I get e-mail all the time, askin’ me which bootmaker I recommend. …”That depends,” is my usual answer. Choosing a bootmaker is a very personal decision. What you have to do … is first think a bit about your boot design, then weigh out the relative importance of what I call the four “P’s” of choosing a bootmaker: pattern, price, proximity, and (yer own) patience.
What kind of boots do you have in mind? Each bootmaker has their own areas of professional expertise. Some bootmakers are known for their intricate inlay work, or their innovative use of materials..others put together rough ‘n’ tough workin’ boots. Ask a bootmaker if they could send you some photos of the type of boot you’re interested in, (or maybe they even have a web page).
How much are you willing to spend? Bootmakers calculate their prices according to the amount of time and kind of materials required to complete a boot. Exotic materials (like ostrich, and alligator) are expensive and often only a portion of a hide is useful for bootmaking. Inlays are costly because of the time it takes to design the patterns, and then cut, skive and stitch the leather.
It’s true, there are more custom bootmakers in Texas than anywhere else, but there are custom bootmakers all over the United States, and even some worldwide. Check the bootmaker list on this site to find one near you. Are you willing to travel to get fitted? Sure, many bootmakers will send you a measuring kit through the mail, but a lot of the fun is visiting a bootmaker in person. In person, the bootmaker can measure your feet, find out what you like and don’t like about the boots you’re currently wearing. Also, you get the chance to poke through leather samples, and see example of the bootmaker’s work (most often this includes the sizable stack of photo albums that remain in the shop).
One thing I can recommend is to sign up for Southwest Airlines”Click ‘n Save Internet Specials”. In addition to their low fares, Southwest gives you one free trip for every 4 you take, if you order the tickets online. Just be sure when you book your first trip that you go slowly: don’t miss the screen with the “Enroll now!” option for their Rapid Rewards Program.
Some bootmakers may make you wait as little as three months, while others may have a waiting list up to two and a half years. How long are you willing to wait for your first pair?
You’re the only one who can choose a bootmaker who’ll meet your needs…and it’ll be the fit and the working relationship you develop with your bootmaker that’ll bring you back for a second pair. I wish you the best-o-luck with your new boots…be sure to stop back in here and tell us all about ’em on the Guestboot page.