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Why Timberland, Dr. Martens and Wolverine Are Updating Their Classics

Custom Job

All-American boot brand Wolverine is calling for customers to revamp one of its most iconic designs.
With around 130 years of history, Wolverine boasts more than a lifetime of heritage designs and shoemaking knowledge, including the timeless 1000 Mile boot.

Crafted in the U.S. with the same quality and detail found in the original, Wolverine’s 1000 Mile Boot for men and women continues to be the cornerstone of the collection. Though it is a simple design, the boot is easily identifiable: an upper made from Charles F. Stead suede or leather from Horween Leather Company, stacked leather outsole and Goodyear welt construction. Elements like a Vibram rubber heel have carried it into the next century.

In 2016, the all-American boot brand introduced the Wolverine Workshop, calling for consumers to revamp the iconic boot through an online customization platform. From uppers, outsoles, eyelets and laces to welt stitch colors and monogramming, customers can handpick each component to their liking. Premium upper materials from Horween and Charles F. Stead range from traditional brown to hot pink.

“When we launched [Wolverine Workshop] the consumers targeted for that were different than the guys on the construction site,” said Wolverine President Todd Yates. “Those boots really connect emotionally to the consumer so it was really logical, allowing them to create their own. It helped not only regular sales, but helped consumers appreciate the styles even more.”


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VAMP: Why is it a good time for Wolverine to introduce customization for the 1000 Mile boot?
Yates: Really all we did was replicate it and modernize it. From a custom standpoint, it was something we wanted to do for a very long time and we finally got everything in line. There’s so many differentiations of the style, customization is as much as a brand builder as a sales builder. We were excited to launch. People are having fun creating the boots.

VAMP: Do you think customization has become a standard in footwear?
Yates: Our consumers have a very deep affection for the original 1000 Mile boot, that making it customizable was a logical way to further build that connection with these consumers. Our goal is always to strive to satisfy our consumers, and this experience is one that deepens their connection to the brand, and allows them to add their story to the long heritage of the boot.

VAMP: Do you plan to introduce customization for any other Wolverine styles?
Yates: Yes, we actually built an additional style into the original software programming, which we will likely launch sometime in the near future.

VAMP: Is there a risk involved in allowing customers to change a classic?
Yates: In general, the ability to offer a variety of leathers and colors allows us to address that consumer that wants something that’s personalized but also what their style desires at the moment. We do offer some seasonal colors. I like the rubber lug outsole and things like that—so for me it was a way to take the boot and make it something better for weather. It allows someone to put their own personal style touch to it, whether it’s color blocking or contrast stitching or mixed leather colors.

VAMP: How have customers responded to the customized product?
Yates: It’s relatively new but we have gotten a lot of feedback that people have had a great time developing it and they’re excited when it gets there. The consumer engagement is just as important.