Nicks vs. White’s: Which Should You Buy?
Ever since around 2020, there has been an unmistakable uptick in demand for high quality, durable American-made clothing. These small American makers have been absolutely bombarded with orders. Perhaps the most famous brands, at least in the boot world, are Nicks vs. White’s. (Yeah, Nicks has no apostrophe and White’s does).
100wears has covered the history of these brands before, but here is the short version. Starting in Connecticut, and eventually making its way to Spokane, Washington, White’s is the granddaddy of Pacific Northwest Boot making. Like a famous NFL coaching tree, you can track the lineage of just about every work boot maker in the US back to them.
Given White’s influence, it’s no surprise that Nicks branches from this tree. Learning the trade from them and then starting his business hidden on White’s property, Nick eventually struck out entirely on his own. Initially just taking a few clients, Nicks has now become just as large in the eyes of consumers as Whites – if not more so.
With as famous as both of these brands have become, it’s not uncommon for a guy looking to get a pair of boots to be faced with the choice: should you buy a pair of Nicks vs. White’s? As someone who has now owned and broken in a few pairs of each, this guide is designed to help you find which is right for you.
A quick disclaimer: This guide is written for casual use. While I have owned and wore multiple pairs from these brands over the years, they’ve rarely seen work harder then cutting down Christmas Trees or helping move logs.
Nicks vs. White’s: Cost
We need to start with what many shopping will when comparing Nicks vs. White’s: the cost. While each maker offers a variety of styles, you’ll actually find that they take a pretty different take on how to price their boots.
Other than a few outliers made of special materials, almost all of Nicks Boots will come in within 5% of $600. Most models start at around $575, with a small upcharge for boots that are ready today. You can also expect to pay about this much when it comes time to purchase. Nicks does run sales every now and then, but basically never site wide. More typically it’ll be to clear inventory: 10% off black chromexcel boots, or 10% off steel toe boots, etc.
White’s is much more diverse when it comes to price. Starting with their Perry boot for as low as $325, and going all the way to occasional runs of Shell Cordovan boots for closer to $1,200. The pricing is as varied as you are. That being said, White’s bread and butter line that most people will be buying is generally around $675-700. A $100 premium over Nicks.
That price difference is softened a bit due to sales. Unlike Nicks, which are only available directly through the company, White’s offers their product through a number of retailers. From the ever-present Bakers, to boutiques like Division Road and online powerhouses like Huckberry – more retailers mean more chances to find a deal. Assuming you’re OK with not getting your exact preferred make up, it isn’t hard to find a pair of White’s on sale if you can wait for one of the big sale holidays.
Nicks vs. White’s: Available Options
One of the key draws of a Pacific Northwest Boot is being able to get the details just right, and when comparing Nicks vs. White’s it’s worth flagging the different ways you can option the boots. As a heads up, if you want a more complete breakdown of options on a Pacific Northwest Boot, check out this article.
For Nicks, while they offer different models, most models almost entirely overlap once you get into options. It’s pretty easy to spec an Urban Logger to become similar to a Builder Pro, or an Americana into a Charley. It’s easier to think of Nicks’ options as autofilling most of the form and you go in and adjust a couple options to get your details. Last, toe shape, protection, height, outsole – it’s all in the cards.
The drawback, however, is to keep the production lines from becoming completely unworkable, Nicks limits the really wacky stuff. You typically won’t find crazy or hard to work with leathers, only off-the-shelf sole options are available. Etc.
White’s are a much more complicated brand. For almost every retailer, including White’s themselves, the ability to modify their boots is extremely limited. You might get to pick from a few leather choices, and if you’re lucky you get two different widths.
Here is where things get weird, a single retailer – Baker’s Boots – allows you to make two models – the Bounty Hunter (a 350 Cruiser) and the Military Police (MP) – in just about any configuration that you want. And I do mean just about anything. Height in 1-inch increments? Sure. 4 different panels of available for contrast uppers? Of course, why not make one Elk, Ostrich, or European Calf? While we’re at it, let’s pick the stitching color and how close we want the sole trimmed, too.
I’ve ordered both a Bounty Hunter and an MP from bakers using this and it’s almost anxiety inducing. Bakers also let’s you modify a few other make ups as well, though not quite to the same level as the Bounty Hunter and MP.
Nicks vs. White’s: Construction
When comparing Nicks vs. White’s, one thing that is never mentioned enough is the different styles of construction. While it harms them, I put this squarely on White’s confusing and their ever-changing naming structure.
Nicks’ boots are all made with a stitchdown style of construction – either 270 or 360 degree. Stitchdown construction is one of the most basic styles out there. The leather on the upper is flared out after being lasted and then stitched down directly to the mid- and outsole.
The younger brand also tends to use a more “overbuilt” style on everything they make. Everything 270 degrees is double stitched. Everything with a V100 gets screws, etc. For casual wear this might make them a bit too overbuilt, but it is good to know that no matter what you select, everything will be as good as it can be.
Once again, White’s is the one who get’s complicated here. Their main-line boots use what they call their “Handsewn Stitchdown Construction.” This type of construction is really cool, and White’s is one of the only companies in the world who make footwear this way.
The White’s style of construction involves handstitching a strip of leather, or “welt,” along the edge of the upper. This leather is then folded over, on top of the upper leather, and the entire stack is stitched to the mid- and outsole. This style of construction is a sort of blend between handwelting a goodyear welt and stitchdown construction. It’s incredibly durable but also extremely labor intensive. This extra labor is likely responsible for almost the entire $100 difference between the two main lines of boots.
You’ll find that different boots can also make modifications to this. Some boots use a single stitch construction. Some are 360 single and 270 double. White’s also has a few boots made in a more traditional, welt-less stitchdown construction. The C350 line are built more like the Nicks and priced identically.
In addition to the other two methods, White’s also has a goodyear welted line.
Nicks vs. White’s: Ordering / Availability
For anyone who is comparing Nicks vs. White’s, knowing exactly how, and how long it will take, to get your boots is going to be one of the top questions.
To get a new pair of Nicks, there is exactly one place to go: nicksboots.com.
From there you have a few different options. First, if you are OK with seconds and returns, you can take a look at their in-stock options. Nicks usually gets these out in a few days, and often includes free shipping. Next is quick ship boots – these are standard make up boots with limited customization options. At time of writing, these will take 8-12 weeks. Finally, getting a pair of fully customized boots from Nicks takes between 18-35 weeks.
There is no doubt that most of those dates are longer than you would like, but Nicks does a great job with the reality they face. Their website lists the exact times (updated weekly), and shows the order date of boots going into production this week. My personal experience is that Nicks is pretty accurate on their timing as well.
If you’re starting to notice a pattern, you’re right: White’s manages to be both faster and slower than Nicks.
The big thing that White’s has going for them is the amount of stock available. As I write this, both Huckberry and Division Road combined have more than 20 make ups available. There is a very high chance that you can find a make up you like in your size and have them on your feet in just a couple days. While not quite as good, White’s website also tries to keep standard make ups in stock as best they can.
However, on the other hand, if you do want custom, I hope you’re patient. The listed wait time at time of writing is 10 months – nearly double that of Nicks. I can also only speak from personal experience, but I’ve found that White’s almost always goes longer than quoted. It is quite possible you might be waiting over a year for a pair from time of ordering.
Another ding against White’s is, in my experience, they are not as responsive when giving updates. Instead providing a standard response to every request. In fact, on a pair I previously ordered, I received a generic “we are not sure when your boots will be going into production” email and then a couple hours later I got a shipping notice.
Nicks vs. White’s: Other Differences
For anyone who is considering these boots, there are a few other differences I wanted to flag, but didn’t fit above.
While it may not matter for some, one complaint I have heard about Nicks is the tongue. You can’t pick what it looks like – Nicks uses scrap leather. While your specific maker will pick a color that he feels looks good with your upper, and there are no durability concerns, some don’t like this contrast look. White’s uses matching leather for all their heritage boots (i.e. if you get waxed flesh on your upper, you’ll get a waxed flesh tongue).
In a surprise, since White’s seems to be the one with most of the weird options, Nicks is far more likely to offer collaborations with influencers you may like. The brand has collaborated with seemingly everyone, ranging from YouTube personalities, to other bootmaking brands like Parkhurst, and even had a collaboration run of boots made for toddlers. While White’s does occasionally do collabs as well, if you’re the type of person who wants one of these two brands but also wants to support part of the community, you’re likely going to find more options through Nicks.
Nicks vs. Whites: Which Should You Buy?
OK, down to the answer. Nicks vs. White’s. Which of these brands would I recommend for you? While there isn’t an answer that is correct for everyone, I think there are a few items that should push you one way or the other.
White’s has a lot of things going for them. They are among the best when it comes to almost every edge case. Need something right now? White’s can do that. Need something customized to a T? White’s can do that too. Want a really unique form of construction, or alternatively a type of construction any cobbler can resole in a couple hours? If you’re looking at these two brands, White’s is the only one who can do that.
However, covering these edge cases comes with real drawbacks. Having a lot of stock models available at all times means their custom-built models can get pushed to the back of the line. Since the average human lifespan is only 75 times longer than the wait time, there is a small but very real chance you’ll order a pair and die before you get them. It’s also impossible to ignore the cost difference at MSRP. If you don’t find a sale, you will be paying a good bit more for White’s over Nicks.
If White’s covers the edge cases, Nicks takes the middle ground. If you want a custom-made boot in a standard leather that can handle just about anything you throw at it, Nicks will be both faster and more affordable. These slimmed down options also means that they can provide a bit more in the way of customer service. If this is your first pair of well-built boots that you’re specing out and waiting for, having that extra bit of hand holding isn’t a bad thing.
As for drawbacks, it’s impossible to deny that you’re still going to be waiting a long time for your boots. Giving up the ability to modify construction method and really tailor in your boots to exactly what you’re looking for might leave some to think they compromised more than they wanted to. Not a great feeling on something you just spent $600 or more on.
At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with either option. Both brands will provide you with a quality boot capable of anything you throw at it. It’s great that us as buyers get the opportunity to pick.