By Eric Yang
on 10.7.09

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1939, a tumultuous and eventful year. John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath was first published. Millions of Americans were unemployed despite the New Deal, followed by the first televised president, FDR himself. Also, the year West Coast Shoe Company’s conceived the Boss Boot’s – when boots weren’t considered fashion, but rather a daily lifegoing necessity.

And here we are today, a time not too untumultuous itself, testing out a boot crafted in America that’s not dissimilar to the version worn 70 years later. That’s what we call “product history.” Will we be using iPod’s in 70 years? Maybe, but our vote is nay. In our continued effort to find goods and gear produced right in the United States, we discovered West Coast Shoe Company (WESCO). After becoming enamored with its heritage (established 1918), it was decided that putting in an order for a pair of custom boots was in order. In this case, the Boss Boot.

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Amongst the many things that separate West Coast Shoe Company from widely available mass-produced boot manufacturers is the ability to individualize your boot with what seems like a veritable cornucopia of options, and we’ll get to that in a moment. First, lets run down the list of standard options: rolled-leather top facing, permanently formed Stytherm™ counter, OrthoLite® Drilex comfort foam slip-in inserts, leather heel base, non-corrosive, ribbed, slightly arched steel shank, full-leather vamp lined with leather, hard toe, sweat-resistant full-leather insole, and a full-leather midsole. It is this that you receive for around $500 of your hard earned dollars, and they will be put to good use but you and I know we both love options, and options the Boss Boot offers.

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A boot from West Coast Shoe isn’t so much a piece of footwear as it is an investment, and we like a good investment. The myriad of options available to individualize based on your need, or aesthetic desire, prove why. You can purchase the Boss Boot in 9-20 inch heights (or one of WESCO’s dozen+ other boots), choice of leather color and tan in single/multiple toned variations, toe type, lining, sole, top strap(s), instep strap(s), thread color, buckles, rings, steel or composite safety toes, rough out vamps, and additional options like a motorcycle shift patch, knife pocket or credit card pocket. And this is just the Boss Boot.

The Boss Boot

We ordered our Boss Boot in a 11″ height, with single toned black oil tanned 7 oz. leather outer, black leather lining, in the standard Boss Toe with steel safety toe, Vibram 100R non-marking oil resistant sole, single strap with nickel plated buckled instep strap, and white nylon stitching. As you can see from our photos, the subdued look is full of rugged goodness. In hindsight, the only minor issue we found was being unable to order a Harness Toe (slightly more squared off) with the steel safety toe, an issue almost immediately forgotten the moment we received our boots. As you can see from the partial screenshot we took of the ordering page, you can customize to your heart’s content. WESCO may offer the largest option list this side of a Porsche 911.

Fit & Build

Now, options are nice, but you’re probably wondering about fit and build. Well, WESCO has you covered in the fit department with their custom fitting process. They’ll gladly craft a custom boot around your exact foot dimensions based on a few easy measuring processes you can do in the comfort of your own home. In terms of build, WESCO is unapologetic when going toe-to-toe with their competition. This grid should show you that there’s more to a boot than the leather outer.

The West Coast Shoe Company

West Coast Shoe Company has been manufacturing boots for over 90 years, having been held in the Shoemaker (yes… Shoemaker) family for four generations and founded by John H. Shoemaker in 1918. It’s a company built on heritage and sweat. Each boot is built using a 155 step process and the only changes that have been made is the convenience of online ordering. It’s reassuring to know that some things can endure the test of time.

Editor’s Note: West Coast Shoe Company is American Owned, American Made, using American Materials. Yes, these will take a few weeks of hard wear to break-in and you might suffer a blister or two (as I did), but the slight inconvenience couldn’t have been more worth it. My feet are at one with the boot, and knowing that WESCO can rebuild a boot multiple times over during the course of its live only reassures me I’ll be wearing this pair for a long, long time.

For casual buyers, WESCO offers stocked boots and factory seconds that you can purchase in a much shorter timeline. Custom order boots can take several weeks or longer depending on your selections.

Cost: $458+ (Stock Boot) | Find Dealer

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