We make ’em like they used to.

Since 2010, we have handcrafted 100% of our footwear and accessories in the United States. In fact, we now offer the world’s only collection of shoes and boots with Goodyear Welt, Genuine Handsewn, and Stitchdown construction methods crafted entirely in America. All our footwear is fully recraftable, backed by our Founder’s Guarantee, and made using the finest and most durable materials available.

Oak Street Bootmakers was created to help preserve the tradition of American shoemaking. We are the latest chapter in a very old story.

George Vlagos, Founder
George Vlagos - Oak Street Bootmakers Founder & Design Director
George Vlagos, Founder and Design Director

A Lifelong Passion

The son of a cobbler, Oak Street Bootmakers Founder and Design Director George Vlagos apprenticed at his father’s shop. From his father, George learned how shoes are made—and how they used to be made. Today, George works to preserve the heritage of fine American shoemaking through thoughtfully designed and attentively crafted shoes and boots.

A Legacy of Craftsmanship

Born in Pagrati, Greece, John Vlagos apprenticed for a cobbler as a young man before eventually opening his own shoe repair in Wheaton, Illinois. John’s reputation for quality cobbling and famously direct and boisterous personality have allowed his business to flourish for over four decades. His relentless perfectionism, instinctive business acumen, and reverence for quality footwear had a profound and lasting influence on his son and apprentice.

John Vlagos - Master Cobbler and Father of George Vlagos
John Vlagos, Master Cobbler & Father of our Founder

Designed for Longevity,
Handcrafted in America

Oak Street Bootmakers - More than Made in USA

More than Made in USA

You can learn a lot about a people from their shoes and boots: their occupations, their sensibilities, and their aspirations. The history of American shoemaking tells the story of a courageous, ambitious—yet practical and resourceful people. The Fur Trade introduced New England settlers to handsewn moccasins, which would evolve into camp mocs, boat shoes, and eventually, the leisurely loafers of the Ivy League. European explorers of the Klondike Gold Rush wore expedition boots made using Norweigian stitchdown construction, used today for heavy-duty workboots for linemen, loggers, and first responders. The Industrial Revolution gave us the Goodyear Welt Stitching Machine, which made it possible to equip American and allied forces with reliable service boots—in addition to making quality, recraftable footwear accessible to the middle class for the first time in history.

We are committed to keeping these traditions alive and are proud to have a hand in writing the next chapter of this incredible story. This is why we handcraft all of our shoes and boots here at home—not just a few “heritage” styles or limited editions. And we make the entire product here, from heel-to-toe, using no pre-assembled components from overseas. It’s not the easiest way to do it, or the most profitable, but it’s the way we’ve always done it—and the way we always will.

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The Right Stuff

Quality footwear begins with quality materials. All our shoes and boots are made using leather and soles from the most trusted names in the industry. Hides are procured from Horween® Leather Co. in Chicago, Seidel Tanning in Milwaukee, C.F. Stead in England, and Tannerie D’Annonay in France. Leathers are selected for their durability, comfort, and unique aesthetic characteristics. All our leather soles and stacked leather heels are made right alongside our footwear. We also use British-made specialty soles from Dainite® and Itshide® and a variety of rubber outdoor soles made by Vibram®. We take great care in selecting even the most discrete components, like Barbour® welts, solid brass eyelets, waxed cotton threads, and genuine rawhide laces.

Oak Street Bootmakers - The Right Stuff - Horween Leather Co.
Oak Street Bootmakers - Fully Recraftable

Fully Recraftable

Fine footwear is an investment. With proper care, our footwear will last years or even decades. This is because our shoes and boots are all fully recraftable, meaning the insoles and outsoles can be replaced again and again. Recrafted footwear will provide the same traction and comfort as a brand new pair while preserving the unique patina the leather develops over time. Of course, recrafting is also more cost-effective and sustainable than buying new, year after year. For a simple resole or small repair, we advise customers to support their local cobbler. When a more thorough recraft is in order, we offer a Factory Recrafting Service, which includes replacement of the insoles, outsoles, leather conditioning, as well as new laces.

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Designed for Longevity

When it comes to footwear, durability means more than withstanding years of use. It also means resistance to short-lived fashion trends. With this in mind, Design Director George Vlagos draws his inspiration not from fashion industry forecasts or streetwear scouts, but from ongoing research and observation of footwear styles which have persisted through generations. His designs preserve the archetypal characteristics of a given style, while removing the more frivolous features which may have been popular in this decade or that. The result is a footwear collection that showcases the timeless charm and subtle nuances of hand craftsmanship while paying tribute to modern history’s most notable and enduring styles.

Oak Street Bootmakers - Designed for Longevity
Oak Street Bootmakers - Factory Guaranteed

Factory Guaranteed

We guarantee all Oak Street Bootmakers products and our policy is simple: We will repair or replace any Oak Street Bootmakers product with faulty craftsmanship or defective materials.

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