How to Buy the Perfect Pair of Cowboy Boots
Cowtown prides itself on everything western. Come Stampede time, it is really easy to see how Calgary earned its nickname.
Professionals ditch their suits for plaid shirts, Wrangler jeans, and cowboy boots. Whether you are wearing them on the farm, or two-stepping at your local watering hole, the Alberta Boot Company in Calgary is a go to for high-quality western boots.
Clement Gerwing founded the company in 1978. This year marks the Alberta Boot Co.’s 40th anniversary. At the time, he owned a wholesale footwear company and noticed a big demand for western boots, but there was a lack of quality in the ones he imported; so he decided to make his own. “He assembled the machines, the people, and the materials to make a boot he was proud to put his stamp on,” says his grandson and current company president, Ben Gerwing. “Everything is made right here. It’s pretty hard to find a boot made in Canada. One of Calgary’s identities was western hospitality. My grandfather was happy to leave his mark.”
Through the years, the company outfitted our iconic RCMP, movie stars, and even royalty. Most importantly, they provide top-end cowboy boots to everyday Calgarians.
Picking the right pair of cowboy boots is essential because a good quality boot can last a long time. With proper care, you expect your boots to last anywhere from 10 to 20 years. “For an oil leather finish, we recommend a mink oil cream, which is waterproof and will protect. For regular leather, use a mix of all protector and shoe cream,” says Gerwing. No need for a whole lot of upkeep to wear them for many years, he adds.
And when they finally succumb to the wear just take them back for a freshening. “We can resole them several times, as they are designed to be resoled and worked on again. In our factory, you’ll see new and old boots on the assembly line.”
“Some of the boot moulds are the same used 40 years ago when we first opened our doors.” One of their mottos remains the same – “We want a boot that looks good now and 10 years from now,” says Gerwing. The cowboy boot is timeless, which makes it hard to go wrong when investing in a good pair.
So now you know the inside scoop on buying good cowboy boots, head on out and get a pair for this year’s Stampede. Just make sure you break them in!
By Holly Heuver
As a third-generation expert, Gerwing shares his best tips and tricks to know before selecting a new pair of cowboy boots:
1 Make sure you get properly fit. Unlike regular shoes, cowboy boots come in a variety of widths. Since there are no laces, the width is the most important aspect to tailor, not the length or the height. You want to ensure it fits snug as you pull them on. If it comes on too easy, they are too loose. “We’ll look at both the width and the length and get you professionally fit.”
2 Go for the boot that first attracts you. A dark brown or black boot is best. These are the easiest colours to match with clothing and guarantees versatility. “Folks buy them as a souvenir and once they wear them and see the comfort, they find excuses to wear them.” Once you have your everyday boot size, then you can experiment with colour and design.
3 Look for an all-leather boot. They provide comfort and quality. “Our full leather lining, insole, and outsole will mold to your foot and last a really long time. People have them for many years and won’t want to let them go because they’re so comfortable.” A cowhide boot is most common, but other exotic leathers such as alligator, ostrich, and python are available.
4 Remember there is a break-in process; expect your boots to be stiff when new. Make sure you break them in before you wear them for an extended period of time. “When you are first breaking them in, go walk in them for a few hours. Usually, you only need to do that for a few days. Don’t go stampeding for the first few days of wearing them.”