We’ve been having a stop-starting, on-going conversation over in Random Fashion Thoughts about vaguely Western style zip boots and their merits. If you haven’t been paying attention, the root of this discussion is that a now-forgotten poster asked where he could find some boots that look like Nonnative’s “Rancher” boot, which sold out pretty quickly in most places, and is hard to find in larger sizes. They look like this:
As you can see, they’re undeniably awesome. That’s my pair – I wear them all the time, but then again, I live in Colorado, love suede, and hate laces. This pair, which a year and a half later I still wear almost ever day – ticks off the “vaguely Western” box without making me look like one of those guys who probably wears a cell phone clipped to his belt. They’re manufactured for Nonnative by Officine Creative, which is a respectable Italian boot- and shoe-making brand that does a lot of interesting footwear that’s kind of like lightweight, fashion-y workwear, most of it Blake-rapid stitched. This pair is modeled on a roper boot, but with a narrower, zipped shaft and a slightly higher heel. This, along with the narrower last, makes them much more elegant than your standard pull-on workboot.
If you’re looking for an actual Western boot, there are plenty of companies that make exactly that – but good luck finding a pair that looks good with your tapered denim and slouchy topcoat. No, most often you’ll see boots that are perfect for Harley guys in stonewashed denim, and since you’re reading Styleforum I doubt that’s you. Although what do I know? You could be a
Of course, Nonnative isn’t the only brand to make shoes like these, but it remains surprisingly hard to find a great pair of Western style zip boots. Hedi Slimane played with the idea during his time at Saint Laurent, sending harness boots, jodhpurs, and pointy-toed monstrosities down the runway along with his skin-tight thrift store come-ups. The thing is, most of them looked just about as affected as you’d expect – although I do think some of the plainer models have been pretty successful. More recently, Vêtements worked with Lucchese, a Texan-by-way-of-Italy bootmaker, to put out some custom men’s and women’s pieces.
I happen to find these weirdly attractive. I do want to reiterate, however, that it’s possible I’ve been primed to think that based on a lifetime of exposure to black cowboy boots worn with light blue jeans, and that all I really need is someone to shake me firmly and say “No.”
On the other hand, I enjoy occasionally nurturing my Western obsession, so let’s get back to boots you can find that will scratch that itch. You can certainly try your hand at snatching up Nonnative boots (which are occasionally available on Rakuten, as well as through Coverchord – as of writing the latter has both brown and black suede in stock in sizes 40-42), but you may have trouble finding anything in stock larger than a size 42.
Now, the name on everyone’s lips these days – well, in Streetwear and Denim at least – is Lucchese. Reason being, in addition to a lot of ridiculous cowboy boots and Vêtements collaborations, one boot in particular has captured the hearts of my fellow streetwear nerds: the Jonah. Why? Because it’s like a roper, but with a narrower zipped shaft. If that sounds like what you’re after, join. I find boots like this incredibly wearable, and even if just about all I ever wear is denim (black or blue, both’ll work), a slim trouser would look great with them as well. I’m of the opinion that boots such as these work pretty well with just about any outfit. It’s easy to wear them with a sharp coat, a leather jacket, or just a heavy knit:
Now, Lucchese, while being a large and well-known bootmaker, is no longer the top-quality manufacturer they once were – at least when dealing with off-the-rack boots (I’ve no experience with their custom process). The Jonah retails at 795$, which is almost twice as much as smaller, more renowned Texan bootmakers – although they’re still a step up from makers like Frye. However, it’s not likely that you’ll find something that looks like a Jonah at these other shops, and I’ve only been able to find a few stockists of these boots. Your first option is to order from Lucchese directly, otherwise you can try Cowboy Chief (a devoted western supply store) or Snake Oil Provisions, the latter being a pretty cool store that stocks, in addition to some pretty cool SF-approved brands like 3Sixteen, Alden, The Flat Head, and up-and-coming cool-cat brand Nine Lives.
If they’re not quite your cuppa, you’re not totally out of luck. Here are a couple more styles for your consideration:
Unused makes a very similar pair, but your chances of finding a pair are even slimmer than getting a pair of Nonnative boots through Coverchord. There’s one size left at Haven, and with some good Google-work you may be able to proxy a pair from Japan through Zenmarket.
Margiela often releases western style zip boots, such as these current season campus boots that you can buy at SSENSE:
You can also go to Buttero, an Italian company whose name actually means “cowboy.” However, they currently have nothing in stock that meets all the criteria (tall shaft, plain toe, side-zip entry), so the image slot has to be left empty for now. It’s worth it to browse eBay and Rakuten for Buttero boots, in case something tickles your fancy.
And speaking of Frye, these short zip boots aren’t quite the same, but they are undeniably western in character:
Anyway, if none of that is Western enough for you, and you really want to feel like a cowboy, take your business to Heritage Boot Co. in Austin, Texas, and get yourself a pair of badass, hand-made cowboy boots. They start at around $420, which is insane – so insane that I’m considering it, which should tell you something about how far down this rabbit hole I’ve fallen.
No zippers on those, though, so I guess they don’t count.