Growing up, icons such as John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Paul Newman were identifiers of machoism and stoicism to the umpteenth degree. Often they played the role of a cowboy seeking justice amidst the rugged landscape of the wild west.
The image I remember idolizing so much in my youth was a man with a rough-shaven face, who wore a wide-brimmed Stetson that shadowed his face and who adorned a muddied but beautifully embroidered pair of cowboy boots.
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What Are Cowboy Boots?
Cowboy boots are much more than what meets the eye. It would be hard to argue that they are some simplistic form of footwear. Since their origin, cowboy boots have remained an iconic accessory for both work and fashion.
Cowboy boots likely originated in the American mid and far west desert plains over one hundred and fifty years ago. Although it is difficult to ascertain which craftsman is most deserving of credit for the original cowboy boot, it is largely agreed upon that the vaquero-style boot brought to the Americas from Spain inspired its design.
Made famous by the Hollywood cowboys of old, the cowboy boot served a practical function, and its construction was critical because it needed to withstand the rough and tough abuse of a cattle farmer or horse rider.
Each element of the cowboy boot serves a specific purpose. First, cowboy boots have a tall shaft to protect the rider’s lower leg from snakes, barbed wire, stirrups, or other terrain or work-related nemeses.
Perhaps one of the most monumental features of the cowboy boot is its pointed or rounded tope designed to help the rider’s foot get into the stirrup.
Interestingly enough, every aspect in the design of the cowboy boot serves a purpose, even down to the stitching. The stitching prevents the leather from bending and holds a firm shape around one’s legs instead of sagging or folding over.
And while you will never see a pair of cowboy boots with laces, this footwear will typically be made from cowhide leather. You may be happy to know that the fashion industry offers more elaborate finishes made from exotic animal hides such as ostrich, alligator, snake, or buffalo leather.
Some form or fashion of equestrian boot has been around for hundreds of years. However, over time, different countries began to revolutionalize their particular style and design features.
Factors that Affect Cowboy Boot Pricing
In North America, the classic cowboy boot may be found shiny and polished inside one’s closet or muddied and battered on someone else’s front porch. Nevertheless, the cowboy boot is an essential piece of the typical worker’s outfit and a statement for the fashion mogul.
Companies manufacture cowboy boots in large quantities now, and styles and embroidery options are unlimited thanks to advanced sewing machines and a wide variety of materials available. Though this is true, you will still want to head to Texas or Kansas for a master-crafted and long-lasting cowboy boot that is reminiscent of the timeless appeal of the old.
Whether you want to hit the red carpet in style, make a fashion statement at your senior prom, or need a rugged pair of footwear for cattle-herding and farming, some factors that affect the price include:
Cowboy boots typically use cowhide in their construction because it is more easily accessible and relatively easy to work. As far as the consumer is concerned, these boots will usually be more affordable.
Cowboy boots made from exotic leather, on the other hand, will naturally be more expensive. Not only are the materials more difficult to procure, but the manufacturing process requires much more meticulous handwork to produce a quality product.
High-end cowboy boots use exotic leathers such as goat, ostrich, snake, lizard, crocodile, buffalo, and elephant. However, if you seek durability, you can’t go wrong with a pair of traditional cowhide cowboy boots, which you can even have printed to mimic the more luxurious patterns of more exotic sources.
The price tag affiliated with a specific pair of cowboy boots will also depend on brand popularity. However, expect to pay between fifty and several hundred dollars for a pair of boots.
Below, we will venture further into some of the available brands of cowboy boots that you may come across when conducting a basic online search. At the same time, I will mention the respective price points that go along with each brand.
As you shop for footwear, there may be some slight variation in price depending on the size of the shoe. You will likely see a more significant price difference when shopping for a good pair of cowboy boots.
The iconic tall-shaft structure and style typical of a cowboy boot require specific detail and attention. So, larger-sized cowboy boots need more leather or animal skin, more stitching, and more labor.
Regardless of how you intend to use your cowboy boot, they need to be comfortable. I imagine the gunslingers of the past would not care much for all the flash and pizzazz; however, cowboy boot manufacturers now offer an unlimited selection of patterns and designs, including custom-made orders.
Manufacturers in Asia typically use leather or a faux material to produce large quantities of machine-made cowboy boots. Although these boots may be cheaper and mass-produced, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are all bad.
A cowboy boot made in Europe will typically have a higher price tag because most are entirely handmade. On the other hand, boots made in America may sometimes employ a mix of machine and manual labor during production.
An experienced shoe cobbler is in high demand for those genuinely searching for a pair of cowboy boots with priceless craftsmanship. As a rule of thumb, “construction time is about 40 hours but can range from 12 hours [to] hundreds of hours.”
One of the most recognizable features of a cowboy boot will be its decorations. A pair of cowboy boots may embellish decorations that are driven by one’s culture, tradition, region, and more.
You may special request unique embroidery patterns and designs from your manufacturer of choice; however, remember that there will generally be three elements that will identify the maker of your boots regardless of the number of decorative elements.
The tongue shape, toe stitching (also known as the medallion), and the cording pattern at the ball and toe are all signature features that a cowboy boot manufacturer prides itself on.
Popular Brands of Cowboy Boots
According to one list, I discovered there is no shortage of cowboy boot manufacturers; it mentioned 53 companies. When it comes to cowboy boots, some pocket-friendly brands include:
Ariat is the “first to integrate athletic footwear technology into boots for equestrian athletes.” Their award-winning performance footwear products include boots for any occasion.
For a standard size men’s or women’s western cowboy boot, expect to pay between $92 and $264.
If you work in an industry that requires safety boots with either a composite or steel-toe for maximum protection, you may want to check out the Wolverine boot company.
As a relatively budget-friendly option, you will not pay more than $180 for any of their boots, regardless of their build or purpose.
Although having been around for just over twenty years, Soto boots pride themselves on offering quality handmade boots to their customers at affordable prices.
A pair of classic cowboy boots with the Soto brand is now on sale for $114. You will be happy to know that for $149, you could even have a pair of exotic Soto’s in your closet made from Python, Ostrich, Gator tail, or even Caiman.
If you are looking for a quality brand that has some time and experience behind its name, you may want to consider:
The Justin boot company is over 140 years old. Founder Herman Joseph Justin found his inspiration in the poor-quality footwear that cattlemen were wearing back in the late 1800s.
At fourteen years old, Salvatore Lucchese immigrated from Sicily to Texas with his brother. Within one year, the brothers set up a bootmaking shop at a Calvalry school in San Antonio using the skills learned by their father, a master shoemaker.
With prices starting at $395 for a cowboy boot, the quality and craftsmanship of these elegant boots will not disappoint. Lucchese cowboy boots boast unrivaled quality, fit, comfort and style. “In virtually every step of our bootmaking process, we rely on human hands to complete centuries-old tasks to perfection.”
The Lucchese cowboy boot portfolio includes materials from African Exotics (such as Buffalo, Mad Dog Goat, and more), alligator, Caiman, crocodile, exotic fish (like shark and Pirarucu), lizard, ostrich, Lonestar calf, and suede.
If you wish to indulge in their more exotic class of materials, you can pay as much as $14,995 for a pair of all-American Alligator cowboy boots with a standard twelve-inch shaft.
Olathe has been part of the cowboy boot tradition since 1875. The founder of this prestigious American footwear company quickly became a name to cherish after meeting the challenge of a new design wanted by a nameless lone cowboy.
According to legend, this cowboy’s request entailed a new cowboy boot style, which included “a pointed toe, raised heel, and a scalloped top.” These key features are classic to the Olathe cowboy boot design.
These All-American boots will range between $250 and $420 typically.
Cowboy boots are undoubtedly a piece of American history that is still cherished today by people worldwide. So if you want to complement your outfit with an elegant pair of boots or need the ruggedness of an excellent old-fashioned western, the choices are endless.
You can begin your search through one of the cowboy boot manufacturers provided in this article. The price range is vast, but if you want to start your cowboy boot collection, a standard cowhide material pair of boots will typically cost between $100 and $300.
Would you please share your pictures and comment on your favorite cowboy boot below?