On Western Style Zip Boots

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.


What to Wear When It’s Sunny and Cold

What to wear when it's sunny and cold
It can be tough to know what to wear when it’s sunny and cold. Too many layers, and you’ll end up sweaty and then freezing. Too few, and you might as well spend the whole day inside. Since sunny winter days are best spent in the great outdoors (or at least out of the house), let’s go over an outfit that will keep you happy no matter what you’re up to.

First, you don’t want anything to be too tight. That kills your insulation, and you end up, well, sweaty and freezing. In this case, that slouchy streetwear look has a temperature-regulating benefit. So the outerwear – this beautiful cracked pepper slouch coat from De Bonne Facture – isn’t too heavy, which means that even if you pop into a coffee shop you don’t instantly overheat. Most of the warmth comes from a hefty rollneck, and cream is a great choice for wintry days when the sun’s out.

Since we’re going for a look that’s light but still tailored, we’ve opted for slim trousers from Styleforum favorite Blue Blue Japan as opposed to denim. The rich indigo hues are more compelling than a faded blue when worn with sharper clothing, and let’s face it – they’ll be more comfortable than your heavy jeans. On the feet, a leather sneaker with a robust sole will keep your feet happy while you’re moving around, and the details on this pair from Lanvin will keep you from looking like a slob when you’re too lazy to wear lace-up boots.

Finally, don’t forget the details.  We’re big fans of oversized scarves that can be wrapped around the neck or draped over the shoulders, like this beauty from Suzusan. Cashmere-lined gloves offer a good compromise between weight and warmth, and are perfectly suited for days when you don’t have to do any shoveling. Finally, the winter is no time to ignore protective eyewear, and Dries van Noten’s ongoing collaborations with Linda Farrow are stylish and versatile.

To top it all off, try a winter scent that’s as bright and chilly as the weather. De Bachmakov, from The Different Company, smells of snowmelt, icy streams, and frozen sunlight; cedar, coriander, and white freesia combine to form a foundation that’s rich, compelling, and perfect for a sunny winter’s day. You’ll look great, you’ll smell great, and you’ll be ready to spend the day enjoying all the sunlight you can.

1. De Bonnie Facture slouch coat from Unionmade

2. Turtleneck from Maison Margiela

3. Blue Blue Japan trousers from Matches Fashion

4. Lanvin cap-toe sneakers from Browns

5. Suzusan stole from No Man Walks Alone

6. Tod’s cashmere-lined gloves from Mr. Porter

7. Dries van Noten sunglasses from Oki-Ni

8. De Bachmakov perfume from Luckyscent

The Myth of Clothing as Self-Expression

This article was originally published at The-Rosenrot.com on September 8.

When I was younger I used to think that displaying one’s tastes externally was cool, despite knowing that deep down inside I risked being uncool by wanting to be cool. However the compulsion was strong. I wore my Tool shirt with much pride, paired with the skinniest of jeans and the most hardcore of Harley Davidson boots. Ideally they should destroy someone’s naked toes if I step on them. While my outlook remained the same, my interest gradually switched to fashion. I made sure people know of my hobby, which in itself is probably not a bad thing because every human craves for validation. But I was also secretly judging people for being unadventurous with their clothing choices. Instead of letting people be who they want to be, or wear whatever pleases them, I’d instinctively be tut-tutting their choice of clothing silently (she’s wearing t-shirt and shorts with her birkin?!). I was an awful, despicable snob.

I was reminded of my old self because recently someone I spoke to complained of a girl who chided his preference for J. Crew. Her exact word was ‘GROSS’, before going off on a rant about how clothing is a way to express one’s personality. To choose nondescript clothing labels to wear was a sign of a lack of it.

Her words echo this popular notion that fashion is a form a self-expression, that it is a genuine way of showcasing our inner self. I say it’s utter nonsense.

Dress is an important dimension in the articulation of personal identity, but not in the sense of voluntarism, whereby one’s choice of dress is freely-willed, expressive and creative. On the contrary, this ‘personal identity’ is managed through dress in rather boring ways because societal pressures encourage us to stay within the bounds of what is defined as a ‘normal’ body and ‘appropriate’ dress. Too much attention has been given to self-expression and individuality, while ignoring the implicit constraints that we face every day (Enwistle, 2001, available here and here). In fact, we often make sartorial decisions based on practicality, whom to impress, whom not to offend, which fashion tribe to align to, what our heroes are wearing, and how we want the world to perceive us. There’s also budgetary, class and social constraints that we have to adhere to. If fashion was truly a form of carefree self-expression, many of us would choose to be naked, and men would not feel insecure about their fragile masculinity when confronted with feminine clothing. The external pressure to dress a certain way is most evident in the realm of fashion blogging and street style, whereby the need to be recognized or conform to certain aesthetics (Southern prep anyone? Or the cool kids of Vêtements?) often trumps other hidden desires. Even yours truly still falls prey to that. I know I love the clothes that I wear, but I’m also aware of the external influences of the zeitgeist, which is why my favorite shoes currently are my Rafdidas.

There are several reasons for one to feel the need to express their identity and these mainly revolve around issues of social status, economic class, gender, sexual orientation, age, race, ethnicity, religious condition, recreation and individualism. With the creative use of fashion, individuals are able to either confirm or subvert several of these facets about their identities, consequently transmitting culturally coded, visual messages about themselves. This personal identity that is often tied into fashion is a created self that has to be crafted through social interactions. While one can argue that we internalise these influences to make them a part of our existence, there are still plenty of other external forces that play a strong role in our decision-making processes, as mentioned above.

So why then are we so hung up on the idea that fashion is an authentic form of self-expression and personal identity? It’s a romantic idea that is as clichéd and unhealthy as the line ‘You complete me.’. Do we really believe that Justin Beiber is a big fan of Metallica when he wore their t-shirts? Should we care? Why do many of the most creative people in the world choose to wear black t-shirts all the time?

At the end of the day, we have to stop swallowing this myth because it turns us into judgmental creatures. It shouldn’t matter whether a person dresses normal, lavish, outrageous, subtle, boring, so long as they’re appropriate within the context of the situation (again, bowing down to external forces). We do our darndest to not judge a book by its cover, and we should do the same for fellow human beings.

the myth of clothing as self-expressionthe myth of clothing as self-expression

the myth of clothing as self-expression