By Roger Grody, photography by Marty Snortum Studio
Fueled by luxury artisans and high-end boutiques, Western style is riding high.
Western apparel is usually associated with a rural lifestyle, but alligator-skin cowboy boots, cashmere Stetsons and 14-karat gold belt buckles are increasingly donned in big cities, even outside of Texas. In fact, demand for luxury Western wear is driven by well-heeled attorneys and investment bankers whose boots may never touch the floor of a honky-tonk. Beverly Hills, the land of Prada, Gucci and Cartier, may not be the first place one would expect to find a shop specializing in cowboy boots and belt buckles, but a boutique called West has found a reliable clientele there.
As owner James Anderton observes, “Few pairs of high-end boots are sold to genuine cowboys, just as few Ferrari owners in L.A. ever race at Le Mans.” Both acquisitions, he explains, represent works of art that deserve showing off, and Anderton counts celebrities, Fortune 500 CEOs and affluent tourists among his customers. Like its fashionable neighbors, West specializes in conspicuous consumption, with its footwear prices rivaling those of Jimmy Choo or Christian Louboutin down the street. From Old Gringo, an artisanal producer in León, Mexico, are chocolate-hued leather cowboy boots for women embroidered with Swarovski crystals. And despite their stratospheric price ($12,995), men’s black alligator boots from Lucchese — the venerable El Paso brand has been favored by everybody from LBJ to supermodel Kate Moss — are conservative and understated. “These Western-style handmade products resonate with people around the globe,” says Anderton, who receives a considerable number of Middle Eastern and Asian tourists at his store.
Belt buckles offered at West qualify as…