In college, I worked for a boutique owned by a Swedish-French woman. She was in her 60s and she was fabulous — her bobbed hair was always perfect, her shoes sensible yet stylish, and her color palette all in sophisticated neutrals. She taught me to appreciate timeless style and introduced me to the genius of European design.
Vagabond’s Blanca boots make me think of her.
Vagabond Blanca Pros and Cons
Here’s the lowdown up top so you can know all the need-t0-know information right now. Just in case you’ve got somewhere to be.
- Super stylish
- Modern design
- Comfortable for walking and biking
- Soft, sustainable LWG-certified leather
- Not resoleable
- Runs small
How Vagabond Makes The Blanca Boot
Vagabond was founded in Sweden in the 1970s, and they’ve been honing the craft of making footwear since the ’80s. The brand originally designed shoes exclusively for men, but then they decided to expand into unisex shoes and revolutionized the Scandinavian shoe market.
Yes, revolutionized! This was in the ‘90s when pop culture and style really began to embrace the idea of unisex or non-gendered style.
From the start, Vagabond’s mission has been to honor the craft of shoemaking to deliver a product for the fashion- and quality-driven consumer. Designed in Sweden and made in Vietnam, Vagabond’s styles are made with transparency and sustainability in mind. The brand works to reduce material and water waste and takes extra steps to source environmentally-friendly materials. They share a list of factories they work with and aim to create timeless, wearable designs that are made to last.
Vagabond’s unique designs are based on custom lasts that the brand uses to create distinctly European designs in a multitude of different styles. The Blanca is a series of footwear models from Vagabond: it also comes in a tall leather boot, another short boot style, shoes, and a loafer. Oh, and there’s this amazing stretchy mid-calf Blanca boot, too.
The Blanca Ankle Boot
The Blanca design features slim, elegant lines, a flared heel, and an ultra-modern square toe. They have a stylish seam down the center of the boot that may not be functional, but it absolutely adds flair. (It also means the brand can use more pieces of leather, which helps save money.)
I love the soft, flexible leather and appreciate the low-profile inner zipper closure.
These Blanca boots have just over a 7” tall shaft that hits perfectly above the ankle bone. The 1 ¾” flared heel has enough height to elevate an outfit without making the shoe feel wobbly or uncomfortably tall, particularly as it flares to make for an unusually wide base.
Vagabond Blanca Sizing and Fit
- Order a half size larger than your usual size
A lot of the reviews on Vagabond’s website said the Blanca boots are too narrow and run small—and I partially agree. I ordered my normal size 8 in the Blanca and they fit mostly true to size. The square toe box is slightly too short, which forces me to wear thinner socks and keep my toenails nicely trimmed when I want to wear these boots!
Some may say this is just the delusion of someone who’s willing to sacrifice comfort for fashion, but I personally don’t find them to be so short that they’re actually uncomfortable to walk around in.
Are Vagabond’s Blanca boots too narrow? I haven’t found this to be an issue. I do not have wide feet, so while the design is definitely on the slim side, it doesn’t feel uncomfortable for me.
The ankle shaft is fitted but flexible, and I love how sophisticated the slim silhouette looks. That being said, if you do have wide feet or just want a little more space for comfort, I’d encourage you to go ahead and order a size up.
The best thing about Vagabond’s Blanca boot is that they took virtually zero time to break in. The flexible leather and soft lining hug my foot in a way that eliminates any chance of rubbing or blistering. The sole is cushioned perfectly, without adding any bulk to the shoe. The angled heel is just the right height for everyday wear, and it feels shock-absorbing to boot!
Seriously, the first time I wore these boots I immediately felt comfortable and supported as I walked around Sacramento. I even took a long bike ride in my Blanca boots on the second wear, and they were perfectly comfortable the whole time!
Vagabond Blanca Leather
As I mentioned, the Blanca boot’s buttery soft leather contributes a lot to their comfort and fit. The elegant, slim design just wouldn’t work as well in something thicker, which is all to say that Vagabond did a good job when they picked their materials.
I absolutely love the minimalist sophistication of the taupe-ish “lark” colorway — unfortunately, it’s very hard to find now and you may need to settle for the black leather in this style. I was lucky to be able to get my hands on it before it sold out!
Now Vagabond sells the Blanca boot in a rich brown leather and of course classic black. Each colorway is made from Portuguese leather that’s sanded down (or “corrected”) to achieve its smooth texture while still retaining the material’s supple softness and durability.
Vagabond does recommend occasionally treating the Blanca boots with shoe cream and a weather-protective spray to protect the leather and extend the life of your boots.
[Further reading: The 5 Best Leather Conditioners for Boots]
Why Vagabond’s Leather Is Sustainable
Vagabond sources their leathers from Leather Working Group (LWG) certified manufacturers. These manufacturers have been vetted and certified for various programs they’ve implemented to achieve more efficient energy usage and wastewater treatment.
Why does it matter that Vagabond is LWG certified? As a consumer, this tells me that my shoes weren’t made in a factory that’s responsible for egregious pollution or poisoning of waterways. Overall, looking for brands that source from LWG manufacturers ensures a more sustainable tanning and leather working process that’s better for both workers and the planet. That’s a win in my book! (Especially when you read about the diseases and harm caused by badly regulated chrome tanneries.)
In addition to working with the LWG, Vagabond sources natural or vegetable-tanned leathers wherever possible. In particular, they prefer chrome-free leather for the insoles and linings of their shoes because it is gentler on the wearer’s skin. The leather for the Blanca boot’s insoles is chrome-free tanned goat leather from Pakistan.
Vagabond Blanca Sole and Construction
In addition to sourcing more sustainable leather, Vagabond also works with sustainable non-leather materials to make their shoe linings. The Blanca boots are lined with a 100% Tencel textile.
What is Tencel? Tencel is a plant-based fiber made from sustainably sourced tree pulp that uses only a fraction of the amount of water required to make cotton fabrics. Tencel is made through a sustainable process that reduces waste and recycles chemical inputs indefinitely. It also makes for an incredibly soft and comfortable textile lining! Check out our video on Tencel below.
The upper of Vagabond’s Blanca boots is connected to the sole with glue, so they aren’t as watertight as a shoe made with Goodyear welt construction would be. As the Blanca boots are more for fashion than function, however, I appreciate that they’ve kept the sole construction as slim and simple as possible. It’s also worth noting that “cemented” boots like these are lighter and more flexible than welted boots, which many women prefer.
The stacked heel and rubber sole both add to the cush and comfort of the Blanca boots. Overall they seem sturdy and well-made, and they’ve held up over hours of walking and bicycling in this year’s very wet California spring season.
Vagabond Blanca Price
Vagabond’s Blanca boots come in at $200, which is just a bit higher than your average fashion bootie.
I suspect the extra cost goes into the LWG-certified leathers and of course that impeccable Scandinavian design.
Ultimately, I’d say the Blancas are worth it based on the pure timelessness and versatility of the design. I’ve already worn mine multiple times over two seasons, and I’m sure to get many more wears out of them in years to come.
Overall, I think Vagabond made the Blancas an incredibly wearable boot. They balance comfort and style perfectly and go well with denim, cozy neutrals, and more colorful spring dresses. Vagabond’s Blanca boots are sophisticated and stylish without trying too hard — truly showing off the genius of European design.