Are Expensive Boots Worth It?

 

It has been quite some time since I posted a new article on here, but I am back with something quite special! The following article is my first ever guest article, written by my friend David Burchfield AKA @thevintagefuture. Normally I would not want to include guest articles. However, Dave is someone who I talk with often and I have great respect for his reviews and opinions. In addition, I agree with almost everything being said by him in this article. I have other articles that I am working on myself that will be posted soon. In the meantime, please enjoy this fantastic article by Dave and check out his Instagram and his Youtube channel for some high quality and accurate boot reviews.

Is the price of ultra-expensive footwear justified?

It is an all too familiar story in this hobby. You grow tired of sneakers and the like. After a quick Google search, you end up with a Red Wing Iron Ranger or Thursday Captain or Wolverine 1,000 Mile. This is the most you’ve ever spent on a pair of footwear, but after some months you still want more. You graduate to Grant Stone or Truman or Whites, but you still yearn for wider variety, unique lasts, rarer leathers. You suppress everything your grandaddy taught you about frugality and go straight to the top, where your heart longs to be, where your journey ends: Alden and Viberg. You’ve arrived. That’s all folks. This is the sexiest, most romantic story you’ve ever experienced, and you couldn’t be happier….until one day. From the top of that mountain, you peer down the opposite slope and realize there is a whole new valley before you. 

You’re at the cliffs of insanity, seduced by some cruelly mysterious boots which cost… “One THOUSAND dollars?!?!” There is such a mental hurdle here. Something about crossing that mark for something you sometimes step in dog crap with seems thoroughly outrageous. Sure, at first $400, $500, $700 seemed absurd and extreme. But $1000? $2000?!  This is a rent payment, or even a mortgage payment. “Are they worth it?” you say. “Are they truly better?” you ask. “Surely I’m just paying for the name.” You assure yourself with arguments like, “It must be marketing hype. I can buy the same thing for less somewhere else.” After all, $3000 for a pair of boots is lunacy. Obscene…..Or is it?

Is this really worth the price?

I want to explore with you and answer the question, “What am I getting for $1000, $2000, $3000 that I don’t have access to at lower price points?” I want to help you decide if you want to take the leap or not. 

Before we progress further, please note that there is nothing magical or precise about the number $1000; it simply serves as a rough demarcation point for the sake of discussion. There are always outliers of exceptional footwear below $1000 and outliers of overpriced footwear above $1000. In addition, there are varying results with almost every maker; two different buyers can have wildly varying experiences with the same maker, or an individual buyer can have two opposite experiences of their own between two orders from the same maker. For example, my Role Club boots were crafted sloppily in a few aspects even though this is opposite of Brian’s usual performance. In addition, most makers, even in higher tiers, will not check all the boxes below, but only some of them. The specific benefits of each maker will be different. Accordingly, none of my points here are absolutes; I am identifying rough generalizations, a variety of benefits present throughout the industry. That aside, let’s jump into it.

Are ultra-expensive boots worth the price? Would it be worth it for you to spend $2000 on a single pair of boots, and forego those four other $500 pairs you wanted? That’s what we’re here to find out. And ultimately, that is for each person to decide for themselves. No matter what one gains in a given purchase, each individual has to assess the felt worth of those gains. I would never presume to argue anyone should buy anything, regardless of price. I can’t even comfortably claim boots at the high price tiers are necessarily better boots in every case. In fact, a lot of footwear between $600 and $1000 is functionally as much boot as money can buy. For instance, companies like Onderhoud and Grant Stone offer outstanding quality for their price. So when it comes to discernable benefits of build and performance, more expensive footwear offers real but superfluous benefits, diminishing returns. 

I am not arguing that ultra-expensive footwear is unequivocally better or that more affordable footwear is altogether inferior. I am simply here to offer factors which legitimately justify the high price tag. I am claiming that the added cost isn’t just paying for the name; it is in part buying you real, tangible improvements, though maybe not the ones you expect or even need. They might be benefits you’re interested in; or maybe they aren’t. That’s for you to decide.

Precision – The first consideration when justifying the price of boots in the $1000-$3000 range is that usually you are paying for a higher level of precision in craftsmanship, especially if you are purchasing dress shoes as opposed to casual boots. Though exceptions and variance are inescapable, a higher price typically elevates the average quality level of the product. Generally speaking, benefits such as higher SPI, more congruent stitching, straighter toe caps, absence of visible sloppiness and negligence, and symmetrical hardware are all more common past the $1000 mark. This is simply because, by charging more for their product, makers can afford to spend more time on each part of the shoe; the premium charge supports that substantial build-time increase. Of course the default example here would be makers like White Kloud. 

The average precision level of craftsmanship typically increases along with the price

Does this guarantee the higher priced boots are all flawless? No, it doesn’t. Although I have never owned a White Kloud or heard of any issues with them, I have owned reputable names such as Edward Green, Role Club, and Clinch and still have yet to own a pair of boots that’s truly flawless. By far, the closest to perfection I have owned are my Flame Panda boots, which ironically were less than $1000. So both expensive and inexpensive footwear can and should be enjoyed; something doesn’t need to be $1500 to be valid. Nevertheless, issues like crooked stitching are inherently sub-par, less skillful, and are much more common and severe as you descend the price scale. And such imperfections are considered less acceptable by consumers and makers, the higher you ascend the price scale. This first point has been sufficiently argued time and again elsewhere in this blog, so we won’t spend any more time here. Regardless, it does bear mentioning, as it is the most immediately obvious benefit of expensive footwear.

Superior Clicking – This is probably the most elementary, but I don’t feel it is talked about enough. Part of the higher price tag is in play literally because some companies throw more leather out (or sell it to other companies to use). They reject a much higher percentage of the hide, so they charge you more for their own high standards of scrutiny. We essentially pay these companies to be pickier. The scenario generally falls something like this: Wolverine might consider a particular hide appropriate to click 30 pairs from. Attractions might decide the same hide can only yield 15 pairs of quality uppers. Zonkey Boot also examines said hide and estimates 10 clean pairs can be made from it. John Lobb London refuses the majority of this hide and makes a mere 5 pairs. It is something a beginner will not see, but veterans will notice it. 

Even so, much more goes into excellent clicking than meets the eye. Unsightly vamp creases are commonly the focus of any conversation about clicking. If not that, the conversation will revolve around matching shades for each panel comprising the boot. But it should be realized that first class cuts do not only apply to the vamp, but also to the quarters, tongue, stay, and sole layers. It applies not only to creasing, but also to color matching, grain character matching, grain or nap direction matching, and thickness matching. Common practice for most companies is to hide inferior or mismatched sections of hide in less visible locations; this is a way for companies to reduce cost and material waste with minimal impact to wearer satisfaction. A higher tier maker will be sure to use excellent cuts on all portions of the boot, even those you can’t readily see. They consider not only what the upper will look like when new, but also how it will look with age. They will be using materials and portions of those materials which they are confident won’t become deformed, loose, irregular, lopsided, or baggy with use. Brian the Bootmaker clicked my Role Club CXL engineers so insanely well that I’ve found nothing but super tight grain throughout, including the shafts and straps. Even more astounding, I have heard of Goto-San remaking an entire boot because of an almost imperceptible natural mark on the shell cordovan.

White Kloud shell clicking is perfect

Does a shoe have to feature clicking perfection throughout in order to be wearable and enjoyable? Absolutely not. In fact, with certain footwear, a rougher appearance might actually offer aesthetic benefits. When I got my Parkhurst Spruce Kudu Allen boots, I enjoyed the abundance of marks and scars. With my Whites, I have grown to view some of the sloppiness as vintage workwear appeal. Thus, in the case of leather with imperfections, it must be remembered  that it is still perfectly functional and usable, though it may not make a “top tier” product. Despite this, the point is that when you pay more, the clicking is often cleaner, and when you pay less it is often not. It follows that ideas such as the notorious “CXL Lottery” are sometimes misnomers which unjustly cast suspicion on the tannery, tannage, or hide for what are often the decisions of the maker.

“Nicer” Materials – The concept here is that higher end makers are often using more niche materials for parts of the footwear virtually nobody focuses on, like the midsole leather, the welt material, thread, lining, or laces. This doesn’t necessarily mean it functions better or looks better (though it often is indeed better), but it does mean it is more expensive for the maker to employ (or hand-make) these materials. While quality outer materials such as Horween Shell Cordovan or JR Leather Soles are across-the-board in the industry, rarely are users aware of the material cost difference between the lining they have in their Truman boots versus their Vibergs versus their Edward Greens. For instance, Indonesian boot companies and sometimes even small Chinese makers like Flame Panda (Peng) sometimes use less expensive lining for their boots. This isn’t necessarily because they want to; often it has to do with what they’re able to source, but the fact remains. And while this isn’t usually a problem, I have at times heard of brittle lining in a Flame Panda boot or a boardy tongue in an Indonesian boot. Conversely, though below the $1000 mark, Viberg uses oakbark insoles for their welted footwear (equivalent to the legendary JR leather sole material) which is more expensive and arguably much better than the insole material all their sub-$1k competitors are using. This sort of thing would be even more prevalent with a company selling footwear at $3000 a pair. Again, despite the fact that it only makes a real-life difference some of the time, the more expensive the maker, the greater the chance the maker is using more expensive materials for even unnoticed parts of the boot.

Leather Artistry – Some in this upper echelon are not only skilled craftspersons; they are leather artists. Clinch by Brass Shoe Co. in Tokyo, Japan is exemplary of this. Minoru Matsuura, the owner and founder of Brass Shoe, does not merely mix-n-match leathers with lasts. Not that other brands are clueless or lazy. On the contrary, many brands put substantial thought and effort into which leather will go best with certain designs, but Clinch does what many other brands aren’t even trying to do. If other brands’ approach to leather is excellent, Matsuura-San’s approach to leather is profound. 

Some makers approach leather as an artform

Things like creasing, dye fading, teacoring, folding, collapsing, and rolling are aspects many brands have a design awareness of but are not a goal in and of themselves; with Clinch, however, such subtleties could not be more intentional. With many brands, the way your boots patinate and age is anticipated; with Clinch, your patina is strategized. Every aspect of the aging process is planned and implemented. Each hide is examined closely to identify which parts will make the vamp and the shaft roll and crease in specific ways. If Matsuura-San is making a boot or shoe and discovers the leather will not crease or roll as he hoped, he will throw it aside and start over. This is what we pay a premium for. The price you pay for Clinch boots is potentially not covering just the pair you bought, but also some failed uppers he threw aside to make your pair align with his vision. Clinch is particular about design aspects many people aren’t aware of. I will give an example from the order process of my MTO Clinch Jodhpur boots.

While Matsuura-San was incredibly flexible and friendly during the order process, he was also quite particular about two aspects of the boot which relate to the leather: the fit and the toe puff. He stressed fit first of all. He of course wants his clients to enjoy a comfortable fit, but in addition, he said that his boots will not roll and crease the way he intends if the fit is not right. Similarly, he suggested using a leather toe puff if I chose a horsebutt upper and no toe puff if I chose calfskin because he said he likes how the shafts of these boots each roll and crease differently when built like this. Most of us would focus on what a toe structure does to the appearance of the toe; Matsuura-San was equally focused on what it would do to the shaft. He knew the toe puff would cause horsebutt leather to bunch up at the instep and shaft, causing delectable rolls to form there, which would otherwise be absent. Would the jodhpur boots look just fine to most people regardless of the leather/toe puff combination? YES!! But the point is, there are dozens of details in the mind of this artisan that are lost on most of us, myself included. We pay him extra to bless our footwear with all this creative intricacy. Some will not care for this granular level of design, but for those who enjoy this type of thing, this is difficult to find without paying a premium. 

Makers like Brian the Bootmaker bring over-dyeing to the next level

Shops like Clinch, Kreosote, Role Club, or even the more affordable Motor and Flame Panda, apply this same painstaking attention to the use of colors and dyes with masterful effect. They order prime bovine and equine leathers from reputable tanneries around the world, but as if the quality of the leather itself is not enough, they often apply unique dyes to the surface of each hide by hand in order to introduce another dimension to the aging process. Sometimes this experimental dying process yields errors, which means they have to eat the cost of wasted uppers. But they do it because they want your patina to be accentuated, as if to serve your patina-story on a silver platter. Other makers such as Benzein and Sagara utilize beautiful overdyes as well, yet it is only a bit higher up the menu that I have seen quite the next-level overdying which isn’t just “cool-looking” but downright captivating. When you see a boot like this on Instagram, you involuntarily halt mid-scroll, as if you’ve just seen a diamond for the first time.

My initial experience with this was Matsuura-San’s personal pair of Clinch HiLiner boots. The marbling that takes place on this model is nothing less than riveting. This ultimately led me to obtain a pair of my own. To be honest and fair, I have yet to see a consumer, myself included, get their pair of HiLiners to look like Matsuura-San’s pair (which ostensibly took at least 6 years of consistent wear to look like that), but I can hope mine are on the way. They seem to be aging nicely so far. It was this same sort of leather artistry that attracted me to much of Brian the Bootmaker’s work, seeing incredible overdyed engineer boots from Vintage Psycho and LeatherDenim86. While many other brands have a signature model or last, the flagship of brands like this is the leather wizardry they employ.

Bespoke/Upper level customization – This comes as no surprise, but it bears mentioning: True bespoke shoe/boot making, whether in-person or remote, does not exist below the $1000s range. Even the expert yet affordable Winson/Midas of Indonesia will charge around $2000 base price for a fully bespoke pair. If you want shoes which are designed from your feet for your feet, and at a bespoke level of craftsmanship, you do not find an end to your quest for less than $1000. If you are unaware of how profoundly superior a bespoke fit is to any stock model in existence, take a moment and watch a bespoke fitting session on YouTube; Kirby Allison has quite a few filmed with makers like Lee Miller, Dominic Casey, and John Lobb London. Seeing the amount of fit detail these artisans consider during a bespoke order will change your perspective in big ways for the rest of your life. Bespoke fittings and lasts categorically exceed anything you will find from RTW brands in terms of fit, functionality, precision, and appearance. But even if one does not go bespoke for cost or convenience reasons, a good made-to-measure typically costs $1000-$2500 (Antonio Mecariello, for instance), and the fit on such a pair is vastly superior to virtually all ready-to-wear pairs (though sometimes we get lucky with a stock last).

A bespoke fitting is categorically superior to anything RTW

Included in the benefit of this high cost is the sheer number of negotiable aspects with these bespoke and MTM/MTO brands, as compared to most any RTW brand at lower price tiers. Take, for instance, a known bespoke dress shoe brand like Yohei Fukuda or a prominent western brand like Texas Traditions (Lee Miller) or Ray Dorwart. These makers are capable of just about anything the mind can imagine, if you’re willing to pay for it. Whereas a consumer might have to wait for a special MTO event from makers like Lofgren, Viberg, Alden, or even Clinch, customization is THE norm with bespoke shops. Because of the high price, they specialize in customizing most anything you can imagine, not just what’s inside the box of the lasts/leathers/hardware/sizes/patterns they normally offer. And many of these bespoke artisans have had decades to product-test different materials and methods, as opposed to being in the middle of the experimental phase. This means that when they recommend a certain option for your pair, it is backed by years of tried and true experiential wisdom. An outlier would be Peng, who seems to do pretty well, even with experimental customizations, but even he cannot compare to a maker who has tried the things he is trying scores of times. If we were to compare Peng’s current experiments to how perfected they will be in 30 years, I would imagine the difference would be evident. Dare I say, the same could even be said of Goto-San and Clinch, who are relatively new makers at this point in their careers. Still, the endless possibilities of customization at a well-established bespoke maker such as John Lobb London are nothing less than heavenly.

With custom shops, the possibilities are virtually endless

Handmade – Below $1000, hand-welted, hand-stitched, hand-cut and the like all exist as exceptional cases, with reputed Indonesian and Chinese brands such as Sagara, Onderhoud, Flame Panda, and Iron Boots; however, above $1000, a true handmade approach becomes more normative. This is especially true up near the $2000 range. Below $1000, machines do most of the work most of the time. Above $1000 and you’re paying for more human hands to be on the product more of the time. This could be something users will never notice the difference of, like the maker cutting their own welt strips instead of using premade pieces. Despite the fact that you would never notice, in my opinion, little handmade parts like that makes the footwear that much cooler. Whether the maker is Henry Maxwell, the oldest bespoke maker in London, or the new but talented Lars of Ostmo Boots, the work people are doing with their own two hands is phenomenal. Does this mean all these shops yield a better product? Not necessarily. In fact, sometimes stitching would have come out more uniform if done by a machine, while other times it’s the human hand which does it straighter. Still, if the “purity” of the ancient craft means something to you, you can own a piece of it, as long as you’re willing to pay for all the extra hours and expertise it takes.

Ease of access to quality – Sometimes the difference in price is not paying for higher quality, but rather for easier access to that quality. In such cases, you can obtain better product for less pain and hassle. You’re essentially trading money for ease. You pay more to get better customer service with less effort and need for self-advocating. These brands fully stand behind their product at their own cost, and when a problem needs to be rectified, they jump right on it. 

For instance, I received a pair of Edward Green Cranleigh boots with a slightly crooked pull tab. Unfortunately, I wore them before noticing. Once Edward Green was notified they immediately issued a partial refund of $200 and paid to have them shipped to and from their factory in Northampton, UK for repairs. Once they returned to me in the US, they looked brand new; I could not tell they were ever repaired. With many companies, I would have had to struggle with their customer service department a bit and argue my case, and then might have received a sub-par repair on top of it all. Stories of this happening with companies like Alden, Truman, or my beloved Viberg abound. I get it; they have a business to maintain and aren’t charging $1500/pair like Edward Green. But with Edward Green, they jumped to help me in big ways at the slightest mention of a quality breach. They genuinely stand behind their claim to quality in ways that are a mere marketing statement some companies use. 

When I obtained my Clinch HiLiners directly from Brass Shoe Company, before they shipped I was notified that they found a natural blemish on the tongue of one of the boots. They offered me a $300 credit, saying they didn’t feel right about sending anything in that condition. I gladly accepted the compensation and when I received the boots was surprised to find the blemish to be insignificant. It wasn’t even on the vamp, just on the tongue, and was merely a natural scar or fold. Yet this speaks to how seriously Clinch takes quality and to how readily available they want that quality to be. They were proactive, not reactive, with excellent customer service because they really do care about quality and service. It’s not just smoke and mirrors with them. 

This stands in stark contrast to several personal experiences I have had with Alden and Alden retailers, where they let sub-par pairs out of the factory and out of their store, and if the customer does not bring it up, they are just as happy never mentioning the flaws. In fact, they did not inspect the footwear for flaws in the first place because they are not quite as concerned about offering a satisfactory product. They are entitled to their business model; I do not fault them for that. Nevertheless, it is important see that in their business model, they have to allow quality to lapse sometimes in order to keep their prices stable. 

To be forthcoming, I must again qualify that there’s always exceptions. I have heard of more severe quality issues with Clinch. The good thing is, they still made every effort to make resolution as easy and acceptable as possible. Additionally, my experience with Role Club customer service was pretty atrocious in several ways. I’m hoping that is a result of temporary growing pains as Brian expands his business; unfortunately there are no guarantees. Nevertheless, I think if you make a general comparison of CS across price tiers, things are typically more personable and easy the more expensive you go. 

When you pay premium prices for footwear, sometimes you’re not just paying for good shoes but for the service that accompanies them. Higher priced companies can afford to absorb the cost it takes to guarantee you quality. Sure, they cost a ghastly amount of money and don’t necessarily walk you down the street any better than a pair of Oakstreet loafers; nevertheless, the price makes the quality more readily available. Instead of quality being a lottery experience, quality becomes the expectation and the norm. You can pay more money to potentially save yourself time and hassle, if that’s what you desire.

Rare Technical Features – In higher price tiers, incredible feats of craftsmanship abound in much greater number. George Cleverly offers a seamless wholecut, where the entire upper is made from a single, uncut, unstitched piece of leather. John Lobb Paris chimes in with a wholecut spiral wingtip, where the entire upper pattern is cut in a continuous corkscrew shape during clicking, then sewn back onto itself. Clinch soak-molds their midsoles and insoles to the curvature of the bottom side of a human foot. The custom western/cowboy boot makers get a special mention here for doing all sorts of insane designs on the shafts of their pull-on boots, mostly done free-hand on a single needle machine. Also among these ultra-expensive makers you will find ridiculously dense upper handstitching (try 21 SPI! Daniel Wegan), soles held on by wood pegs instead of nails (Saint Crispins, many western boot makers), hand tooled leather uppers (western boot makers), apron stitches sewn with a boar’s hair instead of a needle (Edward Green, Antonio Mecariello), or handmade thread (White Kloud, Siroeno Yosui)!

Top tier makers often employ exceptional crafting methods

All these are mind-blowing technical feats these makers often do just for the hell of it or for love of the art, as a way of showcasing their echelon of artisanry. This keeps the craft alive, insulated from the stifling tyranny of profit-driven commerce. Do the shoes fit better because of this? Not necessarily. Can people tell they feature these wonders? Probably not. Will they last longer or perform better? I’m not sure that they will. But for anyone desiring something special, these brands deliver on their reputation in tangible ways. You are not being charged merely for the name, and generally speaking, you will not find these sorts of things for half the price. If you do, it will not be executed as well. 

More beautiful lasts and designs  – My assertion here is, while beauty is in the eye of the beholder, some things are beautiful in most peoples’ eyes. Clearly, I am venturing into subjective territory, but bear with me, as I believe beauty can border on objective in many cases. For instance, there are certain celebrities which are almost universally hailed as beautiful. The same could be said of natural wonders such as Victoria Falls or artwork such as Michelangelo’s Pieta. This is true of footwear as well. There is a reason why the majority of people appreciate the Viberg 2030 Service Boot but not their Bernhard Chukka. There is a reason why numerous brands have copied the Edward Green Galway. Despite its lower price, the legendary appeal of Red Wing’s Moc Toe is hard to duplicate. Some last shapes and patterns are just….better. They have “it” in all the right places. While this is not unique to ultra-expensive shoes, the occurrence of transcendent beauty is more frequent at this price bracket. 

Top shelf makers often have more attractive lasts and designs

Sometimes a company will deliver in most other areas, except this one. After all, incredible footwear is about more than just using the best materials. Two bakers can have the same ingredients and produce drastically different cakes. Footwear is the same. Take, for instance, many of the Indonesian brands. They are doing downright fabulous work; there are many impressive makeups coming out of Indonesia right now. They offer many methods (such as hand-welting) and material and precision which is typically exclusive to much higher pricepoints. Despite this, however, sometimes their lasts and patterns are needing to be tweaked and perfected over time. Their products are sometimes not as refined and cohesive as some of the more well-established makers. Many of their last dimensions are a work-in-progress and can in certain iterations look awkward and imbalanced. Sometimes their patterns utilize clunky proportions. In other cases, the shape of their heels are too acute or obtuse. Although they are overall doing a remarkable job (especially at that price), and although I have enjoyed some of their real homerun makeups, I believe that who they are in 20 years will far surpass anything they are currently doing. At that point, I bet they will be charging hundreds of dollars more for their product, as they deserve to be able to do. Conversely, many of the expensive brands have tweaked their designs over decades time in order to produce something that is not only functional but also aesthetically attractive from virtually every angle.

Exclusivity – Sometimes it gets boring owning the same CXL 2030 everyone else has or the same Ravello shell Alden wings everyone else is chasing. Instagram is a sea of clones sometimes, right? That’s ok; it’s about each of us enjoying the footwear, not competing for who’s the most special. However, if you want to tastefully stand out, you can do so much more easily with these expensive brands. Maybe it’s a handmade brand that produces wild and crazy, deeply inspiring designs like Kreosote. Perhaps it’s an exotic wholecut boot from Zonkey. It could be just a simple, black calfskin derby shoe from Hiro Yanagimachi. Regardless, the price blockade filters so many of us, so you can have more exclusivity. Simple as that. Ultra-expensive footwear can often serve as the next doorway once someone has exhausted interest in the lower pricepoints over the course of some years. It can be a way to revive interest in the hobby once it reaches a stale season. 

You are more likely to have a one of one pair of boots at higher price points

Name and heritage – This is perhaps the least tangible benefit, but for sentimental types such as myself, this aspect carries notable weight. There is only one John Lobb 1849 London, where many historical figures from English royalty had their footwear made. Names like Edward Green mean something because it takes 100 years to get a 100 year reputation. Names like Kreosote or White Kloud mean something because they were the first to do a particular thing in a particular way (fantastical or PERFECT, respectively). 

It’s about the name….but it isn’t just about the name

And when you are the first, you are the last first of your kind which will ever exist. Viberg and Alden and Red Wing carry the same sort of prestige, so this sort of reputation is not exclusive to $1500 boots. But whereas only some companies below $1000 have pedigree, virtually all companies in the higher price tiers have some sort of rare lineage or reputation. 

What does all this mean? – So are you partly paying for some semi-meaningless, elitist smells n bells? Inevitably, yes. Is some of the cost simply the higher labor rate in the manufacturing country? Undoubtedly. Are you paying for the name? Yes, you definitely are. But it’s so so much more than these factors. I’ve intentionally ended with this point about name and heritage because this is usually the default point which people assume for a price being high, and while it is important, it is actually one of the least weighty arguments for ultra-expensive footwear in this hobby. I believe people assume the opposite because they are used to dealing with commercialized fashion, where price is mostly driven by hype inflation. The world is accustomed to this travesty of fashion, where brands like Supreme and Ferragamo present only slightly better quality for exponentially higher prices, based merely on the label name and heritage. 

Generally speaking, the more you pay, the more you get

Enter Amekaji and heritage brands, and, as you can see, there are many more perceivable benefits than simply a name. The approach is more honest, straightforward, old world, pure. The points above may not apply to every brand across the board, and you may not be able to realize all of what was discussed in every pair of derbies or engineers or service boots above $1000. Still, overall there will be a myriad of tangible benefits in Amekaji and heritage brands. The beautiful thing about these brands is, they offer absolutely wonderful pairs of footwear at almost every price point, so you get to decide which pair you feel is the most worth your hard-earned money. Whether it’s $200 or $2000, you get to choose what you feel is worth the cost. My hope is that this article made it easier for you to decide. No matter where it leads you, I believe that, in this hobby you really do get what you pay for, and generally speaking, the more you pay, the more you get.

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