A few years ago my wife bought a pair of Eastland boots in a vintage shop in Lower East Side Manhattan. I have to admit I was a little jealous of her discovery. I still remember the first time my Dad bought me a pair of the Eastland penny loafers. I think I may have been a 5th grader at the time. Although I never really inserted a penny, just knowing I could was all that I needed to appoint myself as a self-acclaimed fashion icon. Many years have passed, and I had forgotten about the Eastland Shoe Company, so I’m excited that she has rediscovered them. As a child I had very limited understanding or appreciation for the quality of good craftsmanship, in fact most things were disposable to me because it’s only value was dictated by the latest cultural trends. Today as an artist and student of the maker movement, I have gained an appreciation and curiosity for reconnecting to or discovering the stories and goods created by many of the world’s talented individuals and incredible companies such as the Eastland Shoe Company.
Best known for their signature eponymous knot, this Maine-based, family owned shoe company has been consistently crafting timeless classic shoes since 1955. Eastland’s philosophy and commitment is a product of its rich Maine heritage where there is a long history of hand sewers. This industry consisted of home-workers and local contract hand sewers, primarily in the Lewiston area, that worked from home or in small conglomerations.
Using traditional shoemaking principles, Eastland shoes are “stitched solely by hand and eye by experienced shoe hand sewers.” The shoes are made from the finest components available – authentic, rugged USA leathers, genuine leather soles, premium plantation crepe, true leather welts, and American rawhide laces.
I was quite impressed to learn that the Eastland Shoe Company is one of the only remaining family owned and operated American shoe brands still making footwear in the state of Maine. When you purchase an Eastland product you can be proud that you will not only own a classic shoe with the highest standards of craftsmanship, but also will be preserving an endangered American industry that has suffered a steep decline due to a shift to production overseas. It’s important to know that the shoe industry was once Maine’s largest source of industrial jobs.
You can learn more about the Eastland Shoe Company and shop at http://www.eastlandshoe.com/home.do.