Frye Harness Boots and Bellbottom Jeans

I am having a “retro” moment. Yesterday I received a pair of vintage brown Frye Harness boots that I recently bought on eBay. Why another pair of Fryes when I already have quite a few? Well, I got a great deal on these classic boots. I anticipate they will be much harder to find as more people find out that the new Frye boots made today are cheap imitations (more on that later). I wore Fryes throughout high school and college, and on-and-off for years following. The classic style, design, and “clunk” of a vintage Frye boot can’t be found elsewhere.

Back in the day, guys would wear Fryes with bellbottom jeans, as shown here. Bellbottoms? Man, I haven’t even though of that style of jeans in ages, yet I have a pair that I may still wear on occasion for “retro nostalgia” moods like this. I can’t say how often I’d look over at another guy’s feet to look at his square-toed Frye harness boots peeking out from under his bellbottoms, or look for the crease where the jeans and the top of the boot shaft met. (Hard to see with baggy bellbottoms!)

I ordinarily don’t buy boots on eBay, but when the write-up said that these were classic “biker boots” and had a rubber sole, I went for it, and won the auction. I followed my own advice and set a max price that I would pay. Fortunately, the auction bid up to just under that upper limit. Unfortunately, I found that the description was slightly inaccurate when it said that the boots had been resoled with a rubber sole and heel. The soles turned out to be classic leather. The heel pads were replaced and are rubber, but vintage Fryes also had rubber heel pads. I may just have a rubber sole added to these boots so I can wear them when riding my Harley. (There is a guy I know who wears classic Frye campus boots with a rubber sole that I have enjoyed viewing.)

I can not quite describe just what it is about Fryes that drives so many visitors to my website and this blog when I mention Frye Boots. The vintage Frye, with its double-leather lining, solid construction, tall 14″ height, just has a style all its own. New Fryes are made in China, are unlined, usually short (12″), and just don’t have the same quality. The company sold out in 2003 and a holding company bought the name and shipped manufacturing off shore. They charge the same prices as what we paid for vintage, but must be making a mint because the quality is so poor and it is obvious that the materials are cheap.

Update 01/22/09: This blog has been found by Jimlar Corporation of Great Neck, New York, which is the name of the company that owns the Frye name and has boots made by that name made in China. What I said about current Frye boots remains my opinion: they are cheap knock-offs compared with the boots made by the “real” Frye Shoe Company of Marlborough, Massachusetts when it was in business. Don’t be fooled by imitations! For details on the history of these boots, read the information at this link on my website.

3 thoughts on “Frye Harness Boots and Bellbottom Jeans

  1. Thanks for this write-up! I wish more people would express their displeasure over situations like this.

    Frye products currently being made in China are indeed inferior . . . and the price tags reflects marketing "bait and switch" more than anything.

    Converse and Dr. Marten's (sp) are two other footwear brands that build solid reputations based on top-quality products being made in the USA/UK only to (recently) farm-out fabrication to Asia.

  2. I would like to chime in with a bit of information here. A lot of Frye styles, it's true, are made overseas, but the Harness and Engineer boots are still Made in the USA. Similarly, in 2007 Doc Martens reopened their UK factory for the manufacturing of a few classic styles. These boots stand the test of time and are much more carefully crafted than their Chinese counterparts. While I originally was completely against this, I can see that some people who are buying the boot for fashion reasons and not longevity may not care. Those of us that DO care still have a choice of classic Frye styles

  3. I snatched up a pair of frye boots for the low low price of $200 and felt SO cheated when I looked closer at the tag — boots out the door, of course — MADE IN CHINA

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