Last month Huckberry caught up with Vince, owner and founder of Truman Boot Co. to get his thoughts on boots, the nuances of leather, and what inspires him.
Truman Boot Co. started with the founder, Vince Romano, and his vision to bring long-lasting quality back to a world that had settled for disposability. His vision quickly gained traction among thoughtful consumers and Truman Boot Co. quickly grew out of their original horse barn workshop in rural Pennsylvania. After heading west for open pastures a few years back, their business and each pair of their ruggedly handsome boots, like the Service Boot, is still handmade in their Oregon workshop. In honor of our exclusive Service Boot being released, we sat down with Vince to get some more insight on Truman's humble beginnings and dedication to handmade, small-batch bootmaking.
What was the first pair of boots that you owned?
You know, I really don’t remember the exact boot. It was some sort of work boot. I had been working on our dairy farm since I was 11, and I worked at a sawmill during the day. I just remember running through a pair of boots every 6 months. I didn’t know much at all about footwear construction so I had no idea what was good or bad about it. I just remember feeling super frustrated with that fact that they wouldn’t hold up to the way I treated them.
Was there a pair of boots that was "the one" that made you fall in love with it enough to start Truman?
Definitely, the whole thing started with a single pair I had bought second hand and had no idea of the brand. I wore them for years and resoled them many times. When the upper started to deteriorate beyond repair, I broke them down and rebuilt them. It turned from what I thought was going to be an afternoon project into a longterm obsession.
Many people know Truman for the unique leathers you guys use. Can you talk a little bit about your approach there and what sets Truman apart?
All of our production and development is done here under the same roof. So I can get a sample of leather in from a given tannery and turn it into a boot or even test a new design with it in just a few hours. Since I am in control of the entire process I am able to launch, stop, start and redevelop things rapidly. There is no design team or board of directors to get approval from, so this allows the company to be extremely flexible on which leathers we use. The folks cutting leather here are familiar with the entire process of boot making so we’re very accustomed to working with challenging leathers that simply will not work in a larger factory setting with someone whose only job is cutting leather. Some of the tanneries are sending new developments directly to us to try before they even make it to market.
Can you give us a quick rundown on the leathers used in our exclusive boots that just dropped? What do you like about them/what makes them special?
Waxy Commander is from C.F Stead in the UK. It’s at the top of the list of tanneries internationally known for their leather quality, innovation and development of unique leathers, which goes hand in hand with what we do. The Waxy Commander is unique in the fact that it is one of the most self healing leathers we’ve ever run. You can put these through the ringer and just hit them with a brush and some wax and they are back in shape like they just came out the box. It’s fully waterproof, and because of the shrunken fiber aspect it doesn’t wrinkle much and ages very gracefully.
How important is Made-in-USA important to Truman?
Honestly, it’s not. I think the concept of making the product yourself is what we are most inspired by, and we happen to be in the USA. And just like the food industry and the way local and organic food has gone, it’s about knowing who, what and where the products we consume come from. It trickles down from our food, to our cloths, our cars, our energy, etc, and we want to know that we are building our lifestyle on products that are not coming at a cost to someone else’s lifestyle.
Style icon that inspired you?
I wouldn’t say I have any individual icon that inspired me but the American farmer is where most of my personal style comes from. Nothing beats a hard wearing pair of jeans, a t-shirt (not a heavy one) and a button-down, and it’s what every farmer across the nation has been wearing since denim was invented. I don’t deviate much from that. I treat everything very rough, it’s very hard for me to get something to hold up and last, and when it does I certainly notice it. There’s a ton of stuff out there that appears to be well-built, heavier, and of what looks like better material with a huge price tag, and it simply does not hold up to how I wear it.
Outside of boots, where/what else do you look to for design inspiration?
I think my family's lifestyle inspires a lot of what I do on the design floor. I’ve got land and animals I tend to every morning and night. And as I get older I find some things changing and it’s reflected in what we build here at Truman. I have a hard, fast rule, which is: never build something we won’t wear. Moving back to the PNW again brings us to a point where all our new development this fall is based simply on what we want to wear, here in this climate.