For a town thatâ€™s oft-plagued by fleeting fads and inexplicable trends, Portlandâ€™s shoe industry is surprisingly stoic, acting as a sort of trusty backbone for Stumptownâ€™s diverse population. At the center of this footwear foundation lies Danner Boots, one of the, if not the, oldest shoe brands in the Northwest.
Charles Danner founded his eponymous boot brand in 1932 as a way to provide footwear to the various loggers, hunters, and sportsmen that lived and worked in the area. Over the decades Dannerâ€™s business has grown, particularly during the sixties and seventies as their hiking boots became an integral part of that eraâ€™s budding outdoor movement. All the while, Danner has kept their production local, producing
allÂ most of its boots in their Portland, Oregon factory, which continues to churn out hundreds of thousands of boots every year.
Danner could be called an old soul, but theyâ€™ve certainly adapted for the twenty-first century. As I toured through their factory on the outskirts of Portland this past weekend, I saw an example of American manufacturing at its finest. Their staff is as varied as the population of Portland itself, and these hardworking folks can complete a boot in as little as one hour, passing it through a staggering number of steps in those short sixty minutes. From cutting the leather, to embossing the logo, to stitching the upper, to literally carving out the sole, each piece of the boot has its own specific process, and the two-hundred workers that line Dannerâ€™s production floor perform their respective tasks with a remarkable level of speed and precision. All of these steps come together to create a boot thatâ€™s truly worthy of the phrase â€œMade in the USA.â€ â€”JG