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Editorial

Tough Repair: War Vet Sends in Prized Combat Boots

No article of clothing says more about a person than his shoes. For many, they are the only constant in a consistently changing wardrobe. For Kenneth Barriere, a soldier who served two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, this could not be more accurate. 

 

“Boots are a soldier’s identity,” Barriere explains. ‘They’re always tagged with [our] dog tags in case of death. Generally, they are the only item many veterans wear daily after service.” Barriere was issued his black Bates military boots in 2005 before deploying to the Middle East.

 

“I have been in many fights I should not have made it home from wearing them, which is why I have a special connection to [my boots].” 

 

Unsurprisingly, the decision to tamper with such a significant memento was not an easy one for Barriere, who says he wear his combat boots every day. “They are a reminder and a comfort to me.”

 

But, there was no denying that the durable pair had seen better days. The thick lug soles had been ground down, diminishing traction, and the leather uppers were badly worn and torn in several places on both shoes. Barriere began searching for repair options online when he came across Cobbler Concierge.

 

The former soldier contacted the team to figure out what could be done, before sending his boots to the Concierge.

 

“To be honest I didn't think Cobbler Concierge could repair them, but after getting them back I was in shock,” Barriere says.

 

After fully repairing the leatherwork, the cobblers applied brand new, super-sturdy Vibram soles that mirrored the original treads. Laces were thoroughly cleaned, and shoes shined before delivering the finished product to Barriere.

 

“I work in an area that destroys boots fast, but the boots – and the repair – are both standing up [to the job]. Combat and civilian life can't kill [this pair],” Barriere told us recently. To this day, he is frequently asked about his boots. For him, they retain a symbolic value of his service.

 

Barriere is now planning to send in his desert combat boots, which he admits are also “very worn down”. “The deserts were generally used during daytime operations overseas.”

 

According to Barriere, he was “amazed” by Cobbler Concierge’s work, and he concluded with a fitting HOOYAH to celebrate.

 

Dana Karlson is a seasoned digital editor. In 2014 she launched Footwear News’ web site, and prior to that she covered fashion and lifestyle for Glamour.com and British Sky Broadcasting in London. She has worked with top designers including Burberry’s Christopher Bailey, Erdem Moralioglu and Mary Katrantzou, interviewed leading celebrities from Kate Winslet to Mark Wahlberg and reported on Oscars’ fashion for BBC.