I bought a new pair of winter boots, ripe for object analysis of the straightforward and deeply reflexive variety. They are Ali model Sporto boots, size 8.5. The upper is brown suede, trimmed with brown faux fur. The tongue is not suede, but a shinier, man-made material. The boots are waterproof, an assurance offered by a salesperson, the box, and a small tag sewn to a seam on the inner side of the heel. Visible stitching is in dark brown thread, with some in a lighter, coffee-colored thread for contrast. Dark brown piping arcs around the heel.
The laces are a chocolate brown to match the boots, long and tipped with heavy, brass-colored metal. Lacing is accomplished with three D-rings, brass in color (and possibly material). They are secured by suede tabs, folded over and riveted in place with round, decorative brass. These elements bear decorative marks—small, irregular dots and longer depressions—finished with a blackening, antiquing effect which is present but much less obvious on the undecorated surfaces of the D-rings and lace tips.
The sole feels rubbery (a label on the inside of the tongue indicates that, as it is not part of the upper, it is a man-made material) and curves smoothly toward a base deeply cut for traction. The upper is lined with a dark brown fleece. The bottom of the boot, also dark brown, is not softly padded. A rectangular fabric label, with “Sporto” written in sparkling silver, is sewn beneath the heel.
A website listing provides dimensions: a 5 inch shaft height and 12 inch circumference. It lists a price of $89.99, discounted to $64.99. (I purchased mine from a brick-and-mortar Famous Footwear for the discounted price.) Website feedback indicates general consumer satisfaction with the boot.
The boots are reasonably warm. The faux fur says “I am a warm winter boot,” though that message is not visually clear from the lining: the fleece is soft, but also “not-fur.” But when wearing the boots, I have always been able to feel my toes. The lauded waterproofing is more suspect. A decided chill has been apparent when I have walked through puddles or snow. (The snow in question has never been more than a couple of inches deep. The low height and general design of the boots makes it clear that they are not intended for use as snow boots, and I did not choose them with that application in mind.) The meeting of sole and upper is presumably the problem area. If I wanted true outdoor boots, this pair would probably be disappointed. But as a warm alternative to sneakers or the shoes I wear in the office, they are quite satisfactory.
The boots are reasonably comfortable. The lack of padding beneath the foot is noticeable after extended wear, but overall they are no worse than my normal work shoes, perhaps even marginally better. The laces are too long—but not, unfortunately, long enough to wrap all the way around the boot to be tied in front. Because of the weighted tips, the laces have a tendency to tangle and sometimes work their way loose when tied normally (tails and loops approximately the same size, as pictured). As a result, I have started tying them with excessively long loops and short tails, which I then tuck in. This minimizes the bouncing and tangling and is, overall, a satisfying hack.