Date transcribed: August 15, 2017
File name: M1.m4a
The Genesis - Dean's "Green" Boot.
To celebrate one of my best friends, Dean, started a new job at Patagonia®, I wanted to make him a pair of “Green” Boots on my next development trip to Portugal with my wife for her brand, The Office of Angela Scott... but shoes are a dirty business. The problem is making shoes is not very environmentally friendly industry. There’s a lot of energy used, a lot of utilities used to make shoes. A majority of a shoes carbon impact comes from the manufacturing process. Modern footwear is produced using a cement construction - toxic adhesives to cement the outsole to the upper of shoe. During the manufacturing process a large amount of energy is used to heat activate the adhesives in giant ovens in shoe assembly process. So no matter what green materials I use to produce “Green” shoe, the modern manufacturing process with defeat it.
While selling work boots for a U.S. shoe manufacture, I’ve realized that Goodyear welted work boots are like little cultural annuities; The same boot styles that never change are sold year-over-year, in the same colors all around the world… that's a cultural annuity. Goodyear welt construction is such a unique and interesting of how this type of footwear manufacturing had a clientele that really appreciates the quality of handcrafted footwear. I was impressed with how much handwork and craftsmanship is actually in Goodyear welted boots. I learned why the finest dress shoes in the world like, John Lobb, Alden, and Churches are made with Goodyear Construction. It dawn on me that Goodyear welt construction which is stitched and not cemented does not use tremendous amount of energy to produce an makes these very durable, long-lasting footwear, which spread over the product lifecycle created a boot with a very low carbon footprint.
Less is More... Dean's Green Boot.
The Boot was a basic, simple pattern; nothing special. I made a pair of classic 6” service boot; the upper pattern was made of only 8 pattern pieces.
Less parts, Less the operations to manufacture, Less energy spent on manufacturing.
I selected the materials for dean’s shoe, everything to be veg-tan leather. Vegetable tanning corresponds to a ancient technique, consisting in the stabilization of the leather fiber, by using vegetable extracts. Vegetable tanned leather or veg-tan utilizes tannins found in nature like vegetables, tree bark, and other naturally plant-derived sources, instead of synthetic toxic chemicals or heavy metals like chromium found in most leather. Vegetable tanning was most probably the first method used by man to preserve the skins of the beasts he hunted for food. This process based on nature’s products gives to leather unique properties.
For Dean’s boot’s, I selected a beautiful supple but durable Amber 2MM Veg-tan bridle leather that was used by French saddlers. Produced by tannery was founded in 1933 in Central Portugal and has produced vegetable tanned leather the traditional way for over 80 years. The Veg-tan is more expensive, but it’s quality. Its very good stuff.
The next problem to solve was outsole; of course the largest users of rubber in the world is the tire industry, but did you know the second largest is footwear industries. Even though rubber is a natural based material, the processing of rubber consumes large volumes of water and energy and uses large amount of chemicals as well as other utilities. It also discharges massive amounts of wastes and effluents.
Once again, rubber is not a very environmentally friendly base material or process. In my research to make a “green” boot, I came across this Vibram Ecostep outsole. Rubber is difficult to recycle due to heartiness of the material and recycled rubber looses its consistency and durability needed for performance footwear. Thee are limited recycled rubber solutions for footwear until I came across this Vibram Ecostep outsole.
Vibram Ecostep outsole is it’s actually more of an up-cycle outsole. So instead of recycled sole which would be made of a mixed bag used rubber that has been heavily processed to make consistent, the Ecostep sole is actually up-cycled where they’re collecting their pure raw material waste in the manufacturing process – the bits left over from making, grinding, and stamping outsoles – they’re taking those bits and creating a new compound combined with new rubber with minimum of 30 percent of their waste rubber to do that. This high-quality compound formulation of the different rubber bits creates slight transparent speckled outsole, giving the boot a really unique look. That combined with the hand stained green welt to give nod to “Green” - which is actually on the original pair I developed for Dean – the boots just turned out very amazing and dean loved them.
Dean, our close friends, and I have a Friday night taco dinner where we would talk about his boots. Dean would tell us about the compliments he gets on his boots and how I should make boots and they should be “ Milden”, Milden Boots.
On a development trip to Portugal with my wife for her brand The Office of Angela Scott, I would work on a little idea here and there. Then ultimately, I pulled together a small collection of boots, under the Standard, Milden Manufacturing Company.
M1 Field Boot
The first boot to be introduced was the M1 Field Boot. The M1 is the quintessential 6” work boot. I believe the work boot is the most prolific shoe of the 20st century. It has been issued in millions and millions of units across combat, work, and utility. And it’s a tried-and-tested silhouette not just in commerce, but also in the field. If you’re going to have one shoe in your life, you need to have a field boot.
Starting off with the Portuguese tannery, we developed softer veg-tan leather bridle leather, which is still thick, but very pliable in your hand. Which turned out very deep and beautiful. We developed the leathers, three colors. It comes in amber, Bordeaux, and black.
Then we hand-selected all the components so they would also be veg tan, including the welts and the insole board, sock liners, lining material. We had difficulty acquiring quality laces, so we hand-cut laces from a Veg-tan leather.
Over my years of making and selling the work boot, I noticed some details that you could add to the boot would elevate the silhouette. And first of all, most service but the 6” service boot, which is a typical like a six-eyelet boot, usually has a flat top. And what I realized over the years is that flat top, would some times cause ankle abrasion and would catch the cuff of your pant leg at the heel, especially if you have an external pull tab.
So what I did is slightly sloped the back of the collar of the boot, so it drops away from the top line at the rear ankle of the boot Basically, this reshaping of the top line, reduces the amount of catch and abrasion at the top of the boot. The upper’s quarters and vamp are aligned in Italian calf full grain leather .The M1 is produced with a full-gusseted unlined tongue, which is a singled piece of leather from the bottom of the eye-row all the way to the top eye-row, creating adding additional protection from the elements. One detail that’s nice about the tongue is that I left the tongue unlined as a kind of homage to the original work boots of the 20th century. All those American work boots came with like single-layer, unlined, gusseted tongues, which is It’s very breathable and a really nice feel, but still sturdy underneath the laces. On the tongue of each boot is stamped the size, the factory part number or style number, and then also the lot date that particular boot was was produced.
42 41990 0917
Along the eye-row of the M1, I added a teardrop-shaped bar-tack stitch to reinforce the leather around the two steel speed hooks. Years of continuous lacing of a boot may cause the eye-row becomes wavy and misshaped from constant pulling with tension with the laces. The double needle bar-tack reinforces the leather around the hooks, to help the boot’s eyerow to hold its shape. There is always a debate over hooks or eyelets. Most boots over 6-inch tall quarters have some kind of hook configuration. Speed hooks facilitate a quick way of undoing the laces to ankle level, so it's quick and easy to put on and tie your boots. I have placed steel speed hooks in the 2nd and 3rd eyelet position where the most amount of pulling tension is. The teardrop bar-tack is additional help reinforcing the leather, gives a little bit of detail, to hold the shape of the eye-row up at that very tenuous point over a long period of time.
A heel pull-tab should last. I hate when pull-tabs tear and pullout. I have been a huge proponent of having high-quality pull-tabs on my shoes and the pull-tab on this boot is – it’s really great. It’s made with two pieces of leather that are double-reinforced stitch together, both at the top of the loop and at the base of the pull-tab. Below the tab loop, the heel counter overlay is reinforced again to the upper with, “M” security for additional reinforcement.
Over the years I’ve realized that Goodyear-welted boots have a natural water residency at the welt line. The only places where you have issues with moisture and water leakage are at where the upper seams meet the welt. I combined the toe, vamp, and the lower quarters, all into once-piece leather. This is a very expensive way of making a shoe, but removing most of upper seams from the welt line, naturally makes the M1 more water resistant with out synthetic materials or chemical waterproofing. For additional productions, we opted for a slight modification of the Goodyear welt for rougher climates called a storm welt. Storm welt construction uses a welt similar to that of a Goodyear constructed boot but wider. The extra width allows the welt to be bent upwards, creating a seal around the junction between the upper and the mid-sole for additional protection from the elements.
Inside the M1is a natural cork heel pad. The cork molds to the shape of your heel over time for additional comfort and resilience. The heel pad is stitched to an Italian calf leather sockliner that runs from the heel to toe. The sockliner and heel pad are cemented into a veg-tan leather insole board.
The highest level of manufacturing quality in shoemaking is called Goodyear welt Construction. Goodyear welted footwear traditionally is found in highly crafting men’s dress shoes or very durable and robust work boots. The M1 Field Boot is constructed using this time-honored method, which is considered the gold standard of shoemaking and requires a high level of skill and detailed handwork. In Goodyear construction, a strip of firm leather, called the welt, is used to stitch the shoe’s upper to the insole, which is then stitched to the Vibram® Ecostep outsole, not glued with toxic adhesives. In between insole and outsole is a filling of cork. The natural cork filling provides ideal support and exceptional comfort, molding to the wearer’s foot over time. But the biggest benefit of a Goodyear welt construction is the ability to resole; these are shoes that, if properly cared for, can last a lifetime, giving the boot a very low carbon footprint.
The M1 Field Boot is built to last. These are not fashion shoes; they are built like traditional heavy-duty work boots but made with luxury materials and finish. I wanted the M1 to be a traditional boot, but with a slight contemporary look – something that is recognizable as a work boot, but new. The M1 has a contemporary feel to it. It still looks very classic, but it has this reinvented kind of feel to it.
# # # # #