UPDATE: 5 December, 2012
This post is one on which I receive the most commentary and questions (or helpful updates). That said, you should take a look at my more recent update. While this post was pretty accurate at the time, things change and so did the disposition of this fine footwear. I am no longer shoeless.
I tried. I gave it my best to keep the relationship alive.
Look…my grandfathers wore your shoes to the factory floor and the avionics shops before, during and after WWII. My uncles wore their Knapps to school, then to the engineering lab, then to work. My first pairs of Knapp style 2359 Plain-Toe Rocker Bottom Oxford saw me get married, built Legoland California and ushered in the birth of my children. We have history, you and I. I won’t forget that.
There are lots of good reasons to want to stay together. You’re handmade in America, right there in New England, always have been. You’re built to fit my feet like a glove, widths and all. The shine on those oxfords is as luxurious and as deep as the leather is thick. You’re heavy, on purpose. I always knew I was wearing a pair of shoes with some protection, whether or not I bought the steel-toe option. Twice I’ve dropped things on my toes that should have sent me to the hospital. Twice you’ve kept me away from the doctor’s ministrations. I still wear a pair that I have known longer than my children. They wear like slippers on the inside, abused leather tanks on the outside.
But you just don’t want me anymore. You went out of business officially in 2007 but you were gone long before that, probably around the time Iron Age bought your name. Well-meaning folks have tried to keep your legacy alive, but they have challenges. They advertise an entire product catalog in your name but can’t make the product. 3 times in the last 4 years I have offered to pay for them to make multiple pairs of your gorgeous and armor plated oxfords but the script is the same each time. Your website tells me the shoes are available. I place an order. They say production is delayed and push me off for 3 months with the option of “something else” if I can’t wait (and of course they understand if I can’t wait). I insist and offer to buy more than one pair to up the ante. After 3 months they finally admit that they cannot make the shoes for (spins wheel) financial reasons. I walk away sad.
I told myself this was going to be the last time I tried in vain to satisfy my 10.5EEEs. My feet are at peace, I just wanted you to know why I just can’t do it any longer. I’m pretty sure your current agents have been lying to me, at least a little. I’m pretty sure they can only make a handful of the shoes on offer from the catalog. None of those shoes that they can make bear the Knapp name. I think they’re charging too little for a high quality product; that makes the product not worth producing. So they don’t. But most of all, I don’t like the charade your agents are passing off as your good name being “back in business”. You’re not, old friend. I have tried and failed three times to purchase your fine leather lines. That defines “out of business”. I’m just finally admitting after 10 years what your current owners have refused to acknowledge in that time.
The Knapp company died at the turn of the century and with it possibly the very best shoes ever manufactured. RIP, Knapp.