Rant: Boots with zips, really?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

I like a nice pair of boots. Not because I have any particular need for the ruggedness, but because I like their look, their no messing sturdiness, and well, just because. I do have a strong opinion when it comes to boots though and that is that if you’re going to wear boots, you should wear boots. Not play-boots. And real boots have laces, eyelets and speed hooks. Zips are not a feature.

The Red Wing 877, high shank, long laces, eyelets only, no speedhooks.

The Red Wing 877, high shank, long laces, eyelets only, no speedhooks.

Boots will by their very nature demand more lacing. They go higher, they need lacing up, such is life. If you want to wear boots this is something you just have to accept. Some boots, like my 8″ tall Red Wing 877s are arduous in this respect, as there are eyelets all the way up. Putting them on or taking them off involves unlacing more than half the eyelets, and this is no small task. They feel really good when they’re on though.

Red Wing Ice Cutters, a balance of eyelets and speedhooks make life easier.

Red Wing Ice Cutters, a balance of eyelets and speedhooks make life easier.

Other boots will have part eyelets and part hooks. This saves time, every time. The only real disadvantage is that the hooks tend to eat up the laces, so it becomes a question of cost versus time. If you’re of an economy-orientated mind and have too much time on your hands.

What I really wanted to express my total disdain for was something I came across when I happened to find myself in a local shoe shop recently. What in the name of manliness is this crap?

Plenty of eyelets here, boots look ok! At least from this side!

Plenty of eyelets here, boots look ok! At least from this side!

The boots themselves look like acceptable boots. Fair leather, some craft gone into them, they laced up with brass eyelets. The sole looks a bit like nasty folded rubber, but all in all they’re not bad.

Ah, but from the inner side we see the zips. And even a snap button to hold the zips up.

Ah, but from the inner side we see the zips. And even a snap button to hold the zips up.

So what is this we find on the inside? A zip? Christ, man, there are 7 pairs of eyelets do run the laces though and you’re not man enough to get them on and off without a zip? I was about to say this is deeply tragic, though only in a man/boot/what is the world coming to sense. It’s a strange design twist to not even put the zipper of shame on the inner side though, proudly displaying it on the outside like this does not bode well for the wearer, unless he likes being soundly mocked.

And another boot with a zip. This is bad.

And another boot with a zip. This is bad.

The same brand came up with this one. I first noticed the tweediness poking through the zipper, so I was almost sucked into thinking that these looked quite nice. Almost. That zipper stuck out like a sore thumb, but this time it’s on the inside, so a little less easy to spot. Eagle eyed readers will spot the total design failure though. Take a few seconds to evaluate, get in nice and close. Can you see it?

Yes, indeed. Well spotted. Not only are there 5 pairs of eyelets, but they’re topped with 2 pairs of hooks, so these boots are actually easy to get on and off, even without that stupid zip.

A random of boots with broken zips from Google Images.

A random of boots with broken zips from Google Images.

In addition to the testosterone depleting nature of zips, zips also break. Swiftly and often, and they will either need repairs or the boot is junk. Boots without zips will last for years. Just ask your mate with the calculator watch which makes more sense. Of course, chances are his boots zip up.

That’s not the worst I’ve seen though. I noticed just the other day a girl wearing boots with zips up both sides. So there was a zip for decoration and a zip to enable the long boots to be removed. I wanted to take a photo, but wearing a long dark coat probably already had me gathering perv points, so I decided to just stroll on by.

WDW suggests the double zips might be useful for ladies with fat ankles, though I’m undecided whether that helps matters. Oh, she also suggests that fussing about with lots of eyelets on tall bots is silly nerdiness and that zippers are ace. I won’t ask her opinion in the future.

The boots that inspired this piece are by a Swedish brand. I refuse to mention names, but their “about us” pages claims they are “... all about denim, but not denim… Our core values as a footwear brand are firmly rooted in the urban-denim culture of the wet and misty Gothenburg environment. This is where we get our inspiration.

All I can see are those zips.

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17 Comments

  • Brian in Alberta 03/12/2015 at 15:34

    I generally agree with you but we are talking about fashion. Here in Canada the temperature sometimes drops a bit but contrary to popular belief Canadians don’t spend the winter wearing mukluks. For commuting to work or school a relatively lightly insulated boot is all that’s required. And because you may be putting those boots on and off several times during the day, often in a crowded entryway, zippers are a great convenience. Boot styles designed as “commuter boots” often only have a zipper but many people want the look of a lace-up. So boots are manufactured with both closure systems. Canada has a number of makers who specialize in this type of boot; Anfibio is one of my favorites (https://www.bottesanfibio.com/store/men-boots). An added bonus of zippers in cold climates is that they don’t freeze-up as badly as laces.

    Reply
    • Well Dressed Dad 07/12/2015 at 10:21

      I’d actually argue that zips will freeze up worse than laces, and be more prone to break or cause annoyance when frozen. Granted, it might be handy if either lace or zip is frozen to have a backup, but … a man doesn’t need it. Heck, why not add in some velcro as well? 🙂

      Reply
  • Dauvit Alexander 06/12/2015 at 11:08

    It is a perennial question of design: does it have utility or is it a decorative whim?
    If the laces – or zip – serve no useful purpose, get rid of them. The boot will be better-designed.

    Reply
    • Well Dressed Dad 06/12/2015 at 11:11

      In this case there are fully functional laces, yet a zip as well? I was quite baffled!

      Reply
    • Brian in Alberta 06/12/2015 at 17:05

      Dauvit, your a skilled jeweler; “decorative whim” is at the core of your art. Fashion would be boring if function was the only criteria in clothing design.

      Reply
  • Brandon 07/12/2015 at 17:04

    I agree, WDD. Zippers on footwear are always unacceptable. Apart from being totally redundant when laces are already present, the vast majority of zippers are of terrible quality and once broken, can be a pain to repair, if at all possible. They are almost always a sign of poor quality footwear. Not to mention, in my opinion, they look absolutely terrible 100% of the time, in my opinion.

    Like WDG, my partner feels differently from me, haha. After she bought some expensive mid-calf Doc Marten brogue boots with side zips that broke (twice) she still wants more zipper boots!

    Reply
    • Well Dressed Dad 07/12/2015 at 17:33

      Thanks for confirming my most certainly correct point of view! And what is up with the ladies? ?

      Reply
  • Will 29/11/2016 at 20:14

    Amusing rant. Particularly because a line was drawn regarding “manliness” in attire on a site that could be described as a blog for dandy men. Additionally, after invoking manliness you proceed to show appreciation for the fashion of the shoe and design.

    With that said, I can understand a distain for certain designs in clothing and gear. I don’t mind zippers, I had a pair of boots with side zips years back that handled well in adverse conditions with considerable weight and mileage placed on them. They were a recommendation by one of the guys in my squad( at a time when squad was not slang).

    With that said, I’m enjoying your site and will forward it on to other like myself that have a hard time cleaning up let alone looking the part of a fashionable gentleman.

    Reply
    • nick 29/11/2016 at 20:17

      Thanks for the feedback, Will. I’m not sure about being described as a blog for “dandy men”, mind you. There are many a blog out there that are orders of magnitude dandier than mine!

      Reply
      • Will 29/11/2016 at 20:27

        Haha, very true. Glad I found your site and appreciated your write up on the Red Wing boots. Buying my first pair and was getting cold feet, WDD has set me at ease.

        Again, glad I found your site.

        Reply
  • Ted 09/08/2017 at 21:59

    Lots of masculine appeals for a blog about fashion.

    Reply
    • nick 10/08/2017 at 08:19

      Thanks Ted, I’m glad you appreciated it! I’m a little offended at my little blog being described as about fashion though!

      Reply
      • Ted 11/08/2017 at 23:02

        What else do you consider it?

        Reply
        • nick 13/08/2017 at 11:32

          Kind of the opposite really. Fashion is all about rapidly changing styles, I’m about styles that are more constant. The fickle nature of fashion holds very little interest to me, so if the blog comes across as such, I have failed in my mission!

          Reply
  • Brooke Garro 24/12/2017 at 10:08

    I Google “boots with zippers are bad design” to see if there was anyone else out there who felt the same.
    I’m a woman.
    I refuse to wear any shoe with a zipper.
    Why put an excellent buckle or laces on them if you’re going to add a zipper?
    Doesn’t this mean added more steps to the production process as well as increase of materials?? It’s like breaking the window of your car to climb in instead of just opening the perfectly good door already there!
    I just don’t get it.
    And what’s worse, they’re everywhere!!!

    Reply
    • nick 16/04/2018 at 10:00

      Just goes to show that while Viberg may be a firm favourite with the footwear fanboys, they’re not above dropping a real clanger when they go outside their core business of expensive premium workboots…

      Reply

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