This journey begins in 2013. Our founder, Will, had been plugging away in his cubicle for long enough. He’d taken the safe path to a big corporate job with great benefits, but it didn’t feel great. The world was changing fast, but his world seemed to be moving in slow motion. He resigned and bought a ticket to Shanghai, then Hong Kong, and finally joined a tech startup in Bangkok. Work was great, life was great, but the boat shoes he brought over weren’t cut out for the tropical heat and humidity of Bangkok. It should have been an afterthought, but men who grew up in boat shoes don’t easily switch to sneakers. Will realized quickly that Southeast Asia is the global production hub for footwear, so he started making his own men's boat shoes. At first for himself, and then for friends and fellow expats.
Being at the center of the supply chain, Will started visiting local suppliers. As he tinkered with insole construction, leather dyeing, and different threads for stitching, he came up with prototypes for breathability, comfort for long days on your feet, water resistance during typhoons, and durable models that could last years without starting to blister. What his friends noticed though, were the patterns. By 2015, Will had exhausted the material options in the Bangkok area and began making weekend trips to Ho Chi Minh, Singapore, and Jakarta. There is a creative euphoria that comes from working in a sample room with limitless materials. Will began to establish relationships with tanneries in Italy and Korea, thread makers in Maine, and rubber suppliers in Indonesia. He experimented with digital printing, silk screening, custom dyes, and state of the art nano tech prints to make shoes that stood out in the tech and finance social scenes of Southeast Asia. After a limited production run of the first Anglers sold out in 2016, he decided to dedicate himself to FROATS full time.
(Side street in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
In late 2017, we launched our first collection of men's boat shoes. We introduced five bright and fun patterns. With a strong response, our concept was proven and we were off to the races.
(Inaugural photoshoot featuring friends that were paid in beer)
In 2018, we brought on six new patterns introducing more geographic specific patterns with a Texas and South Carolina pattern to join our Maryland design from our inaugural collection. We made improvements to our product with a softer leather that allowed greater flexibility and introduced different colored soles.
(2nd photo shoot, same incentives as 2017 for the male 'models')
In 2019, we made a tectonic leap in quality and aesthetics. Armed with feedback and intimate knowledge from our previous 2 years, we re-designed our supply chain and our product from top to bottom. We upgraded every facet of our men's boat shoes and brought back our classic designs.
(Will, founder, working on development and designs in 2019)
We continue to operate with an awareness of current trends mixed with an appreciation of the classics and cultural nostalgia that influences our design process. On the product side, we never cease to look for improvements whether it be materials or processes. Our goal is to make the very best boat shoe possible year in and year out. You can check out the full line up here: Shop All
(Our guy Vinny in the 'Sharks and Minnows' in Baltimore in 2020)
As FROATS grew, Will established a base in Baltimore, the city where he grew up. While we use materials and suppliers from around the world, the boat shoe is a uniquely East Coast American obsession, and the best way to scale is with the help of people that share in your vision. The passion of our team comes from a shared history of wearing boat shoes year round from an early age. We remember the blisters, the untied laces, and the smell of wet boat shoes before antimicrobial insoles. Our design and development, fulfillment, marketing, and customer service are all managed from our dog friendly Baltimore headquarters, affectionately known as, the Goose Nest. We appreciate the dedication and passion of our team, and know that we would not have been able to assemble such great minds anywhere else. We have great coffee, great tunes, and share our building with a brewery.
(Earliest rendition of The Goose on file -- circa 2016)
(From the 'chives...an old photo of Will & Beck traveling. Looks like a very early morning. Neither knew at the time that FROATS would be in their future. Will in blue, Beck in white)
(Sometime in 2019)
(Argus & Gimlet in the warehouse)