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Many industries in the U.S. have come and gone due to cheaper manufacturing overseas, a result of reduced labor and material costs. However, the tides could be turning when it comes to footwear as tariff threats on goods from China, the main source of footwear imports, could spark renewed interest in domestically produced shoes.
The U.S. has a centuries-old history of shoe production, once boasting manufacturers in just about every category scattered in factories across the country. While hand-sewn moccasins were produced in New England, workboots were made in the Midwest, Western boots in the South and women’s high-end footwear in New York.
Today, there remains a community of smaller, artisan brands producing shoes in Los Angeles, while more than century-old brands such as Wolverine, Lucchese and Red Wing, continue to produce footwear domestically.
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For those interested in supporting American manufacturing and craftsmanship, FN has curated a list of brands from dress shoes to sandals, producing footwear here at home.
Alden Shoe was founded in Middlebury, Mass., in 1988 by Charles H. Alden. Back then, it typically took one craftsman making a pair a day in one-room cottages call ten footers. Beginning in 1850, a series of inventions led to the mechanized stitching and lasting operation, giving way to the birth of the New England shoe industry. While most factories in the area began closing as cheaper production moved overseas in the ’70s, Alden continues to produce classic high-end footwear for men and the only remaining factory in the area, and still a family-owned business.
To buy: Alden Penny Loafer, $577; Nordstrom.com.
Allen Edmonds, founded in 1922, is known for its classic men’s footwear made in Wisconsin. From its launch until 1978, the business was run the Allen family, who founded the business. Its Goodyear-welted styles, a series of sturdy shoes made nail-less and shankless (they had no uncomfortable metal bar under the instep) immediately caught the attention of consumers. Along the way, the company made shoes for officers to wear in World War II with their dress uniforms. Today, the company is under the umbrella of Caleres.
To buy: Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Oxford, $395; Nordstrom.com.
Los Angeles-based brand Annie Bing is loved by fashion influencers for its edgy womenswear. The brand proudly makes its celeb-approved boots and shoes in locally in California that are loved by Jessica Alba, Chiara Ferragni, and Aimee Song, to name a few.
To buy: Annie Bing Charlie Boots, $699; Anniebing.com.
Bates Footwear continues to make tactical and military boots in the United States. The brand is notably one of the largest supplies for the federal government as well as the Department of Defense and several public departments throughout the U.S. Based in Grand Rapids, Mich. the company has designed durable shoes for military, police, postal works and other uniformed workers. Their boots and work footwear have dirt, oil and water-resistant leather making them ideal for long-lasting wear. Plus, Bates Footwear’s shoes are comfortable, too.
To buy: Bates Footwear Men’s TERRAX3 Coyote Hot Weather Boot, $120 (Was $140); Batesfootwear.com.
For a personalized approach to making shoes in America, Chaco has introduced a customizable sandal program where shoppers can custom build sandals to their specifications by selecting colors and components. They are made in Rockford, Mich.
To buy: Chaco Women’s Z/2 Sandal, $130; Chacos.com.
Made in Portland, Oregon, Danner has been making sturdy boots since 1932. Ranging from shoes for work, hiking and law enforcement, Danner’s boots for men and women continue to be a customer favorite thanks to their quality materials and durable construction.
To buy: Danner Men’s Mountain 600 4.5″ Hiking Boot, $135-$200; Amazon.com.
Made in Freeport, Maine, Eastland is a family-owned footwear company that spans three generations. Sinc 1955, the Maine-based shoe brand has made comfortable loafers, saddle shoes and slip-ons for men, women, and children.
To Buy: Eastland Jasmine Chelsea Boot, $65; Dsw.com.
Esquivel, a line of high-end shoes designed by George Esquivel, are made exclusively in his California workshop by a small group of artisans. Launched in 1994, the collection is inspired by Esquivel’s travels to places including Paris, Italy and Mexico City. There are classic men’s oxfords and ankle boots to women’s brocade styles.
To buy: Esquivel Black & Gold Floral Brocade Grace, $550; Esquivel.com.
Although Frye makes most of its shoes in China, the American footwear brand features a U.S. made category on its site. The boot company has been operating since 1863, when founder John A. Frye opened the very first Frye shop in Marlboro, Mass.
To buy: Frye Harness 8R Boot, $358; TheFryeCompany.com.
Launched in 2009, this American-made boot company produces boots proudly by hand in factories in the United States and Brazil. The company originally made its boots in Istanbul, Turkey but since has moved production to Maine and Arkansas as well as Brazil. Helm Boots are designed in Austin, Texas and has 153 steps involved in making a pair.
To buy: Helm Boots Marion Olive, $395; Helmboots.com.
The classic sandal brand, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, continues to make its footwear in Florida. Inspired by Jacqueline Kennedy’s storied trip to Capri, the brand’s woven sandal continues to be a classic slip-on option for generations.
To buy: Jack Rogers Jacks Flat Sandal, $89 (Was $128); Jackrogers.com.
Keen’s American built work products are assembled in Portland, Ore., using materials sourced globally. The factory is manned by local craftsman, contributing to employment in the area. On site, is the company’s R&D team, which can bring new designs to production in a time-saving manner.
To buy: Keen Braddock Mid Soft Toe Waterproof Boot, $175; Zappos.com.
The clogs brand proudly designs and constructs its polyurethane shoe in Sullivan, Missouri, where Klogs was founded. The USA made clogs are available for both men and women to wear.
To buy: Klogs Boca Work Clog, $60; Dsw.com.
Although a majority of L.L. Bean gear is not produced in the U.S., some popular items like the brand’s iconic Bean boot are (you can browse its selection of 484 American-made offerings online). First created in 1912, the duck boots continue to be handmade in the brand’s Brunswick, Maine factory using high-quality rubber and full-grain leathers. The style remains popular among both sporty shoppers and fashion influencers, selling out year after year and inspiring similar styles by a range of other brands.
To buy: L.L. Bean 8-inch Bean Boot, $139; Llbean.com.
Lucchese was founded by Salvatore Lucchese, an Italian immigrant in 1883. Along with his brother Joseph, the two moved to San Antonio, Texas, to set up a boot-making shop. Among the company’s celebrity clients were entertainer Bing Crosby and President Lyndon B. Johnson. It went on to make boots for former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Texas governor Rick Perry. Today, select styles continue to be made in the U.S.
To buy: Lucchese Men’s Wilson, $1,995; Lucchese.com.
The female-founded rollerskate brand manufactures its vibrant shoes in with Riedell, a company that has made both roller and ice skates since 1945 out of its factory in Red Wing, Minn.
To buy: Moxi Skates Lolly Outdoor Complete, $299; Moxiskates.com.
Women’s size and width footwear company proudly make its shoes in Arkansas. Munro is the premier women’s size and width footwear company in the U.S.The family-owned company operates in two facilities in Hot Springs, a product developing and manufacturing center and a corporate office complete with a warehouse.
To buy: Munro Sarah boot, $150; Zappos.com.
New Balance assembles more than 4 million pairs of athletic shoe per year in the U.S. Specifications note that at least 70% of the shoes domestic value is produced stateside. The company operates five factories in Maine and Massachusetts, and whenever possible purchases materials from domestic suppliers. The factories employ more than 7,000 workers locally.
To buy: New BalanceMen’s 990v5, $175; Newbalance.com.
No. 6 Clogs
Karin Bereson, the owner of New York-based boutique No. 6, has garnered up quite a following for her handmade clogs that are made in the United States. The durable yet stylish shoe retails from $290-$420 online and is available in a boot silhouette too.
To buy: No. 6 Old School High Heel Clogs, $290; Shopbop.com.
Okabashi is a family-run business based in Buford, Ga., that makes its entire collection stateside. The series of flip flops and sandals is focused on health and wellness, inspired by Japanese concepts of reflexology and design. According to the company, each pair travels only 7% as far as the average imported shoe, preventing 10,000 miles of carbon emissions from ships, planes and trucks to transport shoes to the U.S. They are also made of a proprietary material that is 100% recyclable.
To buy: Okabashi Women’s Breeze Sustainable Flip Flop Sandals, $20; Target.com.
Onex Shoes continues to make comfortable and stylish women’s footwear out of their factory in Los Angeles, Calif. The brand has handcrafted shoes since 1972 when founder Onnik E. Kouyoumdjian, aka Mr. Onex, started the company. A European immigrant with a family history of shoemaking, Mr. Onex went on to create notable styles for women including the lucite slide or “Glass Slipper” the first of its kind in the 1970s. Since the passing of the founder in 1991, the brand continues to make sensible shoes for women seeking comfort.
To buy: Onex Women’s Bianca Wedge Sandal, $112; Amazon.com.
Palm Beach Sandals
Also inspired by the sandals Jacqueline Kennedy brought back with her from Capri, the brand started out in making sandals in Palm Beach in the 1960s. Fifty years later, Palm Beach Sandals continues to operate in West Palm Beach, FL, producing an array of styles, including a pair of customized monogrammed sandals for a personal touch.
To buy: Palm Beach Sandals Autumn Elegance Sandals, $128; Palmbeachsandals.com.
Offering classic, comfort-driven sneaker silhouettes, PF Flyers is currently manufactured by New Balance. First created in 1937, the heritage brand went back to its roots in 2015 with its “Made in America” line, which contains a domestic value of 70% or greater according to the company’s website. Over the years, the brand has also teamed up with mainstays of American pop culture, including famed American menswear designer Todd Snyder and 20th Century Fox on a sneaker inspired by the film “The Sandlot.”
To buy: PF Flyers Made in USA Center Hi, $80 (Was $150); Pfflyers.com.
Quoddy was founded by Sam and Anne Spiegel in Portland, in 1947 as a manufacturer and retailer of moccasins. The company, now based in Maine, ran into financial difficulties in the mid-1970s, and was revived by Kevin and Kirsten Shorey in 1997; John Andreliunas is now its CEO. A group of craftsman continues to produce shoes utilizing techniques dating back centuries to the Passamaquoddy native Americans. Both a direct sales and wholesale brand, it’s available at leading retailers worldwide including Mr. Porter, Matches Fashion, Leffot and Ships Japan.
To buy: Quoddy Men’s Classic Ringboot, $450; Mrporter.com.
Launched in 1972, when founder Jay “Sparky” Longley experimented making sandals out of his Laguna Beach garage, Rainbow Sandals continue to be a popular name in flip flops. Although the San Clemente, Calif. sandal brand now produces a majority of its sandals in China, you can still buy a pair made from their factory in the United States online. The brand’s signature series can be found on Rainbowsandals.com.
To buy: Rainbow Sandals Limited Edition Women’s USA Made Narrow Strap Sandal, $54; Rainbowsandals.com.
Red Wing Shoe Co.
Red Wing Shoe Co., Red Wing, Minn., was founded in 1905 by Charles Beckman, offering a collection of workboots to meet the needs of occupations such as oil field workers. The company added a line of women’s styles in the 1920s. Today, Red Wing continues to offer men’s work footwear and lifestyle looks, in addition to women’s lifestyle looks inspired by original designs.
To buy: Red Wing Heritage Men’s 6″ Iron Ranger Lug, $320; Zappos.com.
Although Rocky wasn’t developed until 1979, the brand’s roots date back to 1932, when it started out as William Brooks Shoe Co in Nelsonville, Ohio. The brand continues to make sturdy boots and shoes for military, work and public service needs. Although Rocky moved its factory from Ohio to Puerto Rico a few years ago, it still continues to be headquartered in Ohio. The brand also has a Made in the USA collection available online.
To buy: Rocky Stalker Waterproof 800G Insulated Made in The USA Outdoor Boot, $120-$200; Amazon.com.
San Antonio Shoemakers
San Antonio Shoemakers, or SAS, was founded by Terry Armstrong and Lew Hayden in 1976 in an unused aircraft hangar in San Antonio, Texas. A new factory was opened in 1985 in Del Rio, allowing management to keep the business in the state while expanding. Over the years, the product focus has remained on comfort, with a collection of men’s and women’s styles that are carried in its own string of stores in addition to retailers globally.
To buy: SAS Women’s Marnie, $160; Zappos.com.
San Antonio Shoemakers makes its shoes in both the United States and Italy. The brand has been operating in Texas since 1976 when founders Terry Armstrong and Lew Hayden opened the doors to its first factory in an unused aircraft hangar in San Antonio. Following SAS’ expansion, the brand opened a factory in 1985 in Del Rio, TX. The brand is stocked in 200-plus stores and retailers around the world and continues to be a family-owned enterprise.
To buy: SAS Lara Loafer, $149; Zappos.com.
Southern California-based brand Sbicca has been making shoes in the U.S. since the 1920s. Handcrafted in Los Angeles, Sbicca has made a variety of shoes, including sandals, sneakers and wedges for 92 years. According to the brand’s website, Sbicca most recently got acquired by Seajack LLC and plans to relaunch in the near future. However, you can still shop Sbicca shoes online at retailers such as Zappos.com.
To buy: Sbicca Jared sandal, $65; Zappos.com.
Sloggers, based in Gardena, Calif., is known for its waterproof molded gardening and rain footwear and introduced the first clear plastic overshoe called the Drizzle Boot in 1948. In fact, Doris Day wore the shoes in the film “Storm Warning” in 1951. Its current Sloggers brand was introduced in 1997, adding a recycling program in 2014 where it grinds up worn boots and turns them into a new pair. The plant can produced up to 4,000 pairs a day.
The made in Idaho company is known for its recovery footwear ranging from sandals to boots. The brand is non for its heat-sensitive Novalon material that molds to the shape of your foot and feels as if you are walking on air.
To buy: Telic Unisex Energy Flip Flop, $59; Amazon.com.
Tidal proudly makes its comfortable flip flops in New Rochelle, NY. The sandals are made from oil derived from the castor plant, a sustainable alternative to rubber. The company was founded by brothers Tim and Tommy Gibb, who launched Tidal in 2015.
To buy: Tidal New York Men’s Keith Haring Flip Flop Sandals, $16-$28; Amazon.com.
Wolverine began making workboots in Michigan 135 years ago, founded by G.A. Krause who opened a small leather tannery. Its iconic 1000 Mile boot was introduced in 1910, aptly named because it was touted to offer consumers 1,000 miles of wear. Today, the company continues to produce products domestically in addition to sourcing footwear offshore. Its newest launch is a collection of U.S.-made workboots under the Ramparts name, however its products are also produced offshore.
To buy: Wolverine Men’s Ramparts 8-inch boot, $205; Wolverine.com.