WHY VINTAGE BOOTS MAY RUIN YOU FOR ANY OTHERS. AND WHY YOU’LL BE GLAD THEY DID.
Saunter down memory lane. Back when drive-in movies were a thrill, love was the answer, King had a dream, and rock n roll was the most dangerous thing around. We landed on the moon, thought James Dean hung it, and believed in happily ever. Cars and boots were made in America, jobs were forever, and friendships were face to face, not facebook.
Can’t turn back the clock, but in vintage boots, you’ll feel like you did. With every step, they connect you to the past and the spirit of the wild West – something not found at Boot Barn or Zappos. In a world where cowboy boots are mass produced in overseas factories of substandard leather and glued soles, the romance of boots hand crafted in America and made to last for generations is a love affair for the ages.
Extraordinary starts with the bones of a boot
“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone”- Dorothy Parker
With vintage boots, beauty is only skin deep, but quality goes clean to the bones. They may ruin you for any other boots. Unlike modern boots, vintage boots are all leather – shafts, lining, vamps, piping, insoles, soles and heels. Back in the day, the vamps were built of layers of good leather – not like modern boots, which are often built with bonded leather, sawdust and cardboard. Vintage boots were completely lined in good leather, and even the piping was leather – not man made materials like you’ll often find in modern boots.
Vintage boot soles were crafted from leather that was soaked, then cut to fit the boot, hand stitched and pegged with rows of pegs cut from lemon wood. The more rows of pegs, the bigger the braggin rights. The lemon wood pegs were soaked as well before being pounded into the wet soles. When the pegs dried, they expanded – making the soles that much more firmly attached to the boot. Soles that make that sound when you walk. Powerful. Manly. Like you’re packing heat and headed out for a shootout at high noon. Most boot soles today are glued to the boots, and if they’re stitched, its done by a machine in a factory overseas. No echoes of the past when you walk in those boots.
The leather used in vintage boots is a far cry from today’s China-made boots. Tanning processes have changed and some hides are no longer available, resulting in a leather that is not as fine or durable in most modern boots. And cost effectiveness dictates the quality of the materials used. With enough conditioning and wear, modern boots will become comfortable enough.
But vintage boots? The Lamborghini of leather. Softer than your best old faded jeans. Tougher than your mother-in-law on a tear. So supple that you could just about wear ’em barefoot – or to bed. Fine old leather not only cossets your feet, but it takes on a wonderful patina after years of wear- lushly marbled, the dye colors richer and deeper and varied.
Bye, bye Miss American Pie. There are no cowboys in China
Today’s boots are mostly made in Chinese factories by workers who don’t speak cowboy or the wild West culture. And it shows. Unless you’re willing to shell out ungodly amounts of money on custom handmade boots, you just won’t find the same craftsmanship or longevity in any of today’s boots.
Which of your China-made boots will your kids brawl over once you’re gone?
Bootmaker, cobbler, boot god. With a needle, thread and some leather, they were connected to generations of artisans and a way of life that valued craftsmanship, tradition, and pride in their work. One craftsman would build a pair of boots from start to finish – cutting, dyeing, stitching – in little shops in Texas that smelled of leather, wax and polish. Customers’ information was handwritten in leather-bound ledger books. Like any work of art, the making of a fine pair of boots took lots of conversation and visits, and months to complete.
Your vintage boot collection is the only hand-me-down that you’d better put in the will.
Vintage boots honor the generations of craftsmen who kept the cowboys riding the range, the cowgirls doing it better, and the West a little wilder. They remind us of how things used to be made and how they still should. They come with a thousand stories. Isn’t it time you added your own?