From the very beginning, our focus has been on preserving American manufacturing and producing a product which will last. This is why we chose to make our boots in the USA here in Western New York from the very beginning starting with the Allen boot. Eight incredibly talented women and men at a small factory here in Western New York take their time hand-crafting every pair of boots through nearly 200 manual steps. They have been working with Parkhurst since the very beginning and we wouldn't rather be partnered with any other factory to help make our boots.
Like with most footwear, the uppers of the 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 parts in creating a quality, hand-crafted product. For example, all of our stitches are locked by hand which adds to structural security - something a computer traditionally isn't able to do.
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 made in Massachusetts. The main style of welt we use is referred to within the industry as a split reverse welt and it provides excellent water resistance. The welts are sewn through the uppers and onto 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. 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 within 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 developed its own. This is often why much footwear tends to look overall the same throughout this industry. It was an expensive, timely process (About 2 years to design, test, re-visit and wait for manufacturing to occur on each of the 9 prototypes before launching) but our lasts provide customers with a unique fit and silhouette. Why did this process take so long? There are many reasons but the main reason was the desire to achieve a great fit and look.
Midsoles and Outsoles
Parkhurst uses genuine vegetable tanned bends leather for its midsoles. This type of leather tends to last longer and provides more comfort and conformity during the break-in process of the boot. Quality outsoles from Dainite, Goodyear, Itshide and Vibram help to ensure the boot’s longevity. Every midsole and outsole is applied and trimmed 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. 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.
Parkhurst boots are made by the highly skilled and talented craftsmen and craftswomen at Artisan Boot and Shoe Co. in Western New York. Minor finishing touches to the boots (nailing heels and burnishing along with customization's) are performed by Parkhurst's owner at the warehouse. These experienced craftspeople are continuing a long tradition of handcrafting boots and shoes here in Western New York. A simple 25 minute drive separates Parkhurst from the amazing factory we work with so we can ensure we are close to the product and close to the source of production.
While hand-crafted footwear production in the USA is far on the decline due to cost and other reasons, Parkhurst considers itself extremely fortunate to be working with expert craftspeople in its own backyard who continue this time-honored approach to footwear production for almost 200 years with each new generation learning from the previous generation. Here in Western New York, shoe-making has been around since 1867 and much of our design inspiration has come from what was coming out of the original factory. Your support helps keep this and the industry craft alive here in the USA - thank you.