The Frye Arkansas Mid Lace is a durable, full grain leather, Goodyear welted, made in USA derby style mens boot.
Cheap footwear is a false economy. You can buy a cheap pair of shoes for 50 dollars, wear them out in 6 months, throw them in the garbage and repeat the tragic cycle or you can invest in shoes that will last longer, look better and create less landfill.
The most important determining factor in the longevity of footwear is the sole––can the sole be replace by an experienced cobbler once it’s cracked or worn though? If the sole has been glued on the chances of replacing it are slim, but if it has been stitched on it can almost certainly resoled.
The Frye Arkansas is a derby style mid rise boot made in the USA with a Goodyear welt and a composite synthetic outsole. That means the sole is stitched on with a leather welt and the use of a Goodyear welt stitching machine. You can see the stitching around the edge of the sole from the top…
…and the bottom. An cobbler with experience in replacing these types of soles can do a good job for around $150 dollars, more or less. Unscrupulous footwear manufacturers will attach a fake welt to the top edge of the glued outsoles of cheap boots and call it a “decorative welt” but don’t be fooled––if the stitches don’t show through on the bottom of the sole they are most likely glued-on, not stitched-on, soles.
Of course there’s no point resoling a boot if the upper is also ruined, so buying boots made with anything less than full grain leather makes little sense. Only full grain leather provides the durability needed for a boot to endure years or decades of wear and resoling. These Frye Arkansas boots are two years old and the full grain leather upper has aged beautifully. One could certainly argue they look better now than when new, with the beautiful patina they’ve acquired though wear and polish.
Full grain leather upper, Goodyear welt, composite synthetic outsole, leather insole, fully leather lined, no tongue gusset, no speed hooks, Frye does not offer a re-crafting service, inexplicably listed at over $600 US on the Frye site while most retailers sell them for a little over $400.