Everyone can appreciate the virtues of a sturdy pair of boots. They offer protection against the element, support for the ankles and warmth in cold climes.
The venerable American work boot is predicted on a design aesthetic where form follows function. Like the pea coat, it’s engineered rather than designed, and that emphasis on durable utility is one of the secrets to its longevity.
Once the province of blue collar and outdoor workers, work boots have begun to insinuate themselves into the regular wardrobes of younger Americans–much in the same way that denim work trousers became part of the American teenager’s uniform in the 1950s.
Chippewa Boots are among the most esteemed of the boot makers still practicing their craft in the United States. Chippewa got its start in 1901, producing footwear for the hardy souls who toiled in the nearby paper and lumber industries. By 1984, Chippewa was purchased by Justin Boots. Justin, in turn, was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway in 2000.
For most companies, that kind of ping pong in ownership would have been the death knell for its commitment to American production. Some of the most venerable makers of American footwear have abandoned the communities from which they drew their lifeblood for the siren song of cheaper overseas production. Somehow, Chippewa persevered. In its own words:
To this day, Chippewa Boots have remained a true American Brand; representing integrity, heritage, and performance by preserving a domestic manufacturing base with our U.S. factories.
My son Andrew received a pair for Christmas. His are the Apache model, and here they are getting him through a rare Texas snow.