These Boots Are Made For Walking – El Paso, Texas

It was my good fortune to take a tour of the Lucchese Bootmaker facility in El Paso.   You are probably thinking I would see how handcrafted boots are made from start to finish.  And you are right.  But I walked away from there with some insights into life that can be a meaningful byproduct of traveling. Read on as I take you on the tour.

Read on as I take you on the tour:

These Boots Are Made For Walking

Brothers Salvatore and Joseph Lucchese, whose father was a bootmaker, immigrated to the United States from Sicily in 1882 and would set up shop as bootmakers in San Antonio the following year, having learned the trade from their father.  The first entry in their record keeping has a pair of boots selling for $9 back in 1897.  The Lucchese business would be passed down to their kids and eventually sold to the Blue Bell Corporation in 1970.  In 1986, Lucchese moved from San Antonio to their present location in El Paso.  What remains steady is the traditional way of handcrafting every pair of boots that gets stamped with the Lucchese brand.

Come find out why these boots were made for walking... Texas cowboy boots no less from the Lucchese Bootmaker in El Paso, Texas.

These Boots Are Made For Walking

The start of a boot is the raw material, and on any given day, there is about 2-3 million dollars’ worth of goods in the Lucchese factory.  There are three buyers on staff to assure the best of material is secured for Lucchese. The choice of hides is huge, including alligator, cow, goat, lizard, rattlesnake, stingray, buffalo, ostrich, shark, hippo, and crocodile. Epic among the selection is a 25’ python skin, which Mario Vega, director of marketing and our tour guide, rolls out for us to see. It gives me the shivers to see the skin of this creature that once crawled in the jungles of Indonesia. Lucchese follows the guidelines that CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) puts forth in terms of making sure no skin or hide is used from an endangered or threatened species.  In fact, 88% of the hides and skins that go into their boots are a byproduct of animals initially used for their meat.  I’m getting a clear sense that Lucchese holds a deep respect for the earth’s creatures, and thus my respect for this company is growing.

Come find out why these boots were made for walking... Texas cowboy boots no less from the Lucchese Bootmaker in El Paso, Texas.

These Boots Are Made For Walking

Come find out why these boots were made for walking... Texas cowboy boots no less from the Lucchese Bootmaker in El Paso, Texas.

Next stop is the sorting table, where trained eyes are combing through an average of 50-60 hides and skins to get a good match in terms of color and pattern for every pair of boots.  From there, this in-depth tour moves us through every station involved with bootmaking, from cutting, hand stitching, embossing, shaping, creating the soles, adhering the soles and heels, polishing, drying, and finally stamping the bottom of each boot with the Lucchese emblem.  We stop near a fellow with a mouth full of lemonwood pegs who is hammering them into the soles of the boot. He stores them in his cheek and pulls them out quickly as needed. I chuckle at how he gets his job done, but it works for him. Mario informs us that this old world technique of holding the insole and outsole together with wooden pegs has proven more durable than brass nails.

Come find out why these boots were made for walking... Texas cowboy boots no less from the Lucchese Bootmaker in El Paso, Texas.

These Boots Are Made For Walking

Come find out why these boots were made for walking... Texas cowboy boots no less from the Lucchese Bootmaker in El Paso, Texas.

Over the top of all the clamor from the various machines, Spanish music fills the air.  An occasional craftsman sways to the beat and I get a strong sense that people who work here are content with their jobs. Their smiles come easy. The vibe inside the factory is upbeat. The workforce tends to be older and is predominately Mexican, with many of them commuting to work from Ciudad Juarez, just over the border from El Paso. Mario points out that if for some reason their personnel from Mexico were no longer allowed to work in the US, Lucchese would be shut down. Mario is giving an honest assessment of the challenges Lucchese faces with finding a younger generation willing to develop the kind of skilled labor needed to produce boots.  In this day and age, kids are more about the tech world versus blue collar employment.

These Boots Are Made For Walking

Come find out why these boots were made for walking... Texas cowboy boots no less from the Lucchese Bootmaker in El Paso, Texas.

Three designers on staff continually work on creating new boot designs and present between 15-20 new creations every twelve weeks, of which 5-6 will be adopted into the Lucchese line.  At the end of every work day, 475 – 525 boots are ready to roll out the door. By the time the boots are shipped, 125 pairs of hands have touched the boots in some way.  Lucchese also produces bags, belts, and wallets.

Come find out why these boots were made for walking... Texas cowboy boots no less from the Lucchese Bootmaker in El Paso, Texas.

These Boots Are Made For Walking…Interesting Facts

Come find out why these boots were made for walking... Texas cowboy boots no less from the Lucchese Bootmaker in El Paso, Texas.

The largest pair of boots ever made, size 25, was for Andre the Giant.  Some heavy hitters in the film industry had Lucchese boots, including John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Zsa, Zsa Gabor and Bing Crosby. Today, you’ll see Lucchese boots on the feet of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, as well as Willie Nelson, Michael Jordan, Scott McCreery and Blake Shelton, to name a few. You can order a pair of custom made boots, but you can also find them at Boot Barn and Cavenders.   If you’re in El Paso, definitely head to the Lucchese Outlet Store to scope out their enormous selection.

Come find out why these boots were made for walking... Texas cowboy boots no less from the Lucchese Bootmaker in El Paso, Texas.

The tour has come to an end and I have a newfound appreciation for what goes into making a pair of handmade Lucchese boots. But what has made the biggest impression on me is seeing a company that honors and respects their workforce of talented and skilled craftsmen and women who clearly have a strong work ethic.   I see all these hands that work tirelessly to put food on their table.  I see a place where people are far more important and valued than automation and robotics.  I see a relationship that works well and benefits both an American factory and a small group of Mexican citizens.

I’m reminded that the plus to any travel is those life lessons in geography, economics, philosophy, religion…if you go with open eyes, heart, and mind.  While there are not regularly scheduled tours of Lucchese, you can simply arrange a tour with a phone call to see first-hand the amazing process that goes into creating their handcrafted boots.

Come find out why these boots were made for walking... Texas cowboy boots no less from the Lucchese Bootmaker in El Paso, Texas.

Lucky to be a person that owns a pair of Lucchese boots, for they truly have a timeless piece of art to wear.

Disclosure: As is common in the travel industry, Donnie was provided with accommodations, meals and other compensation for the purposes of review by the El Paso Convention & Visitor Council. While it has not influenced her review, PointsandTravel.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. All Photos by the author.

Interested in exploring more about Texas?

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Quinta Mazatlan: Tex-Mex Culture  Wrapped Up Into One (McAllen, Texas)

7 Things To Do In Texas Other Than The Alamo

 

 

 

2017-07-10T10:26:08+00:00

50 Comments

  1. Robin Rue June 5, 2017 at 4:57 am

    Those boots are all so beautiful. I have always wanted a pair of authentic cowboy boots!!

    • Cacinda Maloney June 5, 2017 at 10:15 am

      Well, now you know where to get a pair!

  2. Foodie Finds Home June 5, 2017 at 6:06 am

    Oh my goodness. Those boots are absolutely 100% gorgeous and I’d love to visit this beautiful boot making facility one day!

  3. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle June 5, 2017 at 7:14 am

    That is so cool! I’ve always loved boots. They have such attitude. I’ve never seen them made before.

    • Cacinda Maloney June 5, 2017 at 10:13 am

      I thought so too, very cool to see how they actually make them!

  4. Vera Sweeney June 5, 2017 at 7:18 am

    I would love to take a tour of a boot factory! i have a few pairs of boots in my wardrobe. They add such a cool feel to outfits.

  5. Tracey June 5, 2017 at 8:06 am

    Okay so on my bucket list is actually go to Texas and get custom boots made! So cool!

  6. Sarah Bailey June 5, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Oh my goodness look at those boots! How much work goes into them, that is incredible!

  7. Kelly Hutchinson June 5, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Wow! The intricate designs on these boots are mind boggling! I would love to have a pair for my son in law!

  8. Liz Mays June 5, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    This is such a cool company and they come up with some really impressive designs. A lot of care goes into these boots!

  9. Melissa Chapman June 5, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    The boots are so amazing. It was great to get this look at how the boots get made from the skin. The colors are really spectacular.

  10. Carol Cassara June 5, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    I want boots that are comfy and not just stylish! It sounds like they heard my prayers! I’d love to have boots made here.

  11. Kristin Leseny June 5, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Thes boots are so beautiful. I’ve always loved the look of authentic cowboy boots. Paso, Texas also seems like a nice place to travel!

    • Cacinda Maloney June 7, 2017 at 8:07 pm

      Yes, Texas is a nice place to visit!

  12. Amy June 6, 2017 at 6:47 am

    I need an authentic pair of boots! I love that the hides and skins are a byproduct of animals initially used for their meat. It’s important to use every part of the animals so nothing is wasted!

  13. Toni | Locavore June 6, 2017 at 7:28 am

    These are really gorgeous boots! I would love to visit Texas and get one for myself!

  14. Stacey June 6, 2017 at 8:06 am

    This is so cool! These boots look so fashionable and unique.
    I would not mind getting a pair of these.

  15. Jeanine June 6, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Wow these are gorgeous! My mom was all about cowboy boots and she was always sporting really gorgeous ones. This is really neat.

  16. Shannon Gurnee June 6, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Wow! Those are some fancy boots! I bet that it was cool to see them making them

  17. Dogvills June 6, 2017 at 11:06 am

    All these boots look lovely. I would love to have a pair, however, I am very choosy when it comes to the materials used. I dislike reptiles and I could not imagine having their skin on my feet.

  18. Kita Bryant June 6, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Holy goodness, that’s a lot of merchandise to have on hand. This sounds like one rad place.

  19. Louise Bishop June 6, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    I LOVE visiting Texas. That is one cool story and it makes me love the area even more.

  20. Wendy Polisi June 6, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    I love learning the history behind places like this. It brings meaning to the visit and I love that feeling.

  21. Kristi June 6, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    What a great place to tour and learn about boots. I learned about Lucchese Boots when I worked at Wall Drug in the boot area. Many people would mention them.

  22. Arlett (Chasing Joy) June 6, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    This is really interesting. I never knew how boots were made..

  23. Erin F June 7, 2017 at 7:25 am

    Oh wow! Those boots are absolutely stunning! I am a huge fan of cowboy boots, I have a few pair myself. I have one pair that’s my “dressy” boots and another that are for work. In reality, one pair is just older than the other and it won’t be long until they are both work boots (I just can’t work in boots that aren’t broken in yet!)

    • Cacinda Maloney June 7, 2017 at 8:02 am

      How long does it take to “break in” a pair of boots?

  24. Angela Milnes June 7, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    This is such an interesting post. I love the designs on the boots and find it really fascinating how they are created. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Annemarie LeBlanc June 7, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    Lovely pairs of boots. I love the designs and the craftsmanship that goes into every pair is just awesome. I’d be happy to own a pair of those boots!

  26. Stefanie June 13, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Woow, this looks really amazing,
    This is really on my have to do list before i get into my 40’s

    Keep posting,
    Kind regards
    Stefanie

Comments are closed.