In the past year, we’ve finally been able to design a very limited number of women’s sizes in the Abel, Donahue and Pablo. Women’s 6M, 7M and 8M – all fit very true to size. (If you wear a women’s 9, 10 or 11, you’ve always been able to wear our men’s styles. Just size down 2 sizes and it should work well).
Why did it take so long to offer women’s styles? Our factory has made traditional Maine hand-sewn shoes and boots for awhile and in the last four to five years they have diversified and begun to make welted footwear as well. This is like opening an entirely new factory. They had to buy new machines, new supplies and new lasts. Since it was a new operation for them they chose to focus on just buying lasts for men to keep costs down. The lasts are the single most important part of shoe making and can be quite expensive to acquire. You have to have multiple pairs for each size you plan to make in each style you plan to make. It adds up.
For a client like us who have been making men’s boots all along, the men’s only last issue wasn’t really an issue. As more people started seeing our designs though, we had a lot of women tell us that they also want to wear them. There is apparently a market for classic, minimalist boots for women that don’t have heels or buckles or embellishments of some sort.
The solution, and the one we engaged in for Fall 2014, was to have a few hand-sewn styles made for men and women. We had wanted to do this since we started working with our factory in 2012 but they had a waiting list. (We said they were really good at this.) We were excited about the hand-sewn designs and last Fall we released the Abel and Donahue for men and women as well as the Pablo in black and brown for the Fall 2015 line.
Take a look back at the video below about our first release of women’s styles and what goes into them featuring HELM’s own Joshua Bingaman.