Wednesday, February 10, 2016


The original idea was to post my experience of the Role Club Engineer Boots after having lived in them for some time in order to provide my readers with a comprehensive review. However, as I sat in front of my computer and started to peel back the layers about the footwear phenom behind the brand it became clear that I needed to share more than just the boots. So, I guess this will become a multi-part series of short posts starting with where it all began.
Jillian surprises me with a pair of Role Clubs for my birthday

Located just minutes from Los Angeles' famed Fashion District, Jalisco Shoe Repair is nestled away in one of Downtown's metropolitan areas and houses one of the footwear industries finest craftsman. From his humble beginnings as a young man with a plan to rebuild boots and hunger to learn everything there was about the craft, Brian Truong, more popularly known as Brian The Bootmaker -- or just Brian when used in the context of boot repair/making -- has gone from apprentice to the very talented Señor Palacio (aka "The Boot Master") to gaining a foothold of the artisanal cobbler trade and setting the gold standard for others to try and emulate.

As time went on Brian managed to single-handedly create one of the finest examples of handcrafted Vintage-style Engineer Boots I've seen in the past two decades. An effort that has taken him just over five years to perfect. This speaks volumes about his willingness and desire to dominate in the field he is so passionate about. Other bootmakers work a lifetime and don't possess half the talent.

"This man is my shoe teacher. He has been making boots/shoes since the age of 8. I didn't learn to make shoes/boots in school. I leaned everything from this man right here. On November 12, 2010 I stepped into this repair shop looking to buy a spool of thread. I somehow managed to get this man to agree to let me watch him work every Sunday. I don't have many people that I look up to, but this man has all my respect and I would be happy if I ever become half the person he is."

Brian repaired his first pair of boots back in 2010 and in that short amount of time has earned Role Club a page in the history books of classic, premier Engineer Boots alongside the Mister Freedom and John Lofgren boots, but none of this would be possible if it were not for his teacher.

To be continued...

Monday, February 8, 2016


Charles Lindbergh posing with Marines in front of the Spirit of St. Louis.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


I recently had the urge to purchase a new leather workwear jacket, but found myself a bit overwhelmed with the cornucopia of options. Needless to say, the majority of these amazing early-century-inspired jackets are being made in Japan where they do American workwear better than Americans -- let's face it, we're losing at our own game with the exception of a few Los Angeles-based companies.

I wanted something that not many people have (or at least something that hasn't been posted a million times). This was a difficult undertaking, but couldn't be happier with the choice I made.

This 1930's-style horsehide "Californian" by Toyo is a model that was released several years ago and I was fortunate to have found one of the last few still available online. One of the major appeals of this jacket -- besides how amazing is looks -- is that you rarely see them around. 

It's not as heavy as one would expect and maintains the perfect warmth, so the level of layering depending on how cold it is outside is pretty versatile.

Here is a list of other jackets I considered during my search and will continue to consider as I'd like to pick up another jacket pretty soon. There are more Japanese models out there, but these are the ones I gravitated toward during my research.

The Brakeman by Freewheelers is at the top of my list of proper car coats and will probably be the next purchase ... but we'll see. 

Souce: The Wild One

The Kick Ass by Jelado is one of the better D-Pockets available today

Source: Rakuten

The Campus Jacket by Mister Freedom® remains one of my favorite Cossacks available anywhere and the black version has been callin' my name -- I just can't seem to stop wearing the original version, though. I do have pick one up before they're gone. 

The best hair-on-hide on the market comes from Attractions Co.

Source: Attractions Co. 

Their Bison Grizzly is out of this world! Check out the slew of other jackets they released in the past year.

Source: Attractions Co. 

Honorable mention. The Barrigner by RRL is just one cool car coat!

Monday, February 1, 2016


Don Everly
1 February 1937

In 1961 Don and Phil were called upon to fulfill their military service obligations. They decided to enlist in the Marine Reserves and left the world of stardom to endure the rigors of basic training. To this day the Everly Brothers consider their training as Marines to be a pivotal positive experience in their formative years.

While in the Corps during the first half of 1962, they had a Top Ten hit with "Crying In the Rain," but their military commitment restricted them from capitalizing with club dates and tours.

On February 13, 1962, Don in his Marine dress uniform married movie starlet, Venetia Stevenson, in the chapel at Camp Pendleton, California. Five days later while still honeymooning in New York City, the boys made an appearance on CBS-TV's The Ed Sullivan Show in their dress uniforms. Don and Phil were released from the Marines on May 24, 1962. Three weeks earlier Warner Brothers issued "That's Old Fashion (That's the Way Love Should Be)" which became their second Top Ten single in a row.

Source: Bill and Sue

Sunday, January 31, 2016


Brand: Unknown
Circa: Late 1950's / 1960's
Color: Black
Size: Unmarked, but measures like a size 8 - 8 1/2
Length: 11 1/2”
Width: 4 1/4"
Sole: Full composition Cat's Paw
Leather: Cowhide
Hardware: Nickel
Sold For: Best Offer from $299.99

It's interesting to observe what folks consider a deal. These were up for $299.99 BIN or best offer yet they went unsold for a couple of days while other completely misrepresented vintage boots of lesser quality and characteristics sell for eight ... nine bills.

With relatively minor flaws, these were the PERFECT candidates for a trip to Role Club headquarters -- flat toe box, "toe tracks," perfectly-aged oil-tanned Cowhide (minor surface cracking) and an ideal overall profile. Brian could easily replace the missing gussets, darn the left backstay and add a new set of Bridgestones. I would have gladly paid the three bills for these and been very content ... until the next good deal came along.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Saturday, January 23, 2016


I just received my custom Wesco "Boss" boots. The craftsmanship, materials and build quality are second to none.

These are the specs:
-Burgundy Domain leather
-Vibram 705
-Double midsole
-Motor Patrol Toe
-extrude instep strap
-Double Khaki stitching sole/welt
*custom solid brass Wesco 1990 roller buckles on order


Darren, Those are phenomenal, congrats!

These are the types of informative e-mails collectors really enjoy. Wear 'em in good health!


Friday, January 22, 2016


Jean "Django" Reinhardt
23 January 1910 – 16 May 1953

Monday, January 18, 2016


Also known as the "Career Jammer" ... at least during my younger years.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


Jillian is our interior designer and has decided some vintage pieces don't fit into the room they were intended for. Not pictured is another Moss Lamp spinner with double shades. If interested, please leave a comment on Jillian's Instagram.
1950's Carlo Of Hollywood (51" x 33")

Super rare midcentury Moss Lamp with spinning figurine

Midcentury Reglor of California underwater beauty


Dear John,

I hope you are well! I want to ask two questions regarding engineer boots. I've been following your Instagram for a while and decided to solve the problem that I can't find a pair of engineer boots that fit my feet.

First, I want to learn how to wear engineer boots. I've already purchased three pairs of engineer boots, two of which Wesco and the other Viberg. However, I found them all unfit. I found that the strap on my instep seemed decorative and it couldn't prevent the heel from dropping. The size is good because I wear a pair of Wesco lace-up packer in the same size perfectly. My feet fit the inside length of my Boss boots, too. How to deal with this problem? Should I buy I pair of engineer boots in a smaller size and wear it in the way that I wear loafers?

Second, I am going to make a pair of boots with Brian. Role Club seems the only choice for me to get a pair of boots that fit my feet. I want to consult you about the style of the heels. I am 173cm high. Is it proper to have a low heel like the one of Viberg's service boots? Do you have some suggestions? I don't like a very high heel because it will make me too high, which is weird.

Thanks for reading my letter. I hope my poor English doesn't bother you so much. Hope you and your blog are well in the coming year!


Hello Simon, 

Thank you for the e-mail!

Heel slippage is a common characteristic of Engineer Boots; however, extreme slippage should be considered unacceptable, especially with custom-made boots. Having said that, I almost always have to punch another hole or two to the instep strap of all my modern homage boots regardless of them being custom sized or not. When ordering Role Clubs, you'll be required to provide custom measurements and mine fit like a charm ... with minimal heel slippage. Again, you'll never run into a pair of Engineers that lack any type of slippage. Also, it is not uncommon to have to undo the instep strap in order to wear or remove the boots for the purpose of reduced heel slippage.

I answered the heel height question for Sam just a couple of weeks ago and since you are shorter than him, I don't think heel height should pose any issues. You and I are about the same height and I went with the full stacked Woodsman heel. Like I told Sam, "It completes the whole package" and I couldn't be any happier with them.

I hope this helps.


Friday, January 15, 2016


Had a good time hanging out at Paramount Ranch during a photo shoot by Steph Fowler of Steph Fowler Photography.

Monday, January 11, 2016


Hi John, 

I am ordering my Role Clubs and had a question about the liner in the toe box. I'm trying to decide between having no liner for a more deflated toe box or go with the liner and letting it break in. What's your opinion on this, did you get your Role Clubs with liner or without?

Thanks for you help and expertise. This is my first pair of engineer boots so I want to get it right.

Thanks again,
The flattened toe box today

Hi Robert,

 Congrats on the decision to order Brian's boots, man! Liner or no liner, the result will always be a flat toe box. In theory, the option to go with no liner will yield the best result, but the size of ones toes will ultimately determine how flat the box remains. Sure they'll "deflate" when not worn, but shove a foot with boot socks back in there and you quickly learn the flatness threshold. The thin leather liner, in my opinion, is that insurance your toes won't ultimately wear a hole through this high stress point after just five years of hard use.

My boots the day they arrived

Totally hypocritical of me since the next pair I'm currently working with Brian on will not have lining -- my first pair of his boots have it and I still get a highly desirable flat toes -- but having worn boots for the better half of twenty-six years, I know what I'm getting myself into (Engineers were made with and without lining in the good ol' days). For someone new to the Engineer Boot world like you, I recommend getting the liner. You won't be disappointed.


Thank you so much! I'll go with the liner. I'll get my boots around August and I'll be ordering one of your belts around then too.



Mechanized fire power.

Thursday, January 7, 2016


Dear John,

I hope you are well and Happy New Year. I wished to ask your opinion regarding the boots I am going to have made with Brian. I came across Role Club on Instagram and was very impressed with what I saw and decided that, even though they will be my first pair of Engineer Boots, these are the boots for me. I am an apprentice English Bespoke tailor and I think that is partly what drew me to Brian as opposed to other companies. My question is regarding the heel hight, I am 6ft 2in and was wondering if the full stacked heal will be too much or is it simply a personal judgment call? I do want a boot with as close to in detail, as possible, to a 40’s/50’s boot does that mean the full heel? I am passionate collector and wearer of vintage and repro clothing and am therefore enjoy the authentic details.

Many thanks in advance and I very much enjoy reading your blog and your proposal to your wife was an absolute highlight of the Rebel Beat movie.

Take Care,


Greetings and Happy New Year! 

Good choice of boots. For someone on the fence with the heel shape and height, Brian is the guy to custom-build a pair of boots that suit your specific needs. You can't go wrong with either a short or full stacked heel as these profiles were both offered during that golden era of boots. 

Here's a low stacked and blocked heel that is consistent with early 1940's heel profiles

If adding to your height isn't a concern, then I would recommend going all out with a full stack -- it just completes the package for me.

Full stack

If you're on the fence, then you may want to consider removing a stack/lift or two

Single stack removed

It's a pleasure to share my knowledge and experiences on the blog and I'm honored that so many people find the information useful. 

Marriage proposal at Rudolpho's in Los Angeles

Ha! I'm so glad that special moment was captured on film. And to have it archived on Rebel Beat is such a treat.