By Collectors, for Collectors
Among other things, we at Division Road pride ourselves on engaging in collaborations and carrying products that speak to collectors, because we too are collectors at heart. At the core of the heritage workwear revival is an aficionado audience and client, who we strive to assist in their search for products that aren't just products, but special additions to a meaningful wardrobe that tells a story, honors the past and looks to the future.
For the guy just starting his journey into well-crafted goods with true authenticity, we find it’s best to start him on his way with first-rate pieces, those that are a combination of distinct and classic. When we conceive of a design we aim to appeal to both the seasoned collector and the newcomer formulating his initial senses of true quality.
With that in mind we came up with a collaboration collection with Viberg that's geared towards the passionate collector looking for additions to their impressive assembly, and those looking to start their treasure trove with a singular bang. As many of you know, one of Brett Viberg’s core competencies and passions is finding unique leathers and special tannages to use creatively and methodically. As a practiced designer, he travels all over the world to renowned and obscure tanneries alike, looking at materials first.
Working closely with Viberg as they selected another round of new leather offerings, we went up to the factory to see some sample hides sourced during Brett’s recent journeys and to work on the first drafts of our next series. Out of that process we were drawn to some new Horween leathers selected for limited circulation, and started to think about how to create a unique collection of styles that could work individually and as a grouping. Looking at the palette of considerations, and respecting their vegetable-tanned nuances, we conceived a 1960’s-70’s cross theme of boot styles with subtle twists and tricks to make these pieces completely special and unmatched. Each design used stitchdown construction with fresh takes on old classics for our collector core. Additionally, when envisioning this collection, we separated these broad selections into two conceptual pairings: work boots and sneaker boots. Since our approach can be broadly stated as “from the bottom up,” the specification refinement process started at the sole.
Many collectors have a significant fascination with the collaboratively developed stacked leather midsole and Vibram Mini Ripple wedge sole combination. Out of respect for the sole development of its original owner, we wanted to use it sparingly and in a manner unique to our perspective, without impeding on the original make-ups that utilized it. Wedge soles either read industrial or urban depending on the rest of the details in a make-up, and we wanted to take the later influence but with a vintage approach. Thinking about certain sneakers from the 70’s and their low-profile silhouettes, we used softer leather and shades of brown. Using the heavier patterns of the Scout and Service Boots while incorporating these lighter characteristics of vintage casual footwear, we ended up with pieces that demanded a redefinition of terms.
Dark brown boots with wedge soles are generally both hard to come by and a challenge to execute properly, so we thought this to be a perfect opportunity to design a version of the Service Boot that would be casual, cool, and comfortable, all wrapped in luxurious perfection. The Dark Coffee Essex is a vegetable tannage with the same traditional extracts content as Horween's Cordovan, with a high amount of oils and fat liquoring. The hide is then hand-glazed with an aniline finish to retain a supple and natural feel, which yields glove-leather-like softness yet remains durable under all conditions. Dark leathers generally don’t patina much, but this vegetable tanned Essex will darken and lighten in certain wear areas as dramatically as a dark color will allow under conditional exposure, so we kept the rest of the design simple and versatile for a clean pairing to let the hide and sole have its word.
The Scout Boot is one of our favorite patterns in the Viberg line-up, yet we reserve it for very particular makeups, especially those with a unique disposition. This Leather-Mini Ripple sole combination seemed perfect for a never-before-seen style in a piece sincerely different from all other Scouts. Using the Icy Mocha (which has a medium burnt brown color like the drink from which it borrows its name) in the Essex tannage described above, we get a boot that has versatility and uniqueness, sheathed in tonal perfection. While this Scout looks like a work boot, vintage sneaker, or runway piece, it is decidedly different as grain and oil spots are prevalent throughout the uppers, hinting at the intense patina potential encapsulated within.
At Division Road we are as big of fans of vintage work boots as we are of urban influences, and one of the hallmarks of the former are Split Soles that have a forefoot and heel separated by the leather midsole elegantly feathered and split. The ability to craft a finely made and durable split sole has diminished over the years, yet Viberg builds one of the best examples to date with their 705 Vibram Split Sole and exquisite craftsmanship with these components. From there we started with work boot Lasts straight out of the archives, the 310 and 160 Lasts, which have higher heels and greater profile and volume throughout. They create historically appropriate silhouettes that mark a time and period where guys worked and lived in their boots.
One of our more sought-after offerings is the Service Boot utilizing the 310 Last, and in this style we determined that the new Olive Waxed Flesh from Horween deserved to be featured to make an aggressive-yet-approachable boot built for all conditions. The olive-meets-dark-khaki coloration in this leather is an impregnated dye with a waxed application over a specialized Marine Field leather that results in a hardened, rigid, and weather-resistant surface. Designed to patina through wear and tear, the waxing will scuff and diminish in certain areas to reveal a natural sand colored nap of the flesh side underneath. Sometimes referred to by collectors as the 1950’s Service Boot, the 310 sprung-toe and high volume profile give a fit and look that is totally distinctive yet stylistically versatile.
As a pairing, we wanted to introduce the 160 Last in a specially-configured Service Boot to hallmark our fascination with the shape, fit, feel and history of the Last. We've been conceptualizing how to implement this offering into our rotation for some time. Still in use today with Viberg's work boot line, the 160 has a higher volume and profile along with a standard vintage heel height. Horween’s Dublin tannage is used, which is simply a waxed version of the vegetable tanned Essex Leather that results in a heavy and thick-yet-pliable hide with plenty of character and grain, which will only become darker and richer with each wearing. To set this composition further apart and in-line with that 70’s work boot aesthetic and function, we used the leather heel pull and separated counter along with other Division Road signature details to craft something completely new yet historically focused.
Individual archetypes come together to formulate a robust collective (much like the Division Road community itself), and we are pleased to present this boot collection in collaboration with an historic tanner, Horween, and one of the world’s best makers, Viberg. The Horween Heritage Collection speaks to us and our collector clients new and old, as we strive to impart lasting pieces that you will cherish for the ages.