The Frye Company is America’s oldest continuously operating boot and shoe manufacturer. Founded in 1863 by John A. Frye it can literally claim to have its footprint in American history: from Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders of the Spanish-American War to the pioneer homesteaders setting out west from the eastern seaboard, Frye’s practical and sturdy boots were the choice of those shaping America’s past. Classic Frye certainly is, but outdated, definitely not.
Quite aside from the fact that Frye is one of those companies responsible for producing some of the classic designs that have stood as a source of inspiration for successive generations of trendy footwear designers with a great respect for the tradition of the well made working boot, Frye’s own contemporary designs, while never frivolously trendy, certainly show that they have never lost their eye for the trends of the day.
In the current range of men’s boots, for example, the Heath boot, with its outside zip, half leather-half rubber lug lift and cushioned leather insoles may be designed for durability and comfort, but its classic lines and mottled colouring is exactly on the money; entirely at home of the trendiest of street corners or chic hangouts. The same could be said for the Rand Engineer Boot. Once again, based on a long-time favourite as a practical working boot, Frye’s model with nifty buckle detailing and the option of either black or a rich tobacco brown leather may be a practical choice, but it is equally at home when combined with some of the current top looks from the international menswear collections. And one need only look at the lace-up Fulton to immediately recognise the elongated Victorian silhouette that is the current de rigueur look for contemporary dandies strutting through the metropolis, here with the practicality of buoyant and durable rubber soles.
In many senses, Frye is not a company that needs to pay too much heed to fashion. It’s rich back catalogue of classic styles built up over the last century and a half will inevitably feature any number of classic designs that will, during one fashion season or another, be in vogue. After all, if you are the creator of the original, why chase after the trendy new arrivals that so often reference your prestigious archive? No. Far better to simply get on with producing the goods to the high standard that made them desirable all those many years ago when durability and practicality were far stronger reasons for consumption than the immediacy of a passing fashion dictate.
The informed and the discerning will eventually trace things back to their source.