Frye Boot Sizing

I received an interesting email the other day that asked,

I was wondering how the vintage Frye campus boot was sized compared to the modern ones. I see you have quite a collection, so was wondering if you had the same size in both your older boots and newer boots. And how the sizing compared to your harness boot.

My reply may not have been what was expected. Why? read on after the jump….

Yes, I own a number of pairs of vintage 70s era Frye boots, made by the original John A. Frye Shoe Company of Marlborough, Massachusetts. My “old” Fryes were size 10D.

I also have one pair of “modern-day” Frye boots, given to me by a cousin who didn’t like them. These boots were obviously made cheaply. They have cheap construction and materials from which these “new” boots are made are inferior compared with the older, vintage Fryes.

But how do the older, vintage Fryes, compare with the new ones?

Actually, there is no comparison.

Remember this image to the right for an analogy later.

Here is what I said in reply to this inquiry:

I really can’t say how the vintage Frye sizing compares with the boots made with that label today. The boots were made on different lasts (forms) and the lasts control the sizing.

I was informed that when the original John A. Frye Shoe Company in Massachusetts closed, they destroyed or sold the lasts and sold the equipment that they used to make their boots.

The “new” Frye boots are made by whatever cheapo company can be contracted by the label owner to make them. I understand that different companies made different styles of Frye-labeled boots over the last dozen years or so, as contracted by the current owner of the label, which is based in China. Thus, there really is no sizing comparison even within the “modern-day” boots.

Plus, when boots are worn for more than about a week (or about 80 hours), the foot conforms to the wearer’s foot and hardens. So what fits for one guy may not fit another guy who has the same measured size after the boot conforms to its first wearer’s feet.

Thanks for asking. I know this does not quite answer your question, but there really is no size comparison between different manufacturers, lasts, and time frames of production, use, and wear of boots with the Frye label.

Yep, no real comparison. Boot lasts of old boots are not the same as the last uses to make the new boots.

A comparison between Massachusetts-made Fryes is like asking about a Volvo made in 1978 in Sweeden (photo above) and a Volvo made today in China (photo to right). Same label — completely different vehicle by a different manufacturer. The vehicles, like the boots, are built on different “forms” so-to-speak. There is no way to compare sizing.

BTW, because the shaft circumference of vintage Fryes is narrow (about 15.5 inches), I cannot wear any of my old, vintage Frye boots. If anyone wants a pair or two or three, make me a reasonable offer and they’re yours.

Life is short: learn about what makes reasonable comparisons, and what doesn’t.