Boots Cavorting With Just What Most Owners Will Ever Ask
By Nikhil Choudhary
January 14, 2024
There’s barely a footwear maker in India who’d say they don’t make boots. I mean, Everyone’s got one, everyone touts theirs as the best, and you can get one for ₹700, or splurge on one for ₹50k.
Shoemakers are blowing synthetic into high-top footwear and calling them boots. I’m all for innovation, but when an atelier treats this style more ambitiously, one has to draw the line somewhere, even if it’s a bit blurry.
In fact, boots that recall traditional constructions for contemporary designs have become a pursuit among nerdier bootmakers. Craft & Glory lends itself well to that goal.
C&G was founded in 2017 by Mr. Rohit Anand when he felt his passion for boots and traveling was ample enough to justify doing so. They aren’t backed by centuries of history, but the bootmaking techniques they honor… do.
The brand’s styles take their inspiration from traditional American silhouettes; however, the testament to their transcendence through the noise and fuss is their Goodyear-Welted platform framed in vegetable-tanned Full-grain leathers.
Their team, which the label exhibiting love by devoting a section of the website, has held the nerves tight that till today, they haven’t veered off much from the lone ambition of crafting quality boots.
They are not pushing to compete with the likes of Bridlen or BLKBRD, there’s something about C&G bootmaking that feels particularly in sync with Indian vitality: it’s indisputably more casual, reframes imperfections as characteristics and is protecting in the foot and on the pocket.
To keep them on par with the inconceivable
urgings we hold from a boot!
Even though the shoemaking plethora of India has caught an influx of Goodyear-Welt-ers in the past decade, they are still not generous enough to make ❝Goodyear welted shoes and boots❞ a usual thing in the market.
Irrespective of the myriad encounters that keep us accepting that a perfectly Blake stitched boot is far better than an ineptly Welted one, we still feel in more capable hands if a boot or shoemaker harbors Goodyear Welting aptitudes.
Keeping our sentiment on C&G Welting abilities unaffected by the fact that they nurture a very slim cadre of Goodyear Welters in the nation―the label, we think, takes great pleasure and pride in crafting boots that are on the fence: neither pale nor intricate.
The welts sewn at 4 to 6 S.P.I didn’t make us yell for the sophistication and fineness we witness in Bridlen or BLKBRD boots, as the noticeable stitch line blends perfectly with the aesthetics of bolder designs.
The way C&G welted these boots exhibits that the practicality of such traditional construction methods is at its best when sheer dressiness is not what the style demands.
While many makers stop the welting breast to the breast (270° welting), C&G boots, for instance, are Goodyear stitched 360° where the Welt runs all around the edge of the uppers.
Apart from eliminating the need for seat pieces from the heel area, which otherwise creates two visible cuts, the 360° construction is a bit more water resistant and allows easy and nifty resolings.
Instead of a holdfast, the Welt is sewn with a linen rib glued onto the insole. A steel shank is fixed to the waist of the boot―supporting the waist and aiding flexibility. The cavity, thereafter, is filled with a cork footbed, providing a flat surface for the sole or lift to sit on.
Along with the wear, the insole softens up and beds down into the cork filler, which takes an impression of the foot and eventually senses like a custom footbed.
Hand Welted! Really?
So, Is that necessarily an advantage?
It’s obvious to get animated when presented with something made by hand. C&G speaks with pride of their “Hand Welted” boots as increased time spent on any piece by an actual human being equals better quality in our books.
Shoes and boots are hand-welted before we have machines to do so. But in the epoch of avant-garde Goodyear Welting machines, Does hand-welting bring any advantage? Or to stand out amidst the influx of shoemakers, C&G is merely complicating an already effortful and lengthy method of attaching the sole to the upper.
It might seem cold and clinical, but besides the verity that your boots have been made by skilled human hands, the way C&G is hand-welting boots wouldn’t cause the sensational difference that a traditionally hand-welted boot would.
Traditionally, hand-welting is executed without gemming: a process that demands a thicker insole and brings about a compact construction without large voids, and so on the hand-welted boots, things are considered “objectively better”.
C&G hand-welt their boots through gemming. The degree of flexibility in boots hand-welted through the holdfast carved out of thicker insoles is far more noticeable than one sewn through a glued canvas rib.
Hand-welting without gemming leaves less space in the interior channel, which incredibly enhances the responsiveness of the boot. We feel the road more and feel attached to the ground differently, and with C&G boots, we miss that extra level of refinement.
You can push these subtle nuances, that many nobs wouldn’t even notice, behind the fact that C&G boots are cobbled to perfection and are far better than many mass-produced welted boots.
Buffalo Leather. The Full-Grain One!
Resonate powerfully with the propositions from a boot.
With very tight grain, few imperfections, dense fiber structure, excellent patina developing abilities, and along with a lot of successful marketing, Calfskin remains the material of choice among shoemakers, in general, and Goodyear Welters, in particular.
C&G positions itself in the echelon where everything fades into the background if not aligned with critics’ notions of what is proper and desirable. Apart from correlating with the outside forces, C&G leans towards those elements that meet and contribute to the moment and style.
Their material choices, Buffalo leather, fit perfectly with the perception of what boots demand or what we demand from boots.
Buffalo, Bison, or Water Buffalo is an interchangeable term these days. Best Buffalo hides come from Africa, however those that C&G is hand-clicking their boots are from the US and Asia.
It is porous and grainy with natural imperfections and boasts an impressive 40% more tensile strength than the traditional calf. It is practical, hard-wearing, and can be dressed up or down, from almost formal to definitely casual.
However, the very name―Buffalo leather―can put connoisseurs off – tell them something is a ‘Full-grain’ leather rather than ‘Buffalo leather,’ and they will often look at it in a different light.
Craft & Glory negotiate that line with seeming ease and sublimates into Buffalo Leather’s language of versatility, practicality, and subtle beauty.
Buffalo hides they are using are thicker and more durable than cowhide because they are not stretched and are typically tanned using organic materials.
Holding the strongest fibers in the hide, the Full-grain Buffalo leather would likely reveal natural imperfections, marks, light brands on the surface, and that much sought-after patina over time.
With all the tricky elements that go into creating the uppers, welts, and soles―the hardware’s role can fade into the background trimmings with laces and linings.
Usually done with glossy and burnished mediocre steel or even aluminum holders and the most modest amount of consideration for laces, C&G reflects on the importance of Waxed laces, copper rivets, and brass hardware.
Brass and copper hardware are favored more by critics of leather bootmaking due to their aesthetic appeal and because they wear at the same rate as leather.
Such a proper sense of purpose in materials picking with painstaking attention to details and bootmaking artistry combine to give great visual details and texture that we usually don’t associate with boots.
At ₹11k to ₹13k, the odds swing decidedly in your favor.
I know you, dear reader, could be helped immeasurably if the entire lexicon of Craft & Glory bootmaking descriptors were boiled down to two words: fair or expensive.
The two grand categories explain more about the essence of any pair than the most florid, detailed analogies ever could.
But thinking of traditionally crafted pieces in such streamlined monetary fashion is an impressionistic method for clarifying what is supposed to be your own verdict.
Having written many pieces on Blake and Goodyear Welted boots in India consistently for seven years, we can say it would be very tough to find boots of similar quality to Craft & Glory without creeping up in prices.
Indeed, Fast fashion has trained us to doubt the price of anything, whether it’s a ₹2k boot or a ₹20k boot. But C&G is a bit bold in justifying their prices than, say, our average boot brands that have not been transparent historically, particularly when it comes to money and profits.
There are not many maisons in India who are clicking, closing, welting, and finishing boots under their roofs. So it was this ability to produce a finished product, together with the direct-to-consumer business model, that enabled Craft & Glory to offer Welted Boots at such radically reduced prices.
However, five-figure prices might not gain any satisfaction and calm if you are new to the cosmos of bootmakers honoring traditional methods.
If you haven’t previously worn pairs of a similar caliber, your sentiments couldn’t be maneuvered by the narrow parameters of this read.
I would never fault people for the footwear, style, or brand they prefer to wear, or for not making quality pairs a priority in their lives.
But if you want to explore the world of quality bootmaking, you have to be willing to spend some money. And Craft & Glory prices tune pretty close with that ❝some money❞ fleck.
Dig into The Archive
Opinions and Details On Pairs
That Got Us into ❝Craft & Glory❞
Scattered across my desk right now are 15 pairs of Welted or Blake stitched Boots. I mention this not to brag, but my job here at BestShoe99 promises “surprising and highly admirable (or deplorable) shoes and boots on my doorstep every month.”
We found such clusters helpful, if not essential, as how can one speak about a bootmaker’s prowess without benchmarking it against the best of Indian shoes or bootmaking?
Silly notion, I know. All sorts of boots and prices are right depending on the quality of the leather, the construction, the lasting, and other psychological imperatives.
However, one can see a pair’s greatness and weaknesses only by watching ’em in the context of boots we have experienced in the past, rather than judging them in isolation.
To fade the two pairs we’ve got from C&G, saddle tan moc-toe, and vintage brown hike boots, into the background would require some solid commissions from Bridlen or BLKBRD at significant markdowns. Let’s discuss what the last seven and five months of their rigorous use taught us about C&G.
C&G Moc-Toe Saddle Tan
An iconic silhouette with a substantial dip
in price but not in quality
Immaculately in tone and appearance, almost perfectly in construction, and barely in materials―C&G takes this style inspiration from the traditional beloved American Red Wing Moc-toe (especially the 1907 and 875) that has shown amazing resilience to the fashions of more than seven passing decades.
The Indian market, however, is brimming with Moc-toe boots, but a few crafted by artisans well-versed in the alchemy of a Goodyear Welting.
I completely see this (visual) appeal, and that might be why many would opt for C&G Moc-toe boots―but it’s more of the making and construction than the looks that hold sway for me.
Slight fluctuations in the hand stitches and a slight skew in the welt could forced in the background as evidence of the craft. The prominent difference in traction, support, shock absorption, and comfort, thanks to the flat fleximax rubberized EVA outsole presenting a wider latitude.
That rigidity and potency are what one expects from a boot like this; therefore no urges for the eminent flexibility, movement, and life―that hand-welting would have presented when done without gemming.
The adorable muscular layout upheld the uppers with Full-grain Buffalo leather yelling with the exact thickness one gets in the iconic Red Wings.
However, it takes a little longer to get acquainted with the aesthetics of my feet, with no hopes of any response from the life-less plasticky heel counter that one might find slippy before a thorough break-in.
How Good (or Bad)?
Vs Pellé Santino & BLKBRD Moc-toe Boots
Resembling C&G Moc-toe with boots demanding half and double its price sounds as if we are not doing justice to any of ’em. However, this conspiracy isn’t regarding the general qualities but about spotting similar features and the cost of variations!
Dressed in comparable materials―oil and wax-rich rugged full-grain leather―assembled through light and simple stitched-down construction may not abide the brutal wearings such boots typically cruise at ease. However, that seems like we are asking too much from a ₹6.5k boot.
But for those who can compromise anything but that mystical strength and resilience, BLKBRD shoemakers can frame, at ones will, a Land Rover Defender for the feet.
Named ❝Dallas‚❞ BLKBRD crafts their Moctoe in Chromexcel leather sourced directly from Horween, the celebrated tannery in Chicago who discovered Chromexcel in 1913.
In a nutshell, it’s a leather that is imbued with an enormous variety of oils, greases, and waxes, including food-grade beef tallow and cosmetic-grade beeswax, observable following a firm rub.
A month-lasting tanning operation embedding such qualities exclusive to Chormexcel leather, That and some superior marketing have made this leather glamorous enough to justify dedicated articles from magazines and bloggers.
Emulating the uppers, Goodyear welted at a very high stitch density, BLKBRD has spared no effort unbuffed to honor such materials with the most prominent form of boot construction.
Parting with ₹25k of cash for a horse-powered boot is not the trade of the faint-hearted. However, the faint-hearted couldn’t use its ability either, a stage where such boots feel immensely reassuring.
Such boots are for a few adventure crews. Some deep-country folk of unusual prosperity. And, with the Commercial version, such noble entities as coastguards, electricity supply workers, and rescue crews.
Many other Bootmakers have stretched ‘Moc-toe’ to its absolute high and low limits; C&G Moc-toe, however, contains elements of both in perfect balance.
It’s not too pale like one that wouldn’t withstand daily abuse or nither like those eye-wateringly expensive humvees who are capable but need the courage to share a hard life.
Eight months of use might be too little to claim anything, but what we’re certain of is that C&B Moc-toe is free of drama, and that probably is what we want to spend this sort of money on.
C&G Hike Boots in Vintage Brown
Their robust, fulsomely soled might set off top-notch hikers!
Our path to this style was not necessarily a conscious one. It came from my outdoorsy colleague, and the initial impressions don’t reveal that the boot is from a label still in its really early days.
It stipulates, at least by looks, that the founders of C&B are longtime advocates of hiking and trekking. However, visual amenity isn’t what such function-oriented gears are sought, Right?
Greatness, these days, has been associated with hiking boots that showed credentials on the style front while abiding firm on the design and technical elements that protect feet and stabilize ankles.
The protectiveness and freedom of movement in hiking boots often come not from lack of any restriction but from restriction in the right places.
Such design elements are a bootmaker’s foundation and can be thought of as their most closely guarded secret.
Renowned hiking bootmakers have teams constantly iterating to find the perfect balance and to refine what was once considered perfect.
That technical prowess is what we consistently miss in Hiking boots from small and young producers. C&G, unfortunately, is no different.
I witnessed it in person, and it seems that a lot less work goes into sending a person to the moon than making proper hiking boots―boots that one would actually use in the mountains.
Not that C&G hiking boots can not climb mountains; If they had seemed a little too quiet, that was only because its brasher rivals were better at shouting their abilities and features.
Features that are, quite frankly, functional enough to overshadow the fatty Goodyear-welt construction. For instance, the extra weight―that a High-raising hiking boot typically bears―would be a good compromise for their abilities to accommodate a heavy backpack and ankle rolls.
Moving past such distinct hiking gear attributes, all we are left with is a bold style of boot honored with potent construction that’ll go further off-road than most urbanites will ever ask.
The soft leather-lined long tongue is fine and pleasant, in contrast to the tough and rugged make elsewhere. And it’s good to know that it folds around the foot as you lace them up.
Apart from the final stitching covering the lug soles, there’s no prominent difference in hardware, construction, and leather. The boots are crafted from Full-grain Buffalo leather in a warm vintage hue and feature padded wool collars to keep your ankles stable and warm.
If you prefer your hiking footwear geared towards city living or enjoy looking a bit more intrepid and outdoorsy, the C&B hike boot is the perfect iteration of a class that, in recent years, made its own sly way into the realms of style.
What’s The Verdict?
Articles from Bridlen & BLKBRD define bootmaking,
but it’s the Craft & Glory that gets some genuine wear and, eventually, praises.
The country is not short on shoemakers who consistently manage to set the bar in the various classes in that it builds its shoes and boots. Over the years, we’ve seen rivals, of all sorts, trying to outdo ’em with various premium ideals and have consistently failed.
The desire to achieve greatness in bootmaking often means figuring out how others define it. Craft & Glory, however, begins with smaller ambitions and catalogs.
The accolade-worthy work of Craft & Glory in ❝Design and Making❞ epitomizes how influential it could be to leverage all technical and material resources over just a few styles of boots: a course that might sound, on paper, like the least ambitious path.
They might fail to deliver the true joy of possessing Hand-welted boots, and one might be tempted by better hiking boots from illustrious brands for similar money, but one couldn’t disregard C&G’s rather free-of-drama models that hold far more than most people would have the nerve to test.
In a nutshell, the label honors just ❝What’s Essential❞ to shape capable and trustworthy boots holding prices that we don’t think would gonna make Mr. Rohit a millionaire soon.
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