Worth the splurge? Fiorentini + Baker boots
For several years now, I've wanted a pair of Fiorentini + Baker 704 boots. Whenever I'm at a Barneys Co-Op store, I pick up the floor model, smell the leather, and caress it. I have stood idly by as the price has risen (they used to cost somewhere in the mid $400s; they're now $525). Last weekend was a double-points weekend at Barneys, and I was really tempted to buy them then, but a little voice in my head said, "Do you really need to spend $500 on a pair of boots?" Fiorentini + Baker shoes are are handcrafted in Italy by real cobblers; not only would I be supporting a dying trade, but I'm sure the boots would last me years and years. Then again, I have a five-year-old pair of Steven boots that appear to be holding up quite well, and I paid $60 for them at Loehmann's.

The thing is, these boots are being knocked off left and right, at varying prices. Some of these knockoffs are better than others: Some have inner zippers (the F+B style is a pull-on), some have too many or too few straps (three is the magic number), some have buckles only on the sides. But here are the two best facsimiles I've found:

First, Faryl Robin's Lucky boots have the proper pull-on design and the height is within a half inch of the original (this is a midcalf boot, not a knee-high). At $299, they're a bit more than half the price of the original, but for the budget-conscious in these times of recession, that might still be a bit on the high side.

The true bargain, then, is the Steve Madden Buck boot, a mere $160. They're an almost perfect knockoff; the only thing that's missing is the cross-shaped buckle holes. I was so intrigued, I went down to the Steve Madden store to inspect them myself, and while the leather is not nearly as luxuriously broken-in as the F+B version, it's soft enough, and much nicer than you'd expect for the price. I think we have a winner...

5 comments

mina k said...

I've also wanted a pair of these for a while, but my friend has them so I didn't want to be a "twin." I can't let myself cave and get the steve madden version...I haven't had good luck with sm or steven boots like you.

Casey said...

Aw, go ahead and get the real ones. You will have them forever.

RubyE said...

I'm with Casey! The quality of genuine F+B boots is really worth the dizzying splurge. Although I didn't buy the three-buckle Eternity, I closed my eyes and swallowed hard when I got the F+B Emma at Ped Shoes. But now I'm so glad I did. I have a number of great boots (including these cute Coclico ones that I also love), but the F+B's are honestly the best. I wear them allllll the time!! I say go for the real thing.

Chloƫ said...

I have to ask you which one you ended up getting, cause I'm facing the same dilemma as you!

Amy said...

I have a friend who has a locally owned business where i live and love and i have been trying on, researching the "perfect boot" for this foot of mine and i can only say that hand-crafted boots are the way to go. you may buy boots that sort of do it for you and one day you realize that you could have saved not only a dying art but also money on buying that pair of boots you wear everyday and you know where they came from..not some warehouse in mexico,etc. I love these fiorentini and baker boots. I'm saving my money for them. xoxo