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How I Became A Boot Guy

10 years ago I was contacted for a job at Fender Guitars. Flattered as I was, I felt that I should be honest about not being a guitar player, as it seemed to me that someone would need to be immersed in that culture in order to work there. Their response; “trust us, we have enough people that know how to play guitars here.” I’m sure there was some truth to that, but I can guarantee that had I gotten that job, I would also have learned how to play the guitar.

Several years later I had a similar conversation prior to joining HELM. I didn’t, nor had I ever, owned a pair of leather boots. After spending 16 years with adidas, my sneaker collection was strong, but I certainly wasn’t a sneakerhead and had more experience building shoes with cleats on the bottom. I had no experience in breaking in a new pair of boots, still hadn’t discovered the hundreds of steps involved in making a well-crafted boot, or experienced my first debate over blake rapid vs. goodyear welt construction.

Unlike the guitar company, I landed this job and can sit here today and declare that I am a boot guy. I’ve learned over the last 5 years that there’s nothing like putting on perfectly broken-in boots, and it’s hard to beat the comfort and pride you get in making them your own unique pair. I appreciate how the leather gets better with each wear and the confidence I gain from having that perfect pair on my feet.  

My first pair of boots didn’t win me over, nor did the second. It took me time to figure out which type of boot guy I am, and if you’re reading this and wondering how to find your own perfect pair, maybe the below will help you find them.
 

Find Your Footing 

When you look at your feet, you have to like what you’re looking at, whether it’s boots that are  broken-in and showing their wear, a polished pair of shoes ready for a wedding, or a well-maintained pair of sneakers. Whatever your preference might be that day, what you wear should give you confidence when you look down at your feet. 

When shopping for new shoes or boots, think about the type of toe shape that most appeals to you.  

Joshua, who founded HELM, loves more of a traditional work boot look with a rounded toe box, a stitched cap-toe, and he only wears black. I prefer a more modern tapered shape, no stitching across the toe, and I only wear Teak.  
We’re both boot guys, but very different in our preferences. It’s essential that when you look down at your feet, loving the shape of the toe is an important part of that equation.  

Not Your Dad’s Closet

Most dads had one pair of black shoes and one pair of brown shoes.  Times have changed and options for footwear have broadened.  Your closet needs different styles of boots, shoes and sneakers, more than it needs different colors.

Customers often explain they're looking for a black boot because they already own a brown pair.  While I do think that it's important to have a variety of colors for different occasions, there’s nothing wrong with falling in love with one color. For me, that’s teak, and I don’t own a single pair of black boots, shoes or sneakers.  
Joshua loves nothing more than black boots paired with black jeans & a black t-shirt, therefore his closet is full of HELM designs in black.  If you wear both brown and black, then you should have both brown and black, but don’t force a color because that’s what your dad or grandfather did. Here’s a look inside my closet right now:


  1. The Zind Teak - my go-to for meetings or date night and when I need to dress up a little. 
  2. The Lou Teak - my everyday pair that’s more comfortable than any sneaker that I’ve ever had.  During Covid stay-at-home protocols, these saw the most action over the last two years.  
  3. The Hollis Teak - I love the mountains here in Portland, and these are  perfect for when I’m going to be a little harder on the boots and need a little more traction on wet terrain.  Still dressy enough for any meetings or events that I might have when I’m on the road, so they’re a great pair to pack when I want to travel light. 
  4. The Bradley Teak - because sometimes you just need a shoe. 
Investing in a quality pair of boots or shoes can be intimidating. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of choices or you just don’t know where to start, just reach out to us. We’ve all had the same questions at some point during our buying process, and we’re here to help make it easier for you.