UPDATE: Read a review of our boots by BestLeather.org
The story of Kendal & Hyde boots is actually two stories—a story of well-made, durable and cool boots for you, and a story of equally well-made location-appropriate footwear for children in need.
THE HUMANITARIAN STORY
A year or so ago Hyde and I were talking about the long-term vision we had for our company. Hyde outlined his desire to create a company that made people's lives better. When he finished describing his grand vision and asked what I thought, I replied that I thought it was a great idea and added that I thought it would also attract the best employees and customers. Hyde stopped me mid-thought and said, "No, that is not why we do it. We do it because it is the right thing to do."
We have been looking for a way to give back that was directly connected to our business. Launching our line of boots will give us just such an opportunity. For every pair of boots we sell, we will be making and giving away a pair of shoes to a child in need in a developing country. Sure others have done the same thing, but we are not looking to be original here, we are looking to be helpful.
A LITTLE ABOUT THE SHOES WE ARE GIVING AWAY.
HYDE is known for making high-quality and durable leather goods—our boots are a fine example of this ethos. The footwear we are going to be giving away to the children will be no different than the products we sell in terms of durability and quality. Yeah we could make a really cheap shoe and walk away with the popularity credit, but that is not the way we do things at HYDE. Our goal is to make location-appropriate footwear that will last for years and years so it not only benefits the original recipient but many others—footwear that lasts so long it can be passed from one child to the next as the children grow. Buy one, give one, serve many.
Our focus will be in the tropics where kids often go shoeless and foot-borne parasites are common. Beyond health related issues, a simple pair of shoes can make a huge difference in the lives of the recipient as well as generations to come because often shoes are required to attend school. With proper shoes, the cycle of poverty can be broken through education.
In the tropics, the closed-toe shoes and shoes made of cotton or other fabric that we wear in cooler climates are entirely inappropriate because both the shoe and the child's feet will quickly rot in the heat and humidity. For this reason, we are going to make sandals. They will be made of up-cycled used tires (like our boot tread—keep reading down the page because they are something you will want to see) and durable water resistant leather—a renewable resource. At the end of their useful life, the sandals won't be contributing much of anything unnatural to a landfill that we did not already take out of one for net-zero waste.
Right now my eyes are on Haiti (I have a soft spot for the Haitian people, but that's another story for another day). But we also have ties to people and organizations doing work in India, Rwanda, Kenya and Swaziland. If you have an idea, or better yet, if you are working with children in need in an underdeveloped tropical country where kids in need go barefoot, let us know. If we can help, we will.
Making such a nice sandal to give away will certainly impact our profitability, and honestly, it will add a bit to the cost of your boots. We at Kendal & Hyde invite you to share this cost with us because, as Hyde says, "it's the right thing to do." If you don't want a pair of our boots for yourself but still want to contribute towards giving shoes to a child, you can contribute any amount starting at $1 for the "GIVE ONE" reward. Your reward will be future communication about the progress of our (and your) humanitarian efforts with links to videos and stories of children receiving their shoes. You will also get a say in where we deliver the sandals. (You can also over-pledge for a boot with the overage going towards making and delivering sandals to the children.)
THE OTHER STORY: KENDAL & HYDE CO. BOOTS
Those that know me well know of my affinity for boots. There is something about wearing boots that makes you feel like you can take on anything. Well maybe not anything, but certainly wet days, subways and dusty lanes—and all with a bit of style.
We have actively been working on our boots since May. Like all HYDE projects, quality and durability were our primary driving factors, but ultimately I was just trying to make a boot I wanted to wear—one made the old school way— with high quality leather, goodyear welted soles, classic styling and understated design, but with a little something that makes it stand out. I am pretty happy with what we have made.
I am not one for flashy anything. I like the classics. Our boots are patterned after the military marching boots from the first World War. Military boots are a little more anatomically correct and close-fitting around the ankle than the sloppier cuts of modern "civilian" boots—thus the name we gave this cut of boots: Doughboys.
Our Doughboys come in three styles:
- The Classic Doughboy boot (below left) is without ornamentation—clean and simple as we could make it.
- The Full Brogue Doughboy (below right) follows the traditional Scottish walking shoe patterning often referred to in the US as a wing tip.
- For those that can't decide between the simplicity of the Classic and the class of the Full Brogue, we will offer the Quarter Brogue Doughboy or a Cap Toe Doughboy (below center) as a stretch goal at $150,000. A quarter brogue is a simplified broguing pattern (pattern made with holes) on a straight cut toe cap. The backers will decide if this boot has broguing or not.
Those that know me also know I am a leather snob. Our boots are all full-grain leather. The grain is the outermost surface of the hide. It's the strongest and most valuable part of the hide and the best leather for anything that needs to be durable.
The "full" in full-grain means that none of the grain has been cut off. All other types of leather are deeper and inferior cuts of the hide usually resurfaced to look like they include the grain but often don't. (While we are on the subject of quality, let me give you some advice to avoid anything that says "genuine leather" or "patent leather." Both are basically leather dust held together with glue and plastic—the particle board of leather.)
GOODYEAR WELT CONSTRUCTION:
Goodyear welting is the traditional way shoes have been made for centuries, but it's named after the guy who invented a machine that could do the stitch that previously had to be done by hand. (He coincidentally was the son of the guy who invented vulcanized rubber, as in Goodyear Tires, as in what we are using for our boot soles.) Even with a machine, it is a hard and labor-intensive way to make shoes, but it is far superior to the cheaper and more common practice of just gluing a preformed sole to the shoe upper.
The reason why a Goodyear welt is superior is because the sole portion is sewn to the upper, creating a durable mechanical bond more durable than glue alone. It is so durable that the sole will usually wear out before the shoe does. This being said, Goodyear welted shoes can be resoled many times. Goodyear welted generally cost more, but more than likely they will last many times longer than a cheaper construction—truly illustrating the adage "pay more cry once, pay less cry twice" (or more than twice). When you consider the lifetime use of a well-made shoe over that of a cheaper and lower quality shoe, the better made shoe is usually the less expensive option.
The midsole is the part of the boot between your foot and the rubber (outsole). We really wanted to make the upper soles look nice. Ours are made of multiple layers of sole leather, trimmed, waxed and polished. Normally this sort of attention to detail is reserved for dress shoes but I think it is one of the features that really make these boots look nice.
My dad bought me a pair of sandals from Mexico when I was a teenager that had old tire sidewalls for tread. The leather gave out before the soles were even close to wearing down. (I guess this is not surprising from material that is made to last 30,000 miles on a highway.) But the thing I remember most about these sandals was the reaction I got from others whenever my feet were kicked up. Honestly it's the memories of the reactions I got when people noticed that my shoe soles were tires that inspired me to use old tires for the outsoles of our boots. Yeah it's up-cycling of used tires and all, but considering the pain it was to get these soles made, I would have given up on any eco motivation a long time ago if they were not so cool. I will let you decide if you think they are "looks cool" or "eco cool."
Each HYDE boot outsole is in two pieces: a 3/8" heel piece and a 1/4" half sole. Having two independent pieces of rubber means you can do a partial resole down the road (many miles down the road) and leave that beautiful midsole alone. Some goodyear welted boots either have no rubber on the leather sole or the rubber sole passes as one piece under the heel. In either case, resoling the boot requires cutting off the heel and rebuilding it regardless of the heel's condition.
It takes a little more effort to make them this way, but it will save you money if you ever manage to wear them down enough to resole them. In a HYDE boot you get both the refined look of a full leather sole but the grip and protection of a rubber one.
When it comes to boot making, what's on the inside really does matter where comfort is concerned. Our boots have a thick cork bed and thick leather and calfskin layered insole. Over time the soft leather insole and thick cork bed will mold to your feet for a comfortable custom fit. Many cheaper boot makers compensate for a thin cork bed with a synthetic foam athletic shoe liner which never molds to your foot. You can of course always insert a removable foam or gel liner in our boots if want that tennis shoe feel, but it will dramatically reduce the amount the boot molds to the unique shape of your foot—there is no right or wrong on this point, but we built our boots so you have the option of comfort without adding a synthetic liner.
I bought a $350 pair of boots last spring to examine as I was designing our boots. They looked beautiful online and came from a very popular name-brand boot maker that has been making boots for over a century. I figured they were boots I could learn from. As it turned out, what I learned was what not to do. They are fine as long as I don't do any walking in them—they have got to be the most uncomfortable pair of shoes I have ever worn. I cannot walk more than a block without experiencing pain—a few more blocks and I get blisters.
Pain is often the inspiration behind many good ideas and believe me, walking around in those boots was very inspirational. Some of the ideas "inspired" by the pain those boots caused include:
- Convex sole instead of a flat one so you roll out of each step instead of tripping over your own boots
- Removable padded insole to cradle and support your foot and keep your foot from slipping as you walk—the main cause of blisters
- Soft leather that does not need to be "broken in"
- Fully lined with soft calfskin (including the tongue)
- Anatomically shaped tongue that wrinkles less
- Lace loop on the tongue to keep it from bunching down or slipping to the side
All styles come in three colors: light brown with darkened toe accent, brown and black.
We will be making standard european sizes 37 to 49. All boots are standard/medium width. Please reference the following chart for conversions if you are not familiar with the European size scale, but when it comes time to fill out your survey, visit a shoe store and have your foot measure accurately in European size. Our lasts ("lasts" are the molds used to make the shoe size) will be standard European sizes. Having an accurate measurement in European size from a standard measuring device at a shoe store is vital to insure a good fit.
It's always nice to hear another's opinion about a product—both if you are considering buying for yourself and if you are the one making it. I was able to get an early pair of boots to friend (the advantage of living close and having the right size foot). I asked him to wear them for a bit and give me feedback. He sent me the following video:
$100,000 STRETCH GOAL
If we can hit $100,000 we can make a third style. It will be either a "quarter brogue" or a "cap toe"—you the backers will get to decide which. Feel free to discuss and make your vote known in the comments.
SHARE STRETCH GOAL/CHALLENGE
getting the word out is important. The bigger this campaign gets the more children we can serve. Please take a moment and click the share and/or tweet buttons under the video. As an incentive to backers and non backer (non-backers can still share and help the cause), this is what we will do:
If the share count reaches 750, I will throw in another pair of laces with each pair of boots—the first and second second most popular style. This will give you options as well as a backup because I can guarantee the boot is going to outlast more than a few pairs of laces.
- If the share count reaches 1500, I will personally pay (as in out of my pocket) to have 150 more pairs of sandals made for the children. This could cost me a few thousand dollars, but I really would like to do it.
You can choose any style, color and size of Kendal & Hyde Co. boots for the same price. The sizes and options will be asked after the campaign ends when you supply your shipping address. All you need to decide now is how many pairs you would like to back. Don't forget, for every pair of boots you back, we will make and donate a pair of sandals to a child in need in a developing country.
DONATE TOWARDS SANDALS FOR CHILDREN IN NEED $1 (or any amount you wish to give) You will receive updates documenting the cause and a link to a video we will make of the children receiving the shoes you helped provide.
1 PAIR OF BOOTS $299 (regularly $350—save $51) plus one (1) pair of sandals donated to a child in need.
2 PAIR OF BOOTS $569 (regularly $700—save $131) plus two (2) pairs of sandals donated to children in need.
3 PAIR OF BOOTS $839 (regularly $1050—save $211) plus three (3) pairs of sandals donated to children in need.
4 PAIR OF BOOTS $1100 (regularly $1400—save $300) plus four (4) pairs of sandals donated to children in need.
5 PAIR OF BOOTS $1359 (regularly $1750—save $391) plus four (4) pairs of sandals donated to children in need.
NEW REWARDS—Limited edition Kendal & Hyde Co. leather bags with branding scars in the leather.
I have been getting a message about every other day asking when we will have more leather bags available. We decided to offer 39 unique bags that we have collected from out last production batch. The are unique because each bears a major scar from the cows life when the cow was branded. These scars are somewhat rare and most manufacturers cut them out and discard them. We love the unique look and incorporate them into either the back or side pocket. Some are large, some are small, some are abstract symbols and others number or letters, but each is unique. Below are some images of some of the brand scars in this lot.
You can read more about each bags at kendalhyde.com. Below are the three styles offered in this campaign with branding scars. They come in two sizes: The small is 14" longs and fits a 13" computer, the large is 16" long and fits a 15" computer.
IF YOU WANT A BAG AND BOOTS, back the bag reward you want and add the extra amount needed for the boots on top of your bag pledge. If you get the math wrong, don't worry we will sort it all out with you after the campaign ends.
The bags will ship as soon as the campaign ends and your survey is tuned in. Yep, you read that correctly, no waiting.
Hyde and I have decided we are making these boots no matter what. We will be starting production for a small run in mid December. Depending on how well this campaign does, we will expand the production run. By starting production before the campaign ends we will shave off about a month of manufacturing time with an expected delivery in March depending on the length of the production run.
Risks and challenges
We are new to shoes—making them, not wearing them. Fortunately we are just designing them and have partnered with a great boot manufacturer with plenty of experience in getting the job done. But even then, problems may arise in the supply chain which may cause delays. While we hope no delays occur, should something come up we will be sure to communicate it to the backers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (55 days)