Now that it’s finally warming up, you can put your boots away. But don’t you dare reach for those tired Sperry Top-Siders, unless, of course, you’re nineteen and pledging your first fraternity. Seriously, they may be iconic, but those ubiquitous boat shoes suffer from a serious case of bro-dude association. And ever since the brand went offshore the quality has definitely gone downhill, with corners cut on everything from construction to the leather itself.
For a better option, head to Lewiston, Maine, where Rancourt & Co. have been producing hand-sewn moccasin-construction footwear in one form or another for decades. Why Lewiston? Well, it turns out it’s one of the few places where people still have the knowledge and skill to make a fully hand-sewn shoe, with the trade having been passed down from one generation to the next. Rancourt makes boat shoes, but I suggest going with what may be their most iconic shoe—the Ranger Moccasin. They're classic and versatile, similar aesthetically to to the once-beloved American- made Bean blucher, which is now unfortunately produced overseas.
The Ranger Moccasins are genuine hand-sewns, which means that none of the holes that connect the main parts of the shoe are pre-punched. Instead. The sewers tack the leather over a last and hand-stitch the vamp—the piece of leather connected to the sole—to the plug—the piece of leather covering the toes. The result is a shoe that is supremely comfortable, pliable and, due to the way the parts are put together, entirely recraftable. It’s what the L.L. Bean blucher moccasin should be, but unfortunately isn’t.
This is 2015, after all, so you can head over to Rancourt's e-commerce site and configure a pair to your liking. From leather to sole color, there are many options to go through. And once you do get your pair, they'll be your go-to summer favorite.