What’s Selling: Timberland Is Top Performer at Work Boot Stores

What’s selling in the work boot market this week? Here, four key retailers weigh in on winning brands in and top trends — and talk about what’s not moving.

Lychelle Snyder, assistant manager, Franks Shoes, Pittsburgh

Top Three Brands:

Timberland Pro: “Boondock logger boots with an anti-fatigue insole in them. The brand also comes with a comfort guarantee. [Consumers] can wear them for 30 days, then get a store credit [if unsatisfied] through us to try something different.”

Carolina: “This area gets guys who work in oil fields or in plants. They need boots with a metatarsal guard.”

Keen Utility: “They have a hiking look for people who don’t want a big, heavy work boot. Some [styles] look more like a tennis shoe, but still have a safety toe. Guys get the comfort and sometimes wear them for casual wear.”

Top Trends: “Metatarsal guard styles. A lot of the companies require them before [employees] can go out into the field on pipelines and cell towers. Depending on the plant, sometimes [workers] also have to have a waterproof boot.”

Hot Take:  “The older men seem to go with comfort, while the younger go for the look.”

Bob Levy, chairman, Dave’s, New York

Top Three Brands:

Timberland Pro: “It’s been exploding. They’re ahead of the curve in terms of composite over steel toe styles. They’re getting away from the old-fashioned super heavy looks, but still meet all the standards of compression and impact.”

Red Wing: “The original U.S.-made styles with moc toes. They also have a few newer ones that are imported, but due to [better pricing] can have more features such as waterproofing and more comfortable insoles. These have been extremely popular.”

Thorogood: “Light wedge-bottom styles with moc toes. There’s been a good reaction to those.”

Top Trends: “There’s a move toward crossover styles. If worn with jeans, they look like a hiker, but are work boots.”

Not Selling: “Some of the older steel-toe welted styles that are heavier and stiffer. Today consumers don’t want the boots to last for five years. They would rather have something that’s comfortable from the get-go, put it on and wear the next day. They don’t have to wait for a break-in period.”

Hot Take: “Being in New York, black is important.”

Richard Koharchik, general manager, Berey Bros, Hammond, Ind.

Top Three Brands: 

Timberland Pro:  “Style wise for us, it is always safety toe. It’s the comfort factor and styling. Timberland has always been most innovative as far as comfort features.”

Wolverine: “The new Rush style has been the biggest performing. It is a cross between a work boot and an athletic style. It’s a bit of an edgier look in the category right now. The can wear it work and then to a bar.”

Thorogood: “The biggest thing is made in USA. We are a big union area.”

Top Trends: “Right now, as in the fashion industry, it seems like everybody is looking for the next new thing. It used to be guys wore the same boot for years. Now, the younger ones are looking for mainly athletic looks.”

Not Selling: “For us, it would be the hiker styles. It seems the hardest for us to deal with.”

Hot Take: “Thirty years ago, boots looked all the same with hard leather and hard bottoms. You had to break them in. Now it is not about break-in. They want to put it on their foot walk out the door and not even think it’s a brand new boot.”

Jeremy Kramer, manager, Whistle Workwear, Seattle

Top Three Brands:     

Keen Utility:  “People go for Keen since they are familiar with the outdoor gear.”

Timberland Pro: “A lot of people get it for comfort. More people leaning toward the composite toe since it’s lighter weight.”

Danner: “It is a local brand. A lot of people are familiar with it, as with Keen.”

Top Trends: “The magic price point is between $130 and $180. For silhouettes, it’s a 6-inch silhouette.”

Not selling: “We’re seeing an upward trend in about all of our brands.”

Hot Take: “Lighter-weight boots with a composite toe are selling.”

Watch this video to see celebrities in work boots.

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