Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Duck Boots Gone A-Fowl?



[Pictured: Pome Duck Boots available for $110.00.]

No classic is safe in this day and age.  The popularity of workwear and heritage items continues to facilitate many standby's being flipped into fashion forward versions of themselves.  Remember the Bizaro version of Superman? Same thing.  These new duck boots from Pome are interesting, but are a bitter pill to swallow.  To be honest, I think these boots are sending the wrong message. Not some played-out "we only should stick with classic American brands" message, but something much different. 

These boots seem to be saying, "L.L. Bean boots are stylish and all, but we can improve them."  They appear to be devaluing the L.L. Bean standard for not being cool enough and, to me, that's just plain wrong.  When does a stylish shoe become a victim of "fashion"?  Can style only go so far without "fashion"?  I don't know the answers to these questions and I may be taking this discussion to a place where it doesn't belong (as Jay-Z once so eloquently put it, "it's only entertainment"), but I do know that the Pome Duck Boots kind of bother me.  Here's my advice: how about you throw some red laces on your LL Bean boots instead of buying these (thanks Plett) .

-L.A.S

20 comments:

  1. These are just wrong. Pretty soon, Steve Madden is going to start selling duck boots.

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  2. These bastardizations of a classic are just well..skip said it best, wrong. The color options are quite childlike in my opinion.

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  3. God only knows what kind of guarantee these things have. I promise you they won't be around long enough to find out!

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  4. These actually kind make sense (not that I would wear them). These are obviously marketed towards hipsters. Hipsters have extra cash, won't be wearing the same boot in a year (Duck Boots? That's soo 2009) thus quality is not taken into account, and like things that make them stick out from the crowd (not that that's a bad thing). This company will probably make a profit on these even if their product is more expensive and of crappy quality.

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  5. Pome is late to the bastardization of the duck boot. Tory burch rolled a pair out last year and while sperry makes a mean boat shoe they also have a hideous duck boot moc they are selling this season. The thing that bothers me the most is that the pome duck boots will end up on those boys that wear the Rocca Wear coats with the fur and have their pants belted at the knees. Travesty.

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  6. wow @TWA is that right? haha "those boys that wear ROCCA Wear coats..." eh? well, i guess the bigger question to me would be is any item "sacred"? what's the difference between this and VISVIM or some other Japanese brand making "American workwear"? it's just like those Jordan purist that have a fit any time a new fusion drops. would it make you feel better they were made by the good ol' boys from Iventory Contorl or ACL? no shots, just asking?

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  7. Enthusiast- I def. agree that these boots are being marketed at the hipster and "streetwear" crowds.

    KJ- You bring up a great point. Is nothing sacred? And if a "respected" brand were to remake the duck boot would we react differently. I'm not sure if I can answer either of those questions, but the fact that a "respected" brand (outside of Sperry apparently...I haven't seen their duck boots) hasn't remade this classic is a telling sign.

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  8. I work in a shoe store, and have seen the duck boot remade by both Sporto and Ugg in the men and women's sections. It's really hard to look and them and not think, "I should go home to my L.L. Bean catalogue and order a pair I KNOW will be good."

    That red on red combo in the picture is pretty ugly...

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  9. In my opinion - as an LLBean employee and proud Bean Boot wearer - no impostors can hold a flame to the original and best, which are still made in Brunswick, Maine by American workers: http://bit.ly/80oIE1

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  10. I'm personally all for innovation, but taking a classic and just changing the colors is just pathetic. It's true a ton of brands have their adaptations of the duck boot (I see no one mentioned Ralph Lauren's Raleigh boot), and most of them are of lesser quality, but I can see where updating a classic can be beneficial. I know I'm in the minority when it comes to this but as h1gher said, there are Japanese brands that have successfully created modern interpretations of classic footwear (Visvim obviously comes to mind and the dozens of collaborations between classic American companies and Japanese shops). If there were done by L.L.Bean in collaboration with some small Japanese shop and weren't ridiculously marked up as such collabs often are, I might consider them, but the classic duck boot doesn't seem like something that needs to be reinvented.

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  11. I'm with you. A classic in style should remain just that.

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  12. admittedly, i'm a recent bean boot acquirer so my opinion might not hold much weight, but when I was looking to buy a pair to deal with this year's san francisco weather, i didn't bother looking anywhere else but L.L.Bean. i've never second-guessed the quality of these and i think when it comes down to it, that's what makes their product a classic. i'm sure the imitators will move on soon enough, like they always seem to do.

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  13. Why is it necessarily wrong for someone to fine tune a classic design to fit their own tastes? This line of boots is I think pretty tastefully done and allows those who prefer this type of boot in different colorways than LL Bean offers to have access to them. An insistence that no one may put their own spin on a classic design is pretty short-sighted and, more broadly, stifles creativity. I understand the desire to defend an original design/make, and frankly I would stick to the original as well, but I don’t have a problem with a little tweaking (your boots might be perfect for you; others might want different detailing). Look at it as a way to distinguish yourself, not a reason to disparage the sartorial choices that people, who potentially do not share your background, wish to make. I have several blue oxford cloth button-downs, each of which has a different cut and design elements, and my favorites are just that because of fit, comfort and the stories with which I associate them (which I think for many is a large part of the allure of the Bean boot in the first place). Besides, it’s not like they’re Skechers.

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  14. KCM- "An insistence that no one may put their own spin on a classic design is pretty short-sighted and, more broadly, stifles creativity."

    I think the issue your comment brings to the forefront is that there are two camps when it comes to reinterpretations such as these Pome duck boots. Those that believe it is creativity and those that believe it is exploitation. Take that for what it's worth, but until we know (and we most likely never will) the intentions behind something like this people's opinions will be divided based solely on the "idea" of what the shoe means.

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  15. Isn't the argument more about the imitation due to a possible "trend", and the potential lack of quality compared to the original, versus the aesthetics of it?

    I think the boots look great, and I like the different colorways, but I assumed the original discussion was about the degree of quality of these compared to say, L.L.Bean's version.

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  16. Barron- The arguement is about a lot of things, which is why I mentioned "intentions". Both quality AND aesthetics are part of the designers/brand's intentions. But you're right, quality is a huge part of it.

    Style vs. Fashion
    Trends vs. Timeless-ness
    Quality vs. Crap
    Original/Authenticity vs. Interpretation

    etc...the list goes on...

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  17. Worksmanship clearly plays a role in branding, and I would guess most people who read this and similar blogs are well aware of this when they pair, say, Bean boots with a pair of RRL denim. The quality question (including the difference between the actual application of quality worksmanship vs. merely a well-designed marketing campaign displaying an aesthetic typically associated with well-crafted goods) is an interesting one and maybe should be the underlying thrust of this post, but doesn't seem to be. Rather, the post appears to reflect a concern with a classic design being co-opted for a "fashion forward" crowd (read: LES hipsters). I'm also of the mindset (and purchasing habit) that authenticity matters and that authentic goods (generally corresponding to higher manufacturing quality) carry an implicit cache that any modern reinterpretation cannot successfully recreate. That said, as in my last post that is something I use to distinguish myself, and I quietly carry a sense of pride in that respect. This is not necessarily inconsistent with what I think really underlies the post, which is a concern that the Pome boots demonstrate that a co-opting effect is taking place, and as they become more ubiquitous and made by less reputable brands, people lose a sense for that for which readers of this blog really appreciate the Bean boots (in part, quality craftsmanship and a tradition that many of us take back to the days when phone-order catalogs were king) and instead associate it with a poseur movement. It's a misread to assume the Pome boots imply they can IMPROVE on the classic design, I think instead they scream "good idea, let me get in on that." Rather than devaluing the real thing, I think they help the Bean boots stand out. In other words, the reason I'm really not concerned by the Pome boots (or comparable situations writ large) is that I'm still going to buy the better-quality product, and I'm still going to know they're better quality when I'm walking around with dry feet while the skinny-jeaned dude in the flannel shirt recovering from the Girl Talk concert eating brunch next door has to change his socks when he gets home.

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  18. KCM- Touche. You make some fantastic points and I have to say that you make a compelling case for the "purpose" of the Pome duck boots. Ultimately, as someone who loves Bean boots my initial thoughts may paint Pome in an unfair manner. Whether its "imporvement in a fasion sense" or a "damn, we can make money off of this" sentiment I don't like either. At the end of the day, myself, you and those reading this blog will spend their hard earned money on the well-made and stylish original and that's really all that matters. At least to me. Amen.

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  20. I am just impressed that such compelling arguments are being made about Pome boots--some of which read like dissertation excerpts.

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