Custom shoes are a rare beast in this day and age. Even when you can find them, they’re liable to cost as much as a mortgage payment. Footwear from Russell Moccasin is the exception to the rule. They’ve been producing high-quality custom shoes in Wisconsin (which is apparently Mecca for domestic footwear production) since 1898. All their shoes are handmade to the specs of your feet; most are priced around $200, which is bargain basement pricing for such a product. I’ve been lucky enough to wear a pair of their marquee Oneida Mocs, which were provided to the U.S. government for makers of blimps during WWII, so as not to tear the fabric they walked on while working (History Channel geek-alert.)
More on the Oneida Mocs after the jump.
The Oneidas are a four-eyelet, lace-up moc with an extra-heavy boar hide sole, purportedly for better wear and water resistance. I was skeptical of this claim at first, but I am proud to say that after numerous wearings in rain storms, I have yet to even detect dampness inside the shoe. The uppers appear fully waterproof as well – very impressive. They also have triple sole construction for even greater durability, but they can still be resoled so they won’t wear out just when you wear them in. Stylewise, they look great with jeans or khakis and, similar to the Thoroughgood boots, are passable at the office depending on how formal it is. Also, they’re an excellent alternative to the now overexposed boat shoe, provided you actually know boating. They’ve fast become a favorite shoe, from a company that is old school in the best way possible.
Author’s Note: Their superior quality due to being handmade is easily evident, and the Mocs are reminiscent of likes of L.L. Bean before they outsourced most of their production overseas. Russell’s durability really is impressive, with many customers clocking 15+ years on their footwear; take a look here, for an example. If you’re a hunter Russell, can even make you shoes out of your own hides. Lastly, unlike other “American Heritage” brands, Russell hasn’t doubled their prices to gouge the hipster and Japanese markets.