Our menswear dialogue series continues with a discussion with Mr. Joshua Bingaman founder of HELM boots. We asked Mr. Bingaman about the history of his company and the future of his work. We've seen his work up close and personal and give it our seal of approval...not that you need it.
Image Granted -What was the genesis of HELM? Where did the idea come from? Was it something that happened quickly or was it something that grew over time?
Joshua Bingaman -HELM started 3 years ago when the shoe bug bit me again. Just like it had in my days owning a shoe store in SF. I wanted to design a boot for all seasons that was heavily influenced by work boots and tradition / heritage / military but that was also sensibly fashionable and classically wearable.
IG -Your showroom is located in Austin, TX. Where is your product designed? Where is it actually made? Where are your materials sourced?
JB - We design in-house in Austin, TX, and in the factory when/where adjustments need be. I have a few team members that help me make my ideas realities. I had the first 4 seasons made in Istanbul with materials from all over the globe France, Italy, Holland...
Now, for the 5th and all following seasons, all HELM is and will be made in the U.S.A. (Maine) with materials sourced from the U.S. as well (Chicago, New Jersey, Maine...) 100% US.
IG - What type of consumer buys HELM? Does your customer come to you or is it the other way around?
JB -HELM has many kinds of customers but what we are starting to see come to us (and what we are starting to reach out to / who we are starting to see the brand "fit") is a creative working class. Creative professionals photographers, film producers, art directors, graphic artists, retail and restaurant entrepreneurs, architects...the list goes on----what we today are deeming "creative working class professionals" that recognize and care about good style as much as they do quality, care and HARD WORK. They find their passion in their work and their work in their passion and follow their hearts until proven successful. Along the way they see the need for a good, solid work boot that is versatile-----a boot that is as refined as it can be casual. This is a HELM Boot.
And our newer customers are more aware of our personal reasons and conviction to bring all of HELM production to the U.S.
IG - Is there a strategy behind the different collections? What is the inspiration for the colors, materials, styles and shapes? Is there a standard that you work from or is the each collection an independent venture?
JB - Our strategies are driven from daily inspirations that are always linked with a classic functionality and purpose.
Colors, materials, styles and shapes often come from my personal fashion acquisitions and are also as influenced by a rug or a painting as much as they are architecture and textiles. All or our materials, as well as our lasts that decide the shapes, are decided upon based on our entire team's ability to source/obtain them, re-use and keep wearable. We strive for HELM to be something that can stay part of your lifestyle and your wardrobe for many years to come.
IG - What type of revenue has the company seen since inception. what is the financial strategy for HELM. Does the company plan to grow fast and wide and sell off operations? Or is the plan to have steady growth and keep private ownership?
JB - HELM has only grown since the beginning - financially, economically, operationally and internally but that doesn't mean there haven't been some speed bumps and even some deep pot holes. Any company that doesn't experience this or have a pretty drastic learning curve is, to me, not a company ready for the playing field.
Steady growth and private ownership will remain as long as I'm captaining the ship.
IG - What's next for the brand? New designs? More distribution? Any collaborations?
JB - All of the above. After 3 years of business we are in a strong and steady position with design and fabrication and are ready to sustain more distribution and take on a few more very select collaborations (such as the one currently happening with the Railroad Revival Tour)
HELM Boots is a finalist in Martha Stewart’s American Made contest. They have the chance to get some amazing press coverage and $10,000 to put back into the company to continue to expand HELM. You can vote once a day from multiple email addresses until September 24.
Click HERE to vote for Joshua and HELM Boots USA.