Wesco are a brand which did not get much initial attention from me due to my perception being that their boots were a little too utilitarian and also slightly too, well…..biker, which I am not any more (sadly), happily I can confirm that my perception was wrong. My perception was gathered from my social media feeds being regularly permeated by pictures of well-dressed Japanese bikers wearing their black Wesco Boss engineer boots, they looked great but I am neither Japanese or a biker, so my primitive mind dismissed them….stupid me.
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to attend the Iron Heart summer party where I met Chris from Wesco who had with him a large variety of shoe and boots samples of all manner of shapes and sizes, my eyes were opened and my mind blown so finally I decided to give Wesco a good look. What I found was a brand who have been in business for over 100 years, have a first class reputation with American workers of all descriptions (much like White’s), and are amazingly still owned by the same family, a family who are incredibly called Shoemaker.
So far I have looked at boots by three brands, White’s, Viberg and Alden. Of the boots I have looked at so far Viberg stand out for their super clean, almost flawless build, but Wesco incredibly match this. Every stitch is perfectly uniform, solid and in exactly the right place, the boots literally feel super well made, like your first drive in a brand new car or when you first set up a new skateboard, before everything has worked loose from use and abuse. Interestingly Wesco have a sale page on their website for factory seconds, and a brief scan through the list of boots and their “defects” on this list will tell you all you need to know about the brand. I have bought new boots at full price from other brands with more wrong with them than what Wesco consider to be seconds.
This is my first pair of Wesco, and the only pair which have ever graced my feet, prior to their arrival I had heard from several people who I trust that the break in time for Wesco boots can be brutal, probably more so than any other boots I had worn before, so I was a little worried. As it turns out, and quite possibly because I received good sizing advice, the boots fitted perfectly straight from the box, and the small cushioned insole which Wesco supply is an absolutely brilliant idea to assist with initial period we all experience with new boots. I can honestly say that I have never had a pair of boots which fit me well from Day 1, and that was an extremely pleasant surprise.
The boots are made from Wesco’s signature Domain leather, which is a thick waxy leather, very uniform in texture and reminds me a lot of White’s dress leather, this is not a bad thing as the dress leather is my favourite all time boot leather for durability and how it looks with a good amount of wear. Being a waxy leather it is also extremely easy to care for, needing little more than a damp cloth and a soft brush for probably the first year if you are a town dweller like me. Aside from the leather, the hardware is robust in the extreme, like it was made to tether ships together rather than keep boot laces in place, whilst the Vibram sole is the industry standard for good reason.
At this point it becomes redundant for me to wheel out the old chestnut of these boots not being cheap, none of the boots which I talk about are, and for good reason. Footwear is definitely something where you get what you pay for, so cheap boots should never make it to an article about the world’s best boots. For a pair of heavily modified packers like these you can expect to pay upwards of $700.
You can order directly from Wesco, select one of their US dealers, try your luck with Wesco Japan who have some fantastic exclusive builds, or in Europe you can now contact The Bootery, who are Wesco’s official European distributor, and are run by the people responsible for Iron Heart UK, and Vater & Sohn, Hamburg. Wesco do make custom orders and you can do this by either going to them directly, or talking those fellas at The Bootery.
The design on these boots is heavily err……influenced by a Japanese Wesco design called the Flightmaster, it is basically a packet built on the motor patrol last used for the Boss boots. The MP last makes for an amazingly comfortable boot and has the added effect of slightly softening the shape of the packer uppers to make them appear slightly less narrow, which I think updates them and makes them more modern in appearance. Aside from this they are what I would term as very subtly beautiful, the contrast olive stitching is a lovely feature, I’m a huge fan of the Cuban heel and the gold hardware really sets the whole thing off, but what I love most is the toe profile, which is just about perfect in my opinion. On first glance these boots can look fairly ordinary, but the more time you spend with them and spend looking at them you begin to see that they are far from ordinary. What they are is understated but with just the right amount of flash, slim and low but with enough height to make them undoubtedly masculine, and not to mention that the early signs show me that they are going to look incredible with more wear.
As you have probably gathered from my earlier posts in this thread, I really like comfortable utility boots. I work in an environment where I can be expected to be on my feet for a good portion of the day, and I do a lot of walking, so comfort is top of the list when I consider a boot.
If Wesco’s were a car they would be a Bentley, they are heavy and built with precision but they are also comfortable, luxurious and almost unfeasibly sturdy. When wearing them you get a true sense that they are boots which will not let you down, ever, I have worn Whites, Viberg, Red Wing, Trickers, Grenson , Alden, Sargent, Dr Marten, Thorogood, Wolverine and Hathorn but nothing comes remotely close to sheer strength of these Wesco.
Of course strength and durability aren’t everything, you might decide that you simply prefer the design aesthetic of another brand, you might have a different idea of acceptable price point or prefer to try a boot on before making such an investment. For these reasons we need to put the boots side by side, and take a look at the factors which influence a boot purchase. To be continued.