Admit it. Five years after buying your first pair of Yuketens, when the brand first took off in Europe and launched a worldwide cult for moccasin boots, you’re something of a snob, if not a connoisseur, in the boot department. So what’s the next footwear brand you’ll want to be wearing this spring? The New England Outerwear Co.
Based up in Rockport, Massachusetts, New England Outerwear is a small company of a dozen or so folks up that’s been quietly producing footwear since Nov 2012 and creating a stir for all the right reasons amongst footwear mavens. The company is known for its unique uppers that pop with color and fabric inserts, lasted crepe wrap soles, and exclusivity. How exclusive? For one, each shoe is virtually custom-made from start to finish by the same maker.
Co-founders Dan Heselton and Greg Cordeiro also insist on sourcing the most precious and best raw materials such as water-resistant Chromexcel leather by Horween (the original pull-up leather) and controlling the quality of its products by producing everything out of its own factory. Where contemporaries might outsource production at factories such as the ones in Maine, New England Outerwear does everything in-house and to Heselton and Cordeiro’s demanding specs. Having worked with larger companies whose development teams aimed to simply cut material and labor costs to produce higher quantities, the founders wanted to do the complete opposite and forge a personal connection with the product.
As Heselton sees it, “it’s how you do it that matters.” A case in point: vamps and kickers that could take up to an hour to sew and soles that actually comprise five layers of material that sit between the foot and the ground for unparalleled comfort. Plus, the true moccasin construction only means New England Outerwear shoes get better with age. It even offers one free resole with each and every pair. Heselton and Cordeiro aren’t stopping there, however. Their “Courtside” style for spring, for example—a unique twist on a vintage style Adidas tennis shoe that you could wear with shorts—might altogether spark a new direction for updated traditional footwear brands.
Come fall, the company will have sunglasses, jackets, button down shirts and pants in its offerings. Says Heselton, “We can do a boring penny loafer any day of the week, but we won’t.”