I admit, I fell for some marketing from a well-regarded high-end store, Nieman Marcus. In connection with an airline frequent flier program, if I bought something from that store, I would get 10x the purchase price in frequent flier miles. So I thought, what the heck? Do they have boots? Yes! Frye Boots!
But the story gets worse…
The images of the boots on the store’s website looked decent, but what caught my attention was a significant markdown in price — from the absurd $328 MSRP to $80. And they also said that the boots were made in the USA–not Mexico or “imported” from goodness knows where. Yes! $80 for a pair of USA-made Frye harness boots? How bad could they be?
The purchase was delivered reasonably quickly, with no delivery charge.
I looked at the cool Frye box, marked as I remember it from the good ol’ days of the 70s and 80s when I bought a number of pairs.
I was shocked when I tried on the boots, first the right boot, then the right boot…
Woops… another right boot? What’s with that? This store actually sent me two right boots. No left. Really? For a store that boasts quality and customer service, this was just nuts.
Then I took a much closer look at the boots. I am really disgusted with the obvious lack of quality. The boots are not lined like real Frye boots that were made by the real John A. Frye Shoe Company when it was in Massachusetts. The soles are single stitched. The leather is really thin and cheap — so when it said inside the boot “made in USA of U.S. and imported parts,” I can affirm that the “imported parts” are the leather. The leather is exceptionally poor, thin, and smells of some chemical — not leather. It stinks.
For a guy who knows his boots — with some 230 pairs of boots in my current active inventory, with a dozen of them being “real Fryes” (not today’s fakes) — I know a thing or two about boot construction, leather, and quality. These new Fryes have none of that.
I knew that Frye boots took a downturn when the company closed and the name was bought and transferred through a number of holding companies until it ended up with Li & Fung of China, but I really had no idea how absolutely awful their product with such a well-regarded name had degraded.
Let me make it perfectly clear: DO NOT BUY FRYE BOOTS! They are awful. You will be extremely disappointed. THEY ARE CRAP!
Nieman Marcus should be ashamed with such poor quality crap being in their inventory. Perhaps that is why they are selling them at such cut-rate prices, to get rid of inventory.
Okay, rant over. Lesson learned. Boots returned (the return experience was actually quite easy to arrange, thankfully. At least Nieman Marcus’ customer service remains top-notch).
Main lesson: do not be tricked by a fantastically low price that a pair of name-brand boots are any good. And however these boots qualify to have a “made in USA” label is probably by some near-form of squeaking by on the regulations. These boots really are NOT made with quality USA materials or by quality craftsman. Just low-wage workers in some undisclosed hellhole.
Life is short: don’t buy Frye boots that were not manufactured by the real John A. Frye shoe company of Massachusetts, even if marked “made in the USA.”