It is with a certain amount of pride I’d like you to meet the result of my first design collaboration, the Fracap X WellDressedDad winter boots! When the opportunity was there to have boots made to my own design, I didn’t have to consider the matter for long. Taking the bespoke idea another step further!
Fracap are a long-established Italian family shoe maker. Mainly popular for their great mountaineering boots, their craftsmanship is top notch and reliable. Each pair of boots or shoes is meticulously hand-crafted by experienced craftsmen.
As I found when having my bespoke shirt made, it’s easy to go overboard on the options, so a successful design is as much an exercise in restraint as in trying to change and tweak everything that is possible to change.
For my pair of boots there was a short list of essential features:
- Vibram commando soles
- Goodyear-welted construction, for longevity and strength
- Harris Tweed
- Brass hardware
- Soft leather
The sole is the classic, subtle black Vibram commando. The same sole as I have on my Red Wing Ice Cutters and a few pairs of rugged brogues. The rubber is nice and flexible and provides great traction on ice and snow, just the ticket for winter use.
A lot of cheaper boots in styles similar to this will have soles bonded onto the boot. Cheap to buy, but once the sole is worn the boot has reached the end of it’s life. Not a problem for you if the rest of the boot is of the same poor quality, but as we have discussed previously it is more ethical and more economical in the long run to buy good stuff and wear it a long time. Hence the Goodyear-welted construction is a good idea, as a competent cobbler can resole the boots or shoes when the original sole wears out.
The Harris Tweed is an extraordinary herringbone-patterned mix of greens and browns. While it probably doesn’t contribute much in the way of warmth, it adds some lovely tweed style to the design. The challenge when it comes to tweed is to wittle the selection down to a single fabric from the dazzling array available.
There are several possibilities when it comes to the eyelets and hooks. A natural option to go for would be stainless steel, and the engineer in me would consider that the correct choice. The chosen brass offers much more in the way of looks though, and even though we are at a fairly microscopic level now I think it’s worth it. The brass will naturally corrode and dull in some places, and wear to a fine polish in others. Patina, as Lovejoy would say.
One of the major issues spoken about when people buy new boots from the likes of Red Wing is that there is a period of pain and suffering involved before you can truly enjoy your new boots. Breaking them in. The battle of wills between boot and wearer, where you may have to endure blisters and bloodshed before you hopefully break the back of the new boots. Why endure this torture? Why not just get some boots made in soft leather, intended for your average modern human foot? It’s 2014, guys, don’t make life harder for yourself than you have to.
The leather on these is soft and comfortable, in a lovely natural colour, with plenty of character in the texture. An excellent match for the tweed as well.
After having worn my boots for a few days now I can report that they function exactly as hoped, if not better. The soles have a nice spring to them, the leather feels good on the foot, the lacing allows them to be evenly and firmly tightened and they look absolutely marvellous. Excellent, if I may say so myself. Something that strikes me every time I pick them up is how incredibly light they feel. In fact, each boot weighs only 540 grammes, compared to the 880 of an Ice Cutter.
Notice also the sublime details, such as the perfect double stitching and the pebbled leather. Craftsmanship and natures own design. I did succumb to the temptation of do the rear leather in a dark green colour, again to match the colours in the tweed.
At the moment this pair of boots is so incredibly limited edition that this is the only pair made. Fracap will make a small additional run of pre-ordered boots at 275 euros a pair. If you are interested, let me know soonest.