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To Boot New York Founder Adam Derrick on Making Noise in the Men’s Market

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]One of NYC’s best kept secrets in men’s footwear, To Boot New York has been going strong for more than two decades, producing fine, hand-crafted footwear at more affordable prices than comparable luxury brands. In a men’s market that’s over-saturated with similar product, To Boot has managed to find a sweet middle spot between super high-end and disposable fast fashion, delivering shoes that are timely and on-trend but made with a timeless sense of craftsmanship that’s designed to last. With boot season now in full swing, we sat down with designer Adam Derrick and chatted about how he’s managed to make To Boot stand out from the pack, and where he feels men’s footwear is going in 2016.

VAMP: What’s new for To Boot for Fall ’16?
Derrick: Dressier sneakers in glossy and burnished leathers with tonal, as well as contrast soles. These can move between casual weekend looks and look just as good with pulled-together dressier clothes for the office. The sneaker category keeps growing but boots continue very strong, especially in mixed media such as burnished calf combined with oiled suede adding texture and contrast.

VAMP: Give us a little background about To Boot for those who might be unfamiliar.
Derrick: I have been designing men’s shoes and boots for To Boot New York for more than two decades. I believe I was the first and am still the only men’s designer to approach footwear as a “lifestyle” collection, always considering the modern man’s every footwear need. Today that includes business and other dress shoes, all types of boots, casual shoes including drivers, loafers, sandals, and most recently, I added luxury sneakers to the collection.

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The entire comprehensive collection is, and always has been, hand-crafted in Italy with at least 100 new styles shown every season. It is with this approach that To Boot New York has become a mainstay in the finest men’s specialty stores in the USA including Nordstrom, Saks 5th Avenue, Bloomingdales, and of course, our own website.

VAMP: Can you talk about the craftsmanship in your boots a bit?
Derrick: All of our shoe and boot styles are carefully handcrafted with the finest leathers from Italy. Our process begins with hand selecting and then hand cutting of the hides to maximize a perfect finished result. Once the leather is cut, it is stitched together according to the design. The stitched pieces are then stretched over the last and left to rest for about two weeks, depending on the shoe. We do this to allow the shoe to adjust to the shape of the last which allows the silhouette to hold for years. Lesser shoes aren’t “lasted” as long as ours and won’t endure as long as a result. After the shoes have memorized their shape, they have the soles stitched on, then cleaned, brushed, polished, and buffed. Depending on the style and finish the shoes may undergo several periods of polish application and buffing to burnish the leather.

VAMP: How was business this holiday season? Did the warmer than usual weather last month have any affect on sales?
Derrick: To Boot New York actually finished up our most successful year ever, but it wasn’t the easiest year ever! Retail was challenging in every way, but our boot sales seemed not to be too affected by warm weather as we had the fashion looks the customer was looking for. Shearling was definitely tough!

VAMP: What’s that status of men’s boots going into 2016?
Derrick: Boots have become a mainstay in a man’s fashion wardrobe. Whereas a guy has his go-to jeans, he may buy two or three pairs of boots to switch up his look. Classic silhouettes are popular: chukkas, chelsea boots, side zips, but the customer is definitely seeking out a unique twist in materials or finish which look less basic. Men are also much more comfortable with color, albeit wearable color. We will sell more navy and gray this year than black, for example.

VAMP: You’ve managed to make quite a bit of noise in the men’s footwear category that is otherwise overrun with brand names. As an independent label, how have you managed to stand out?
Derrick: Practice, practice, practice! I decided to specialize in men’s footwear, and men’s exclusively and its been a strength for us. We are very fortunate that our business has all been built entirely on word-of-mouth and satisfied customers.

VAMP: Your brand offers affordable luxury to male consumers that can’t or don’t want to shell out for a Gucci shoe, but still value Italian made and craftsmanship in their footwear. What are they looking for?
Derrick: The To Boot customer is definitely fashion aware, and keeps evolving, but he is not a trend chaser. He appreciates the quality, the timeless aspects, and the wearability. I believe hand crafted Italian product is not the most inexpensive choice, but over time offers great value. I strive to offer that quality and value served up with distinctive To Boot style with every collection.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]