Friday, November 10, 2017


After about three and a half months of wear and having put a tremendous amount of miles ‘neath the hood, it’s definitely time to give my feedback of the roughout boots by the incomparable John Lofgren.

I’m clearly a fan of John’s work, therefore, some may find this somewhat biased. But when you come across a brand that consistently puts out incredible pieces covering a wide variety of styles within the window of early Americana fashion, this creature of habit will continue to be a loyal customer. 

Easily my favorite roughout boots in today’s market, the M-43 Service Shoes are everything one would expect to come out of the Lofgren camp — high quality, heavy-duty, expertly crafted and full of comfort. John didn't just take an original design of a highly-desired vintage boot and create a carbon copy. That would be too boring. Like his Engineers, these bear that original Lofgren twist which is a characteristic I really love about his designs.

Toe Box: They are true soft toes — no celastic or reinforced toe box support to help maintain the shape of the last — so appropriate sizing will determine how much they will deflate in this area.

Sizing: I take a size 7 in all Lofgren footwear and the size is always consistent. This size provides the perfect amount of wiggle room without the need for insoles and I get a desired flat toe profile. 

My size reference:

Nike - 8

Vans - 7

Alden - 7

Whites - 7 1/2 - 8

Wesco - 7 1/2 - 8

Lofgren - 7 

Chippewa - 8

Wolverine - 7

Red Wing - 7

Attractions Co. - 7

Mister Freedom - 7 /12

Converse All Star - 7

Durability: I am by no means light on my feet. I don’t purposely beat them up, but my boots are worn without any concern of scuffing or wearing out the soles/heels; wear your boots like they owe you money, but not like they robbed you. The boots, like John’s other boots,  are remarkably rugged and show no signs trouble spots or areas of weakness.

Style: How does John take relatively simple boot designs and make them his own? I dun know ... he just does. Not only are the boots rugged, but they manage to go with almost everything in my closet from denim to cords and everything in between. That’s how I was able to put so many miles on ‘em in three short months.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, I recommend not passing up on these beauties that just look better and better with age. 

Brand: John Lofgren & Co.

Model: M-43 Service Shoes

Sizes: 6 - 12 (whole sizes), 6 1/2 - 11 1/2 (half sizes),12 -- all in D width

Soles: Vibram #700 Full Composition

Heels: Vibram #700

Leather: Roughout Natural Horween Chromexcel Cowhide (2.0-2.3 mm thick)

Price: ¥80,784 ($712)

Website: Speedway-Shop on Rakuten


I've been a huge fan of John's work since his early days and now the heritage brand ranks amongst the best in the business. It only made sense to choose the roughout boots from a family of footwear that speaks to the brilliance, craftsmanship and passion behind the man and his brand.

Monday, October 30, 2017


Hello Sir

Thanks for your amazing blog. I’ve studied your blog for quite sometime and am about to drop a lot of money on a pair of engineers. The two I am deliberating between are the Lofgrens and Road champs. I prefer the look of the Lofgrens but longevity and toughness would be the winner on the day. I don’t have a lot of money and I intend to wear my engineers quite a bit.

I know you speak highly of them both but on build quality and toughness which would you say would last the distance? 

Thank you. 



Hey Greg! Thank you for the e-mail and I’m glad the VEB Blog provides some assistance to those with similar taste.

There’s not much more I can say that I haven’t already mentioned in past blog posts reviewing the two incredible brands of boots over the years, but I’m fully aware a new fan of the type of boot is born every day and I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least cover the wave tops. After all, it’s questions like yours which help the community learn and grow.

Simply put, both boots will outlive their owner and more than likely become those highly sought-after Vintage Engineer Boots folks engage in bidding wars over twenty ... thirty ... forty years down the road.

I got both the Lofgren and first pair of Road Champ Boots back in 2012 and did not baby them by any stretch. Readers may recall that I put my Lofgrens through extra hell during my deployment onboard the USS Peleliu in 2014 and they display no signs of weakness or distress points — they actually appear to be much more rugged now. Don’t ask me to explain that. Their just tough as nails now.

While neither of my three pairs of Road Champ Boots went  through as much as the Lofgrens, W. Thomas has been wearing his pretty damn hard every day for four years and the pictures just speak volumes as to the toughness and durability of these classics.

Source: tweekert

So as far as build, quality and toughness, both are equal all areas in my book. What you’re left to decide is the style and profile that suits your taste. You get a more 1950’s rounded toe box (before they start to flatten out, of course) with the Lofgren boots while the Road Champs have a late 1930’s to late 1940’s flat toe and streamlined flavor. Both are versatile and can work with anything from denim to workwear. The Lofgrens are readily obtainable, while fans of the Road Champs can find themselves on a worthwhile wait list.

I hope this provides at least some assistance and really any choice you make with these Boots is the right choice. They have and will remain two of my top boot choices and with both at under $1k, it’s a drop in the bucket for a build, quality and toughness



Tuesday, October 10, 2017



I love your blog. I was wondering how you would compare the two colors. I haven't seen too many photos of the Wesco Burlap (smooth side out), but the colors seem similar. What's your take?


Hi George, 

Thanks for the e-mail!

At first glance, I would say it's very easy to compare the two colors; however, the Lofgren Naturals have a much more brown tone that will become darker over time. 

The Burlap Wesco boots have a tendency to maintain the light color and it would take a lot of wear and tear for it to develop any type of character.

I hope this helps


This is the latest photo of my Lofgrens. The color differs based on lighting conditions, but the basic brown hue is unmistakable. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Michael sent me a set of new camera strap lugs -- made for Pentax, but I think they fit other brands as well -- and wanted me to create a studded strap around it. This is the first camera strap I made and now I want to make one for myself.

Hit me up at for custom VEB Leather work

This is made with Horween CXL, hand cut, hand stitched, hand studded and hand finished. What a fun project! Thanks for the opportunity, Michael!!

Saturday, September 23, 2017



Im a big fan of your blog and style on Instagram. I recently started following you and wanted to let you know you've influenced me to look into engineer boots! I've never in my life thought I'd even consider them, but after seeing you wear them and incorporate them into your vintage like style, I've been looking into them non stop and I think I'm ready to pull the trigger on a pair. 

I'm in no means in a rush at all, I always do a lot of research before buying but the biggest problem I'm running into is there aren't many reviews or fit pics of engineer boots. Just a few out there compared to other style work boots. I love denim and I love boots. 

I currently wear Iron Heart 633s and 666s, Flat Head 3012, 3sixteen 11 BSP. They are all straight tapered jeans and was wondering if I would need straight leg or fuller fit jeans to wear engineer boots because they need more leg room. I was also wondering what your thoughts on Mister Freedom Roadchamps, Role Club engineer boots (not sure how many he makes), and John Lofgren engineer boots (leaning towards short shift). 

I narrowed it down to these three boots because Im mostly looking for a sleeker style engineer boot that hopefully I don't have to wear loose full fitting jeans for, and can wear with more straight tapered or slim straight style jeans. I'm mostly looking for an engineer boot that will still fit with these jeans, and hopefully a comfortable boot (I live in NYC so I walk all day and stand on my feet at work). 

Thank you so much for any advice you can offer me. I really appreciate all your time. I'm a big fan of your blog, work and style. Keep up the good work and awesome style photos! Your posts always make my day!
John Lofgren in Brown Horween CXL with Double Volante straight-leg 21oz jeans, 7 1/2" leg opening


Thank you for the e-mail and very kind words!

I find the Engineer Boot's simple design to be so timeless and incredibly versatile. They really work with any style -- from denim to dressy, these boots have you covered.

Besides super skinny jeans, there really isn't a pair of jeans that don't look good with Engineers. Some of my favorite jeans are straight with some taper and I'm beginning to realize that a slim, tapered jean suits my build a little better -- I always thought a IH 666S would look better on me than my 634S. You won't have any problems pairing your arsenal of straight, tapered jeans with the three boot brands you've listed; however, you may find it necessary to adjust your cuffs to accommodate both lace-up and pull-on boots.

John Lofgren in Natural Horween CXL with Goodfellow & Co. straight-leg 14 oz jeans, 7 1/2" leg opening

I go through periods where I favor one brand of Engineers over another based on how often I wear them and one thing is certain: The Road Champ and John Lofgren boots have gone no longer than a few days without being worn. Up until recently, when I received my Role Club boots back from Takeshi Okuyama after having them resoled, I went about five months without wearing either one of my two pairs.

I think you'll be happy with any of the three brands and while I admire the Lofgren Short Shifts, I feel your tapered jeans may not pair too well with the short, open boot shaft. I've owned a few pair of shorty Engineers over the years and even with straight leg jeans the cuff/hem would catch on the boot collar requiring me to adjust every time I stood up.

Mister Freedom® Road Champ with Goodfellow & Co. straight-leg 14 oz jeans, 7 1/2" leg opening

I'm not sure what the currently availability is on the Road Champs, but they are in such high demand that you may find yourself on the list for quite some time -- they are VERY MUCH worth the wait, though. The Role Club boots are custom-made, so you'd have to contact Brian for his current wait time. For you, I would recommend the Lofgrens in the twelve inch version and they are currently available in a variety of colors and sizes through the Speedway-Shop via Rakuten.

Thanks again and I hope you find what you're looking for. 


Sunday, September 17, 2017



I've been reading your blog for a while. I just wanted to express my appreciation to you for all your hard work. You provide so many people with useful information and valuable insight. And that's after you spend your day protecting our county! Granted, I may not know you, but I have so much respect for you.

After wearing WESCO boots since 1992, I just pulled the trigger on a pair of John Lofgren Black Horween CXL via Standard & Strange -- a vendor that I was aware of only because of you. (Thanks!) I was tempted for buy a pair of WESCO's "off-the-shelf" 7400s, but I figured it was time for a change and I was concerned about the width; I normally wear a 12E because I like a little wiggle room. Any thoughts on whether the Lofgren D width will stretch a bit to accommodate a slightly wider foot?

Thank again for everything. I'm so grateful that there are people like you out there.

All my best,

Hi Gary,

Thank you so much for the kind words! It's feedback from guys (and gals) like you that keep up my motivation to maintain the blog even though I find myself overwhelmed with work and projects at times. Thank you!

Standard & Strange are so unique in that they offer so many brands others here don't carry.

Congrats on the Lofgren pickup! The boots will most definitely provide more room over time -- sooner than later based on level of wear. Mine were snug out of the box but when exposed to the elements, partnered with frequent use, the soft and supple, hot-stuffed leather began to stretch. I suggest wearing thicker-than-usual boot socks (think winter socks) for a while when breaking them in before transitioning back to your normal socks -- your body heat and socks with help to stretch both the medial and lateral portions.

I hope this helps.

Best regards!

Saturday, September 16, 2017


As a fan of all things leather I feel one of the best jackets to hit the market in many, many years is the Mister Freedom® Campus Jacket. This amazing piece is essentially a blank canvas in the form of the highly desired early-century Cossack style jacket. I began my systematic approach to giving it a unique personality almost immediately after purchasing it back in December 2013. I couldn't be more happy with the outcome and truly enjoy how it continues to evolve with each wear. Notice the indigo elbows and inner waist. Don't forget to visit my dedicated Campus Jacket page to see the evo.

Keep the eyes glued an ear to the rail for the upcoming "Baloo" jacket (Campus jacket grizzlified).

Photo source: Christophe's Instragram

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


My favorite pair of Lace-to-Toe boots in today's market.

Brand: John Lofgren & Co.
Model: Donkey Puncher
Leather: Horween CXL
Colors: Black, Burgundy
Sole / Heel: Vibram #705

Wednesday, August 30, 2017



Really like all your boots and looks. Very inspiring.
Were those your role club boots that fell apart? Did you talk to Brian at role club? I have pair ordered from role club and curious about your experience.

I talked to Brian and he did offer to repair them. This was an isolated incident, but I just wanted to have Takeshi work on another pair of my boots. This was by no means intended to be a dig at Brian -- never my style. I own two pairs of Role Clubs and have had two other boots resoled by him -- he's a fantastic boot maker and cobbler. Your gonna love your boots and don't be surprised if you contact him for another pair the moment you receive the first order.

What was intended to be a fun family outing ended up being quite a terrible vacation memory.

While walking from the car to a restaurant in Memphis, I felt something unusual on the bottom of my Engineer Boots. Did I step on a piece of gum? A food wrapper perhaps? When I looked down I was horrified to see that the leather sole of the right boot from the front to about the forefoot area had completely separated from the mid-sole and folded under the boot.

I hadn't put the boots through any unusual stress -- just normal, everyday casual wear, so I was baffled as to how this could even happen. The welt stitching had literally just unraveled. I was disappointed and quite honestly, I was embarrassed.

Luckily, I always bring a variety of boots with me whenever I travel. I went back to the car and pulled out the ol' trusty Road Champ boots from my luggage.

After much consideration, I decided to reach out across the world to my trusted cobbler. Takeshi has been repairing my boots now for over five years -- he's been repairing boots since 2002 -- and his high-level of craftsmanship is second to none. I am totally convinced that the Japanese are just some of the best in the biz -- Fukurokuju and Brass Tokyo have become household names for their impeccable craftsmanship and keen sense of vintage American style.

The idea of sending a pair of boots across the world to have them rebuilt may seem a bit off-putting to a lot of folks, but the whole process is quite painless, the turnaround time is impressive and the price is unbeatable.

Takeshi initially said the work would take a month, but I told him I was in no rush and from the time they left my hands to gettin' the boots back was exactly two months (27 June - 28 August). And it only cost me $180 + $50 shipping. Show me another cobbler with this level of experience and reputation and I might consider a change -- not likely.

Fukurokuju Boot Repair Shop
1-13-8 Nihonzutsumi
Taitoku, Tokyo
Website: Fukurokuju

Prices vary depending on the level of work and details, but I'm kind of over the fancy fluff "designer" soles/heels. I'm at the point where I just want my boots to be rugged and able to withstand daily wear without falling apart. Mister Freedom® and John Lofgren, have opted for heavy-duty composition rubber soles over reproduction Cat's Paw because they're functional and made to last. Thus the reason I chose to use Vibram #705 soles/heels for this (and future) repairs.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


It was February 1st back in 2015. I had Christophe Loiron and Jillian in the car with me and we were driving south on Interstate 5 headed to the USS Peleliu aboard Naval Base San Diego for my promotion. "Let The Good Times Role," JD McPherson's second full length album was playing -- a limited full run on NPR before its actual release on February 10th -- and that moment couldn't have been any more perfect.

On October 6, 2017, JD and the boys will release their third album and from the sounds of things this is gonna be amazing!

Saturday, July 29, 2017


While several companies currently offer WWII-style roughout boots, I was particularly interested in the M-43 Service Shoes recently made available by the incomparable John Lofgren. With first-hand knowledge and experience with how insanely rugged his boots are, the decision was a no-brainer.

I've been a huge fan of John's work since the early 2000's when it was known as Honky Tonk Clothing Co. and now this heritage brand ranks amongst the best in the business. It only made sense to choose the roughout boots from a family of footwear that speaks to the brilliance, craftsmanship and passion behind the man and his brand.

Brand: John Lofgren & Co.
Model: M-43 Service Shoes
Sizes: 6 - 12 (whole sizes), 6 1/2 - 11 1/2 (half sizes),12 -- all in D width
Soles: Vibram #700 Full Composition
Heels: Vibram #700
Leather: Roughout Natural Horween Chromexcel Cowhide (2.0-2.3 mm thick)
Price: ¥80,784 ($730)

Needless to say there will definitely be a comprehensive review of these incredible boots in the very near future after I log in some miles. Until then, this is going to be an amazing ride!

They pair well with his 14oz selvedge denim military chinos.

The quality of these boots are on par with the high-level of craftsmanship found not only in his footwear but also his clothing. 

The fine details added to even the box is was a boot geek like me loves to see

Amazing profile with the standard Goodyear Storm Welt

I've been in the market for WWII roughouts / boondockers for about twenty years -- ATF and WWII Impressions were okay, but nothing really jumped out at me until these were released. I'm glad I exercised patience over the years, 'cause these are absolutely stunning boots!

Unstructured soft toes guarantees an ever-evolving profile desired by collectors.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


Good Morning!

I've been lurking on your site and Instagram for quite awhile now and was wondering if I could ask a question that will undoubtedly lead to a not so quick answer. I own several pairs of nice boots (White's, Red Wing, Oak Street...) and have been interested in getting some engineers. I like the feature you did recently about sub $1000 options and I like the price point, heel shape, and the patina potential of the attractions vs. the other options in this price point. I saw you posted on Denimbro a couple times about your attractions and your opinions on them, but was wondering, now, a couple of years later what your thoughts are on them? Thanks so much. Love what you're doing, and thank you for your service.



Hello. Thanks for the e-mail and the kind words! 

Bottom line up front, these boots are worth every ¥en! Engineer Boots of this caliber that possess the characteristics you describe can not be purchased anywhere else. I mentioned my experience with stiff soles on a review from back in 2015, but it was definitely no reason to let these go. I did, however, experience a momentary lapse of reason and almost sold them only because they sat in my closet unworn for a long period of time while I was breaking in other boots. The decision not to let them go was smart decision -- I absolutely love these boots!

While I still find the soles are still a little stiff, I would absolutely purchase another pair if lost. I know they've slightly modified the last on the current models, but I'm not sure if this mitigated any of the stiff feeling. Either way, I HIGHLY recommend these to anyone looking to purchase one of the nicest Engineers available today. 

Ordering from Attractons Co. couldn't be any easier. Atsushi-san is the dedicated rep for overseas purchases and can be contacted

Thursday, July 20, 2017


I received an update from Mr. Okuyama and here's we agreed on the best options:

  • Vibram #705 Half-Sole
  • Double Mid-Sole Dyed Black
  • Single Stitch Goodyear Welt
  • One Month turnaround -- I said I wasn't in a rush to get the boots back and he surprised me by saying his no-rush time would be only a month
  • Price: ¥19,440 ($174 + Shipping) -- Prices vary on the level of custom options.
  • Final Total will be approximately $300 +/- (including shipping both ways)
I had these Mister Freedom® Road Champ Boots re-soled by Mr. Okuyama approximately six years ago and the double leather mid-soles and leather half-soles show no sign of lettin' up. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


I came across some more belts ready to be sized to your needs along with a couple of carry overs from my last sale. Since I'm continuing to clear out some stock to make room for current and future VEB Leather projects, I'm offering them at unbeatable prices. Unsold belts will be stored away until I rediscover them again.

Left to Right:

  • Black Belt x Antique Brass Buckle / 1 3/4" wide / 9-10 Ounce Oak-Tanned American Cowhide / Unsized; Can be sized up to 48" - $65 Shipped
  • Black Belt x Black Buckle / 1 1/4" wide / 9-10 Ounce Oak-Tanned American Cowhide / Unsized; Can be sized up to 44" - $50 Shipped
  • Black Belt x Nickel Buckle / 1 3/4" wide / 9-10 Ounce Oak-Tanned American Cowhide / Unsized; Can be sized up to 38" - $65 Shipped
  • Hair-On-Hide x Brass Hardware / 1 1/2" wide / Unsized; Can be sized up to 40" - $65 Shipped
  • Saf-T-Flash. Natural Horween CXL x Antique Brass Buckle / 1 3/4" wide / Size 30 - $130 shipped
  • Brown x Brass Buckle / 1 3/4" wide / 9-10 Ounce Oak-Tanned American Cowhide / Unsized;  Can be sized up to 48" - $65 Shipped
  • Brown x Nickel Buckle / 1 3/4" wide / 9-10 Ounce Oak-Tanned American Cowhide / Unsized; Can be sized up to 48" - $65 Shipped

*Shipped to US Addresses only

*Please know your size - Belt size is not your waist size. Add at least 2 inches to your waist measurement to determine belt size. 

*No Returns

E-mail me at or DM me on my Instagram if interested.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Contemplating sending him some boots. I just can't figure out the website!
Maybe blog on how you do?

Step 1. Search the Hukurokuju Blog (ten years of builds!) and choose the resole style you like. Save the photo(s). I'm having my boots built with the above specifics.

Step 2. E-mail Takeshi Okuyama at with the type of boots/shoes you have along with the saved photo(s) from step 1.

Step 3. You should receive an e-mail from them within a few days with some questions regarding your build and asking you to send the boots.

Step 4. Send your boots to (don't forget to purchase insurance):

Fukurokuju Boot Repair Shop
1-13-8 Nihonzutsumi
Taitoku, Tokyo

* I just sent mine today using USPS and the shipping was $77.85. I'm sure there are better, less expensive options out there like ... DHL?

Step 5. Send a courtesy e-mail letting them know you've sent the boots.

Step 6. You may receive an e-mail from them confirming receipt of the boots. Now that the boots can be inspected, they may have further questions about the build. At this point, they may give you a roundabout time frame for when you'll get 'em back -- usually a minimum of two months.

Simple as that!