First and foremost, please excuse how horrible I look in this picture. It was like 500 degrees outside –as I was in the middle of the desert– and my hair was not feeling it. I had also gained a couple of kilo’s from how incredibly well the Spanish eat, like kings….hence my belly looking like a bloated lump. On another note, most of you know that I was away, in Spain, turning my designs into technical drawings (aka patterns) so that they could be made up into my first round of prototypes to my shoe line. While this little world is very much hush-hush in the way of doing business, I am not really able to speak about exactly where I went, but can tell you that the city I was in, was a town known for it’s factories, particularly in shoes. During my 3 days there things were going quick — giving me spare time to kill — so as everyone knows everyone, I was able to go see other factories that I could share with all of you, such as this western boot one.
(PS – The pictures for some reason are giving me a hard time, so please excuse the messy look of them)
Boxes of shoes to be Shipped
To see the depth of the factory
Outside View of Back of Factory
Half of the shipment in one day
Just one of the walls of leather
While it’s hard to get an exact feel for just how big the factory was, you can see in the pictures that it was quite large. They did it all here. The only thing that I believe was outsourced, of course, was the leather. But as this was a factory town, everything was either done here, or just around the corner and in conjunction. It was quite surreal. I mean, I never thought of western boots being so big. I always assumed that there were a few cowboys in the South of the States and people in Mexico who wore them, but to my ignorance, apparently many people in Europe do to, as some of the boots that were being made up while I was there, were being sent to Holland. Go figure….
And more leather
Hammering the leather on the shaft of a boot
A wall of insoles
Several thousand pounds worth of Croc
Several of the many racks of lasts
Spools of colored thread
Blue snakeskin — interesting
As you can see, it’s quite different to my post about small, intimate shoe factories, such as G&G’s factory. Everything was in large scale. Lasts were endless, leather was everywhere and there were a million machines, of which the majority of them I had no clue of what they did, such as the one directly above, left. But nonetheless, it all seemed to flow very fluidly. Shoes were placed on racks (as you will notice in pictures below) and passed around the factory, from machine to machine, and section to section. One of the most amazing parts of the factory though, were the machines that put on the intricate stitching (embroidery) that you find on the upper leather bits of cowboy boots. It was simply amazing to watch the machine mimic a cut out pattern which would then create the intricate design that you find on the boots. One machine (in a picture below left) would do the same embroidery on 8 pieces of leather at a time. And another cool machine was the automatic leather cutting machine that was able to cut leather through a computerized system which allowed it to minimize the waste of leather.
While one might think that cowboy boots might be so different than dress shoes, in reality the factory (and therefore the way of construction) was very much similar to the likes of the Santoni factory, which I visited a few years back. And even though I am not really a big fan of cowboy boots, in the sense that I would never wear them, I really do appreciate the work, detailing and intricacy of their nature. It is rare to see a boring cowboy boot. While the classic cowboys may have worn them in either plain black or plain tan brown cow skin, you will find that these days they are made up of all types of color, embroidered patterns, and animal hides.† My favorite out of all of them are the blue pair that I have put directly below, left.
Well, I hope that you have all enjoyed this post. It is quite a surreal thing being in a factory that supplies a major stake of a certain shoe in the industry, such as cowboy boots. As a little tidbit, I will leave you with the only thing that I can share with you, which are my lasts that I am going to be using for several of my shoes for my first collection. (bare in mind, the pointy one is similar to the shoes that I have already made, the ones on the left of the blog)