Founded in 1932, Portland-based Danner started out by crafting boots for loggers. Based on the strong quality of work boots that the company has become known for, Danner has expanded its product range to outdoor and fashion and has remain dedicated to the ethos of craftsmanship that has underpinned the brand for 85 years.
Welcome to the 59th edition of magazine B.
For this issue, our team traveled once again to Portland. It was less than a month since our visit to cover the city for the B Portland issue. We left from Incheon, and one layover and 12 hours later, found ourselves back in a place that proved as warm and inviting of us outsiders as the first time. It was enough to make us forget, if just for a moment, the clamor of the world today and the dizzying pace of life in Seoul. If our Portland issue unpacked the entrepreneurial spirit common to many a Portlandian, this issue takes an up-close look at a local brand with especially deep roots in the city. Danner, crafter of leather boots since 1932, is as much of a symbol of Portland as coffee and craft beer. Mention American craftsmanship, and the brand’s signature leather boots are sure to come up. In the 80-some years Danner has been based in Oregon, the bootmaker has steadily expanded its offerings, from the logging boots and work boots that earned it its reputation to hiking boots, combat boots and, more recently, a line of boots for everyday wear, all the while solidifying its status as the standard setter in quality leather boots.
It’s not hard to find brands that champion quality craftsmanship. With “locally produced” now a popular trend, the media as well as consumers are readier than ever to support the aspirations of would-be artisans, whether they’re making small batch goods or running an independent factory. In this context, Danner might appear like another company best defined by the earnestness of its vision, in this case to create quality goods. But to frame the brand’s success in this way, as something it achieved on the strength of its sincerity, is to tell a fictionalized version of its story. Earnestness and sincerity are only the roots of a business, after all. For any venture to bear fruit and grow, a solid system must be put in place and continuous e orts made for improvement. Before I visited the headquarters of Danner in Portland, though, my understanding of the brand was also limited to these roots.
Craftsmanship as espoused by Danner has numerous elements. One is a high level of self-examination, which in this context really means a high standard of quality. From choosing the leather to testing out a finished boot, Danner has its own standard, and all of the employees at its factory uphold this standard with pride. The craftsmen at the recrafting center, where repairs are done on old boots sent in by customers, are no exception. In that sense, the inclusion of the small letters that read “Est. 1932” beneath the Danner logo are a testament not merely to the many years the company has been in business but also to the high standard it has steadfastly maintained over the same period.
And that’s not all. Danner has also continued to look for ways to translate its thoughtfully honed craftsman’s ethic into productive practices. Ensuring that every last scrap of leather finds good use, for example, might be a tradition that has reinforced for employees at Danner the importance of productivity.
In addition to being an issue of foremost concern for the company, productivity is also a source of creativity. Creativity, at Danner, is not a special trait one simply possesses. In fact, it’s closer to the opposite. As the company sees it, creativity is something that takes shape in the process of eliminating production time, reducing costs, and making other improvements in the way the business is operated. This is why designers at Danner actually spend more time visiting the factory and communicating closely with factory staff about the production staff than creating image boards or sketching product mockups. As one product designer told us, “If they work, they work. No need to reinvent the wheel for everything.”
I still remember hiking around Portland and being impressed by how comfortable my leather boots were. I imagine that my having witnessed firsthand a form of modern craftsmanship so attuned and responsive to the times and to the environment only deepened my appreciation. My hope is to bring our readers — whether they are people who wish to use goods of enduring quality or people who create them — a similar kind of experience.
Eunsung Park, Editor-in-Chief
Danner spotted on social media
Airport Way Store
The Airport Way Store embodies Danner’s brand heritage
Alfredo Contreras, Senior Pattern Engineer and the longest-serving employee at Danner
Danner’s archive models show the brand’s evolution
Danner’s factory in Portland, the symbol of American craftsmanship
Danner’s models representing each category
The details that characterize Danner
Danner’s Recrafting Center restores long-worn boots to their original look
Chris Ledbetter, Product Designer at Danner
Portlanders in different occupations talk about Danner
Union Way Store
A lifestyle concept shop inside the Union Way arcade
Shinsuke Nakada, Director of the men’s casual division at Beams
Well-crafted items selected by wearers
The styles and viewpoints of Danner’s collaboration partners
The outdoor setting of Oregon, where Danner was born and grew
The birth and development of Danner
The strengths of Gore-Tex® and Vibram®, the materials used in Danner boots
LaCrosse Footwear, where Danner belongs
Portland is reborn as a hub for the sports footwear industry
Thank You Notes
Messages from Danner users
Laurie Thomas, Director of Marketing and Steve Bellati, Vice President of Product
The outdoor shoes industry and Danner by the numbers
- Publisher Suyong Joh
- Media Director Myungsoo Kim
- Content & Editorial Director Eunsung Park
- Senior Editor Heather Yoo
- Editors Jaewoo Seo, Yeongmin Adriana Kim
- Intern Editor Sol Lyu
- Guest Designer Gyeongtak Kang
- Filmmaker Sukwang Baak
- Marketer Hyunjoo Kim
- Sales & Distribution Sanghoon Kim, Suyeon Kim
- Correspondents Mihye Nam (Tokyo), Nari Park (London), Lena Shin (LA), Sanghyeok Lee (Berlin), Jeewon Lim (Milan), Hyeseon Jeong (Paris)
- Publishing JOH & Company
- The Outsiders: New Outdoor Creativity
- Portraits of the American Craftsman
- 2nd Vol.15 ダナーブック
- ザ ブーツバイブル
- Gear Patrol Magazine: Issue Four
- Danner Boots 1932
- Outside Online