The relationship between a man and his boots should never go overlooked. For starters, a great, durable pair of boots that can withstand the elements can last a man his whole life. Whether building a house, hiking the Appalachian Trail or harvesting hops for a new batch of home brewed craft beer, a manly man and his boots can accomplish a lifetime of tasks together.
Secondly, a man should really pay attention to his boots because women tend to pay attention to those sorts of things. A great pair of boots to go along with a great sense of style and the right attitude can go a long way for an aspiring young gentleman. They can boost confidence, and confidence is key.
That’s why up-and-coming premium boot retailers, HELM Boots have been making fine, quality men’s boots right here in America since 2009. Their ability to somehow blend style, comfort and durability make their boots a worthy footwear option for any man in need of a new boot.
We at of Iron & Oak recently had the opportunity to talk to Ms. Hillary Bilheimer from HELM. She was kind enough to answer our questions and help us get a better understanding of HELM Boots. Read on to learn more about the company, their history and why they should become your new favorite boot brand.
First off, feel free to introduce yourself!
I’m Hillary Bilheimer, Brand Manager for HELM Boots. I’ve worked for HELM for almost 2 years.
How did HELM Boots get started? What was the fuel that started this fire?
Joshua Bingaman started HELM in the summer of 2009. He has done many things in life but they seem to always come back to footwear. At the time he was importing rugs and kilims from Turkey where his aunt lives. He began to be aware of the handmade shoe industry and after casually mentioning to his aunt that he would be interested in pursuing a shoe line, she introduced him to a family of shoemakers. He designed a few styles, ordered several deep and sold them out instantly, so he designed again and HELM was born.
Where are all the boots made? How do you guys go about making them?
After making them in Istanbul for three years, we moved production to the States. Since Spring of 2012 we have been working with a small factory in Maine. We design everything in Austin, Texas and then have them produced in Maine. We travel there to oversee production as well. The craftsman in the factory have been working there for most of their lives. There are even some families that have all worked there at one time.
After receiving our designs, a prototype is made that we make notes on and send back. After round two we’ve usually nailed it and we can send the boot into production. The whole process can take 6-8 months or longer. The hardest part is probably having to design so far in advance of the season but that’s the same problem everyone has in fashion. It’s easier when you’re not so concerned with trends and more into making classic styles that will last.
Where can an aspiring young gentleman find HELM boots?
Our boots can currently be found on HELMboots.com, at our retail store in Austin (900 East 6th Street) and on Nordstrom.com. We have some wholesale accounts in the works for Fall 2013/Spring 2014 but we are very committed to getting the brand as focused as we can before moving nationally too fast.
What would you say to each of your customers if you could meet them individually?
Yes, our boots fit true to size. And thank you for supporting a small company who cares.
Any new and exciting additions to the line coming up?
We have purchased a new set of lasts (a mechanical form used to shape the boot) that will give us a new toe shape that we’re super excited about. If you are a longtime HELM fan, you will be excited to see that the new design will be closely modeled on the Ray Ray – a very popular boot from our Turkish inventory. We’re also working on some sole options that will be quite different from what we’ve been doing.
Which of your boots is your personal favorite? I’m quite fond of the Railroad Revival Tour Boot myself.
I own the Reid, which I love because of the dual materials: raw denim and rich brown Chromexcel leather. It is so versatile. I’m a huge fan of the Muller Teak as well (as is everyone else – it is our most popular design).
In a world full of craftsmen, what sets HELM Boots apart from other boot manufacturers?
Our product is of high quality construction and we also source the most high quality materials. I think our designs are pretty unique. We mix colors and textures but keep the whole thing from being too flashy. We use the white midsole with all of our styles. Joshua engineered it himself after his affection for classic sneakers like the Adidas Dragon or the old Puma Dassler boot that have that bit of white around the mid. I like how the boots are versatile in terms of being to take them to work or play and that they have small touches that set them apart from, say, a Red Wing or an Oak Street. These are all things that other manufacturers are also looking at though – it’s not like a uniquely designed, high quality boot will set you apart anymore.
What I really think makes us different is our customer service and how much we care. If you call our office you will get one of four people on the line and you will most likely speak with Joshua, the owner of the company. We believe in our product and we work hard to make sure you are also happy with it so any issues that arise are tended to with that in mind. We like to interact with our customers directly and communicate regularly via social media and email to answer questions, concerns or just to chat. We’re all people persons and we enjoy that almost more than making boots (almost…) I think at the end of the day, making someone’s life a little easier or more pleasant because we took time out and connected with them is going to make all of us a bit happier.
What does the future hold for HELM?
We’re going to spend the rest of the year building up our presence via the Austin retail store and we have a new website coming soon that will make shopping a lot easier online and make interacting with us simpler too. We want to focus what we are doing with our new Made in the US designs and we will be releasing another line this Fall.
A long term goal is to be a little more well known across the country as a dependable go-to men’s footwear company.
If it can be done, in three words, describe what it feels like to wear HELM.
HELM Boots are comfortable, trusty and stylish and they make you feel strong, handsome and dependable.
– – –
At the end of the day, a great boot gives a man confidence, and that’s what we like about HELM. They have the ability to give a man strength, make him feel attractive as well as the ability to handle anything the world has to throw at him. As far as we’re concerned, these boots are of Iron & Oak approved. What do you guys think of these boots? What do you guys look for in a boot? Would you consider HELM as a quality replacement for your old boots? Let us know in the comments below.
Like this article? Why not like us as well? Find of Iron & Oak on Facebook and Twitter! And, as always, feel free to express your comments, concerns or funny stories in the comments below. Look good. Live well. Of Iron & Oak.