Parkhurst has had the opportunity to work with a small handful of talented factories in its past on both development and production. Each factory and team have played crucial roles in getting Parkhurst to where it is today. In this industry, oftentimes shoe factories globally don’t always have the technology or labor force to produce every style of boot, or every type of build from start to finish, or are able to use certain materials. Within the USA, this technology and fundamental production capabilities are even more limited in scope and have become almost scarce due the aftermath of Covid-19 and the supply chain/labor crisis. This is why Parkhurst works with both a factory in the U.S. and Spain to ensure a quality build is delivered to our customers.
*Note: While cutting a boot in half, the tension and power/torque created by the band saw can shift some internal components around or crack/break them, such as the steel shank or others.
Our build is focused on natural breath-ability, shock absorption and conformation to your foot using time-honored techniques and materials. Are our boots perfect? No. But we believe in using materials to build them which will conform, endure, and perform. Our boots are built to be maintained, not disposed of. We create them like this by using a construction method (Goodyear-welt) which is easier to work with on repairs along with incorporating components which can be easily replaced over time once worn out.
So, what's in the boot?
Upper leather - Thick leather hides from Horween, Seidel, C.F. Stead and coming Fall 2022 - Parkhurst's very own leathers developed with our Spanish tannery. All weights start typically around 5/6 ounces for aniline bovine and other articles. Kudu however, due to the nature of the hide, will be right around 4.5-5 ounces. Every upper is both hand and machine-lasted, using the assistance of the lasting machine for the toebox.
Lining Leather - Vegetable tanned leather usually in the 1.4-1.8 oz. weight range. Moc toe and Chelsea styles are vegetable tanned calfskin.
Welt - Vegetable tanned leather.
Midsole - Vegetable tanned leather made from outsole grade leather. Much like our welts, vegetable tanned leather tends to hold up the best over time for this particular type of component.
Outsole - Dainite, Commando, Ridgeway, double leather or Parkhurst custom lug or studs depending on the model. Many styles will have Parkhurst custom soles on them because most branded outsoles don't fit the Parkhurst last other than Itshide or a very small selection of Vibram. By using our custom outsoles and heels, we can include every production size sole/heel in our boots offered.
Heel Base/Stacks - Vegetable tanned leather cut from the same bends leather used for our insoles.
Heel Toplift - Dainite, Commando, Ridgeway, combo leather or Parkhurst custom.
Insole - 3.5mm vegetable tanned bends leather tanned using oak tree bark oils. This type of insole, being bends leather, is considered the gold standard of insoles due to its moisture wicking properties, conforming capabilities and longevity.
Insole Cavity Filling - Real cork with no fillers, rubbers, plastics, foams or additives. This filling is about 4mm thick. Cork helps conform to your foot the best because it's an all natural substance.
Inlay - Heel pad leather, and cushioning foam between the insole and heel pad leather, aka, the inlay. Leather is cut from the same vegetable tanned lining leather used or in some cases, the same leather used for the upper.
Toebox - Structured.
Heel Counter - Full grain vegetable tanned leather.
Shank - Steel.
The uppers of our boots are guided by hand through sewing machines designed for sewing leather and other thicker materials. This is contrary to what is widely done in the footwear industry today as most of the pattern stitching is automated through computers - a process which often requires extraordinarily little human interaction other than sliding a pattern into and out of a cutting/sewing machine and watching the computer run stitches. Yes, the way we do this takes longer and involves a bit more risk since it's manual, but we believe at the end of the day the human hand and eye play the most crucial roles in creating a quality, hand-crafted product. All of our upper stitches are locked by hand which adds to structural security.
When it comes to sewing the outsole, we use a method known as "lock stitching" which knots the thread internally. Sole stitching is seen on the welt. What does this mean for wear and longevity? If you wear out your outsole stitches either on the bottom of the outsole or on top of the welt, the outsole, welt and midsoles will not come apart because they are knotted internally. Should this happen over time, the welt is not affected by this specific instance because the welt is sewn through the upper leather underneath the insole.
Patterns are traced and cut using laser-guided measuring and cutting technology. Using this technology provides a more accurate cut, more precise pattern fit and helps to utilize more of the leather hide, resulting in far less leather wasted or discarded.
Each pair of boots is constructed using a genuine, vegetable tanned leather Goodyear welt. The main style of welt we use is referred to within the manufacturing industry as a split reverse welt and it provides excellent water resistance. The welts are sewn through the uppers underneath the insole with waxed thread and held onto our boots via an insole rib which is attached to the bottom of the vegetable tanned bends leather insole, creating a channel. Cork is then filled into this channel. This process has helped to ensure the boots’ longevity for years to come while allowing for easy repairs and maintenance.
The lasts are designed by the founder of Parkhurst who has spent years working with experienced last-makers inside the footwear industry, and within the specific niche of Goodyear-welt footwear. In an industry where it is common for brands to go to existing factories around the world and use existing lasts, Parkhurst has invested in the creation of its own and continues to invest in developing more. This is often why much footwear tends to look overall the same throughout this industry.
Mid-soles and Outsoles
We use vegetable tanned leather for our midsoles, and outsoles when we run production using leather outsoles. We source this leather from two places: The first is a distributor in Pennsylvania who cuts and oils them if needed in house. They in turn source the leather from a tannery in South America who specializes in vegetable tanning soling leathers. The second is from our partner tannery in Spain who vegetable tans leather there. This type of leather tends to last longer and provides more comfort and conformity during the break-in process of the boot. Every midsole and outsole is applied, trimmed and sanded by hand. Once these have been applied, each boot is ran through the sole stitching machine, guided by hand.
This is the final inspection to ensure everything blends together, looks good and is secure. Loose threads are trimmed and uneven edges are sanded and stained. Some of this is done by Parkhurst's founder here in Buffalo, NY before shipping to customers. Light heat is applied to bring out some color in each leather as well as to make sure any wax or oil from the leather is locked in.
The process of making a single pair of boots is quite labor intensive and requires a heavy amount of manual interaction. Due to this not every single pair of boots will come out looking exactly alike, nor will they come out looking "perfect." There may be minor quirks reflective of the manufacturing process associated with every boot.