One of the most invigorating menswear trends in the last several years has been the demand for brands and products made right here in the United States. For a while, all the attention seemed to be focused on the Japanese and the Italians, but thankfully, the craftsmanship and skill of exceptional American manufacturing is back in style. One heritage brand that has been around for several decades and consistently churning out superior product is Danner Boots, based in Portland, Oregon.
Ever since 1932, Danner has been providing footwear for hardworking, blue-collar Americans in need of comfortable and durable boots that can stand up to the toughest conditions and last for years. They have long been a favorite of loggers, construction workers, American soldiers (and other men/women in uniform), hunters, hikers, campers, mountaineers and all types of outdoors enthusiasts. In 1979, Danner was the first shoe company to patent a method using GORE-TEX® to craft a fully waterproof boot.
The Man of the World team was recently invited to tour the 30,000 sq.ft Danner Factory in Portland, Oregon, and it was an enjoyable trip to the great Pacific Northwest. It’s one thing to watch documentaries and news reports about the dedication and ingenuity of American factories, but it’s quite another thing all together to see this American dynamism in person. Since inception, the motto of Danner Boots has always been to ascribe to higher standards and this enduring ethos is visible in every stage of the boot-making process. No corners are cut and no detail is overlooked – from the sourcing and testing of the leather (which comes from the best tanneries in the United States), to the expert craftsmanship and precision of their leather cutting, all the way to the waterproofing, stitching and fitting of the Vibram® soles. Even for a layperson, it’s easy to see that every factory worker takes pride in the fact that he/she is building an exemplary product.
Even though it’s an American factory, the workers employed at Danner are from all over the globe, with strong contingents from Vietnam and Ukraine. Also, most of the workers have been at the company for decades, which speaks tons about how Danner values and treats their employees. The overall mosaic of nations represented in addition to each worker’s lengthy tenure paints a beautiful picture to the diversity and harmony of the Danner work force.
When a pair of newly made boots goes through the last quality checks and is finally packaged for shipping, there is a collective feeling of pride, and a deep sentiment that all the individual work stations and talented craftsmen came together to create a product that embodies their sweat, diligence and hard work. Again, it’s extremely impressive to witness firsthand.
We were also invited to visit their nearby factory store which carries almost every Danner style currently in production. This store houses a re-crafting section where customers can bring their old Danner boots, worn-out and beat-up from years and years of use, and get them re-soled, restructured and nursed back to life. It’s a thoroughly hands-on and meticulous process, and the store’s staff has collected numerous written testimonials of pleased customers who are amazed that their boots could be rejuvenated for another lifetime of duty and adventure.
Lately, as a result of surging workwear and outdoors themes in menswear, Danner has seen an increase in new customers discovering their brand from a fashion perspective. This has led to some stateside collaborations with retailers like Ball and Buck and established clothiers like J.Crew. There is also a collaboration boot with luxury brand Comme des Garcons (shown above) debuting this fall which will only be available in Japan via the luxury retailer’s shops. Additionally, before the end of the year, Danner will be opening its first freestanding, lifestyle-oriented, brick-and-mortar flagship in downtown Portland, close to the ever-popular Ace Hotel. This new shop will certainly open Danner’s superior, heritage footwear to a wide new customer base.
Since 1932, Danner has been crafting higher standards, and we are excited to see what the future holds for this pioneering American footwear brand. To learn more about Danner, visitwww.Danner.com.