How Good are Indonesian Boots? Onderhoud Handmade Boot Review

Indonesia is currently a hotbed for Amekaji-heritage clothing. Actually, much of Southeast Asia is right now. However, if there is one thing that sets Indonesia apart from other countries in their area, it’s the fact that they’re making a lot of products domestically, especially boots. There are a lot of Indonesian bootmakers that have been making a splash over the past several years. In fact, my brother’s first pair of quality footwear was a pair of derby shoes from Sagara. Unfortunately, these shoes were the reason that I never owned a pair of Indonesian boots or shoes up until recently. While the shoes were well constructed, the domestically sourced Indonesian leather was of truly terrible quality. The uppers cracked and the outsole fell apart easily. 

Needless to say, this soured me on Indonesian boots. As good as many of the boots looked and as attractive as the prices were, I was not willing to spend any money on boots made of poor quality leather. Fortunately, some brands began to add imported leather to their line ups and it was much more difficult for me to resist. Onderhoud was especially attractive. Rizky runs the operation almost entirely on his own with only one apprentice that he has been training for two years. He makes beautiful looking boots and had some nice leathers on offer. 

I first saw his boots courtesy of my friend @volvo_sufu on Superfuture and then saw them more recently on my friend @tichoblancoshoes’ Instagram. At that point, I was really looking into getting some lace to toe logger style boots. I almost went with some John Lofgrens, but I was not going to buy anything with CXL. Luckily, Rizky at Onderhoud had some better leather so I contacted him and placed an order.

Rizky is a really nice guy to communicate with and ordering was quite easy. I ended up ordering his 6” LCV01 boot in black Maryam vegetable tanned horse rump leather with light brown/gold stitching, handwelted veldtshoen construction, light brown edge finish and gold thread. Of course, I also went with woodsman heels because nothing else works on this type of boot. All of this for only $435.

It is great to see your boots being made by hand.

I went with a size 44 for my US 10.5 brannock feet. In EU sizing, apparently this is a 10.5 or an 11 depending on what conversion chart you are using. The sizing worked out well on these. They are roomy in the toe box, but they are not loose and I experienced no heel slip with these. I do have to tie them quite tight, but that is partly because removing the foam insert made them even more spacious on the inside. With them tied tightly, they are pretty comfortable so far overall. As I said, they are spacious and in fact, remind me of how my Lofgren engineers and Motor lace up boots fit. They almost feel loose, but my feet are not flopping around inside either. Basically, this is a loose, rather than snug fit for my size 10.5D feet. I am happy with them so far, though. The leather is already starting to conform to my feet which is good as well.

Interestingly, Onderhoud boots come standard with a foam insert in the footbed on top of all the leather. I personally did not want this because I much prefer to have my feet conform to the leather footbed as over time I find that much more comfortable than any foam insert. Rizky was kind enough to make the foam insert removable which was nice. To be clear, this is not like most foam footbed from cheaper brands. Those brands have very little leather or only synthetic materials in the footbed, but Onderhoud boots have a significant amount of leather as well, which is obviously superior. 

It is a great sign when a bootmaker is happy to show off what actually goes into making their boots.

I have worn the boots with both the foam inserts and without them. The foam insert isn’t uncomfortable, but I did not find it any more comfortable over a full day of wear than with it removed. Unfortunately thanks to COVID, I have not given these the wear they deserve, but I would guess that over time, they will become even more comfortable without the foam insert. If you are like me, I suggest you order either without the foam insert or ask for it to be removable. Either way, these are pretty comfortable boots so far and break in has been easy.

As I mentioned in my Flame Panda review, a lot of smaller or newer bootmakers struggle to create great designs. However,I think the LCV01 lace to toe logger boot is Rizky’s very best work in terms of design and matches up with other more well established brands. It is chunky without being too chunky and balanced nicely with the woodsman heel which is beautifully curved. In fact, this is probably the most aggressively shaped woodsman heel that I have, but it works for this boot. It also features kilties, two speed hooks and an upper set of eyelets (I don’t use the top eyelets), and a half-gussetted tongue which I was glad to see.

Most of the materials are quite nice. The leathers used for the welt and the midsole and stacked heels are from Italy which is good. The leather used for the insole is vegetable tanned leather from Bangladesh. I’m not sure about the quality of this, but it feels fine so far. The shank is steel and the soles are black cord models from Dr. Sole, known for making pretty high quality rubber soles and heel caps. 

Of course, the most flashy material used for these boots is the leather used. Rizky has quite a few different leathers that he uses. I chose black Maryam vegetable tanned horse rump and I am glad that I did. This is quite a nice leather with a lustrous finish and some good looking grain as well. Interestingly, it’s the same leather as what was used for my Flame Panda boots only in a different color, but this has less shell in it. That is not a bad thing at all as this leather has more visible grain present which I quite like. It is more a commentary on the differences between batches of horsebutt leather from the same tannery. Either way, this is a great leather that makes me wonder why anyone would choose CXL (even in horsehide) over a leather like this.

The most impressive aspect of these boots is the construction. The fact that these cost $435 is absolutely ridiculous given the methods and quality of construction. Firstly, the boots are handwelted and on top of that, the veldtshoen stitching connecting the welt to the  midsole is also done by hand. Veldtshoen is a unique construction that is explained by saying that it almost like combining Goodyear welting with stitchdown. Like in stitchdown construction, the opper leather is stitched down, but the lining leather and welt are also stitched on the inside with a welt stitch, then the upper and welt are stitched down to the midsole and outsole with two rows of stitching. The fact that Onderhoud does both the welt stitching and mid/outsole stitching by hand is impressive. There is just one area where the upper leather sticks up a bit unfortunately.

The hand stitching here is done extremely well.
This could have been trimmed a little better, but it’s a very minor thing.

What is just as impressive is how well this is done. As you can see from the photos, the mid/outsole hand stitching is also very cleanly done. This again goes to show that there is no excuse for North American brands to have such sloppy construction in this area and it also proves that “handmade” does not mean less cleanly made like some people try to claim when they try to defend their Red Wings that are stitched by machine. 

The upper stitching is also very good. It is quite straight, neat, and even. However, it is not at the level of the best Japanese brands. My Motor, John Lofgren, Clinch, Role Club, and of course my White Kloud boots have cleaner construction on the uppers. This is not to say that the uppers are poorly stitched because they are not. They are better stitched than anything in their price range and better than many more expensive brands such as Wesco, Whites, Nicks, Viberg, Trickers, and Alden. There are no wonky stitches or true mistakes, just some inconsistencies in the stitch density and some slightly off center stitches. Remember, I am looking extremely closely at these boots so I am absolutely nitpicking here, but that’s what I do. I rank all my boots that I have, so I have to differentiate in whatever way I can. The uppers on these boots are very well stitched and constructed.

The rest of the finishing is also excellent on these boots. The heels are well shaped as mentioned before. Just as impressive is how smoothly sanded and polished the edges are on these boots. They are very evenly finished and up there with my Flame Pandas and Clinch boots in this area, only really behind my White Klouds which is saying a lot.

The edge finishing is phenomenal.

I figured that I would like wearing these boots and that they would fit in well with the rest of my wardrobe and that is exactly the case. This is a very handsome boot that has enough presence to go with my wider cut trousers and jeans while not looking bulbous and bulky. In fact, I would argue that despite them not being slim, they are quite elegant in a way. Before these, the only black boots that I had were engineers so I was very happy to have a different option thanks to these. 

What I have noticed since I started writing my reviews is that the real tell tale sign of how much I love an item of clothing is how much I wear them after I write the review. While I have only just finished the review and I do not have the same opportunities to wear these boots thanks to COVID, I can say confidently that they are boots that I definitely want to keep wearing and that is definitely a strong indicator of how much I like them. As with many items, I definitely want to write an update on this in a couple of years and I expect I will have worn them quite a lot by then.

Onderhoud is impressive. These boots are well designed, use a beautiful leather, are extremely well made using excellent construction methods, and are incredibly affordable for what they are. Under $450 for boots of this quality is mind boggling. There are downsides, of course. By far the biggest is the fact that this price to quality ratio has not gone unnoticed and Rizky is so backed up, that he rarely even takes orders anymore. To get a pair, you basically have to check his Instagram until he announces his next round of orders and put your name in, hoping rn jesus picks you. If the biggest “problem” with these boots is that they’re hard to get, that’s saying something.

Other than that, there really is no objective downside from what I have seen and experienced as long as you do not buy a pair with Indonesian leather. I have talked to a couple of fellow boot enthusiasts and they confirmed that it is absolutely better to spend the extra money and order Onderhouds with uppers that are made from anything other than Indonesian leather. I don’t know their leather industry well enough to explain why, but the fact is that it’s just not good enough yet. However, in terms of quality of construction, these are worth a heck a lot more than they cost. The fact that I had to nitpick so much in the quality section of the review shows just how good these boots are. 

Onderhoud appears to be a rare case of something that seems too good to be true, but it actually is true and as good as it appears. If something catastrophic happens with these boots, I will let everyone know, but I really doubt that is going to happen and as of right now, I have to conclude that these are probably the best value for money boots on the market right now. The fact that the only casual boots that I can say are overall objectively better are from Clinch and White Kloud shows that these boots are worth seeking out and getting in line for if you like the designs. 

Without question, I am extremely happy that I got my pair when I did because these are some special boots. As I mentioned in my Flame Panda review, the real test of how much I love boots is how much I want to wear them and what situation I want to wear them in after the review is done. These are boots that I now wear because I want to and I would wear these to events and occasions where I want to wear my best pieces. The fact that these $435 boots do not feel out of place with my top of the line Freewheelers jackets is a major testament to how well these boots are made and how much I like them. They’re one of my least expensive boots, but I treat them like they are one of my most expensive boots because they’re that good.

As of now, Rizky does business on Instagram so follow him @onderhoud.handmade and keep an eye out on his posts and stories to see when and how he will next be taking orders. Keep in mind that right now, he gets too many DMs to respond to so do not expect him to reply to your requests for a custom order.

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