[Photo by Roger Hagadone from Frye: The Boots That Made History: 150 Years of Craftsmanship, Rizzoli 2013.]
[Photo by Christopher Wray-McCaan also courtesy Rizzoli.]
Even Jackie Kennedy requested a custom pair. Not the Jet, though. Real cowboy riding boots -- another specialty of the Frye Company that emerged after the War. During the very early 60s, while she was First Lady, Jackie was fitted in a Virginia store for her boots of "burnished brown leather on a needlepoint last with butterfly design," according to a newspaper clipping included in the book.
[Photo Todd Cole courtesy Rizzoli.]
[Photo Roger Hagadone courtesy Rizzoli]
But for someone who didn't inherit any 1970s Fryes from her mom or aunts (you know, like the classic Campus Stitching Horse that can be found in the Smithsonian's collection) and is a relatively recent Frye collector (I became a fan about five years ago), the book's most alluring feature may simply be the abundance of up-close images of boots old and new that detail rugged hardware, finely stacked heels and naturally antiqued leather.
With main sections devoted to the Harness, Engineer, Campus, Riding and Western styles, as well as scrapbook-esque tributes to the Massachusetts workers behind these boots, the book tells the story of a successful American business -- actually the U.S.'s oldest continuously operating footwear company -- that's been crafting artisanal, truly long-lasting wares decades and decades before "artisanal" became a sometimes loosely applied marketing term. Pouring over the archive images, it's clear Frye didn't set out to be a lifestyle brand, which Kristal concludes is probably what makes their bags and boots so enduringly cool.
Don't forget Go West! Art of the American Frontier from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West opens at the High November 3.
BTW: Just in case you were wondering, I received no compensation or perks from Frye for this post.