Portugal’s Real Boots plans to roll out their boots and shoes beyond their artisan roots
We have learned in recent weeks that Real Boots of Macieira Da Lixa in northern Portugal is gearing up for a more concerted push in to new markets with a tripling, no less, of their output.
A quick click on to their Instagram and our interest was piqued. So much so that we reached out to Carlos Magalhaes, the driving force behind Real Boots, to learn a little more about the company and its plans for the future.
Carlos has been in the footwear production business “since forever” and started Real Boots back in 2014. The firm is based in within the recognized Felgueiras footwear cluster in the Port district.
The company currently has three employees and concentrates firmly on traditional, artisan manufacturing processes. So much so that each of Real Boots’ pairs is, to all intents and purposes, hand made.
Not quite as rare as hen’s teeth, but…
Presently, you can only buy them either online or in a handful of outlets in Portugal’s larger cities – Lisbon and Porto, Braga and Amarante. That said, you’ll also stumble across them in selected stores in Switzerland, France and Russia.
This might sound like distribution is reasonably widespread but, when we consider that production is presently limited to 150 pairs per week, they are still something of a scarcity if you’re lucky enough to find a pair in the wild.
However, Carlos tells us that this autumn sees the next steps in this footwear company’s journey. He is ramping up his production capacity to a good 500 pairs a week, suggesting that this rarity value is going to be eased a little.
But there’s always a but. Carlos also confirms that he is actively developing women’s styles and, depending on how well this initiative goes, a proportion of that 500-pair weekly run will be dedicated to keeping the girls well shod.
The idea range is best described as “eclectic”. Our eye was initially drawn to the classic cuts but there are other styles that push the boat out and might appeal to the more daring and adventurous customer. Or perhaps not.
That’s the beauty of being a limited-run set up; you can easily test the market and get almost instantaneous feedback. That’s the power of the market for you!
A closer look
For the last month or so, we have been road testing a pair of Real Boots’ Lisbon Classic – or Lisboa Clássico, in Portuguese – and putting them through their paces during the onset of the north European winter. Ours in the 4-eyelet ankle boot, measuring some 145mm in height.
The unboxing experience is lo-fi insofar as the packaging doesn’t quite have the panache of say, a pair of Red Wings or Vibergs. Rather, it is simple, stamped and reflective of the artisan nature of that in which you have just invested some 280€ (US $315). Is that the most super-competitive price ever for a boot that is almost entirely made by hand?
Construction is sound and robust. The Lisbon is in cow hide and lined with finer, buttery grade of cow skin leather.
The leather sole sports a rubber tread and the insole is 100% natural cork, as opposed to one of the synthetic compounds that can be found from time to time.
Granted, the northern snows are yet to bless us with their icy embrace and our road test consists largely of brisk walks to the farmers’ market and the beer shop, but Real Boots’ Lisboa is looking like it is set fair to be a cracking choice for the colder months.
No blisters, no pressure pinches, no need to break them in – we’re putting that down to the luxuriant lining as much as anything else.
A word to the wise, though. Real Boots’ sizing does come us a mite snug. It accommodates a regular sock with no real problem but we can see ourselves applying the dubbin-and-hairdryer treatment once the temperatures properly take a tumble and thick hose is in order.