The Railroad Revival Tour is a lot more than a clever interpretation of a rock ‘n roll road show; it’s full of intention and soul. In its second year, the tour-of-bands-by-train concept drew in Austin’s HELM as a partner that would further the overall historically-hip vibe of the production by designing — what else — a limited edition railroad workman boot paying homage to American heritage.
“For me, it’s been unintentional that [American workwear] has come somewhat of a fashion trend, because there’s always been a lot of people in Austin, I find, who have more of a classic style,” says Bingaman of the denim-and-boots look that currently proliferates fashion spreads — as well as formerly outfitted the men laying railroad tracks across the U.S.
“For us, [the style] is almost this acknowledgment of our ‘working class hero’ grandfathers and fathers.” - Joshua Bingaman
The RRT, whose mission is to “glorify the historical romance between music and trains under the setting of the great American landscape,” will take Willie Nelson, Band of Horses, Jamey Johnson and John Reilly & Friends to eight different stops across the western United States by vintage rail car this October.
“There are so many great musical events out there, but there’s not a whole lot of legacy to them besides the fact that they’ve had every great band play over the past 12 to 15 years,” Conway says.
"There are so many great musical events out there, but there’s not a whole lot of legacy to them." - Dave Conway
The tongue and inside of the boot feature a RRT logo, while the bottom proudly declares “HELM: Made in the U.S.A.” The limited run of 400 pair are being handcrafted in Maine from U.S.-sourced leathers and materials, featuring a hard-wearing upper made from Horween leather, an American company which has produced all the leather used in NFL and NBA balls since the 1950s.
The boot will debut as an integral part of HELM’s fall 2012 line, indicating plans for a long-term relationship with the RRT. “We’re already discussing the boot for the next Railroad Revival Tour,” Bingaman reveals.
“We don’t want to forget where we came from,” Bingaman says of the inspiration for a boot that draws as much from classic Americana style as it does from the men who wore it. “That sense of working hard, getting something done and sweating to get there — that can’t be lost. That’s what we’re founded on.”
“And even think about the bands and how hard they work. [The RRT] is not going to go and partner with Converse — it just doesn’t fit. No pun intended,” Conway ends with a laugh.