"Cowboy boots are, without question, America's most recognized fashion contribution to the world, outdistancing even blue jeans."
Tyler Beard, The Cowboy Boot Book
Raymond Dorwart of Guthrie, Oklahoma has been making custom cowboy boots since 1982. Ask him what customers like best about his boots, why they choose to wait--as of this writing, two years--when they could easily buy a pair off the shelf and wear them out the door, he says it's all about the fit. And the quality. And that, when you commission Raymond Dorwart to make you a pair of cowboy boots, you get to choose the type of leather, the colors, the toe and heel style, and the design elements.
Interested? You'll pay a small deposit and write your name and contact information in a book containing the names and contact information of other discriminating buyers, who may be working cowboys or cowgirls or, quite simply, everyday people who just want a pair of handmade boots that fit like that proverbial "glove."
Once your name comes up, Raymond will spend about 45 hours making your boots. You can come into his shop and pick them up or he can mail them to you, which he does for most of his clients, including the famous ones, which he will not name even if you ask him. It's not his style.
In today's era of mass-produced goods and anonymous manufacturing, commissioning an artisan like Raymond Dorwart to make you a pair of cowboy boots is a decided luxury that may also seem rather frivolous until you pull them on and wear them out the door.
"No one needs a pair of $2,500 or $2,800 boots," he says. "But by the grade of God the orders keep coming in. I don't advertise."
All images © John Gifford