Tuesday, February 14, 2017


I've had a lot of folks hit me up on my opinion of the new Wesco 7400s and all I have to say is, "it's about time!"

Photo source: Standard and Strange

Wesco Narrow / Photo source: Wesco Japan

The "Narrow" model, released in the Asian market back in 2009, were a huge hit with the same features as the new 7400 and all we could do was sit back and ogle over them from afar. Locals used proxy services to obtain a new pair and many had Wesco USA or Baker's custom build a Boss with MP toes to mimic the look. There were even limited offerings during one of Inspiration LA's early shows back in 2010.

Photo source: Standard and Strange

I've always admired the Narrows, but never understood how some of the best exclusive American-made homage models could be exported and not offered to the CONUS-based collectors. I actually do understand ... money ... contracts ... blah, blah, blah, but it's frustrating nonetheless. Heck, Red Wing just recently started offering the model 2268 on their site while there are far better models offered OCONUS (or S&S in the case of #2966).

Photo source: Standard and Strange

So here we are years after the MP toe craze and following the release of so many amazing homage boots from the likes of John Lofgren, Clinch, Mister Freedom, Role Club, etc. with narrow, flat tow profiles and now the 7400. It's a great looking boot. The Narrow profile always has been a favorite and with an attractive price point to boot.

Photo source: Standard and Strange

While the Narrow were offered in Horsehide (shaft and counter only; vamp made with Black Tie leather) and white welt stitching, the 7400 is made with all Black Tie leather, copper buckles and black welt stitching. All other characteristics appear the same.

Photo source: Standard and Strange

I do recommend this boot to any collector or first-time buyer, but bear in mind that, like tattoos, you can't have just one. At a minimum, someone getting into Engineers will own two. As an owner of a pair of Wesco MP Toe inspired by the Narrow as well as other high-end Engineers that span a fairly narrow price point, I feel it's important to choose the one that will sooner satisfy your craving.

To get your hands on a pair, look no further than Standard & Strange

Saturday, February 4, 2017


Turns out it's not so easy trying to find a pair of boots that don't already over-saturate the industry. I've considered a few brands to fill my want for a new pair of rugged cap toe boots, but everywhere I looked there they were page after page; swipe after swipe. It was time for a new purchase, but also a time to break away from the veritable work boot mold.

Coming across the Service Boots by Ranch Road Boots was the breath of fresh air that I needed and could seamlessly integrate into my lace-up collection. Having worn them for a few weeks now, I'm one hundred and ten percent confident the right decision was made -- they have easily become a very active part of my work boot rotation between my other favorite high-end lace-up boots. Unfortunately, my Engineers have taken a back seat to gym sneakers and lace-ups.

Whenever I'm in the market for new boots I dial in on style, material and construction. I'm never concerned about price, but when I saw they were comparably priced with mainstream brands the decision couldn't have been any easier. These rate extremely high in the above requirements and strike a perfect balance between casual, dress and rugged footwear.

Instagram: @RanchRoadBoots

They embody the spirit of classic military boots -- as they should since these were inspired by early Marine Corps Service Boots and everything I've been hoping to find in a good cap toe work boot -- quality construction, attractive profile (from all angles) ... and what makes these boots even more special is the company's founder.

Sarah Ford is a former Marine Officer who served in the same occupational field as I'm serving in today -- Logistics. And as a combat veteran she knows what it means to support our brothers and sisters. A portion of all sales is proudly donated to the Semper Fi Fund, which provides financial assistance to wounded Marines and their families while they recover. Now this is a company I can stand behind ... and look at these damn boots!

Brand: Ranch Road Boots
Model: Service Boot
Spanish Pull-up leather
Goodyear welt construction
Steel shank for support
Sizes: 6 to 14
Price: $349.00

I find it pleasing that a boot company which deals primarily in handcrafted western footwear is putting out an amazing pair of work boots. Selvedge denim, naval chinos, slacks ... i'm gonna wear these versatile boots hard and with pride! My Mister Freedom® Trooper Boots, John Lofgren Donkey Punchers, 1940's Pair-A-Troopers and now these? That's a Fire Team of lace-up boots I want fighting on my side.

I'm dying over the box. This has to be the coolest boot box ever!

They look and feel amazing fresh out of the box and feel even better when worn -- the are equally comparable to boots I've purchased at three times the cost. They have a nice weight to them; not too heavy, yet not incredibly light. Just like quality flatware feels good in hands, these boots feel incredible when worn.

Size 8 fits like a glove compared to other brands in my collection:

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

Communication with the RRB is quick and friendly, so don't hesitate to contact them for size availability.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Hi John, 

 Thanks to your blog I purchased the Red Wing 9268 from Japan 2 years ago using Japan Auction Agency, I'd like to share this photo, they've been worn pretty much every day since I bought them and protected and polished with clear polish, Many thanks for your info through the years! 

 Martin Allwood (England)


Thank you for the e-mail, Martin!

It's truly a pleasure to be able to help out folks through the archives of my blog. Your boots look amazing!!


Saturday, January 28, 2017


As a longtime fan of Cory's Piehowicz's incredible and unparalleled work, it was a pleasure to meet and hang out with him over this past holiday weekend in Palm Springs.

You can dive deeper into Cory's work via his archived blog.

Check out his work at www.CoryPiehowicz.com

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Monday, January 23, 2017


We have some Marines in high places this term. Semper  Fidelis!!

General James Mattis (ret.)
Secretary of Defense

The Secretary of Defense's power over the United States military is second only to that of the President.

General Joseph Dunford
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

He is the highest-ranking and senior most military officer in the United States Armed Forces and is the principal military advisor to the President, the National Security Councilthe Homeland Security Counciland the Secretary of Defense. 

General John Kelly (ret.)
Secretary of Homeland Security

He is the head of the United States Department of Homeland Security, the body concerned with protecting the U.S. and the safety of U.S. citizens.

Saturday, January 21, 2017



My name is Jake.  I live in Austin Tx. I'm a fan of your reviews. I was wondering what kind of products you have used to treat your Bronco champ? And how much did it affect the color? 

My first pair of role club boots are set to finish at the end of the month. I will be looking to your blog for guidelines on breaking them in and caring for such a awesome investment. 

If you have the time to respond I look forward to hearing from you

Hi Jake,

Thanks so much for the e-mail and congrats on both the Bronco Champ and Role Clubs!

I've owned the Champ now for just under a year and I feel the occasional wear during this period doesn't warrant any type of cleaning or conditioning just yet. When that time comes around; however, I'll be reaching for my tried and tested favorite, Pecard Antique Leather Dressing.

It isn't necessary to apply leather dressing for quite some time after purchase unless the jacket has been subjected to prolonged exposure to dry, hot climates. Products and ingredients used during the tanning process are enough to keep the jacket safe for a very long time.

I've tested out countless other brands in the past that claimed to be better than the next, but I've learned that all cleaning products available on the market today have the fundamental ingredients necessary to preserve and protect leather. And I found Pecard's Antique Leather Dressing to be the best choice for protecting my investments -- It far exceeds my expectations, priced just right and readily available without the hype of fancy packaging or exaggerated promises.

When applied, Pecard will give the non-black leather a more rich color, but will eventually lighten from exposure to the sun. 

I hope this helps and I would love to see photos of your jacket and new boots.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017


I recently received some interesting inquiries regarding the durability of John Lofgren's Horween CXL Engineer Boots and as a proud owner that considers his boots to be one of the top models available on today's market (and since their release in 2012), here is my reply.

Apparently, the point of contention lies with the accelerated rate at which patina on the Horween CXL develops -- I consider this to be an extremely positive and desirable characteristic.


Just the way you can't tell if unmarked vintage leather is horse, steer or cow (99.9999% chance it's cow -- don't fall for the ever-popular "horsehide" buzz word used as an attempt to bring in more money) there's no way to determine the durability of certain leather based solely on touch. You gotta wear your boots, people. 


Having owned the black Horween version (along with almost all of John's boot offerings) since 2012 and putting them through the wringer for close to five years, I can say, with complete confidence, that his boots are made with the highest level of construction and leather built to withstand the heaviest wear (check out the below photo showing the boots in their post-Line Crossing ceremony condition)

Since 2014, the boots have gone through a few rounds of cleaning and conditioning, which regulated the patina, and now all they require is an occasional light buffing (as seen on the right boot in the first photo). Also, the Vibram soles show signs of wear, but won't need to be replaced for several years yet.

Bottom line is that not only do his boots looks good, feel buttery soft and have an amazing vintage profile, these boots are worth every penny and will last a lifetime and some.  

Sunday, January 15, 2017


I'm very excited to have finally taken ownership of the WWII USMC inspired Service Boots by Ranch Road Boots. I've had the chance to wear them for about a solid and and although it's still early to provide a real review, I can already tell these are going fit in really well with my other favorite high-end laceup boots.

Check for my reveiw in the next day or so.


Monday, January 9, 2017


Today I reached another milestone in my Marine Corps Career. On January 9, 1995, I, along with over sixty other unsuspecting young men from various states west of the Mississippi River set out on a grueling twelve-week journey aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. This life-changing journey would test every bit of our mental and physical strengths and abilities in an effort to try and earn the title, “United States Marine.”

So much has happened over these past twenty-two years, yet it seems like just yesterday I was standing fire watch in the middle of the night for my Platoon 1089, Alpha Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion; My Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sergeant Smith leading us from the front.

Like that time in 1997 when my unit, MAG-12, and squadron, VMFA(AW)-242 were stuck an extra two weeks in RAAF Base Tindal in Kathryn Australia, because our airlift support was pulled for a higher mission. Then one day, I was given a single C-5 Globemaster to redeploy our personnel and equipment to Japan. As a young Corporal 0431 providing the life support and orchestrating the entire retrograde, I counted this as my first career high and still reflect on how challenging that was. There was nothing that could stop me from that point on.

Or that time back in 2000 when I was serving as the Embarkation Chief for the 5th Marine Regiment – the most highly decorated regiment in the Marine Corps – and I was selected to become a Marine Recruiter. The regiment went on to play a vital role in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. This around the time I would still have been with the unit, but instead I was fighting my own “thirty-six one month battles” on the Homefront as a recruiter in Los Angeles.

In 2006, I finally got to do what most people join the Marines for. I deployed to Iraq with the newly-redesignated 1st Marine Logistics Group (formerly the 1st FSSG). During the six-month deployment, I served as the Combat Operations Center Senior Watch Chief.

 In 2008, I found myself back in Camp Al Taqaddum In the Al Anbar Province serving again as the COC Senior Watch Chief and G-3 Chief. This deployment lasted thirteen months.

Right before our convoy to Fallujah

"Dark Tower," Camp Al Taqaddum

In 2010, I was deployed to another combat zone for a third time. Camp Leatherneck was my home for six months where I served as the Detachment Staff Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge of ninety Marines.

Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan

KC-130 with my travel guitar, Afghanistan

In 2014, I switched gears and served as the Senior Combat Cargo Assistant to CWO3 Gistarb onboard the now decommissioned USS Peleliu. I was promoted to the last and final rank within the enlisted rank structure – Master Gunnery Sergeant (E-9) – in February 2015. There’s no telling where my next orders will take me after my job as the G-4 Chief for Marine Forces Reserve, but I know I won’t have anything to worry about as long as I have Jillian by my side supporting me these next and final eight years.

USS Peleliu




I'm back!! It's a new year and so I made a resolution to get back to doing what I really enjoy -- handcrafting custom leather goods. I've made belts, wallets, bags, etc., but I recently discovered a fondness for NATO watch straps.

My first creation was a strap made with Natural Horween CXL that needed a little tweaking and the second was a black Horween CXL strap that, with one last tweak of the patters, was finalized using a Horween Horsehide CXL strap.

I'm currently working on a website, but If you're looking for a custom VEB Leather piece, feel free to contact me at email: villanuevado@gmail.com

Check out other items I've created over the years. 


Sunday, January 1, 2017


I began my Top 3 List of Classic-Style Engineer Boot Brands back in 2014 and for those familiar with my blog, this year's list may come as no surprise -- I did however make this year's list a Top 4.

Why the same boots year after year, you ask? The reason for my redundancy is that I find these to be the best available on today's market and as a creature of habit I continue to find myself purchasing the same brands (tried and tested) when new colors or even options are released. Brian of Role Club doesn't make matters any easier with his ability to take my favorite boot to a whole 'nother level.

2014 List        2015 List

For 2017, I plan on branching out. I have a couple of brands in mind, but if the below list of brands (in no particular order, by-the-way) come out with something new ... all bets are off ;)


Mister Freedom® Road Champ Boots in black cowhide

Model: Road Champ
Price: $949.95
Colors: Brown, Black
Sizes: 7-12
Released: 2009
E-mail: sales@misterfreedom.com

Attractions Co., Ltd. in Horse Butt

Lot 268 (Horse Butt) ¥84,240
Lot 269 (Steerhide) ¥73,440
Lot 444 (Horse Butt in Black, Brown, Brown/Black, Brown/Cream) ¥86,184
Sizes: 6-11(D)
Lot 329 (Suede Black, Black) ¥73,440
Released: August 2014
E-mail: info@attractions2006.com

John Lofgren in Natural Horween CXL

Price: ¥107,784 - ¥118,584

Colors: Horween CXL in Black, Brown and Natural, Cognac (Badalassi), Sand (Suede)
Sizes: 6-12
Released: 2012
E-mail: info@speedway-shop.com

Role Club in Horween CXL Horsehide with custom stud work by me

Price: Custom made, so prices vary
Colors: Custom
Sizes: Custom
Released: 2014
E-mail: brian@roleclub.com