Tell me more about the people you work with.
We have an eclectic bunch of people in the factory. For starters, my dad works in production usually 6 days a week and he is an important pillar to the company. My mom works 5 days a week in our store front and my brother works in the factory as well. Aside from those, we have around 16-17 other people responsible for patterns, clicking, closing, lasting and bottoming. We are a very small team, producing around 30 pairs per day.
Can you give me a rundown on Viberg different lasts?
We have our set stock of work industrial steel toe lasts. Some western style pointed toes. Then I’ve basically brought on 6-7 new styles of lasts. Usually I try to have something new almost every year as I love the development of it, and I just think it makes the company unique in that regard. Our most popular is the 2030 last, slim silhouette, a Canadian military uniform last.
I then have some sprung toe lasts, which are very aggressive. I’ve just done an modified ortho style last, based from a vintage piece I own. It’s actually pretty overwhelming, specially since we are made to order. We do not offer a stock program aside from our industrial boots. So all the lifestyle is a made to order. You will hardly see any two stores haveing the same product.
A logger buying a pair of logging boots will come back because …
… because of the fit and comfort of our lasts and the overall durability of the boots. There is a break in period with most of our industrial product , like a pair of Selvedge jeans, which once broken in, they will fit like a slipper to your foot. The leather just needs time to mould to the foot.
What are the differences in the bootmaking process when using chromeexcell and cordovan?
When using the chromexcel leathers we are running at around 6 – 6.5 oz, so when we are lasting it, it’s the same process as everything else, steam it, and proceed to the pull over machine and then we wipe in the sides by hand. So we are doing 50/50 hand lasting.
With the shell, it’s really still a learning curve for us since the leather fibre is so dense. We actually size up all of our uppers to accommodate a lack of stretch. Other wise hand lasting, it will be easy to tear with pliers. It makes a beautiful looking shoe or boot but it’s not at all an easy leather to work with, at least for us. Most companies would be doing goodyear welt and using a machine to evenly pull over the upper, so they aren’t having to struggle as much since they aren’t doing hand lasting.
Do you plan in the near future to make sleeker boots instead of classic boots?
I am planning to move into a more refined product. I believe from where I was 4-5 years ago, I have really made a lot of progress. But definitely I want to move more into that direction. I feel like we have made boots, heavy chunky industrial product for 80 plus years, it’s time to adapt a bit, while at the same time keeping the core boots which got us to where we are today.
To be continued…