Vegas Highlights: Well Bred

by Harry Sheff

Put Well Bred, the newly launched Rochester, Minn.-based shoe brand, in the category of classics done right. Owner and designer Jorge Gomez sources every part of his leather shoes in America, from the laces to the crepe soles. Gomez, trained in industrial design, has worked for some big shoe companies. In striking out on his own, he’s doing much the opposite of what he did for his previous employers: small runs of five styles, stripped of all unnecessary embellishments, carefully made in an American factory. The shoes retail for between $395 and $475.

Well Bred Pepin boot

The Pepin boot ($475), shown here, comes in burgundy, Chicago tan and black coffee.

Gomez was handing out this map showing all the places he sources components for his shoes. The second mark in Minnesota, above the Well Bred home base in Rochester, is St. Paul, where their shoe boxes are made. The shoes themselves are made in California from leather sourced in Illinois (most from Horween) and Wisconsin (for the linings). Shoe laces come from Georgia, North Carolina and Rhode Island. Buckles for models like the Pepin boot—my favorite—come from an Ohio company. The crepe outsoles are from Massachusetts. And finally, Well Bred gets shoe horns from Florida and shoe bags from Colorado.

Well Bred sourcing map

“Aside from the states in the postcard,” Gomez told me via e-mail, “there have been further improvements: we are now sourcing from even more states, like Maine where we are beginning to get our outsoles.”

Gomez tells me he’s had lots of interest from Japanese retailers (no surprise, given his American manufacturing). He plans to launch e-commerce on his site this summer.