Fabiano Boots or Cement Overshoes?

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During the winter of 1974, SD retail suffered a setback when The North Face took over U.S, distribution of Lowa boots which had been our top selling boot line but would now to be featured in all TNF stores.

Come March and we hadn’t found a replacement line so when Paul Kramer, Frank Gretch and myself headed to the WWSRA rep show at the SF airport Hilton we did so with one mission- to find a new boot line.

Each of us worked the show on our own agreeing to meet at day’s end and discuss various boot lines and hopefully make a choice and place an order the next day.

We met for a beer and as it turned out all three of us had picked the same line-Fabiano, a line we knew prior to the show only for their telemark ski boot which was way ahead of the curve when it came to stiffness and support. The hiking boots looked good but would they sell?

As to the brand, we soon learned that the South Boston, Mass based company was owned an operated by Edward (Eddie) Fabiano. He came from a long line of Italian shoe and boot makers and his current product line was made in Italy. Assisting Eddie was Nunzio Canizo who, when I would later try my schoolboy Italian on him would say: “Bobby, you make me laugh at the way you speak ‘La Bella Lingua’ (the beautiful language).”

We started small with Fabiano concentrating on a one boot model-the Ria, which we deemed perfect for users wanting a boot they could both hike and backpack in comfortably.

Our first five months with Fabiano, Ria sales doubled every month. And they kept growing to the point that within a year, SD was Fabiano’s number one U.S. dealer. We were happy, Eddie was happy Nunzio was happy.

And then the roof fell in. Not for SD or Fabiano but for me. And it came about after I’d left SD to become a freelance writer. And at the heart of the matter was a not-too-complimentary review I’d written about a Fabiano cross-country ski boot in a ski magazine.

In that review I questioned the boots durability as they were nowhere, in my opinion, of the same quality that Fabiano had become famous for.

I’d forgotten the review entirely when I strolled into the Fabiano booth at the 1976 SIA show in Las Vegas. There I was greeted by a grim-faced Nunzio Canizo. “Bobby,” he said quietly, “Eddie is very angry with what you and what you wrote.”

Then Eddie appeared, He started screaming that I was a “traitor”, a “liar” and more. He picked up boots from his display and threw them at me. He put his face up against my chest and howled at me.

A crowd gathered around the booth as the rampage continued. And then, Eddie paused. He took a deep breath, grabbed me by both shoulders, gave me a kiss of each cheek and said loudly, “I love you Bobby, You’re like family. Now get outta here.”

Photo of Eddie lifted from here.

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Comments

MICHAEL T MCDOWELL (not verified)
I still own my Fabiano Hiking
I still own my Fabiano Hiking Boots which were purchased in 1977 in Massachusetts from, I believe, Eastern Mountain Sports in preparation for my trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. I was awarded the trip after earning the rank of Eagle Scout in Troop 1, West Groton Ma. I would love to speak to someone to determine more information about these boots. Michael McDowell mcdowellusn@gmail.com (315) 378-2601
Jon Hill (not verified)
My Fabianos have been to the
My Fabianos have been to the top of countless peaks, mountains and volcanos. An absolutely indescribable boot that never got wet once.
Joan French (not verified)
I had a backpacking shop, The
I had a backpacking shop, The North Slope, in Cambridge, MA. Started it in 1975. Because I personally owned Fabiano boots, I went to South Station where Fabiano was. Talked with Nunzio and convinced him to allow my store to sell their boots. Nunzio was a character and darkly warned me never to have a sale on their boots or he would stop providing them. My store sold a lot of boots. Eventually moved to Maine after our first child. Those were fun times.
Joan French (not verified)
In 1975 I started a
In 1975 I started a backpacking store, The North Slope, in Cambridge, MA. I personally owned a pair of Fabiano boots. So I went to South Station in Boston where Fabiano was located. I talked with Nunzio and convinced him to let the store sell Fabiano boots. Nunzio darkly warned me never to have a sale on the boots or he would never provide them again. We eventually moved to Maine after our first child. Sold a lot of boots. Those were fun times.
James F Conley (not verified)
Great story! I have always
Great story! I have always hiked with the Ria and have had a couple pair plus Scarpas which they also sold in their store. Taken care of outside (and inside) quality full leather hikers last a very long time! They become so comfortable you hate to take them off at the end of the day. So, I've visited Fabiano's a few times. I remember it in East Boston. South Boston was predominantly Irish and back in the 70's there were clear lines in the sand!!
Julia Borgstrom (not verified)
I just bought some brown
I just bought some brown suede Fabianos Hiking boots on ebay. They are NOS!! I think they will become comfortable, I plan to break them in slowly as they have never been worn. They were 65US$. They replace my Vasques "Skywalk 7525 ?" bought new in 89.
Paul (not verified)
I have an interesting
I have an interesting perspective concerning Fabiano Shoe Company and Eddie Fabiano. As a kid in the late 60’s I sold newspapers at South Station and Eddie had a store there. He used to let me keep our money in his stockroom so that we could pay the Globe and Record American on Friday for the papers we purchased from them during the week. His Mom used to work at the store and I bought several pairs of work shoes from him during my 4 years selling newspapers. Eddie was a great guy.
Ralph Swanson (not verified)
My father bought me a pair of
My father bought me a pair of Fabiano Nicoles around 1977 at Eastern Mountain Sports in Boston. Hiked many, many miles in NH with them. Resoled once. A tremendous boot. Unfortunately, they are now a bit small. Later, I bought a pair of Fabiano Eduardos to finish the NH 4k footers. I've now handed down the Nicoles to my daughter. To me, they are the best boots ever made.
William Bell (not verified)
I bought the same boots in
I bought the same boots in July of 1977 with a pair of crampons for a Winter trip to the Adirondacks and Mount Washington in New Hampshire. I was 22 years old. I used my first paycheck from the Philadelphia PD to pay for them. I think I paid $100.00 for the boots and $85.00 for the crampons. Forty five years later, I still have the same boots. They were difficult to break in but once they broke in they formed to my foot. Only complaint is one of the D rings pulled out from the leather and needs to be repaired.
bob riggs (not verified)
I bought my 1 and only pair
I bought my 1 and only pair of Fabiano model 772's in 1974. I wore them for over 30 years, a lot. I wore them in summer and in winter. I hiked in them, climbed in them, and skied in them. I never managed to wear them out. Eventually my feet outgrew the boot, so I (reluctantly) gave them away. These days I settle for a pair of Scarpa Kinesis GTX, a good boot, but not nearly in the same class with the old Fabiano 772. Wish the Fabianos were still made! Anybody got a pair of size 10m you want to part with? I wish they still made these boots. If they did I'd buy another pairg

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Story Copyright
03/21/18