"I've always cared about what's on my feet," says Joshua Bingaman, who founded Helm Boots back in 2009 in Austin, Texas. "I wouldn't call myself as a collector as much as just someone who really likes shoes." That being said, Bingaman's closet boasts between 50 and 100 pairs of boots, hard-bottom lace-ups and sneakers—which is kept manageable by a one-in-one-out process. "It makes for less need of a storage space, fewer impulse buys and there's something really nice about a strong, simple line to choose from," he says. "I try to keep pairs that I really wear, that are comfortable and really work with my wardrobe." It's that kind of reliability that's made his brand of boots so popular. Durable and versatile, Helm is almost a hybrid of sorts. Part work boot, part dress shoe with a dash of sneaker, there's a rugged refinement to the finished footwear.
Which speaks to the quality of the product. Something that Bingaman takes very seriously and led him to recently move production from Turkey to the United States. The boots are now designed in Austin and handcrafted in Maine using time-honored techniques and American materials like leathers from Chicago's Horween and Minnesota's S.B. Foot. "It was something that resonated with us at a time when it seemed so much labor was being exported and, economically and sustainably speaking, we could save a lot of time, money and energy with a factory close by," he says. "When it comes to what you wear, how often can you be so close to the process?"
Each season, Helm rereleases the brand's most popular styles like the simple cap-toe Muller model, but this spring, they're introducing some new relaxed styles that are sure to turn some traditionalists' heads. "The Dash is a play off of a style we did in Istabul that we've now edited the pattern here in the US and are doing a grey color that's really beautiful," says Bingaman. "And we have a new chukka style coming on our signature leather sole with a white midsole—we know it's going to be a top seller, especially since people are already putting it on hold and they're not yet in stock."
Dash, $349 and Lotzer, $399, available soon at Helm