A Day of Creation and Community
We were honored when Brett Viberg agreed to host the company’s first in a long time, fully fledged Made To Order event in North America: one in which he would personally facilitate, which is an even rarer occasion. This was an event that we had to get right as we knew off the bat that passionate collectors would come from around the country for a chance to participate. After months of preparation and planning, we were pleased to present our customers with a truly special experience to not only design a pair of one-off's, but to do so with the input of one of the finest footwear craftsmen in the world.
In the month between its announcement and the event itself, we were bombarded with phone calls and e-mails from impassioned guys from all over the country who wanted to know whether their theoretical specifications were possible, and was there any way at all to remotely place an order? We walked many through the basics of what combinations would be feasible and we saw many rough specification lists. Viberg designed the event to be an in-person affair mainly because of the endless possibilities available when presented with a pattern, last, and leather alone. To navigate the intricacies and particulars of shoe making beyond the basic materials, we had to ensure that all were present for the event. In response, gentlemen, including some of our loyal customers, traveled from far and wide for this rare opportunity.
The event itself went off without a hitch. Though not exactly what we expected it to be, it turned out to be something even better. We had conceived a day of orderly scheduled timeslots, but what came to pass was a kind of theater-in-the-round, in which almost everyone in attendance hung around the design table to watch each person hold court with their collaborators: Brett and Guy of Viberg, and Jason of Division Road. As fellow collectors and footwear enthusiasts, the Viberg x DR team helped guide each gent’s vision to plot out the best boot possible within the constraints of reality (or as close to those constraints as possible).
Viberg had assembled a list of 54 leathers for the event, but true to Brett’s oft-unpredictable and inspired nature, he showed up with several additional options of some small batch leathers he had been holding onto at the factory for an occasion like this, bringing the official count to over 60 different leather choices. On top of which, there were dozens of different sole, last, and pattern options to choose from, creating a dizzying number of possible variations. Distilled from it all, our 20 creative and informed clients crafted 35 unique and outstanding makeups. From the bold and unexpected combinations of three or four different leather and color palette mash-ups to the clean variations of ninja-like blackouts that made several appearances in multiple iterations, we were consistently impressed with the designs conceived. Viberg and us as the hosts of this special occasion were most honored to have these seasoned collectors in the shop, dreaming up their own designs for their pre-existing Viberg troves. A few of these makeups even found themselves on our shelves here at Division Road (with some of our own tweaks and specifications added), all with due credit given and named respectively, of course.
All involved couldn’t have been happier with how the event, and the footwear born of it, turned out. There is something intangible about the communal enthusiasm and collaborative back and forth that occurred both at and around the design table on that day. In an age where hands-on experiences are less and less common, it was refreshing to see attendees handling lasts and leather samples and engaging in conversation that is only possible in an experience like this one. Each participant didn't just leave the shop with a new pair of boots on order, but also with a greater understanding of what brought them to hand-grade footwear in the first place. While it is uncertain when the next North American MTO event with Brett and Guy may occur, we are lucky that this one happened at Division Road. Until next time, we can pull inspiration from these men's creations to fuel our own footwear dreams, and to imagine the possibilities when others finally get a turn at the design table.