I came across Oak Street Bootmakers on the internet, in a fourth degree rhizome that often guides us through our online and real-shebang life. I suppose the original Oak Street Bootmaker was the father of founder/designer George Vlagos, but George is a dude who knows a thing or two about setting up a good business, with this and Independence Store in Chicago soundly under his belt. What can I say, the guy’s got great taste, an eye for goodness, and the entrepreneurial mind of my Chinese grandma who’s owned a sewing school (having not known how to sew herself), Chinese restaurant, and an absolute snake at mahjong.
Back to the subject, Oak Street Bootmakers have been killing it if you ask me, and what speaks loud and clear is the freshness that they bring to the table in the vintage menswear world. This sort of freshness comes from having a great understanding of shoemaking, but also adding ‘newness’ to the story, making a product that people of diverse age and era can relate to. They make excellent American-made leather shoes, made to mould into your foot-shape with time, the soles replaceable like any good shoe, and the leather is treated with a pretty organic cocktail of beef tallow, beeswax, marine oil, chrome salts, tree bark extracts and natural colours. I wouldn’t go through that laundry list of ingredients if I didn’t think it were super romantic in itself.
Besides all that wonderful art in the production process, we have some new-aged wicca happening in the design department. These guys have been turning out Margom soled loafers, boat-y sneakers (or are they sneaking boaters?), indigo dyed leather trench boots, and most recently tattooed leather foot stompers. I may not dig all of these boot-y renditions, but what always impresses me is the ability to try new things. It’s also a pretty tricky way to run your business, because when you layer a good product up with different filters. it’ll bring in those who might have looked past the product in its original form. Ok smarty pants, you win again.
/ Morgam Soled Loafers /
/ Boaty Sneakers aka Vibram Sole Rowing Oxfords /
/ Limited Indigo-Dyed Trench Boots /
10 Things You Didn’t Know about George Vlagos, founder and designer of Oak Street Bootmakers.
1. What did you have for breakfast this morning? Wow, I did not have a good breakfast: I had toast, a cappuccino, a biscotti, and some cut fruit. [Me: hotel buffet breakfast] yeah pretty much.
2. What do you usually smell like? I usually smell like leather.
3. Where would you escape to during a zombie apocalypse? I would escape to a tropical island where the zombies can’t get to. Maybe Ischia which is off the coast of Naples. It is the best. [Me: Do you think zombies can swim though?] No, they can’t … I’ve seen The Walking Dead.
4. What’s the best thing about what you’re wearing today? So I’m wearing all Kapital right now. Are you familiar with Kapital? [Me: Is that a joke?] … Aparently you do! [laughs] The best part are the pants, they’re these weirdo crazy things.
5. Tea or Coffee? Coffee.
6. Winter or Summer? Winter – better clothes.
7. What’s the most special vintage piece you own? Oh… So I own a turn of the century, late 1890s to early 1900s navajo blanket [Me: what colour is it?] It’s many colours, but the natural colours of the animals vary which is really cool. It has whirling logs on it – I’m attracted to that. But yesterday here I got some 1930s French work trousers which I’ve been wanting for a long time.
8. What is your ultimate jacket button made of? Horn, like real horn.
9. What would you cook for your woman on a special occasion? That’s a great question… Alright, I’ll put together the menu, which will be a meal I just had… So we’ll start with some caviar and champagne [Me: holy moly! you’re gonna marry her!] then some steak tartar, maybe muscles after that [Me: you’re gonna cook this all yourself?] I’m gonna cook it, yeah. And then a cheese board, maybe some prosciutto, and a really light salad! Yeah, that’s what I do. [Me: so you cook often do you?] I cook everyday yeah.
10. But do you even lift bro? Do I even lift bro?? Uh… I do not. I do not even lift bro. [laughs]
You know his end game, now go have a look at the schwagg here.