The heart of OESH, the midsole, is made in the United States. In downtown Charlottesville, Virginia to be precise, arguably the best place to live (and this from someone who grew up in San Diego, California)! We are a college town (home of the University of Virginia) at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah National Park (meaning it’s hilly). Not exactly a typical place for a shoe factory.
The athletic shoe of the past 30 years has been made almost exclusively in Asia. It used to be that shoes were made in Asia because the cost of labor was so much less there. But what’s happened is that because Asia has been making shoes throughout the computer era, Asia, not the U.S., has developed all the sophisticated computerized technologies and equipment to make them. So now it’s not so much the cost of labor as it is that Asia has all the technological know how.
But the OESH midsole is different than any other midsole ever made… anywhere. So we seized the opportunity to research, develop and manufacture the midsole locally here in the U.S. — in our own town. We figured that with all our going to the moon and such, we’d know best how to make a shoe soles. And indeed, from the University of Virginia’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering to Noland’s (the local plumbing supply store down the street), we had all we needed right here. Our raw materials and even the equipment that we don’t make in our own factory in Virginia are made in the United States. Toho Tenax America makes our raw carbon fiber filament in their plant in Tennessee. McClean Anderson makes our computerized filament winding machinery in their factory in Wisconsin. Phoenix Equipment makes our automated resin pumping system in its factory in Florida. OMAX Corporation makes our computer controlled water jet saw equipment in Washington. And around the corner, my friend Bill at Specialty Fasteners finds us just about everything else we need.
Now I do still make trips to China to visit the factories that make the rest of OESH – the upper and the outsole. The factories we work with there are the very best in the industry and they take great pride in contributing to the final OESH product. But there’s nothing like working with and supporting our local community to make the core of OESH right here where I have the option of walking two blocks west to see my friends at Martin Hardware store, two blocks south to see my friends at Quality Welding, one block north to Reid Market and one block east to Bodo’s Bagels. I typically go for the Everything Whole Wheat Bagel with herb spread.