Boots are manufactured either by machine or by hand. Custom shoemaking has given way to technology, but is still an art that is practiced by many. Long held as a worker's staple, boots are also a fashion must, especially in the winter. Some fashion boots retail for thousands of dollars, while others for specialty costume use may sell for several hundred.
Boots are a versatile type of footwear. From dancing to working on a farm, there are a variety of boots made to fit the occasion. There are many different styles of boot, along with heights. A low or ankle boot (also called a "bootie" or "shoe-boot") stops right at the ball of the ankle or just above it. A calf boot tops out in the middle of the calf region. A knee boot reaches just below or right above the knee. Thigh-high boots reach the middle of the thigh to the top of the leg.
Boots are manufactured by machin, or handcrafted. Custom, or bespoke, boots are built to the specifications of the client with a custom mold or last. Manufactured boots are mass manufactured and compose the major share of the marketplace.
Boot manufacture is performed in several steps. For this example, we'll look at how cowboy boots are made. According to the cowboy boot manufacturer Sheplers' website, there are two different methods for binding the pieces together. A sewn, or welted, boot uses thread to bond the sole to the upper. With a cemented boot, glue is used. For both varieties, the boot first starts in the cutting department, where the leather is treated, dyed and cut out according to a pattern. The next stop is the pre-fitting department, where the boot is partially pieced together. The pretty designs and features of the boot are crafted in a special department that handles embellishment. This is controlled by very precise computers, unless the boot is handcrafted. Yet another section will add the finishing touches, such as the heel and polishing.
Boots have come a long way from the old days of handcrafting. Now, boots are pumped out on assembly lines at a huge volume. There are still shoemakers who will produce a pair of bespoke boots, but they take a while to make and cost a good amount of money. Handmade boots are very common in specialty markets such as theater. Some performance companies, such as Cirque du Soleil, even make their boots by hand. There are fashion boots made on a bespoke basis. One example is a pair of heel-less boots by designer Antonio Berardi. Worn by Victoria Beckham at her perfume launch at Macy's New York, the boots had to be crafted, balanced and weighted on her body. According to the Guardian.uk, the boots cost around $4,000 a pair.
Bootmaking has been around for a long time, originating in colder climates where the ankle covering was a necessity. The Mongolians wore a high, colorful woven boot that suited their frigid surroundings. Boots were also worn in the medieval era by men and women. Of course, they were great for hunting, hiking and riding horses, so they were the shoe of the common man. Throughout history, the boot became more of a men's fashion staple. Men's boots could be shiny Hessians made for riding or loose Dutch-style boots with spurs. Dandies and the wealthy wore a heel to signify their higher rank and elevation from the masses. Boots did come back into style for ladies during the Victorian era, with other skins such as snake and alligator coming into vogue.
Nowadays, quick manufacture makes boots accessible and cheap for the everyday wearer. Boots are now a clothing item worn year-round for many people. New fashions in boots include architectural heels made of metal and other interesting materials, or boots with an open toe. Boots, however, are old standbys for labor. Many work sites require steel-toed boots to be worn by employees for safety purposes. To this day, horseback and motorcycle riders wear boots that protect the leg and ankles from friction and accidents. Boots are an all-purpose clothing item that have high utility value and fashion appeal.
- Photo Credit 2007 coco / Creative Commons
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