I’ve been thinking about reviewing garments from The Real McCoy’s for some years now, but given I already own a few Buzz Rickson jackets and way too many Japanese jeans, a proper McCoy’s review kept being pushed back.
Now that The Real McCoy’s are in Australia, there’s no excuse any longer. So, here it is finally, a McCoy’s review – a pair of their Joe McCoy boots no less!
The boots we’re looking at today is a pair of ’10 Mile’ monkey boots under the Joe McCoy (work & sports-wear reproduction) sub-brand.
These ’10 Mile’ boots are based on American roofer boots from the middle of the twentieth century, so the styling here is a little more old-school and rugged compared with modern day monkey boots, e.g. the Tricker’s monkey boots reviewed on this blog some months ago.
This particular style of shoe is not often reproduced, the only widely sold version being Thorogood’s portage boots, which are reproductions of their own styles from decades ago – notice, though, the original version were constructed using the stitch-down method (as is this Joe McCoy boot), whereas modern Thorogood boots are Goodyear welted.
Joe McCoy’s monkey boots are offered in all black horsehide, all brown horsehide, or the multi-leather version you see here.
Shape & Fit
The ’10 Mile’ boot is D-width and laced-to-toe. The toe box is fairly tall and reasonably wide – this is a work boot after all – the fit being immediately comfortable.
The boot tapers inward after the toe box, though the instep, ankle and heel are not too tight at all. I suspect the very soft steerhide suede adds to the comfort too. The fit throughout is a bit more snug compared with most Pacific Northwestern stitch-down boots from the USA, which tend to fit generously, as they are true work boots.
Given this is a roofer style boot, the tightness of the shaft is very easily adjusted by changing the tension in the lacing. The overall shape from any angle is not clunky, but is in fact quite sleek from the vamp to the top edge.
Apart from the horsehide used on the vamp/toe and the back-stay, the leathers used in the rest of the upper are very soft, so comfort levels should be very high unless your feet width is above E.
The sizing is similar to Pacific Northwestern stitch-down boots, e.g. White’s, Nick’s, Wesco, etc. Take your true Brannock’s US size if you want to wear these boots with thick work-socks, or size down half to pair with casual socks.
The leathers on the ’10 Mile’ boots are Japanese vegetable tanned horsehide, though on the multi-leather version vegetable tanned steerhide suede and oil-tanned cattlehide also feature.
The horsehide used for the toe and the backstay is very nice quality indeed, the colour being more purple than brown under natural sunlight. It is fairly oily for a vegetable tanned leather, and the grain is very much alive and not over-corrected.
The steerhide suede is high quality, with a fine and dense nap. The temper of the suede is much softer compared with the horsehide.
Finally, the tongue is made with a remarkably soft white leather, which I think is oil tanned. All in all, the materials here are retro, but top-class.
The first aspect of these boots that caught my attention was the precision of the stitch-down! Hands down the cleanest and most consistent double stitch-down I’ve seen, trumping everything that I’ve personally handled from North America in recent years. (Check out my American boot reviews to see where the standard lies nowadays.)
Not only is the stitching precise, but how the edges have been cut and burnished is also remarkable. There are two layers of natural vegetable tanned leather as mid-soles, so, adding the uppers, there are three to four layers of leather at the front of the boot – all seamlessly combined. The mid-sole construct on this pair puts my recently reviewed Nick’s oxford shoes to shame, really.
Two thread colours are used on the uppers, in single and double row configurations. The stitching is dense, neat and very consistent. Some of the nicest stitch-work I’ve seen on a work boot.
The edge burnishing is also very nicely done on the sole unit.
There is nothing I could find to complain about really. All the pieces of leather on the upper fit together nicely, and the mid-sole and edges are remarkably clean.
The top edge, with the addition of a stitched collar, is cut very precisely.
Sole Unit & Misc.
Steel eyelets and speedhooks are used – sturdy and well placed.
The waxed laces are great quality too, tying and draping nicely.
A woven tag features inside the tongue.
The inside of the boots are fully lined with leather.
The unit crepe sole is customised.
All in all, excellent specs.
Overall? Fantastic boots!
These ’10 Mile’ monkey boots from The Real McCoy’s is the most well made pair of stitch-down work boots I’ve come across in person just yet.
Generally speaking, most North American stitch-down makers are producing work that is less precise compared with Japanese makers nowadays; these monkey boots are a good reminder of the level of neatness that one could expect on a nice pair of stitch-downs.
As far as reproduction roofer boots go, these are the best stock boots that money can buy. At 108, 000 yen, you could buy 3 pairs of Thorogood’s version of the roofer boot for the same cost, but the quality of these McCoy boots simply cannot be beat.
McCoy’s boots occupy a fairly small niche though: The Real McCoy’s boots are fairly expensive as far as work-wear footwear goes, and I know that for many readers, paying the same money for a customised or even bespoke pair of shoes would prove to be the better proposition (value wise).
Ultimately, McCoy’s leather products are made for hobbyists with genuine passion in work-wear and military-wear reproduction and folks for whom money is no consideration. The Real McCoy’s sit in the top tier of Japanese heritage brands, alongside The Flat Head, etc, so if you like vintage inspired clothing, McCoy’s boots are a must see!
These ’10 Mile’ monkey boots, along with other Joe McCoy boots and Buco engineer boots can be ordered through Godspeed Store. Simply send Marty an e-mail.