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Private Equity Firm Snaps Up Military Boot-Maker, Plans Expanded Consumer Release

The new owners of Original Footwear have big plans to move the military boot-maker into the consumer arena.

Private equity firm Brand Velocity Partners (BVP) said it plans on bringing Original Footwear’s signature military-style boots and uniform-friendly traditional silhouettes to the masses, marking the firm’s first acquisition since its founding in 2019.

BVP is set to launch a new line of consumer-facing active and fashion footwear in 2020 under the Original Footwear brand group, which covers Altama, Original S.W.A.T. and Smith & Wesson Footwear.

“Over the past 50 years, Original Footwear’s brands, including Altama, have become an integral part of Americana for many both in and outside of the military and law enforcement,” Original Footwear founder and CEO Kevin Cole said in a statement. “We are thrilled that the Original Footwear family will leverage BVP’s incredible marketing tools to together expand our global business in the years ahead.”

Original Footwear has long served the U.S. military as one of its footwear providers, manufacturing hardy leather boots under their specifications. Altama currently has dozens of military-style boots available through its consumer website, with prices ranging from under $100 to $180. The footwear’s construction focuses on practicality, with anti-penetration soles and aluminum speed-lacing systems coming as standard options.

However, two new silhouettes have already popped up on Altama’s website, showcasing athleisure styles that represent something of a departure from its previous focus. The new offerings could easily be mistaken for high-top and low-top sneakers, although Altama maintains they are suited for “woodland maritime assault” and boast a “fin-friendly fit.”

With this new direction, BVP hopes to re-engineer the destiny of Original Footwear using its experience working with brands like Coca-Cola, the New York Mets, Madison Square Garden, Subway and Hewlett-Packard.

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“There is a yawning gap in the marketplace for a PE firm to do more than financial engineering—great consumer companies are not built through spreadsheets, but rather through excellent products and superior marketing,” Steve Lebowitz, managing partner with BVP, said. “We will be bringing the full weight of our capabilities to the fore with Original Footwear as well as other acquisitions that fit into our firm’s profile.”

In 2014, Original Footwear acquired fellow military boot-maker Wellco after it filed for bankruptcy amid charges of fraud. Three years later, Original Footwear made another acquisition, picking up a Wolverine factory and the rights to take over its Department of Defense contracts.

The new Altama Maritime Assault line is currently available for preorder with prices ranging from $114.99 to $119.99.