan-trip-part-1-tokyo-and-boots/ because talking about that in this article would simply be too much.
I cannot emphasize enough just how committed Goto-San is to his craft. Not only does he make his boots to this high of a level by himself, but he is fully committed to their perfection throughout the process. The uppers of the boots are completely covered as he works on the sole. Once the boots are finished, he touches them only with gloves so as to not mark them. When they first arrived, I could tell when a speck of dust landed on them, such was their cleanliness. When Goto-San was asked about how he shapes and finishes the heel so perfectly, he said that he could not say because he was not good enough at it yet. This is the type of drive he has for perfection.
In addition, he is a truly wonderful person. My experience meeting him was incredible. He remembered to wish me goodbye on the day I left Japan. He still asks me how my brother is when we message on Instagram. When he shipped my boots, his message to me was the following. “I put my heart into making these boots for you. Please walk a wonderful life with my boots.” This is someone who cares about his products and customers a great deal.
These boots are epic. As of right now, they are the best made work-style boots that can be purchased. These boots have already become my most prized physical possession. They somehow managed to exceed my incredibly high expectations for them. With every aspect of construction being beyond every other boot on the market, the only possible improvement for me would be if Goto-San began making engineer boots. He is an artist and getting a pair of boots from him is an experience that I will never forget. Fortunately, I will have these boots for the rest of my life to remind me of just how great this hobby can be at its height. From this point forward, everything I own and receive will be measured against these boots. Thank you Goto-San for doing what you do. I will indeed walk a wonderful life in your masterpieces.
The White Kloud website can be found here: http://whitekloud.jp/ Prices range from around $1,000 USD to $2,000 USD depending on specification.
The Instagram page is here: https://www.instagram.com/show_goto/?hl=en
*Updated two year review available HERE*
Remember that you must go to Goto-San’s workshop to order a pair of boots, but I highly encourage anyone interested in a pair to contact him.
*If you read the title, you would have known that that was a stupid question, but I asked it anyway because I have to be a typical review guy.