Friday, February 16, 2018


Hey John,

Love your Instagram and blog. You have me very interested in picking up the Campus Jacket. Yours is phenomenal. I was curious if you could give me your thoughts on sizing—I’m 5’10 and 160 lbs. I typically wear a size 38 jacket. Do you think I should pick up a size 36 like yours for the same fit? Or do you think a 38 might be more appropriate? Any thoughts are much appreciated!
Sleeves and waist hit me at the perfect spots

Hey Maxwell, 

Thanks for the kind words! The Campus is certainly an incredible jacket and my favorite Cossack-style on the market, because of the DIY nature of it. I can't think of another leather jacket that requires the new buyer to take it home and personally put it through their own unique tanning process. Never has an article of clothing felt so personal to me. 

Anyhow, I'm 5'5" and 138 with a sporty build and my size 36 fits like a charm. Given the specifics you provided above, I recommend sticking with a size 38.

Chest is perfectly snug for that vintage fit

Just to be sure, here are the measurements taken from my size 36 jacket today:

Chest: 20 1/2"
Shoulder: 17 1/4"
Sleeve (from shoulder seam): 23 3/4"
Length (from base of collar down back): 21 1/4"

Size 36 from the Mister Freedom® site
Chest: 20"
Shoulder: 17 1/4"
Sleeve: 24 3/4"

Size 38 from the Mister Freedom® site
Chest: 21"
Shoulder: 18
Sleeve: 25 1/4"
Length:23 1/2"

Readers might also like:

Campus (Italian vegetable tanned lamb leather)

Statesman (Cowhide)

Friday, February 9, 2018



My name is Jay & I live in Seattle. I am very interested in finding an amazing pair of engineer boots. I wear size 10m ... can you help me?

Chippewa 27899 (classic buckle)


Thanks for the e-mail! While the Chippewa 27899s might be considered a place holder or gateway boots, they are still one of my favorites with regard to price, durability and classic styling. The other boots on my list definitely fall into the "amazing" category. 

The spreadsheet I whipped up below shows my top picks for boots under $1,000 and while I personally have paid well over this on a number of occasions, I feel this price is the threshold for what I consider to be reasonably acceptable. The only time I would ever consider spending more than a grand on boots again is if I run across something vintage and it has to be something spectacular--stick with the boots on this list and you will not be disappointed. 

Red Wing 2966

It appears they have one size left that happens to be a 10D!

Re:Broth (Godfather last)

Wesco 7400

Viberg (2050 last)

Attractions Lot.444

Black Sign Aviator/Engineer
Source: bs_nishiura

This is more for someone with an established collection and looking for something different. Not recommended for a first pair. I'm definitely considering adding this to my collection.

 Black Sign Aviator/Engineer
Source: bs_nishiura

Dappers Lot.1142

Mister Freedom® Road Champ


Lot. 64 Okinawa Issue x Road Champ Engineer Boots x VEB Leather studded belt.

Monday, February 5, 2018


The new Combat Boots by John Lofgren are nothing short of incredible and consistent with the highest quality build and material we've all come to know with his footwear and vintage Americana-style clothing.

Based on 1940's U.S. Army combat boots using John's unique last, I'd take these into combat any day knowing, they'd hold up in any climb and place.

Website           Instagram

Horween Chromexcel Leather in 2.0-2.3mm

Only the highest quality materials are used on anything that bears his name.

The profile on these boots are attractively beefy, yet pairing them up with some slacks or chinos makes so much sense.

I used to be a Cat's Paw half-sole snob, but as it turns out reproduction half soles will cause you to make more trips to the local repair shop. Nowadays, I look for either heavy duty, long-lasting soles like those used on Attractions and Mister Freedom footwear ... or the king of 'em all--Vibram.
John chose to use full composition Vibram's #700 soles/heels. You may never have to bring these in for repair!

Saturday, January 27, 2018


So the story goes that a Japanese collector purchased an original 1930’s Peter’s Aviator/Motorcycle jacket some ten years ago.

Upon finding this out, the vintage reproduction market’s baddest leather jacket maker rented the new acquisition from its owner in order to reproduce it and what we have is the incredible Freewheelers & Co. “San Mateo.” A price tag of $2,400 is a drop in the bucket compared to what the owner paid for the original.

Source: brywb_uno The original used as the template for the "San Mateo"

Source: brywb_uno

Source: Hayabusa

Thanks to Alex for the heads up on this killer piece. This jacket can be your for only ... $8,200!!

Source: Hayabusa

So many examples of originals can be found on the interwebs and each one will amaze you. If you have a chance to acquire a Freewheelers version, I say go for it. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018


Christophe and his team are at it again! I'm always excited to see the latest collection from the Mister Freedom® brand and the SS2018 won't disappoint.

Check out the entire lineup of my favorite brand here

Friday, January 12, 2018


Hey man, how's things? Happy new year.

So I was wondering if you have any recommendations for sole repair in Brooklyn NY, or NYC proper. My RRL engineers are getting close to needing some touching up after a year and change. 

So after seeing your year end post I got myself on the list for the next batch of Road Champs. Been eyeing them for a while now, and I know you're a big fan. Between your review and praise, and others, I figured it's time to make the investment. Will probably be a while. 


After. Source: Kirby Allison’s Hanger Project


Hey Elly,

Happy New Year to you as well.

I’m not familiar with any shops in NY, but I’ll put a call out to see if anyone knows of a good place. I’m eyeballing some overseas repair shops that do some incredible work like Brass Tokyo, Dr. Soles and an old favorite, Fukurokuju.

Can’t go wrong with some Road Champs. Yeah, it’ll more than likely be a while, but well worth the wait. 

I’ll let you know If I hear anything about shops in NY.


Alex is a fellow Engineer Boot fan and he mentioned B. Nelson Shoe Repair. Well, I did a little research and turns out they are held in pretty high regard. I would personally send a pair of boots to them. 

Here’s the skinny:

B. Nelson Shoe Corp
140 East 55th St.
New York, New York 10022
Phone: (212) 750-0818
  • Founded by Bernhard Nelson over 100 years ago. His factory resoling methods are still used today.
  • Pricing: Nothing over $200!! See list below 
  • Timeline: The average return delivery is 10-14 days. Wow!!
  • B. Nelson’s president, Nick Valenti, seems to be the person whose work everyone praises.
  • Examples of their work can be found on the various men’s fashion forums.

“B. Nelson specializes in factory method resoling. Each pair of shoes is fitted with the proper last. The sole is removed, cork footbeds are stripped and replaced, and even welts and heel bases are replaced when necessary. We use a minimum of 19 steps in order to complete our resoling process. Our process is so detail-oriented that we even take the time to pre-grove a channel before stitching the new sole on. This is done so that the stitching of the new sole is below the surface of the leather to allow maximum wear on your repair. The final step is to remove the last so that the original size and shape of the shoe are not altered.”

Monday, January 1, 2018


There have been a few new offerings by various brands this past year, but none have really held my attention like those listed below as my top three. And while this list may seem like a broken record to those familiar with my blog, there's no denying keen eyes were used during the research and development phase to create some mighty fine footwear. The application of components complement each other making for visually stimulating Engineer Boots worthy of holding any top three spot in any category.

Those in the market for boots that’ll look better and better with age, last a lifetime, and hold its value, look no further than those offered by these three big-hitters.

It's also worth noting that each brand is appropriately priced at under $1,000. Invest in the best without breaking the bank.
l-r: Lofgren, Attractions, Mister Freedom®

Brand: Mister Freedom®
Model: Road Champ
Price: $949.95
Why? At the time these were released, there were only a few companies offering boots that paid homage to that bygone era of fashionable footwear. I purchased both the The Real McCoy's Buco and Toys McCoy Beck -- neither of which really looked like the originals -- but with no other option available, they were the best at the time. I sold them both. Enter the Road Champ Boots. They were an original design by one of the most revered brands and it was exactly what the market needed. The design was so unique that I was a bit skeptical and finally I pulled the trigger in 2011. They remain  a personal favorite.
The Road Champs are super versatile. They go with everything in my wardrobe from slacks to cords to denim and have many faces. They're built like tanks, too!
Colors: Brown, Black
Sizes: 7-12
Released: 2009
Availability: Be sure to get on the wait list immediately to secure a pair -- absolutely worth the wait.

Brand: John Lofgren & Co.
Price: $956 - $1,052
Why? One of the best tributes to midcentury Engineer Boots with the sleekest curves and perfect proportions from one of the highly reputable and influential brands on the market. Made in Japan with pride and with premium select materials. These boots are indestructible!
Colors: Horween CXL in Black, Brown and Natural, Burgundy, Cognac (Badalassi), Sand (Suede)
Sizes: 6-12
Released: 2012
Availability: Currently available for purchase

Brand: Attractions
Model/Price: Lot 508 ($870), Lot 444 ($700), Lot 268 ($700), Lot 329 ($600)
Why? When you can design Engineer Boots that look like they came right out of a 1950's Montgomery Ward catalog and have them age like an original, there's no question they deserve a spot in my top three. They're tough as nails and age so well!
Sizes: 6-11(D)
Released: August 2014
Availability: Currently available for purchase

Honorable Mentions

These are boots that have been on my radar this past year, but since I'm a creature of habit and am content with the boots that have served me so well up to this point I can't justify purchasing more things that'll just take up room in my already packed closets. If and when I get that hankerin' for something new, I've got these in my cross hairs

Brand: Viberg
Model/Last: 2050 (Chelsea)
Price: $780
Availability: Currently available for purchase

Brand: Re-Broth
Model/Last: Godfather
Price: $567 as pictured, but starting at $478
Availability: Stock boots currently available for purchase or have 'em custom made


Saturday, December 2, 2017



I have been reading your blog for a very good while now, Gunny, and I am quite impressed with the knowledge and the writings. I really appreciate the insight on all of it, despite wearing a suit every single day - all out of my preferences.

That being said, I am thinking really deeply about getting a Mister Freedom Campus Jacket, because the jacket simply gave me a pretty powerful call just by the look, but I have a certain concerns, that which I hope you could help address. Now, I live in the Greater Seattle region of Washington state, and by this time of the year onwards till May, the crazy downpour only increase exponentially. My primary concern is whether if the leather will hold up, being only 2 - 3 ounces, to both wear and water.

I know that I will have to take care of the jacket, given that it's leather, and I already have an overkill arsenal of leather care products, going from Saphir to Pecard dressing, to Montana Pitch Blend, but still, that is a concern. Now, with that little sunlight we have here, would continuous oiling and dressing aid as much with the coloration as the Californian sun? I mean, it will age at some point, but otherwise, without sufficient sunlight, I am not willing to accelerate the aging and coloring by other means that are very much unnecessary.

Also, I have a roughly 40 chest, but a 30 - 30.5 waist. Which size do you think would be best for me to choose for the jacket? I have been so used to being measured by my tailor for so long, I completely forget what size I would wear. Other than that, if the sleeves are too long, would you recommend that I alter the sleeves?

I hope that I am not bothering you with too much questions on my first email contact, but I also hope that you could provide certain insights, given your first hand experience.


Hi Travers,

I really appreciate the feedback about the blog. I started it several years ago as a means to archive things that interest me and I find myself using it quite often as a research tool. I always enjoy hearing how readers find it useful as well.

The Cossack style jacket is nothing new. It’s been around since the early part of the last century and almost every major vintage-inspired brand today offers a version of it, but none have dared offer one as a DIY. Christophe has built his brand based on “historically plausible original clothes that never existed but could have” and it’s his innate ability to avoid being viewed as a reproduction brand that has faithful fans coming back for more unique designs. I feel it’s this reputation for high end clothing that possess people to think, “I want to spend my hard-earned money on a raw leather jacket that will require lots of time and effort before I can truly call it my own.”

I wouldn’t be worried about the weight of the leather. Two to three ounces is true to the original design – anything heavier would put it off balance. I feel that Christophe hit it out of the park with the hand-selected leather and I can vouch for the jacket’s durability against heavy wear and the natural elements – it holds up just as well as any Horsehide jacket I own.

In your region, I would recommend exercising a lot of patience and expose it to as much sun as possible before introducing any products as they will just act as a barrier against the rays, preventing expected results – you’d be surprised at how little sun is needed to start seeing results. Some swear that adding oils and then sun tanning will produce a darker color, but I guarantee that using this method will just lead to an uneven and spotty appearance and I absolutely advise against dunking the jacket in water.

I wear a size 36 in all Mister Freedom® jackets and have a 38 chest. I think that perhaps you could use a size 38. The sizing chart is pretty on point for me, so knowing all your measurements would definitely help. Since the jacket isn’t lined, altering the sleeves shouldn’t pose much of a problem – I’d make sure to find a tailor familiar with working on leather.

Source: Mister Freedom

I hope this helps and if you do end up snatching up a Campus, you’ve made the right choice.