As the United States marks its 241st birthday on the Fourth of July, FN is taking a look back at five legendary American shoe companies that have been crafting footwear for over a century.
These pioneering companies, dating back the mid-1800s, have stood the test of time and continue to deliver trend-right products to consumers in the U.S. and abroad.
The Frye Co. was founded in 1863. Over the decades the boots were worn by soldiers in World War II, later becoming a must-have among the college crowd in the ’70s. Today, they are once again in demand, most noted for the brand’s Campus and Harness boot styles for both men and women.
The Frye Co. Addison Harness boot for men, $488; thefryecompany.com
Johnston & Murphy, founded in 1850 in Newark, N.J., now calls Nashville, Tenn., home. Among its first customers was President Millard Fillmore, for whom the company custom designed a pair. Since then, it has shod every American president. While its roots are in the men’s business, in 2008 it added women’s to the mix. And in 2010, it began opening a string of stores internationally.
Johnston & Murphy Grayson cap-toe oxford, $165; johnstonmurphy.com
Preppy brand G.H. Bass & Co. was established in 1876 by George Henry Bass of Wilton, Maine. Best known for its iconic hand-sewn moccasins under the Weejuns label, the company has turned the classic look into a statement of cool, updating it in backless versions and lace-up styles for women and redoing them in sneaker versions for men.
Justin Boot Co., founded by H.J. Justin, has been making Western boots since 1879 in Texas. In 1908, his sons John and Earl came to work for him, renaming the company H.J. Justin and Sons. Today the brand is owned by Berkshire Hathaway.
Justin Boot Co. women’s Nuala U.S.-made boot, $134.95; justinboots.com
Red Wing Shoe Co., an icon in the workboot market, was founded at the turn of the 20th century by Charles Beckman of Red Wing, Minn., who found an opportunity making boots for local miners, loggers and farmers. Today the company continues to produce core work product in addition to a collection of lifestyle looks under the Heritage label that have been inspired by core styles.
Red Wing Heritage men’s Beckman Round boot; $349.99; redwing heritage.com