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.


Friday, December 1, 2017


Hi John, I stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago when researching engineer boots, and I've been entranced. I've spent the past 2 weeks on the hunt for a pair of used, economically priced engineers, and these slipped between my fingers in the time it took me to ask the seller about measurements.

I was wondering what you thought of them? Should I have bought first and asked questions later, or did I not mess up too badly and should just move on?


Hey Albert,

They would have definitely been worth purchasing at that price if you were looking for some beaters. They're made by Chippewa for Sears and were resoled using Vibram 109 Logger soles. If you remain vigilant in your search, there won't be a problem finding another pair at the same price -- I say a pair of beaters for under $50 - $75 is worth snatching up.

Good luck and Cheers!

*It's also worth noting that the seller states they were purchased in the late 1970's, which adds validity to the style of buckles. To the untrained eye, one could easily mistake them for 1980's or even early 1990's models.

The seller may have only made a few buck on 'em, but the gained knowledge is priceless. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Finished this custom Fuji XT-2 camera strap for Javier. Made with Horween CXL leather, it’s a fixed size 32” per his specification.

Need a custom, one-of-a-kind strap for your camera or guitar? Hit me up at for custom VEB Leather work.

Friday, November 24, 2017


I once was a huge fan of Cat’s Paw (CP) soles and perhaps even considered a snob when it came down to which type of composition rubber soles were used on certain boots — if they weren’t sitting on CPs, then it was a hard pass.

While I still enjoy a good CP, I’m more concerned now with a long-lasting and rugged set of tires. The reproduction Biltrite and Nitrene soles being used by many of the Japanese companies as well as the dependable Vibram are what I look for to ensure uninterrupted use of my boots before having to sending them out for a swap.

I purchased this set of vintage CPs specifically to have Takeshi Okuyama use them on my Road Champ resole back in 2012. They’ve held up incredibly well over the years, but they’ll soon need to be replaced.

Regular readers of my blog know I’m a fan of Takeshi and his amazing work, but I’ve recently been toying with the idea of using some of the few overseas Cobblers currently on my radar.

Re:Broth Factory, Brass Tokyo and Dr. Sole Originals (and Fukurokuju) do things with boots that just blow me away and whether it’s this pair of Road Champs or another pair of boots in my collection, there’s no doubt I’ll be contacting any one of them.

Stay tuned to see who I’ll be lucky enough to work with next!

Thursday, November 23, 2017


Guadalcanal, 1942 — Happy Thanksgiving, ALL!! My thoughts and good wishes go out to the men and women of our Armed Forces forward-deployed and away from loved ones.

 Having personally spent Thanksgiving while deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and stationed abroad in Okinawa and Iwakuni, I’m very familiar with the struggle. Semper Fidelis!!

Friday, November 10, 2017


After about three and a half months of wear and having put a tremendous amount of miles ‘neath the hood, it’s definitely time to give my feedback of the roughout boots by the incomparable John Lofgren.

I’m clearly a fan of John’s work, therefore, some may find this somewhat biased. But when you come across a brand that consistently puts out incredible pieces covering a wide variety of styles within the window of early Americana fashion, this creature of habit will continue to be a loyal customer. 

Easily my favorite roughout boots in today’s market, the M-43 Service Shoes are everything one would expect to come out of the Lofgren camp — high quality, heavy-duty, expertly crafted and full of comfort. John didn't just take an original design of a highly-desired vintage boot and create a carbon copy. That would be too boring. Like his Engineers, these bear that original Lofgren twist which is a characteristic I really love about his designs.

Toe Box: They are true soft toes — no celastic or reinforced toe box support to help maintain the shape of the last — so appropriate sizing will determine how much they will deflate in this area.

Sizing: I take a size 7 in all Lofgren footwear and the size is always consistent. This size provides the perfect amount of wiggle room without the need for insoles and I get a desired flat toe profile. 

My size reference:

Nike - 8

Vans - 7

Alden - 7

Whites - 7 1/2 - 8

Wesco - 7 1/2 - 8

Lofgren - 7 

Chippewa - 8

Wolverine - 7

Red Wing - 7

Attractions Co. - 7

Mister Freedom - 7 /12

Converse All Star - 7

Durability: I am by no means light on my feet. I don’t purposely beat them up, but my boots are worn without any concern of scuffing or wearing out the soles/heels; wear your boots like they owe you money, but not like they robbed you. The boots, like John’s other boots,  are remarkably rugged and show no signs trouble spots or areas of weakness.

Style: How does John take relatively simple boot designs and make them his own? I dun know ... he just does. Not only are the boots rugged, but they manage to go with almost everything in my closet from denim to cords and everything in between. That’s how I was able to put so many miles on ‘em in three short months.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, I recommend not passing up on these beauties that just look better and better with age. 

Brand: John Lofgren & Co.

Model: M-43 Service Shoes

Sizes: 6 - 12 (whole sizes), 6 1/2 - 11 1/2 (half sizes),12 -- all in D width

Soles: Vibram #700 Full Composition

Heels: Vibram #700

Leather: Roughout Natural Horween Chromexcel Cowhide (2.0-2.3 mm thick)

Price: ¥80,784 ($712)

Website: Speedway-Shop on Rakuten


I've been a huge fan of John's work since his early days and now the heritage brand ranks amongst the best in the business. It only made sense to choose the roughout boots from a family of footwear that speaks to the brilliance, craftsmanship and passion behind the man and his brand.

Monday, October 30, 2017


Hello Sir

Thanks for your amazing blog. I’ve studied your blog for quite sometime and am about to drop a lot of money on a pair of engineers. The two I am deliberating between are the Lofgrens and Road champs. I prefer the look of the Lofgrens but longevity and toughness would be the winner on the day. I don’t have a lot of money and I intend to wear my engineers quite a bit.

I know you speak highly of them both but on build quality and toughness which would you say would last the distance? 

Thank you. 



Hey Greg! Thank you for the e-mail and I’m glad the VEB Blog provides some assistance to those with similar taste.

There’s not much more I can say that I haven’t already mentioned in past blog posts reviewing the two incredible brands of boots over the years, but I’m fully aware a new fan of the type of boot is born every day and I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least cover the wave tops. After all, it’s questions like yours which help the community learn and grow.

Simply put, both boots will outlive their owner and more than likely become those highly sought-after Vintage Engineer Boots folks engage in bidding wars over twenty ... thirty ... forty years down the road.

I got both the Lofgren and first pair of Road Champ Boots back in 2012 and did not baby them by any stretch. Readers may recall that I put my Lofgrens through extra hell during my deployment onboard the USS Peleliu in 2014 and they display no signs of weakness or distress points — they actually appear to be much more rugged now. Don’t ask me to explain that. Their just tough as nails now.

While neither of my three pairs of Road Champ Boots went  through as much as the Lofgrens, W. Thomas has been wearing his pretty damn hard every day for four years and the pictures just speak volumes as to the toughness and durability of these classics.

Source: tweekert

So as far as build, quality and toughness, both are equal all areas in my book. What you’re left to decide is the style and profile that suits your taste. You get a more 1950’s rounded toe box (before they start to flatten out, of course) with the Lofgren boots while the Road Champs have a late 1930’s to late 1940’s flat toe and streamlined flavor. Both are versatile and can work with anything from denim to workwear. The Lofgrens are readily obtainable, while fans of the Road Champs can find themselves on a worthwhile wait list.

I hope this provides at least some assistance and really any choice you make with these Boots is the right choice. They have and will remain two of my top boot choices and with both at under $1k, it’s a drop in the bucket for a build, quality and toughness



Tuesday, October 10, 2017



I love your blog. I was wondering how you would compare the two colors. I haven't seen too many photos of the Wesco Burlap (smooth side out), but the colors seem similar. What's your take?


Hi George, 

Thanks for the e-mail!

At first glance, I would say it's very easy to compare the two colors; however, the Lofgren Naturals have a much more brown tone that will become darker over time. 

The Burlap Wesco boots have a tendency to maintain the light color and it would take a lot of wear and tear for it to develop any type of character.

I hope this helps


This is the latest photo of my Lofgrens. The color differs based on lighting conditions, but the basic brown hue is unmistakable. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Michael sent me a set of new camera strap lugs -- made for Pentax, but I think they fit other brands as well -- and wanted me to create a studded strap around it. This is the first camera strap I made and now I want to make one for myself.

Hit me up at for custom VEB Leather work

This is made with Horween CXL, hand cut, hand stitched, hand studded and hand finished. What a fun project! Thanks for the opportunity, Michael!!

Saturday, September 23, 2017



Im a big fan of your blog and style on Instagram. I recently started following you and wanted to let you know you've influenced me to look into engineer boots! I've never in my life thought I'd even consider them, but after seeing you wear them and incorporate them into your vintage like style, I've been looking into them non stop and I think I'm ready to pull the trigger on a pair. 

I'm in no means in a rush at all, I always do a lot of research before buying but the biggest problem I'm running into is there aren't many reviews or fit pics of engineer boots. Just a few out there compared to other style work boots. I love denim and I love boots. 

I currently wear Iron Heart 633s and 666s, Flat Head 3012, 3sixteen 11 BSP. They are all straight tapered jeans and was wondering if I would need straight leg or fuller fit jeans to wear engineer boots because they need more leg room. I was also wondering what your thoughts on Mister Freedom Roadchamps, Role Club engineer boots (not sure how many he makes), and John Lofgren engineer boots (leaning towards short shift). 

I narrowed it down to these three boots because Im mostly looking for a sleeker style engineer boot that hopefully I don't have to wear loose full fitting jeans for, and can wear with more straight tapered or slim straight style jeans. I'm mostly looking for an engineer boot that will still fit with these jeans, and hopefully a comfortable boot (I live in NYC so I walk all day and stand on my feet at work). 

Thank you so much for any advice you can offer me. I really appreciate all your time. I'm a big fan of your blog, work and style. Keep up the good work and awesome style photos! Your posts always make my day!
John Lofgren in Brown Horween CXL with Double Volante straight-leg 21oz jeans, 7 1/2" leg opening


Thank you for the e-mail and very kind words!

I find the Engineer Boot's simple design to be so timeless and incredibly versatile. They really work with any style -- from denim to dressy, these boots have you covered.

Besides super skinny jeans, there really isn't a pair of jeans that don't look good with Engineers. Some of my favorite jeans are straight with some taper and I'm beginning to realize that a slim, tapered jean suits my build a little better -- I always thought a IH 666S would look better on me than my 634S. You won't have any problems pairing your arsenal of straight, tapered jeans with the three boot brands you've listed; however, you may find it necessary to adjust your cuffs to accommodate both lace-up and pull-on boots.

John Lofgren in Natural Horween CXL with Goodfellow & Co. straight-leg 14 oz jeans, 7 1/2" leg opening

I go through periods where I favor one brand of Engineers over another based on how often I wear them and one thing is certain: The Road Champ and John Lofgren boots have gone no longer than a few days without being worn. Up until recently, when I received my Role Club boots back from Takeshi Okuyama after having them resoled, I went about five months without wearing either one of my two pairs.

I think you'll be happy with any of the three brands and while I admire the Lofgren Short Shifts, I feel your tapered jeans may not pair too well with the short, open boot shaft. I've owned a few pair of shorty Engineers over the years and even with straight leg jeans the cuff/hem would catch on the boot collar requiring me to adjust every time I stood up.

Mister Freedom® Road Champ with Goodfellow & Co. straight-leg 14 oz jeans, 7 1/2" leg opening

I'm not sure what the currently availability is on the Road Champs, but they are in such high demand that you may find yourself on the list for quite some time -- they are VERY MUCH worth the wait, though. The Role Club boots are custom-made, so you'd have to contact Brian for his current wait time. For you, I would recommend the Lofgrens in the twelve inch version and they are currently available in a variety of colors and sizes through the Speedway-Shop via Rakuten.

Thanks again and I hope you find what you're looking for. 


Sunday, September 17, 2017



I've been reading your blog for a while. I just wanted to express my appreciation to you for all your hard work. You provide so many people with useful information and valuable insight. And that's after you spend your day protecting our county! Granted, I may not know you, but I have so much respect for you.

After wearing WESCO boots since 1992, I just pulled the trigger on a pair of John Lofgren Black Horween CXL via Standard & Strange -- a vendor that I was aware of only because of you. (Thanks!) I was tempted for buy a pair of WESCO's "off-the-shelf" 7400s, but I figured it was time for a change and I was concerned about the width; I normally wear a 12E because I like a little wiggle room. Any thoughts on whether the Lofgren D width will stretch a bit to accommodate a slightly wider foot?

Thank again for everything. I'm so grateful that there are people like you out there.

All my best,

Hi Gary,

Thank you so much for the kind words! It's feedback from guys (and gals) like you that keep up my motivation to maintain the blog even though I find myself overwhelmed with work and projects at times. Thank you!

Standard & Strange are so unique in that they offer so many brands others here don't carry.

Congrats on the Lofgren pickup! The boots will most definitely provide more room over time -- sooner than later based on level of wear. Mine were snug out of the box but when exposed to the elements, partnered with frequent use, the soft and supple, hot-stuffed leather began to stretch. I suggest wearing thicker-than-usual boot socks (think winter socks) for a while when breaking them in before transitioning back to your normal socks -- your body heat and socks with help to stretch both the medial and lateral portions.

I hope this helps.

Best regards!

Saturday, September 16, 2017


As a fan of all things leather I feel one of the best jackets to hit the market in many, many years is the Mister Freedom® Campus Jacket. This amazing piece is essentially a blank canvas in the form of the highly desired early-century Cossack style jacket. I began my systematic approach to giving it a unique personality almost immediately after purchasing it back in December 2013. I couldn't be more happy with the outcome and truly enjoy how it continues to evolve with each wear. Notice the indigo elbows and inner waist. Don't forget to visit my dedicated Campus Jacket page to see the evo.

Keep the eyes glued an ear to the rail for the upcoming "Baloo" jacket (Campus jacket grizzlified).

Photo source: Christophe's Instragram

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


My favorite pair of Lace-to-Toe boots in today's market.

Brand: John Lofgren & Co.
Model: Donkey Puncher
Leather: Horween CXL
Colors: Black, Burgundy
Sole / Heel: Vibram #705

Wednesday, August 30, 2017



Really like all your boots and looks. Very inspiring.
Were those your role club boots that fell apart? Did you talk to Brian at role club? I have pair ordered from role club and curious about your experience.

I talked to Brian and he did offer to repair them. This was an isolated incident, but I just wanted to have Takeshi work on another pair of my boots. This was by no means intended to be a dig at Brian -- never my style. I own two pairs of Role Clubs and have had two other boots resoled by him -- he's a fantastic boot maker and cobbler. Your gonna love your boots and don't be surprised if you contact him for another pair the moment you receive the first order.

What was intended to be a fun family outing ended up being quite a terrible vacation memory.

While walking from the car to a restaurant in Memphis, I felt something unusual on the bottom of my Engineer Boots. Did I step on a piece of gum? A food wrapper perhaps? When I looked down I was horrified to see that the leather sole of the right boot from the front to about the forefoot area had completely separated from the mid-sole and folded under the boot.

I hadn't put the boots through any unusual stress -- just normal, everyday casual wear, so I was baffled as to how this could even happen. The welt stitching had literally just unraveled. I was disappointed and quite honestly, I was embarrassed.

Luckily, I always bring a variety of boots with me whenever I travel. I went back to the car and pulled out the ol' trusty Road Champ boots from my luggage.

After much consideration, I decided to reach out across the world to my trusted cobbler. Takeshi has been repairing my boots now for over five years -- he's been repairing boots since 2002 -- and his high-level of craftsmanship is second to none. I am totally convinced that the Japanese are just some of the best in the biz -- Fukurokuju and Brass Tokyo have become household names for their impeccable craftsmanship and keen sense of vintage American style.

The idea of sending a pair of boots across the world to have them rebuilt may seem a bit off-putting to a lot of folks, but the whole process is quite painless, the turnaround time is impressive and the price is unbeatable.

Takeshi initially said the work would take a month, but I told him I was in no rush and from the time they left my hands to gettin' the boots back was exactly two months (27 June - 28 August). And it only cost me $180 + $50 shipping. Show me another cobbler with this level of experience and reputation and I might consider a change -- not likely.

Fukurokuju Boot Repair Shop
1-13-8 Nihonzutsumi
Taitoku, Tokyo
Website: Fukurokuju

Prices vary depending on the level of work and details, but I'm kind of over the fancy fluff "designer" soles/heels. I'm at the point where I just want my boots to be rugged and able to withstand daily wear without falling apart. Mister Freedom® and John Lofgren, have opted for heavy-duty composition rubber soles over reproduction Cat's Paw because they're functional and made to last. Thus the reason I chose to use Vibram #705 soles/heels for this (and future) repairs.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


It was February 1st back in 2015. I had Christophe Loiron and Jillian in the car with me and we were driving south on Interstate 5 headed to the USS Peleliu aboard Naval Base San Diego for my promotion. "Let The Good Times Role," JD McPherson's second full length album was playing -- a limited full run on NPR before its actual release on February 10th -- and that moment couldn't have been any more perfect.

On October 6, 2017, JD and the boys will release their third album and from the sounds of things this is gonna be amazing!