I've had a bunch of fun reading your blog and following you on Instagram for the past few years. Good stuff - keep it coming!
I'm writing because you clearly have experience across a wide variety of brands and I'm curious about the break in of leather that different folks (Chippewa, Mr. Freedom, Attractions, Red Wing, etc.) use for their offerings.
Quick history. About 1.5 years ago, I decided to buy a pair of engineers. Based on what I could afford and after doing some reading, I settled on the Chippewa 27899's in black with contrasting soles. For a while I was happy, until I decided I liked a deflated toe profile better. Rather than sell the Chipps, I sent them off to Brian the Bootmaker and BOY did he do a nice job. He replaced the original Chippewa instep strap, pulled out the steel toe, replaced the soles with leather, relasted the toes.
All was well.
Now, after about 6 months of wear, and with the hope of developing some great broken in leather patina, I've started to notice that even wearing my Chipps "like they owe me cash," they seem not to be developing the kind of patina I've noticed in some of your photos. Is it the leather than Chippewa uses? Any idea what the deal is?
Thanks for your time and thoughts, and have a nice weekend!
For the 27899’s, Chippewa uses a leather they call “Black Odessa” that is drum dyed. During this process, the hide is placed into a drum barrel where it is tumbled and left to absorb the dye … all the way through the leather. Those hoping to find boots to develop a vintage-style patina where the tanned leather, under natural wear over several years, becomes visible through the surface dye will be hard-pressed to find them in today's Chippewa's. To achieve this look on modern-day homage boots, one must find a pair that have had the color applied (painted or sprayed) onto the surface. Some brands to consider when looking for type of patina are Mister Freedom®, Attractions Co., Ltd.. and pretty much any model made with Horween Chromexcel leather. A simple identifier of boots that'll look better with age is the brown edges of the vamp, heel counter and straps ... and of course the inside shaft.
Mister Freedom® "Road Champ" and Attractions Co., Ltd. Horse Butt
Most times, when price is put in the forefront of deciding which boots to purchase, it's best to exercise patience and land the pair that will provide you with the most purchase pleasure. With the combined cost of the 27899's and cobbler modifications, you were on point with the Red Wing 9268's not too far from the Attractions boots and only about two weeks from the RC's.
Attractions Co., Ltd. Horse Butt brown hue through the applied black paint
Hi there. I'm a long time follower of your blog; great stuff! I was wondering if I could pick your brain if I may on the subject of a pair of 2268s I have. The problem is the right boot hurts my big toe after a while of wearing them which I think is caused by the steel toe cap - the left is fine. Can the toe caps be removed say if you where to get them resoled by Okuyama, for example, as I am going to Tokyo early next year or is it too much hassle? Any advice is much appreciated. Keep up the good work Andrew Edinburgh
Thanks for the e-mail! A good cobbler can pretty much do anything; a great cobbler like Okuyama can do everything. Having the protective material removed is quite common, especially for those hoping for a classic deflated toe box look. The above photos are great examples of 2268's with their steel toes removed. A search of his blog will reveal plenty more examples of this procedure on various other makes. I recommend contacting him via e-mail first to ensure you're all set when you get to Japan.
I infused my Mister Freedom® Strongman Cuff with my fondness for early century Fred Harvey Era designs. Stay tuned for my upcoming leather projects showcasing this same style with the fine handcrafted details found only on VEB Leather.