Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I've been anxiously awaiting the release of the John Lofgren & Co. Engineer Boots since the day they were announced and, finally, after months of restless waiting, they are mine (insert evil laughter).

The first thing I noticed is the understated box with the nicely designed label affixed onto the short end, reminiscent of originals from the 1950's and consistent with the style from which these boots were born.


The packing is standard but contains an extra sheet of light foam to protect the Horween leather - a nice level of attention-to-detail from John and his crew for these high-end boots.  The open container reminded me of a really cool shadow box and I wanted to just tack it up to the wall.

My first impression after pulling off the lid is there's no mistaking the smell of leather that goes through an 89-step tanning process from the world famous Horween Leather Company.  Known as Chromexcel or simply CXL leather, footwear aficionados are drawn to this high-quality leather (to include yours truly).  One whiff from the freshly opened box and you know it's Horween leather.  For those not familiar with Horween CXL, the leather is buttery soft and smooth. 

When I first began collecting Vintage Engineer Boots over twenty years ago, white welt stitching was my clue that boots were well made.  Today's white thread for me is triple stitching. These boots bear both qualities on the parts where they count most - the vamp and heel counter.

While distancing himself from the crowd, John took his boots to the next level by adding Goodyear storm welts. Something I haven't seen any other modern-day boot company tackle - another visually pleasing piece of attention-to-detail.

Just like any other Engineer Boot enthusiast, I'm somewhat of a Cat's Paw snob; however, the fact that John went with the Vibram sole/heel combination (made in the USA - most are made in China) leads me to think that he opted to go the function over form direction.  In this case consumers get the best of both worlds.  For me, it's actually a breath of fresh air as Cat's Paw's tend to wear a lot quicker requiring more trips to the local Cobbler.  He also made sure to use the desired "8" stitch over the half-sole.  

The heel/sole combination attributes of this footwear style are what really set the conditions of a really good looking pair.  This is what frames the rest of the boot.  For example, a really nice Carlo of Hollywood painting isn't as inspiring without it's attractive force perspective frame setting it off.  John used a double mid-sole with a perfectly stacked heel capped with 5/8 inches of Vibram, totaling 1 5/8" - not too high and not disappointingly low.  

The heel, commonly referred to (but unofficially named) the "Cuban Heel" is another piece of visual candy.  Photo #4 provides a more accurate portrayal of its shape.  This, combined with the pair-shaped contour of the heel counter, lends to the overall attractive and streamlined symmetry of these boots - something a lot of companies have missed the mark on.

The low rounded (non-steel) toe profile doesn't bear a modern-day "bump" or bulbous look found on lasts used by many of today's companies.  John chose to stay consistent with the overall look of his 1950's inspired Engineer Boots and carved out a custom last desired by collectors; round and tapered in both height and width - no cookie cutter, off-the-shelf last here.

Measurement/Sizing - I comfortably wear a US size 8 in Engineer Boots with an extra tiny bit of wiggle room (just the way I like 'em), but in these boots the US size 7 (Japanese size 25) fit just like my normal size 8's.  At first don, I noticed the comfortable snug feeling around the top of the foot between the toe box and upper vamp.  You just know that with time, they will stretch and form to the characteristics of your movements - there's nothing better than being the first to break in high quality leather.  The way John designed the heel counter, my heels don't swim around as with a few of my other Engineer Boots.  Between the fit of the vamp and the heel area, there doesn't seem to be a need to adjust the instep strap - again, something I normally have to do with of few of my other boots.  

These size 7's measure 11 3/8" from heel to toe with heel against wall and 4 3/16" at the widest part of the sole.  As a reference, the sizing on these are similar to Red Wing 2268's.

These boots simply look and feel amazing!   I own quite a few high-end Engineer Boots and the John Lofgren & Co. Engineer Boots easily fit into that category ... without question.  I've recently gotten over walking on eggshells with my new high-end boots, so with these I put 'em on and wore them like they owed me money.  Having said that, these are built like tanks and will age beautifully.    

Available Colors: Black (Sizes 7 - 12), Brown (Sized 8-10) in D width 
Soles / Heels: Vibram #705 / Vibram 
Leather: Horween Chromexcel Cowhide (2.3-2.6mm thick) 
Hardware: Antiqued Brass
Price: ¥83,790

It's obvious John put a lot of thought and energy into his boots. Combined with his great customer service, fast shipping and endless production of high-end clothing, this is a brand to keep at the top of your list. If these were ever lost or stolen, I wouldn't hesitate to order another pair.  Get yours while you can.

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