I have blogged a lot about boots and the quality of materials from which they are made as well as quality of craftsmanship in construction.
Over decades, I have experienced how quality makes a difference in the wear, durability, and comfort of boots.
I also have blogged alot about how boot manufacturers who once made boots exclusively in the United States have…
…outsourced acquisition of materials (leather, in particular) and production to other countries. Boot manufacturers have been doing that since the 80s, and more so in the 90s and 2000s … up to today.
There are a lot of reasons for a decision to outsource boot manufacture. The availability of some materials used to make boots — especially leather — has been more difficult in the U.S. due to impact of some environmental laws. Products used for tanning leather are hazardous chemicals, and the use of those chemicals as well as the disposition of those chemicals after use is quite costly to manufacturers who comply with more restrictive environmental protection laws.
I get it — if we want clean water and clean air, we need to be careful about what is discarded into the environment, especially harsh chemicals.
The cost of manufacture of boots also has increased due to higher wages paid in the U.S., compared with crap-ass wages paid for essentially what is slave labor in other countries, especially China. Boots are still made in the USA, but cost more to reflect the increased costs of materials and labor.
I get that, too, and make conscious decisions to “buy American” (or Mexican or Canadian or European) when I decide to buy boots. That decision costs more, but I feel it is important to support fair wages and support the protection of the environment indirectly.
I have found, much to my disappointment, that some fine U.S. boot brands have a hybrid of boot production. That is, some boots under famous U.S. labels like Frye and Double H, are indeed still made in the USA. Some of the boots of these brands are made in Mexico. Also a fine location for quality boot materials sourcing and production.
However, unfortunately, some boots made with these labels have been outsourced to China. I have slammed Frye and Double H for making cheap-quality boots, outsourced in China.
Recently, a union member who makes Double H boots in Pennsylvania sent me an email defending his brand’s boots. I revisited what I said about Double H boots on my “boot wiki” and adjusted it. I agree, not all Double H boots are crap made in China. The cheaper (price) work boots tend to be.
How do you know where boots are made? Look for the Country of Origin Label (COOL). The Double H COOL in a pair of boots I bought on a whim in Portland, Oregon is shown here as an example.
I summarize this post by urging people when selecting new boots to seek out the COOL and make an informed decision before making the purchase. Want cheap boots to muck up and wear out? Fine — get boots made in China. But if you want quality boots that will wear well and last a long time, be more selective to choose boots made in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Spain, Italy, or Germany. Boots made in these countries are good. Boots made in China or Pakistan — not so much.
Life is short: know your COOL.