Russell's gifted craftsmen tend to stay a long time at Russell, says company president Ralph Fabricius, "which is how we maintain our quality and satisfaction level with our customers... you don't just teach somebody off the street how to become a master boot maker overnight... it takes time."
In 1980, Chippewa Shoe Manufacturing Company embarked on a new campaign, - "Hand Crafted by people who care". The campaign focused on the skill of the craftsmen who work for Chippewa that are truly responsible for the high quality outdoor footwear by ORIGINAL CHIPPEWA®. Over the years, this campaign has evolved into our company philosophy that Chippewa products use only premium raw materials and are hand crafted in USA. To this day, our U.S. made boots still carry the "Hand Crafted in USA" labels as homage to the men and women that have built the Chippewa brand.
Oak Street shoes and boots are constructed from renowned Horween Chromexcel leather. Chromexcel undergoes 89 separate processes taking 28 days and utilizing all five floors of the Horween facility in Chicago. Over the past 100 years very little has changed in the formula. Food-grade beef tallow, cosmetic-grade beeswax, marine oil, chrome salts, tree bark extracts and naturally occurring pigments are combined. The mixture is then applied using heat, steam pressure, the hands of craftsman and time. This ultimately yields the soft, supple and durable leather that is used for your shoes or boots.
PS: The first Timberland boots were manufactured by the Abington Shoe Company in Newmarket, N.H., in 1973. The company later changed its name to the Timberland Company following on the success of the Timberland boot. Manufacturing moved to Tennessee in the 1980s. Timberland later opened overseas factories, first in the Dominican Republic and then in China.
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Rancourt’s line is made in their factory in Lewiston, ME. In addition, they contract for Sperry, Eastland, Red Wing, Ralph Lauren, Timberland, Helm, and Brooks Brothers, making an average of 1,000 shoes per week. Rancourt sub-contracts out to the local cottage industry. As of 2010, Rancourt has eight handsewers, all between the ages of 42 and 62.
Rancourt has an interesting history. Mike Rancourt’s father, David, bought the original family owned factory (name currently unknown) in the 1960s and sold it to Quoddy in the early 1970s. David Rancourt worked for Quoddy for until 1982, then opened his own company called Downeast Casual Footwear, which contracted for companies like Cole Haan. Downeast was sold to Cole Haan in 1987 and both Mike and David stayed on for five years. Cole Haan expanded to several factories in Maine and Mike became the president of manufacturing for Cole Haan. When Cole Haan was bought out by Nike, they began outsourcing production. As a result, Mike (and presumably David) left Cole Haan and opened Maine Shoe in 1992 with his wife by purchasing a closed-down factory. Maine Shoe also did a lot of contract work, notably for Allen Edmonds. AE bought Maine Shoe in 1997, and Mike stayed on to work for Allen Edmonds for some time. In October of 2009, Mike opened up Rancourt with his son Kyle.
In addition to handsewns, Rancourt has a Blake line that utilizes Blake/Rapid construction using synthetic innersoles wrapped in leather. However, Rancourt replaces the innersole during recrafting. As a point of curiosity, all Rancourt shell cordovan offerings are made from natural Horween shell cordovan dyed by Rancourt.
Owned by Kevin and Kirsten Shorey, Quoddy LLC was formed in 1998. The Quoddy family has been part of the Maine handsewers for generations back to the LL Bean days. Their line is sewn in their self-owned factory in Lewiston, ME, although their headquarters are in Perry, Maine. Clicking, preparation, and customer service are handled in Perry, while sewing and finishing are done in Lewiston. Their factory produces less than 500 shoes per week. About 25% of Quoddy shoes are exported to Asia.Quoddy has a staff of about 40, and they do collaborations with several companies including UGG..
Highland Shoe Company
Started by Adam Sutton, Highland Shoe Company does not own a line, but contracts for many other lines in the US.Their factory is located in Brewer, ME. Highland produces shoes for Yuketen, Timberland, Red Wing, Oak Street Bootmakers, Alden Cape Cod, and Sperry Top-Sider, and their factory produces just over 400 shoes per week and employs about 35 people. Founded in 2003, Highland Shoe Company was bought by Justin Brands, Inc in May of 2013, which is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway and also owns Justin Boot Co., Tony Lama Boot Co., Nocona Boot Co., Chippewa Boot Co. and Justin Original Workboots. Of the shoes Highland makes, they estimate 50 to 60% of their shoes are exported to Asain markets.
New England Outerwear Company
Founded in 2012 by Greg Cordeiro and Dan Heselton, NEOC owns and operates its own small workshop in Lewiston, ME, consisting of seven people.
Arrow Moccasin Company
Arrow Moccasin Company was founded in 1951 by the Ouelette family and is located in Hudson, MA. All their moccasins are produced by the family on site.
Yuketen has a variety of offerings, some of which are made in America. Yuketen was a joint venture under Yuki Matsuda’s Meg Company with Ken and Kirsten Shorey during the late 1990s. Yuketen and Quoddy worked side by side until 2006. The Yuketen name is a derivation of the three founders.
All of Yuketen’s hand lasted constructed shoes are American made in their own workshop in Maine, likely in Lewiston, or contracted out through Highland or the local cottage industry. Although Yuketen’s lineup is extensive, they only produce whatever retailers order, so many models may never be made. All of Yuketen’s welted shoes appear to be made in Canada (possibly by Dayton) and Mexico (Pistolero). A pair of Yuketen shoes takes between approximately 96 and 120 hours to make.
W.C. Russell Moccasin Company was founded in 1898 by Will Russell, who established the company in response to the Wisconsin logging business. It was eventually bought by Bill Gustin, who established the line. It remains a family owned and operated company located in Berlin, WI.
A company that certainly needs no introduction. All of AE’s MIUSA handsewns are sewn in their Port Washington, WI factory, while all others are sewn in the Dominican Republic. They have done some contracting, including for Brooks Brothers. Rancourt used to do AE’s handsewn work in the late 90s and 00s.
Gokey has an incredibly rich history operating in several locations including St. Paul, MN where Gokey utilized a cottage system to produce their custom mocs. Acquired by Orvis in 1997, the Gokey/Orvis factory is now located in Tipton, MO.
Hailing from Dexter, ME, Town View Leather, owned and operated by Galen and Gayenne Wintle, offers their “Ole’ Maine Comfort Classics.” Galen worked for Dexter Shoe, a now-defunct Maine handsewer, for 22 years. They offer single and double soled moccasins designed for lounge use.
Also out of Dexter, ME, Wassookeag offers made-to-order traditional leather soled moccasins in several leather options, including triple soled mocs for heavy outdoor use.
Austin Handsewn Company is located in South Paris, ME. They are likely one of the local cottage industry companies.
Willymoc was founded in 1985 by Willy O’Neal after several decades with another Maine handsewing company. Willy works with his wife Barb out of their own workshop to create custom mocs in a variety of leathers including a wide variety of exotics.
This was an interesting search, and although we don’t doubt that there are mistakes and missing pieces, we have made huge strides towards unraveling some of the mysteries. We’ll be happy to answer questions or add more pieces if you are aware of them.
We have concluded that the Maine handsewing industry in particular is a giant incestuous cesspool of contracts and collaborations and more. It’s highly likely that there are contracts that we have not able to track down. Note that the above only contains private label, distinguished by the lack of transparency. Collaborations were not included. Thanks for reading, and we look forward to discussing our findings.
See full thread at: http://www.reddit.com/r/malefashionadvice/comments/1uw4kj/american_handsewns_who_makes_them_and_where/
Also about Sperry Made In Maine collection:
Sperry Top-Sider Launches Handcrafted in Maine Collection
Lexington, Mass, and Brewer, Maine – (Aug. 20, 2012) – Iconic nautical performance and lifestyle brand Sperry Top-Sider announced the launch of Handcrafted in Maine, a new collection of footwear featuring the original boat shoe, the Authentic Original (A/O) style and a few others, that are handcrafted in America in Brewer, Maine, with most materials provided by U.S. suppliers.
Handcrafted in Maine is the result of a partnership with Highland Shoe Company, a family-owned factory in Brewer, Maine, that boasts a rich history of footwear manufacturing. The collection is entirely hand-sewn and is based on Paul Sperry’s original construction of his first boat shoe, as well as other iconic silhouettes.
“The Handcrafted in Maine collection realizes a dream that many of us at Sperry Top-Sider have had for some time,” said Craig Reingold, President of Sperry Top-Sider. “We are an American Original, and we want to honor that fact by showcasing the incredible work being done by artisans here in the United States.”
The inaugural collection – currently available in Sperry Top-Sider-owned specialty retail outlets – features faithful interpretations of the original boat shoe, the A/O, which Paul Sperry invented in 1935. Building on this Spring ‘12 collection, the broader Fall '12 collection includes three additional classic Sperry Top-Sider styles: the Captain’s Oxford, the Ranger Moc 4-Eye and the Chukka Boot. Pricing for the Handcrafted in Maine collection starts at $300 for the A/O style.
Only the finest materials are used to create this limited-edition Handcrafted in Mainecollection of footwear. The soft supple leather comes from Horween Leather Company in Chicago, the sturdy leather laces can only be found in Auburn, Kentucky, and the waxed thread that is essential to the hand sewing process comes from Lewiston, Maine. The shoes’ outsoles feature a Razor-Siping design that has been characteristic of Sperry Top-Sider shoes since their inception in 1935. Each box is hand stamped with the collection logo.
“We are impressed with the attention to detail that goes into the construction of each shoe,” adds Reingold. “The craftsmen in Brewer have dedicated their lives to perfecting an art that is becoming increasingly rare, even in a geographic region with a rich heritage in shoemaking. The sense of pride that goes into their work is incredible.“
The Fall collection will be available in September 2012 at key high-end retailers, as well as on sperrytopsider.com and at select Sperry Top-Sider retail stores. The current inaugural collection for Spring '12 collection is available on sperrytopsider.com and in select Sperry Top-Sider retail stores. For more information and to view a short video featuring the Brewer, Maine, manufacturing team please go to sperrytop-sider.com.
About Sperry Top-Sider
Since 1935, Sperry Top-Sider has been the leading brand of footwear for those with a Passion for the Sea. From its introduction of the world’s first Razor-Siped rubber outsole for non-marking traction to advanced technical fabrication to combat the elements, Sperry Top-Sider remains at the vanguard of high-performance amphibious footwear for life and activities in, on and around the water.
Available around the globe in independent, marine, outdoor and department stores, Sperry Top-Sider is the official footwear of the Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regattas, Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week, the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider and the National Safe Boating Council.
Since early 2010, the brand has launched 19 Sperry Top-Sider specialty retail stores in the U.S. – retail formats dedicated to the Passion for the Sea lifestyle. Sperry Top-Sider is a division of the Collective Brands Performance and Lifestyle Group, a subsidiary of Collective Brands, Inc. (NYSE: PSS). For more information, please visit http://www.sperrytopsider.com.