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White's Boots is an American shoemaking company based in Spokane, Washington that specializes in making handcrafted leather work boots. The company produces their handcrafted shoes in the U.S. using American sourced leather and materials.
White's originally began before the American Civil War as a family business that crafted boots for loggers in Virginia. In 1902 the company relocated to St. Maries, Idaho and then settled in Spokane 13 years later. After moving to the inland northwest region of the United States, White's began selling their boots primarily to members of the forest industry.
Following years of service, the company established itself in the area, and became a popular item among loggers, construction workers, and Wildland firefighters. The boots have become especially popular among Wildland Firefighters, and their most popular style is a boot called the "Smoke Jumper" which was created specifically to fulfill the needs of Wildland Firefighters. More recently the company has drawn interest from members of the fashion community, as there has been a renewed interest in obtaining Americanawear.
The Early Years (1850s-1900s)
The early years of White’s Boots are marked by few surviving stories. More than anything, the boots are what we know best, and the stories they inspired in the Pacific Northwest.
Bootmaking was hard living, but it was honest. A bootmaker only made money when he made a boot, still true to this day. Repairing boots kept the lights on, but it would never buy the building, and Edward knew it. He soon taught his son, John, who continued to work in the Northeast. In 1880, John followed opportunity to the Shenandoah Valley. It was the first time loggers and miners experienced early versions of the White’s work boot. The Blue Ridge Mountains served as a field test for the untested mountains out west, and John used every opportuanity to prepare his boots for the top.
The next 20 years were the most important for the success of White’s Boots in the early 20th century. John taught his son, Otto, who would soon show his worth as an innovator of the trade. Otto was ambitious. He wanted to own a building, and he would do it by the 1920s. The more boots he made, the more he began to master the ‘Anatomy of a Legend’ many know and love today: the hand-welted work boot. It’s impossible to know how many bootmakers were practicing the same techniques in those days, but it would be Otto who put his name to the staying power of the hand-sewn work boot in America. He would do it his own way.
In 1889, the future of the business rested on John’s shoulders. He decided to move the family out west, bootjacks and all. Otto was not yet 20, but he was already marching toward the Arch-Ease innovation he would trademark in Spokane, WA. All he needed was to experience a place where men had the kind of money to buy the kind of boots he made. In 1900, the family got off the train in Wardner, Idaho. John and Otto set up shop, and one by one, the White family name was stamped into the best work boot in the country.
Edward White established a one man shoe shop in Connecticut
John White, son of Edward, relocated to the Shenandoah Valley (VA)
John White, with his son Otto, move their family West. Ultimately landing in Wardner, Idaho in 1900.