These are unprecedented times and the economic downturn created by the pandemic has negatively impacted our business in many ways. In response, we have come up with a rare opportunity for our customers. Our best sellers are available at wholesale pricing through a crowdfunding model. We will collect orders until we reach the order threshold of approximately 150 pairs per style, then make your shoes in batches of 300. At this volume we can keep all of our valuable shoemakers employed and avoid devastating lay-offs which hurts the shoemaking heritage in our community. We are grateful for your support and hope you’ll use this opportunity to help our small family business continue it’s 52 year tradition while acquiring a pair of handmade shoes worth waiting for. Shoes ordered here will ship in approximately 8-12 weeks if the order goal is met. If this timeline does not work for you, you can order from our regular categories at full price for the earliest delivery.
An Interview with Rancourt & Co.
We sat down with Rancourt & Co. owner Kyle Rancourt to get his thoughts on his first boots, his favorite thing about Maine, and more
March 16, 2020
If you know us, you know we are a bit obsessed with Maine, with good reason. We have a bunch of Mainers on staff here at Huckberry who seem to always look back with admiration, whether it is the amazing scenery, an unexpected surf community, or the haunting sites of a Stephen King novel. One of our favorite Maine mainstays is Rancourt & Co., makers of some of the best sneakers and boots you can find, all handcrafted and built for the long haul. A few years back, we got a behind-the-scenes look at their operation in Maine and we are back with an interview with the founder, Kyle Rancourt, in honor of our new exclusive, the Acadia Chukka.
What was your first pair of boots?
My first pair of boots I can remember were these beautiful Chelsea Boots made by an Italian shoemaker. They were hand-finished and burnished much like we do with our mimosa calf dress shoes. At the time, my dad was in charge of product development and design at Allen-Edmonds and he designed these boots for them. My first pair of boots at Rancourt & Co. was a boat-boot. At the time (circa 2010) American heritage style was all the rage and boat boots became a thing. I think they were navy suede with a white deck sole. A bit regrettable style-wise but hindsight is 20/20.
What shoes are you wearing right now?
The Bennett Trainer in Gray.
Where do you draw your inspiration from when designing new products?
So many places. A big part of it is utilitarian—comfort, versatility, classic styling. I also design footwear based on materials that inspire me. I'll find an outsole or an upper leather that I love then design footwear that works with those materials. Lastly, I do look around a bit at what some other industry leaders/brands I admire are doing and also take into consideration what our customers want or are asking for.
Rancourt's designs have really started to evolve and grow over the last few years. Can you tell us about how you maintain and balance classic style but continue to innovate with new, more modern styles like the Carson sneaker and Bennett trainer?
Yeah, I think that's true. It's definitely been an intentional shift as I don't believe we can grow and thrive in the long term but sticking just to the classics. However, I come at product development always from the classic or traditional perspective. The Carson and Bennett sneakers certainly aren't unique to us but our twist on them is what elevates them and makes them different. I've always loved the Vans Authentic so I said "How can we make this better and a "Rancourt" shoe?" We use Horween leather, Vibram soles and put a molded foam footbed in it so it's even more comfortable. The Bennett is another example - we took a really traditional runner silhouette and used high-quality leather for the uppers then put Lactae Hevea soles on the bottom. There are very few shoemakers using LH soles so that alone sets us apart while retaining the Rancourt DNA. I also really try not to over-design things. I like minimal design and a small color palette because our signature shoes are so traditional and simple I think everything else we do has to fit that mold as well.
Tell us about the unique style of the Acadia chukka - where does it take inspiration from?
The Acadia Chukka comes from an old pattern we had in our archives that I️ changed up a little bit. Since you can’t get crepe soles made in America anymore I️ sourced the “caliber” sole from one of our American sole manufacturers. It’s mean to replicate the classic crepe wedge-style sole. I️ think it’s really versatile - it can be worn year round and while it’s tough and durable it doesn’t need much breaking in. It’ll be super comfortable right out of the box.
White sneakers - dirty or clean?
Clean. One of the benefits of owning a shoe company is when my white sneakers get dirty I can just take a new pair.
We know our Rancourt's are going to last for the long run. But any boot care tips to help?
Two things that are super easy - get a good horsehair brush and brush them regularly, like every time you wear them or if they've been sitting around for a few weeks. It cleans them up gives them a shine if they are made from a "blooming" leather, like chromexcel, while also keeping particles from working their way into the break of the leather and degrading it. The second thing is to use cedar shoe trees in your boots when you're not wearing them. They will help keep the odor down and help retain the shape of the leather over time.
Best thing in Maine that you can't get anywhere else?
The landscape. Maine has the best of everything - big mountains, green forests, and beautiful beaches. In two hours or less, you can be in the backcountry on a mountain with no cell service and two hours in the other direction you can be in Boston or five hours to NYC. Portland, Maine is also a wonderful small city. I wouldn't give it up for anything.