V325: Introducing “Tavistock” Authentic Victorian Button Boots

…and it’s about time!  I am so excited to finally be able to release for pre-order our first boot, and indeed the only completely authentic Victorian button boot available!

Tavistock Victorian Button Boots – new from American Duchess Historical Footwear

“Tavistock,” named for the home of Charles Dickens, is very closely based on original examples of button boots from many fine museums, including my local Churchill County Museum in Fallon, Nevada.  These beauties are made of luxurious black calf skin, lined in real pigskin, and do *not* have a zipper up the inside of the leg.  You really do have to button them up, just like our foremothers.

Functional and historically accurate steel-shanked buttons.

I thought it would be cool to show you the development process of Tavistock, to lead you through a little journey from concept to reality.  Those of you who have been following Tavistock from the beginning will know that quite a lot has changed from the original design.  I’m here to explain why, and give a little insight into how things actually get made…

Tavistock started as a request, of course, by rather a lot of you.  When I hear a goodly number of ladies asking for the same thing, I will look into the availability of something like it on the market already.  For the button boots, I only found “costume” versions, all with zippers up the inside, and none that really had that authentic look.  It seemed like an insurmountable task, to do away with the modern technology and somehow achieve fit for a large array of different ankle and calf sizes, but then I thought, “if you can fit boots with a zipper, why not another kind of closure?”

One of the gorgeous, local boots I researched at the Churchill County Museum in Fallon.  I adore the two-tones and the spectator-y stylings.

The next step was to research, both original examples, and also what the majority of you ladies wanted in terms of color, material, heel height, and detailing.  About 450 of you answered questions in a survey, letting me know that you mostly wanted black, all-leather, with a 2 inch heel, like these:

Via The Met – 1883

With all this information compiled, the specification packet went off to the factory, where it sat for entirely too long.  The craftsmen working on the prototype had difficulty with the design, but were able to produce a sample just before they closed their doors.

My concept drawing
Sample 1 for Tavistock, from the old factory

The sample needed adjustments to the calf – it became clear that we needed to offer wide and regular calf sizes.  By this time, though, we needed to move to a new factory and start from square one, creating another prototype, with all the changes I wanted to make – the two calf sizes, and also a pointier toe, taller heel, and the addition of an elastic gusset at the top.

One of the revisions to Sample 1

Here is where Tavistock began to deviate from the original design.  With the addition of the gusset, the swoopy shaping at the top needed to be straightened out a bit.  I also made the difficult decision to do away with the scallops – in previous samples, the scalloped portion had not met our quality standards, and we try to avoid areas that may cause a high percentage of failure in manufacturing, especially the first time with a new pattern.  Once the factory is familiar with how these boots are constructed, we can add aesthetic detailing back in, and be able to offer two different styles – one more daywear, one more formal.

We also created a new French heel for these boots, something more substantial and visually balanced with the rest of the design.  It went through quite a few revisions…

Development of our new French heels, from left to right

Finally, the last shift was from leather-covered button, prone to popping apart and marring easily, to more authentic steel-shanked plastic buttons, developed from original, antique boot buttons I found on eBay and sent to our factory.

Original boot buttons

The final product makes me giddy, and I hope it does the same for you!  Our new factory has done a splendid job – Tavistock not only looks the part, but functions authentically, and is comfortable as well.  It’s met all of my standards, so that means it is time for the pre-order!

Tavistock from the side – this is the wide-calf version

Tavistock Victorian Button Boots
Pre Order December 3rd – 21st, 2012
$150 ($180) Pre-Order Special
LIMITED quantities available this time!


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