Written By: Desiree Gustafson
When Cowboy boots come to mind, there is a number of platforms that can embody what one envisions. From John Wayne to the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, there are so many avenues the cowboy boot has been represented, worn, and seen in; that it has evolved from fitting into one box or category.
The progression of western fashion and its influence have become a lifestyle trend that has spilled over into mainstream, influencing style in so many different avenues of the world we see today. To really comprehend the evolution there is a history and origin to discuss. The popularity of boots began to influence women’s fashion during the early nineteenth century but even before that we had figures like Annie Oakley that defined a style all of their own. Later on, western influence would come to the stage in rodeos, film, fashion, and music. Venues like the Grand Ole Opry would come to feature and transform the definition of western style and sound with each individual that added their flair to the stage. The background of the Cowgirl fashion boot is an evolution, a modern legacy that is still developing and finding its voice today. Year after year this trend is being reinterpreted and re-defined, but the conception is something of a more straightforward nature.
Originally, the cowboy boots we know and love today came out of need for functional and protective footwear for horsemen. The boots that we know today come from a number of different boot styles melded together, including The Wellington Boot, The Hessain, and Military boots that were designed for cavalry riders.
The Wellington boot originated from Britain’s Duke of Wellington, this boot was plain leather, with one-inch heels and a straight top. The classic stitch from this boot is still seen in boot making today.
The Hessain boot had the V-cut front that is still visible in boots today as well, with a lower cut back. Some of the Hessain boots also featured a silk or leather tassel hanging down the front of the V-cut, which was the first in decorative adornment on a boot.
The taller shaft designs of these earlier boots were meant to protect the rider’s legs from rubbing and to fend off brush and thorns. This design also kept the tops loose enough that the boot could be wiggled out of easily if the rider was hung up in a stirrup and needed to exit the situation in a hurry. The underslung, thicker heel was there to keep the rider’s foot inside the stirrup while riding.
The Coffeyville-style of Cowboy boots, which is more what we recognize today, originated in Coffeyville Kansas sometime in the 1870s. These boots were normally plain black leather with a low Cuban style heel. The front of the boot was higher than the back and typically a slightly different color leather. Most of the “Texas Cowboys” wearing these boots were known to have a Lone Star laid into the front of their boots.
The evolution of the Cowboy Boot continued through the late 1800s, where designs began to become influenced by European boot styles. These boots had stacked heels and were produced with a higher quality leather, which further protected the rider’s ankles. The boots were stitched on the outside to keep the leather from buckling and rubbing against the rider on the inside of their boot. In the 1900s, boot makers began to add decorative stitching to the toes of the boots they produced as an extra embellishment. This is a staple that has remained in style with most of the men’s boots in the industry to this day. The toes of Cowboy boots were normally square or rounded, the pointed toe did not make its debut until the late 1940s and early 1950s.
The pointed toe debut was a fashion statement sported in classic western movies in the late 1940s from actresses such as Wendy Waldron. A more refined and finely tuned version of the cowboy boot was featured on Marilyn Monroe in a Valentines themed photo shoot early on in her career.
The 1970s brought a whole new era to the cowboy boot in movies such as Myra Breckenridge with sassy Raquel Welch in white hot boots, sectioning in the disco era where boots were paired as a fashion statement for all.
The 1980s ushered in the “Urban Cowboy” life into movies and Fashion. The boots featured up until this point had remained mostly basic in their design and embellishments.
The 90s, however brought to the forefront a new fashion wave of diversity and imagination. This birthed a spark to create something on a canvas that had been primarily essential based for decades. There was potential for a niche and that’s where the foundation for Corral began. Corral was the first western brand to introduce the concept of a fashion forward cowgirl boot. At the time, Corral revolutionized the industry by provoking a tremendous shift in the western fashion perception. The basic principles of craftsmanship and quality that had been known to embody the cowboy boot were the base layers upon which each piece of artwork that is a Corral boot were built upon. The designers and craftsman at Corral elevated what we know today as a typical Cowgirl boot and the industry boomed with new creativity from companies across the board.
Written By : Desiree Gustafson
The handcrafting process is one with multiple steps, detailed layers, specifically honed skill sets and dynamic precision in execution. The result is deliverance of an end product that is truly distinct and exceptional. Since our establishment in 1999 Corral has been using age old craftsmanship techniques to create handmade boots of incomparable quality and iconic style. In every step of our boot making process, we rely on human hands, machines, and the highest caliber artisan techniques to construct a product that sets the new standard for grace and elegance.
Before we develop a technique or give birth to an idea, it all begins with inspiration. A flower, a color, a sunset, a texture, a place, a notion or a statement. Embodied in every pair of Corral boots is a muse or a catalyst, if you will, that stirred a vision and concept to come to life. Symbols and storytelling are what we do and it’s all established in our originality and creativity. Every pair of our boots has a story to tell, a unique statement to make, just as each individual is noteworthy and exceptional, so are each pair of Corral Boots.
The design and production process are no exception. The detail, imagination, inventiveness, and hard work that go into creating the step by step process for each and every pair of boots is a labor of love for us. Our design and production team ensure every component of the boot making process is given the expertise and attentiveness that it requires to make it a success. No two pairs are alike. It all begins with a sketch, a drawing of concept, straight from the artisan’s hands. From there the idea blossoms and evolves into a map with a specific path to reach its destination.
In this article we break down a few production techniques that we consider valuable to our handcrafting process and success.
Hand Cutting & Dies
A die is a metal object used to cut the leather of a boot. Each die is distinct in size and novelty based on boot size, construction, and design.
A steel-rule die is critical for refining the elegance of our boots. Before the die is ever placed near the leather the cutting department searches for a matching set of skins. This process can be quite extensive, sometimes taking days for just one pair of boots. This is extremely important because it directly effects how well the pair will couple together. Once they get the leather grain perfectly aligned and matched, the bootmakers then use a machine that applies on average at least 20 pounds of pressure directly on the die and leather in order to create an exact cut with no fraying.
Hand stitching is done by skilled artisans who masterfully guide the needle through the leather by hand. They create one of a kind stitch patterns often using antique machinery in which they lead the boot through specific stitching patterns and designs.
Embroidery is a key element to the design of cowboy boot, it can make or break a boot in terms of style and depth. Our embroidery is done by hand and machines depending on the boot and its blueprint. One of our simplest boots has over 100 steps and 100,000 stitches in it, proving that every single last detail matters.
The lasting process is one in which the upper of the boot is secured to the sole by hand. The upper is wet with water to make it more pliable and giving. It is then pulled over the last made for that specific boot and tacked securely. Once it dries the Lemonwood pegs or Brass pegs are inserted. This entire process is done by hand by extremely skilled artisans. It is a very physical and precise part of the handcrafting process.
The Pegs are hand hammered by hand into the sole of the boot to secure the steel shank. They the run along the underside of your foot’s arch and under the boot’s heel where you can’t see them. A wooden peg has more longevity because it is more pliable. The wood absorbs water and can expand and contract along with the sole of the boot when it gets wet, much like leather. The pegs complete the structure of the boot by holding the insole and outsole together creating the solidity of the instep’s fit.
Welts are the pieces of leather where the sole of the shoe attaches to the upper leather. Boots with welted construction have the soles stitched to the upper so a cobbler can easily replace the sole once worn out. The Goodyear welt has a clean aesthetic, waterproof durability, and little-needed maintenance, making it a prolific construction method.
Each handcrafted process has its own breakdown and skillset making each and every single one a unique and crucial piece to the process as a whole. We love what we do and sharing our storytelling with you, be on the lookout for more in depth breakdowns of the boot making processes and learn what makes a corral boot so exceptional and remarkable.
What differentiates an average athlete from a World Champion?
Walk with us through our breakdown of what it takes to have “Champion DNA”, featuring Tyson Durfey, 2016 NFR World Champion.
“You know, every day of my life adversity has chased me down; and you see for me, I’ve learned to expect adversity. I’ve learned to accept it into my daily life. Every single day I wake up and I know there are going to be hard times but the difference between me and the other people is that I’ve learned to confront adversity. I’ve learned how to get past adversity; and now on the other side looking back, I’m thankful that I learned that trait.”
Those words resonated deeply with us, and probably to any of those that have watched Tyson execute his dreams or known him as a person. In our video “The Difference” we aim to deliver inspiration to all of the rodeo athletes out there. These words, spoken steadily by Tyson, discuss four principles:
When asked “At what age did you know you wanted to play music?” The guys responded with “We were born into it, it’s in our blood.”