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  • Kicking off the Cyclocross season

    Sean and Ben, two members of Rancourt & Co. cycling, kicked off the season at Quadcross in Maynard, MA over the weekend. For more on Cyclocross read this great article on the sport by Adam Myerson.

  • Due North Vol.5, by Kyle Rancourt

    Originally published on Well Spent

    IMG_8411_

    What is handmade? The simple answer, as defined by Merriam-Webster's dictionary is: "made by hand or a hand process." However, many brands these days would like you to believe that their products are "handmade" because it has been determined by some marketing executive that the term handmade sells products. Based on their loose definition of the term, if a hand touches the product at any time during the process it qualifies as handmade or handcrafted. By this definition we can only count out products made by a completely machine-made automated process. I believe that this is an exploitation of the term and one that does not do justice to the history of handmade and handcrafted goods.

    frank clegg2

    As I see it, the qualifications for being handmade or handcrafted run along a fairly narrow spectrum. On one end, you have a trade like basket weaving where the goods are made completely by hand, very few tools and no machines are used. In the small leather goods business, there are truly handmade products - small hand tools are used but very few or no machines at all are used. Shoes are kind of a hybrid, because while many processes are done by hand, especially the hand lasting/stitching process of genuine handsewn shoes, many machines are used as well. At Rancourt & Co. our philosophy is using whatever means necessary to make the best pair of shoes possible. At times this means using machines and at times this means using our hands.

    As a culture, we have grown tired of disposable goods, made cheaply and rapidly, with no unique characteristics. In the past five years I've seen immense growth in the handmade heritage business. More and more people are starting companies, opening workshops, or stocking their stores with products that are made using old world techniques and high quality materials. Unfortunately, as the demand for these items has increased, so have the attempts by disingenuous brands to exploit it.

    Dustin Spencer from Bobby Liu on Vimeo.

    Born shoes sell cheap, machine made shoes under the guise of "handcrafted".  Timberland is making some of their shoes using the cheapest methods and materials possible and calling them "handcrafted" and using phrases like "handcrafted aesthetic" to describe them.  Persol Eyewear claims their products are "hand-crafted" despite being owned by Luxxotica Group which is not only the world's largest eyewear manufacturer but arguably the largest global monopoly.

    DSC_1400_1

    To me, handmade means using your hands or small hand tools to make goods in small batches. When using traditional old world techniques leads to a finished good that is unique and skillfully crafted it can be called handmade or handcrafted. Handmade is about preserving tradition - otherwise we would end up making things with no character. If using cheap materials, machines, and automated processes could truly replicate handcrafted goods there would be nothing that defines our shoes as Maine made or Alden's as American made. There would be nothing special about Frank Clegg's bags (https://frankcleggleatherworks.com/) because any factory in China could make an exact replica. Nobody would buy Thomas Moser's (http://www.thosmoser.com/) beautiful and uniquely American furniture because they look and feel exactly like the pieces made by machines. Faribault Woolen Mills (http://www.faribaultmill.com/) wouldn't have revived a 140 year old mill if preserving tradition and old world techniques didn't matter.

    faribault

    "Handmade" and "Handcrafted" are distinctions that are earned and shame on those brands that are exploiting and devaluing their significance.

  • Crafting shoes since 1964

    In 1964, my grandfather, David Rancourt, opted out of joining his father's lucrative logging business in Northern Maine and Canada to learn the handsewn moccasin trade. In the years since, David, my father Michael, and me (Kyle), have made shoes for some of the most iconic American brands including the original Quoddy Moccasin, Cole-Haan, Allen-Edmonds, and Red Wing. In 2010, more than four decades of shoemaking experience culminated in the launch of the first brand to bear the Rancourt name. Today, we use our three generations of knowledge, experience, and passion for shoemaking to bring you some of the finest shoes made in the United States of America.

    We are proud that all of our shoes are made, literally by hand, in our factory in Maine that we own and operate. There are no investors or outside interests. My father and I own 100% of the business and handle all of the operations on a daily basis. We both live within three miles of the factory and could not imagine trying to manage this business from afar. We are, truly, a family business. We employ many members of the same family, including our own. Not only do we believe that this fosters an environment of trust but also a passion for the success of our business. Our greatest goal is to see the shoemaking trade in Maine thrive. We thank you for being a part of it.

  • Short List of USA Shoe Manufacturers

    This is a list of companies and brands that own their own factories and manufacture their own products in the USA. The do not contract with factories like ours. If you think someone important is missing from this list add it to the comments. Always buy from the manufacturer, it makes a difference. You'll typically get the best prices, the customer service will be knowledgeable on construction, materials, and sizing, and if something goes wrong they'll know how to fix it.

    Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafters
    https://www.rancourtandcompany.com/

    Alden
    http://www.aldenshoe.com

    Red Wing
    http://www.redwingshoes.com/

    Allen Edmonds
    http://www.allenedmonds.com/

    Quoddy
    http://www.quoddy.com/

    Russell Moccasin
    http://www.russellmoccasin.com/

    White's Boots
    http://www.whitesboots.com/

    Genesco / Parent company of Johnston & Murphy
    http://www.johnstonmurphy.com/group.aspx?name=men/usa (beware: most shoes not manufactured in USA)

    Danner
    http://www.danner.com/

    Chippewa / Justin Boots
    http://www.chippewaboots.com/
    http://www.justinboots.com/en/

    Wesco
    http://www.westcoastshoe.com/wesco/home.asp

    New Balance (beware: very few styles actually produced in the USA)
    http://www.newbalance.com/

    Weinbrenner / Thorogood
    http://www.weinbrennerusa.com/dspNavCategory.cfm?rootID=

  • FREE GROUND SHIPPING ON ALL ORDERS OVER $99

    Announcing free domestic ground shipping on all orders over $99.

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