Through the Straights of Georgia
It wasn’t enough for us at Division Road to get the most sought after fashion legacy boot manufacturer in the market. There is need to document why this is the case with Viberg, which begins not with materials, nor techniques, but with a proper legacy. The coined phrase of “Third Generation” used to describe this history does not really do it justice. Started by Ed Viberg in 1931, Viberg boots was thrown into the manufacturing of logging and work boots required for the expanding industries of the Northwest. With the arrival of WWII the demand for military grade service boots exploded from various countries involved in the war. The Service Boot, Boondocker, and Trench Boot patterns were derived in this era and are directly utilized in today’s Viberg styles.
Ed’s son, Glen, still works on the factory floor every day and at virtually every station, as he is deeply involved in the production of each run ensuring quality of not only the product but the process. This can be overlooked often but when you see someone who grew-up making work boots and has done this his entire life, passing along the knowledge and techniques to the other craftsman, the unique position this manufacturer possesses is apparent. One thing rarely appreciated is how long it takes to train for the trade of making handcrafted lifetime footwear. We at Division Road have been to our share of factories and have seen first-hand that shoemaking is a special craft: not something learned in months, but developed with decades of experience. Watching Glen fit a last, welt a sole, or trim a heel you understand perfection through love and experience in craftsmanship.
This lineage is followed by none other than the most recent generation of the family, Brett Viberg. He has garnered tremendous success in reinventing the heritage shoe market by taking the traditional production methods, patterns, and lasts of his family’s company and applying them on adapted designs for the contemporary market. Half designer and half shoemaker, Brett Viberg (aka the Mad Scientist of Shoes) has created some of the most sought after boot styles by collectors. Working in his Lab on the factory floor he is constantly coming up with concoctions: some of sample creations (a few so novel they'll never see the marketplace) and others of Viberg staples, produced from leathers and lasts he’s found all over the word. Brett is driven by a constant quest to test the boundaries of what can be done and how those methods, silhouettes and materials can fit in with the Viberg collection. His process fits in perfectly with our own belief that you should not sell anything you wouldn’t wear, test drive, or believe in as a product. For this reason, you can often see him going from station to station testing his latest sample.
This level of attention to detail and quality control is entirely evident when you put on your first pair of Viberg’s as they feel, wear, and are designed with a type of comfort, care, and durability that is completely unique amongst footwear. They feel good upon the first wearing for those not interested in a break-in period. Yet astoundingly they are hardwearing and the method in which they patina and wear isn't the product breaking down past serviceability, like other comfortable-out-of-the-box boots, rather it's a development of the original appearance and form that can be reconditioned and re-soled after years of hard use.
While most collectors point to the stitchdown construction methods as the primary element of what makes Viberg's special, that's only half of the story. Frankly, there are some leathers and patterns that require Goodyear welting in order to be executed properly, thus Viberg added those capabilities to their production. Though there are different welting methods for different reasons, and stitchdown has distinctive properties and a great look, a Viberg is a unique breed because of their formula: patterns designed from the history of their boots in North America, put together with modern styling adaptations to create unique silhouettes, in distinct leathers and components with an understanding and legacy of footwear manufacturing for the better part of a century.
There are over 200 steps that go into producing a pair of Viberg boots and all of them are performed in their Victoria, B.C. facility by skilled makers. Seeing the generation that has decades of experience on the factory floor and witnessing the passing of this tradition and training to the newer generation of craftspeople is always something that impresses us. Division Road perceives that we, as friends, stewards and common collectors, are deeply invested in and reliant upon the maintenance of trade knowledge and craft being kept alive; that while machines are used and updated with the times in these factories for good reason, the soul of the process is done by hand with a grace and elegance that is in unison with heavy equipment.
As the sole stocklist for Viberg in the Northwest United States, Division Road is pleased to launch with several signature Service Boots in Horween leathers. Viberg is a core manufacturer to our offerings and there will be many styles flowing in and out of our doors, but these have a marked Viberg x Division Road flavor to them that will be a great addition or beginning to your collection.