Interview Series No. 5 -
The words “quality” and “heritage” are thrown around the menswear community a lot; maybe even enough to dilute their true meanings. However, when you have shoes that are made to order in Maine, by a family who has been doing it for over fifty years, it’s hard to think of two words better to describe a product of such beauty. Those shoes belong to a fantastic company named Rancourt & Co.
I was lucky enough to get to chat with Kyle Rancourt and learn a little bit more about the brand and the beautiful shoes they produce. Enjoy:
What is your name and position at Rancourt & Co.?
Kyle Rancourt. Vice President, in charge of sales, marketing, and brand direction.
What kind of product does Rancourt & Co. produce?
We produce leather footwear, specifically genuine handsewns and Blake welt stitch constructions. We specialize in hand sewn shell cordovan. All of our shoes are crafted by hand and are completely re-soleable.
What kind of guy would wear shoes made by Rancourt & Co.?
The truth is I think any guy could wear our shoes, our product offering is becoming so diverse that I believe there is something for everyone. However, our customer is one who cares about quality, heritage, and service.
I understand that Rancourt is a multi-generational family business. What is the story of Rancourt & Co.?
My grandfather emigrated from Quebec when he was a young man to work in a shoe factory. He eventually started his own shop which transformed from a moccasin shop to a fully function shoe factory when my Dad joined him in the early 80’s. Being a contract manufacturer for larger brands, their companies were bought and sold a couple of times. Over three years ago my father and I decided to buy back some of the assets from the company he sold to and start Rancourt & Co.. Over the years my Dad has worked with the likes of Cole-Haan and Allen-Edmonds, traveling the world and learning about every aspect of the shoe business. This is the knowledge and experience that is embodied in our company today.
It’s great to see shoes that are so distinctly Rancourt & Co.’s style. What are some elements of the shoe that makes it a Rancourt & Co. shoe?
We make very traditional hand sewn styles with more sophistication than most moccasin makers can manage. We incorporate beautiful edge finishes on our leather soles, we construct our shoes from hand-rubbed and antiqued calfskin, and we even dye our own colors of shell cordovan. We have an eye for detail that many in the marketplace lack. We make a timeless product that does not give in to modern trends while also staying relevant in the marketplace.
The material, regardless of product, is something that I’m always most interested in. Can you tell me a bit about the selection process of a leather and how it ends up being chosen for a shoe?
Over the years we’ve developed relationships with some of the best tanneries in the world. We’re always looking for the most attractive pieces of leather. We look for richness of color, a nice hand or feel to the leather, the proper weight (thickness), and something unique. That could mean a distinct pull-up, interesting grain pattern, or depth of color.
I’m extremely impressed that all of your shoes are made to order. How is the guy buying shoes benefitted by that fact?
The biggest benefit is that we can offer a really wide selection of products in a really wide selection of sizes and widths. We currently offer 85+ unique products in sizes 5-14 and width B,D,E,EE. This would not be possible if we had to produce and stock all of these items. Also, it gives our customer the freedom to customize their shoes as they see fit. If they want to change the color of the eyelets on a pair of boots, that’s no problem.
Your shoes are obviously hand-made in America. Was taking any aspect of production overseas ever considered?
No, my family has been making shoes in Maine since 1964, this is the only way we know how to make shoes and its going to stay that way.
Your Fall collection contains multiple styles of shoes, what are your favorites to wear and favorite to make?
I’m a big fan of our 5-eye hand sewn boots (Langdon Boot) for Fall. Depending on the options they are warm and versatile and of course durable. I’m also very excited about our Blake collection - since this is something new for us I’m starting with a blank slate.
What can the menswear enthusiast look forward to in the coming seasons, in terms of inspiration and product?
We are moving forward with new styles in our Blake collection, wingtips (short and long), dress boots, dress chukkas, plain toe bluchers, and cap toe bluchers.
We are also launching a fit test program where we will send out shoes for the customer to try at home before they buy. This will make it easier to determine the correct size.