A near-forgotten mainstay of American shoes will resurrect its name this fall when the Hood Rubber Company relaunches its line of ‘functional luxury’ waterproof boots and sneakers.
Forty-seven years after its last boot rolled off the line, Hood Rubber Company (HRC) jumps back into the footwear market with 18 classically styled products designed to bring the best of the original brand into the 21st century.
The brand’s vision?
Marc Scepi, design director for HRC, said the company aims to build footwear that can be worn to nice restaurants, hiking, or to work, all in the same day.
Hood Rubber Boots For 2016
All of HRC’s boots and sneakers are waterproof with rubberized leather outers and leather lining.
The brand captures the once ubiquitous high-ankle shoe profile you might expect to see in a black-and-white movie – modernized to look like some mashup of a work boot, rain boot, and dress shoe.
The company will launch three product lines, which differ primarily in lace pattern and tread design.
The “wurkshu,” a dressy boot with a shiny, polished leather outer and options for lace-up or zip-front.
The “trail” line – basic hikers with a more aggressive tread pattern and wool-lined options.
And the “sneaker,” a less showy and less rugged offering with high top and side-zip options.
Ranging from $275 up to $325, HRC boots are not the cheapest option for everyday footwear. We haven’t had a chance to test these yet.
A Casualty Of Consumerism
Beyond what it claims are high quality shoes, Hood Rubber is selling a brand story that may resonate with the outdoors industry and “in my day” traditionalists alike.
Originally founded in 1896 by brothers Frederic and Arthur Hood, HRC vaulted to the upper echelon of American industry, at one point selling 90,000 pairs a day as the leading vulcanized rubber shoe manufacturer in the world, sold in 56 countries.
By most accounts, the company was forward-thinking, even by today’s standards, with on-site hospitals, dental clinics, and childcare for employees.
The brand also reportedly served as a haven for refugees fleeing the Armenian Genocide in the early 20th century. The company offered jobs, albeit in sometimes hazardous environs, to immigrants flooding into Massachusetts.
It eventually sold to BF Goodrich and shuddered its doors in 1969 because of shifting American values.
“Our values shifted. [America] was more about consumerism – mass and volume, and what was cheapest. That didn’t align with Hood,” said HRC brand strategist Scott McGuire.
A New Classic
Today, the HRC brand is under the independent ownership of company president Kevin Gordon. According to a HRC spokesperson, Gordon is a “vintage freak” who came across the Hood Rubber story at the local Watertown, Mass., library and purchased the rights from BF Goodrich.
Unlike its glory days of U.S. manufacturing, HRC’s premium boots will be made Portugal.
We love the sneak peeks we’ve seen of Hood Rubber’s upcoming launch and look forward to testing them out in advance of the release.
If the function lives up to the styling – and the history – Hood Rubber looks like a sleek and versatile, if pricey, addition to the growing go-anywhere hiking boot market.
No word on official launch date or retailer details, but you can sign up for official updates for news on the fall release.