Today I strolled by my friend Mark's shop (full disclosure and all that jazz) and decided to pop in to have a closer look at some chukkas, that I have had my eyes on for quite a while now. I wasn't sure, if I were to buy them or not, but after trying them on, there was no doubt in my mind, that I needed to add them to my wardrobe. So I got these instead of the Loakes, I recently ordered, as the order got cancelled. Though I had sworn, that I wouldn't be purchasing another piece of footwear with a moc toe, I got weak and caved in. (Although for the record it must be said, that I consider moccasins (bluchers, boat shoes etc) a true mainstay and a go to, when it comes to my choice of footwear)
The chukkas were from Eastland, which isn't normally a brand, that I would ever consider buying, since their production has been outsourced to the Far East. But they have created a nice little collection called "Made in Maine", that is all made in the US - in Maine, of course. I do suspect, that Eastland doesn't have their own product facilities anymore, so suspicion tells me, that they are made by Rancourt & Co. This isn't a bad thing what so ever, as Rancourt is known for making some very well-made products for a lot of prominent customers like Ralph Lauren for instance.
What really spoke to me was the sleek design, which means, that there is no heel slipping, as you experience with many chukkas. The last shape, that they used is great. Because of my wide feet I'm hoping, that they'll stretch out just slightly, but I'm seriously considering swapping my Birkenstocks for these as my new slippers. They'll be perfect, once I start wearing them.
The raw hide laces are still very stiff, but I'll be giving them some Neatsfoot oil or some Huberd's shoe oil in order to soften them up and thus creating a slightly nicer and tighter knot.
The peanut coloured suede, which comes from Horween, complements the plantation crepe sole very nicely, I think
I'm not sure, if this picture gives a true representation of the shape, but they are very sleek and I see them going very well with a pair of tapered jeans.
Here's what made me buy them; Perfect hand stitches. A token of true craftsmanship.
As many of you have probably noticed, the market is flooded with hand-sewn moccasin, which is a good thing to me, as I love them, as I enjoy the different alternatives. However I haven't been impressed by some of the recent Quoddys and Yuketens, as the stitching hasn't been slightly off, and some of the leathers haven't been impressive either. I'm not sure, if the increase of interest has meant a decline of quality. I'm not saying, that Yuketen, nor Quoddy, is bad in any way, but for a premium price I think you have to use suitable and good leathers and one of the most important parts, the hand stitching, can't be crooked.
So I decided to go for these, as the stitching is spotless and the leather feels really nice. I'm not knowledgeable enough on Horween suedes, but it feels really nice and I'm sure, it'll age well and take a beating. I'm quite sure however, that the leather has been oil-tanned, as it has a sort of waxy feel on the grain side, which you can see on the inside, as they are unlined..
I forgot to use the word, sturdy. In case you were in doubt, these are very sturdy.
A heavy leather midsole and a nice straight welt-stitching. Quality.
I like the fact, that the socklining is made of the same material, as the shoe itself.
If you are in the market for some bluchers, loafers, boat shoes, deck shoes with a hand-sewn toe, I suggest you give Eastland Made in Maine a look. They are equally as good, if not better than many of the more hyped brands, that are getting a lot of attention at the moment.
Now if I could just get the pair of Eastland Made in Maine bluchers in olive Chromexcel, out of my head, before I go ahead and buy both. Luckily I have a birthday approaching in the near future.