15 Brands Making High Quality Shoes & Boots In The USA
Producing footwear in the United States is no easy or inexpensive task for the prized few makers still honing their craft domestically, but the results are worth it.
When a pair of shoes doesn’t pass muster, you tend to know right away. It could come down to improper material or design, a poor fit or some combination of the three, but when a company cuts corners (even slightly), it tends to radiate from the ground up. When you know, you really know.
Which is why you should invest in a pair of made in the USA shoes. Producing footwear in the United States is no easy or inexpensive task for the prized few makers still honing their craft domestically, but it tends to mean one crucial thing: all those corners being cut by other footwear brands become a key point of emphasis for the companies still handmaking their footwear in small batches. Every stitch, every fold and every piece of the shoe counts, since resources are hard to come by and careful craftsmanship costs a pretty penny.
The next pair of shoes or boots you buy should be made in the United States – you don’t have to take our word for it, but we’re pulling back the curtain to show you why USA-made footwear still matters.
What does Made in the USA footwear mean?
Like other made in the USA categories, the Federal Trade Commission offers a handy starting guide as to what qualifies for that coveted label. In this case, “all or virtually all” of the product must be made in the United States in terms of assembly, and it’s all the better if a brand uses American-made materials like leather in its uppers and throughout the shoe.
To take things a step further, the FTC requires that textile and wool materials from the United States are disclosed as such when used in a pair of USA-made shoes or boots.
A good rule of thumb: a true all-American footwear maker should be transparent about the location of its factories, its production processes and even its materials, especially those it sources from the United States.
Why made in the USA shoes & boots are worth the money
If we’ve said it once, we’ll say it again: the difference is in the details, be it proper sole construction, proper upper stitching on a pair of finely crafted work boots, or the right lace design. The small touches matter, and it’s hard not to appreciate just how deeply USA-made footwear brands tend to obsess over the finer details.
Sourcing rich American leathers or breezy sneaker materials is quite the feat, and to put it all together in a wearable, stylish, timeless shoe is a true mark of the craft. If it were easy, more companies would quite literally put their best foot forward and produce shoes domestically. That makes the brands making shoes in the USA all the more rare (and important, to boot), giving them an air of distinction, much like their British shoemaking counterparts.
In matters of style as well as construction, when you’re wearing a pair of American-made shoes, you can certainly tell. The details are more finely tuned, the materials are exceptional, and the overall impact is one that lends confidence and classic style to any wardrobe, whether you lace up sneakers or moc toe boots.
The best made in the USA shoes & boots brands
Oak Street Bootmakers
The oft-chilly confines of Chicago provide the perfect home base for a brand obsessed with recreating chunky, workman-like and highly durable leather boots and moccasins. When you want a pair of shoes made the old-school way, with a deep knowledge of exactly where and how those shoes were made, turn to Oak Street Bootmakers.
Oak Street is serious about following FTC regulations – and then some – with handcrafted components, a range of made-in-the-USA shoe care accessories and 100% assembly in the States. In fact, serious might be an understatement, and it shines through in the company’s signature heritage moc toe boots.
Now, revered boot and dress shoe maker Allen Edmonds doesn’t go above and beyond in quite the same sense as Oak Street Bootmakers, and it certainly doesn’t make as many styles in the States as the old days.
Yet, it does handcraft shoes in Port Washington, Wisconsin, with plenty of welcome attention to detail and an old-world reverence for long-lasting shoes. Its specialty among its ‘Crafted in the USA’ styles seems to be sturdy-yet-sleek leather dress boots, often outfitted with a durable lug sole to take on slick streets.
These are the kind of boots that would pair up nicely with well-worn USA-made selvedge denim and flannel shirt, or just a simple light wash jeans and white tee combo (the more broken in the boots, the better).
Nicks Handmade Boots
The most gruelling conditions and gruelling jobs require boots that go the extra mile, and then keep going. There might not be a tougher pair of boots out there than those made by Nicks Boots, whether you want an impossibly tough logger-style pair, a low-profile moc toe chukka or thermal lace-ups for exceptional warmth.
What’s the secret with Nicks Boots? Sixty years of Spokane, Washington craftsmanship certainly helps bolster the company’s bookmaking legacy, as does the use of leather from revered brands like Pennsylvania’s Wickett & Craig.
Word of mouth never hurts either, and the company has plenty of devout fans on style forums singing its praises.
Incredibly, you’ll find another brand making some of the best USA-made boots right in Spokane, with an approach that’s just as meticulous and hardwearing. White’s Boots are also some of the toughest on the market, as luck would have it, and the company’s heritage – dating back to 1853 – speaks to that commitment to long-lasting quality and time-tested methods.
White’s uses its own custom last to hone in on the perfect fit for your foot, and the brand has gone so far as to trademark that technology in everything from moc toe boots to more fashion-forward (yet no less richly crafted) leather lifestyle designs.
New Balance Made in the USA Collection
The tides have shifted over the years, so while plenty of New Balance kicks are now made elsewhere, there’s still a core collection – updated seasonally – made in the States. Sneakers are more delicate to design and construct than sturdy-soled leather boots, so New Balance produces its range with at least 70% ‘domestic value’ (including things like materials).
And yet, sneakerheads are still getting a timeless introduction to the New Balance brand, including silhouettes like the chunky, on-trend 990v3 in bold seasonal colourways. The retro-runner-style 990 is also a highlight, especially in a series of dusty, muted shades, and each pair should deliver a comfortable ride underfoot.
It makes sense that the American West, pioneered on hard work and grit, would give rise to a company fiercely dedicated to making shoes in the USA, especially hardwearing leather work boots. And while there are certainly plenty of companies competing for space in your rotation of leather boots, few are doing it quite like Chippewa Boots.
Wisconsin-made leather work boots helped found the company, and it has since expanded (naturally) into rugged logger styles, pull-on boots and even steel-toe safety designs. While not all its range is still made in the States, plenty of the core lines stay true to American-made craftsmanship: sturdy soles, premium-quality hides and workday-ready dependability.
Rancourt & Co.
Up the road from Boston, along the idyllic shores of Maine, you’ll find the inspiration and heritage behind family-owned footwear makers Rancourt & Co. The company dates back to 1967, but it seems to have undergone a resurgence as of late, especially in bustling cities like New York City.
You might say that’s all thanks to special-edition collaborations with companies like Tanner Goods and even shoes done in partnership with preppy favourite J. Crew, but the reality is that Rancourt make mighty fine, handsome and richly crafted kicks. Its penny loafers are a tried-and-true classic, made with high-end Chromexcel leather, and each pair is handcrafted using time-tested methods.
Truman Boot Co.
Truman Boot Co. is so dedicated to quality and craftsmanship in its boot rotation that it solicits ideas from customers, then produces the resulting styles in small batches. It’s a one-of-a-kind and truly personalised approach that results in the kind of boots you can certainly be proud to wear.
Its Built to Order Boots, which prove suitably tricky to come by, require production lead times of up to two months, which just goes to show that Truman is crafting your boots with the utmost care.
Now, it’s not all rugged and sturdy boots when it comes to made-in-America footwear. If you want to lighten up your footwear rotation, reach for a pair of hard-to-come-by, domestically-made sandals.
Bedrock dates back about a decade, with a focus on lightweight sandals that delivered support and ease of movement at the same time (witness the company’s famed Mountain Clog). Bedrock also makes lightweight, grippy adventure sandals powered by a Vibram outsole, all the better for hiking off-trail and fording streams in one fell swoop.
It’s hard to talk about the modern pantheon of richly crafted shoes and boots, especially those made in America, without mentioning Alden. The company’s boots were famously worn by Indiana Jones (that’d be the now-legendary Alden ‘Indy’ Boot), and they seem to be popping up plenty of different places.
Chief among those places? Famed American retailer J. Crew, which so happens to stock exclusive editions of the brand’s coveted boots – the fact that they pair up nicely with rolled J. Crew denim and chambray shirting is helpful, too.
Alden is still family-owned, with a deep appreciation for its history dating back to the 1880s, and the company continues to offer USA-made footwear ranging from boots to bluchers.
The Northeast has long been a footwear mecca (see: brands like Rancourt, and well before that, Alden), and Quoddy takes its legacy seriously.
Much like Rancourt, it handcrafts remarkably durable, dependable and timeless leather loafers and moccasins with a distinctly ‘Maine in the summer’ feel. It’s the kind of classic footwear you can wear for summer vacations, and then you can slide into the brand’s exceptionally well-made slipper boots come winter.
Note that Quoddy offer a wide range of in-stock styles, yet you can also custom-order a pair to your liking.
Believe it or not, long-running Northeast retail giant L.L.Bean still makes some of its gear in the United States, including the famed ‘Bean Boots’ that grace the feet of so many on snow-laden streets winter after winter.
Those boots tend to rack up quite the impressive wait list every season, and it’s no wonder: they’ve been produced in Maine since 1912, with all the utility one could need in a pair of stylish winter boots. That’s particularly true for the eight-inch shaft height, not to mention the traction-minded rubber outsole and the rubberised front rand for maximum weather-ready protection.
Round them out with thick, USA-made wool socks for good measure.
The untamed wilds of the Pacific Northwest seem to have proved as fertile a testing ground as any for rugged, American-made footwear, and much of that same ethos holds true today. Danner boots are a sight to behold in person, made with supple yet sturdy leather that gets better with age, and there’s still quite the selection of USA-made shoes to shop from the famed Portland company.
Its Quarry line of sturdy shoes is fit for work or play, set atop ridged Vibram outsoles for plenty of grip and traction on or off the job site, and each pair moulds to your foot the more you wear it – as all great USA-made shoes should.
Making frankly beautiful, precisely crafted boots and shoes in the United States is a challenge in its own right, but doing so during the pandemic – and then attempting to expand your manufacturing footprint – is another challenge entirely. Those are the two-fold obstacles taken on by New York’s Parkhurst, which remains fiercely dedicated to Goodyear-welted boots (using the process on every pair).
Note that the brand makes styles in Spain as well as in New York State, but the attention to detail remains admirable across the board. Its sleek lace-up boots, closely mirroring trench boot styles, might just become your new favourite everyday shoe.
Anderson Bean Boots
No relation to the arguably better-known L.L.Bean above, but that same USA-made approach holds true in a major way. The company seeks to honour the tradition of Texas bootmaking (you might say that everything’s both bigger and better in Texas), using handcrafted construction and old-world techniques that far outdate the company’s late 1980s birth.
It makes custom cowboy boots, sure, but it’s the range of exotic and classic leather cowboy boot options that provide an alternative to traditional lace-up boots, and it’s all the better you can score a pair through one of its many retail partners.