FWA Number 5 – The White’s Semi Dress Boot

The transition from trainers (sneakers to Americans) to more mature footwear was one which I delayed as long as possible. My interest in boots only began 5 or so years ago when in my early 30’s, my first pair of boots of any real quality were a pair of Timberland Abington Hikers, made from Horween Chromexcel leather and fitted with a Vibram wedge sole, I wore them for 2 years straight and absolutely loved them.


By the time I was wearing the Abingtons my interest in Japanese denim and workwear was in full swing, and along with that came exposure to the boot makers of real quality. Some people on the forums favoured the quality English shoe makers of Northampton, Trickers, Cheney, Sergent and the like, whilst others went with the more practical North American bootmakers who made their corn through the manufacture of hard wearing boots for forestry fire fighters and ranchers. Very early in my exposure to this new world of footwear my interest was captivated by one brand and one model above all the rest, the Semi Dress boot by White’s Boots of Spokane Washington.


The SD (as it is affectionately known) appealed to me for a variety of reasons, it is infinitely customisable, it carries no external branding, it is versatile between smart and casual depending on which leather and sole options you decide on, and it is ridiculously comfortable for a person with high foot arches like me. The comfort is brought about by White’s patented “Arch ease” system which cushions and supports the arch like no other boot to the point where people with flatter feet find them quite uncomfortable at first.


There is an ongoing debate amongst enthusiasts of American work boots regarding the quality and price variables amongst certain brands (White’s, Wesco, Viberg, Alden, Oak Street etc..), for my money White’s provide the most bang for your buck in terms of a quality to price ratio. You do read lots of folks nit picking that Viberg or Wesco have slightly better quality, but when that slightly better quality often comes at a $300 premium I tend to stay with what I know, plus no one else has the arch ease system.


My particular SD’s are the third pair that I have owned, the first pair were made from brown Chromexcel leather, I bought second hand from a forum and they were in awful condition. I sold them on through eBay for a healthy profit to a guy in Japan. My second pair were in really nice condition, made from White’s own black dress leather, my favourite boot leather, and to my eternal regret they were ruined by an english cobbler who attempted to resole them for me, they were still sold at a profit. My current pair is that most glorious of things, a freebie, they were given to me by my friend Jeff on a trip to New York and they have been my most comfortable boots ever since.


These SD’s are made from Milano Red Buffalo hide, if I had ordered these boots it would not have been a choice that I would have made but I am glad that someone did or I would probably never experienced this incredible leather, which is light, soft supple and shines up really well. They have a cream lining, and single leather midsole, a Vibram composition sole and the squared heel rather than the more familiar Cuban style heel which most favour on SD boots.


What makes the Whites SD a First World Artefact is its durability, adaptability and unmatched comfort. Common opinion is that when most guys make the transition from wearing sneakers to wearing shoes or boots that a style something similar to a Bonndocker or Desert boot is the way to go, I would argue the case for the SD. If you can afford it then it will be a real boot for life and becomes even more of a head turner with age and wear. Ideal for when the thought starts creeping into your mind that sports shoes should be kept strictly for sports.

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