High-End Name Does Not Mean High-End Quality

XelementA vendor that sells Xelement boots found a review of these boots on the “boots wiki” and wrote a message to me to express discontent. The vendor was unhappy with some opinions on that wiki page that said things like “available from websites that offer cheap boots and gear made for the masses, not for people who understand quality.”

I can understand why that statement would upset a vendor trying to sell those boots.

The vendor representative also said,

[Xelement] boots are made in the same factories that other high end brands (such as Official Harley-Davidson boots) are produced in.

as a defense or as fact, stating that the opinion above was a false assumption.

How did I deal with this input?

I adjusted the page on the boots wiki to reduce the opinionated commentary. However, I stand by the opinion, based on factual evaluation of boots made by machine methods in China to be cheap, low-end quality.

Just because a pair of boots carries the name of a high-end and well-respected manufacturer of U.S. motorcycles — Harley-Davidson — does not mean that products bearing the label of the manufacturer also earn the same “high-end” reputation. The Motor Company, like any other big company with a name that is trusted for value and quality, sells its name through licensing agreements with other companies to apply its name to products made with the label. Harley makes a mint by licensing its name for use on products.

I have said on this blog before, and know it from experience and direct observation, that Harley-Davidson labeled boots are made in China. The soles are glued on, not stitched. The leather is thin compared with other boots of the same style made by other manufacturers. The heels of two pairs of H-D boots that I had owned have come off because they were glued, not screwed or nailed. H-D boots are unlined. The footbed of the boots is lined with a thin insole that compresses and after a few months, no longer provides cushioning for the foot. All of the features described are signs of lower quality of materials and construction.

While I do not own any Xelement boots, I have looked at them in person, and made the same observations about short-cuts in quality and production. I have seen the label inside the boots that says, “Made in China.” If the vendor is correct where he said that “Xelement boots are made in the same factories as Harley-Davidson boots,” then my opinion is corroborated. H-D boots made in China are poorly made, so if Xelement boots are made in the same place, they must also be equally as poorly-made. Idem quod.

Xelement boots are inexpensive — around US$100/pair for popular styles. But caveat emptor — you get what you pay for.

Xelement boots are a better value compared with Harley-Davidson boots of the same style, because H-D boots are priced twice as much. In that case, the term “H-D means ‘hundred dollars’ ” applies — an extra hundred-dollar mark-up just for the name.

As the subject of this post says, “high-end name does not mean high-end quality.” Don’t fall for marketing illusion. Don’t become a billboard for a brand just because of a name.

If you want true “high-end” quality boots, then avoid boots made in China. Actual, personal, comparison tests have proven that motorcycle boots made in the USA by Chippewa, or true “high-end” manufacturers such as White’s Boots or Wesco Boots, are much better, will last longer, can be resoled or repaired if damaged (such as in a crash), and are worthy of the investment.

Life is short: stand by your opinions when they are based on factual observation.