Belleville Combat Boots – The History of an Army Boot Maker

Today, Belleville combat boots have become the leading suppliers for military personnel footwear. For over a century, the Belleville Shoe Company has serviced the shoe apparel needs for those in service. In total, the company has gained over 100 years of experience within the manufacturing of boots. Ultimately, the name has become synonymous with high quality boots, built to protect people wearing them from harsh outdoor elements.

New Beginnings: The Birth of the Belleville Shoe Company

The Belleville Shoe Company first created roots within Belleville, Illinois in 1904. Only 50 employees comprised the company’s onset. Production during this time consisted between 50 and 75 boots a day. Soon after, the company expanded sales from coast to coast while selling boys and men’s shoes. Military sales however, did not start until 1917. At this time, War officials commissioned the company for footwear products for World War I. Initially, the company’s small operation worked towards making uncomplicated footwear yet has become a staple in military apparel.

The Depression: Relieved by Innovative Outlets

Times became tough at one point during the 1930s. Through the course of this time, orders remained low and military orders became non-existent. However, the company created another source of income by marketing to social service agencies in Chicago. Primarily, the agencies bought shoes for distribution to destitute victims of the depression.

Production Resumes: The Demands of WWII

Once again, military demand resumed following the start of World War II. All though this time, the Belleville Shoe Company never failed on delivering their products on time. Along with this, the company continued to deliver on quality products and this impressed the War Department. In response, they awarded the Belleville Company with the coveted Army-Navy E Award in 1945. Out of 90 companies manufacturing combat boots for the military, only five received this award. Ensuing this honorable distinction, the company has continued receiving recognition for providing performance products with high quality.

Branching Out: Company Growth and Expansion

Starting in 1950 and through the 1960’s, the Belleville Shoe Company made the decision to branch out into other markets. Primarily, this involved athletic shoes under the RAWLINGS brand. Shoes consisted of those for track, bowling, soccer, golf, football, and baseball. The Baseball legend Stan Musial remained one of their best customers throughout the course of his career. Each season he would generally go through six or seven pairs of shoes. Despite their success within athletic shoes, their attention shifted back to the production of Belleville combat boots in the seventies. Even so, the company continued to manufacture shoes for civilians. In 1986, the company’s new home became the Belle Valley Industrial Park east of town.

Combat Boots: Just For Men?

As mentioned before, most of the Belleville Shoe Company’s focus centered on manufacturing men’s and boy’s shoes. For a good portion of the company’s history, male focused shoe wear remained the trend. A pivotal turning point came in November of 2006 when the company first announced expanding production to include a military boot for women. The new product line introduced consisted of four popular styles for men to include sizes for women. The newly developed shoes incorporated women’s smaller size, while maintaining the same lightweight and comfort found within the men’s boots. The product expansion aimed at making the boots fit better by expanding on the current sizes. The new sizes included size four through ten and additionally included ½ sizes for all except the 10.

Combat Boots: Belleville Represents Military Footwear

Over time, the Belleville Shoe company has continued to advance with technology used within their combat boots. In 2009, on June 4 the company announced further advancements in regards to the technology with the military combat boots. This came with the introduction of the new product line, Tactical Research by Belleville. Among the advancements were the introduction of their newest and lightest combat boots. More specifically, the new line expanded from over Belleville’s experience amounting over a 100 years in combat boots, in addition to their current knowledge on some of the most advanced materials within the market. All of this contributed to the current line, which aims specifically towards the footwear needs of a soldier. Other advancements throughout the course of the company’s history, consists of the number of sizes available.

Additionally, improvements with the boot have increased the amount of comfort, as well as their warmth. Currently, the Bellville combat boots offer a large amount of choices. In general, people have a large variety they can choose from in regards to styles and colors. Many of the boots consist of some sort of steel tip variation. However, some boot styles do not offer a steel tip, while others do not offer boots without a steel toe. As a standard practice, Belleville combat boots with a steel toe have the lettering “ST” on them. Currently, the company has over 14 different steel-toed boots as a choice.

Beyond Military: Belleview Outdoor Adventures

Earlier in 2010, Belleville announced another addition to their civilian boot line. This included the introduction of insulated boots for extreme cold weather conditions. Other improvements included improved traction on the shoes sole. By doing this, the amount of comfort increased for outdoor cold weather activities as ice fishing expeditions, in addition to skiing, and hiking.

Belleville Today: The Military Combat Boot of Choice

Throughout the years, Belleville has become one of the premiere leaders and oldest within boot manufacturing. Largely, this relates to their commitment to researching and developing innovative boot design technologies. For that reason, they have continued to add to the computer driven equipment used, in addition to expanding on further markets.

One of the main reasons for the company’s success and popularity has to do with their establishment of a brand defining quality and comfort. Therefore, the company has remained a strong presence within footwear apparel. In contingent to this, they continue to receive thousands of positive reviews each year. These reviews are not only specific to the military, but extend into the general population as well. Presently, the Belleville Shoe company is the largest producer of military combat boots. Now the company houses another smaller operation within DeWitt, Arkansas called Belleville Shoe South. In total, the company now produces over one million boots each year.