UPDATE: December 3: See the comment attached to this note — one of my friendly lurkers who works for Justin Brands left me a correction, which I appreciate. I have adjusted the post below to be more accurate in what I said about where some major boot brands are made.
Having a website and a blog generates questions from time to time from various people seeking information. That’s the wonder and beauty of the Internet: just enter keywords into your favorite search engine, and soon enough, you find links to websites offering all sorts of content. Many of the links for boot-related key words link to my website.
Last night, someone found my website and then wrote me an email asking about boots made in Mexico. He was concerned about the quality. Here’s a part of what I said:
Boots have been manufactured in Mexico for a long, long time. The area in the State of Guanajuato best known for bootmaking is Leon. I have about a dozen pairs of boots that were made there. They’re all good. They wear well, and are fairly comfortable. I have no complaints.
I can understand your hesitation to buy boots made in China, because indeed the reputation for making cheap junk with cheap materials and automated methods is ongoing. But the same isn’t true for Mexico, where boot crafting still engages many hand-made processes. In my opinion, bootmaking by hand results in a better-quality product.
Don’t be afraid of boots made in Mexico. If you check the label or imprint in most cowboy boots sold by major labels in the U.S., such as Justin, Nocona, Dan Post, Tony Lama, and many others: some of them are made in Mexico (with others are still made in the USA). Boots are made in Mexico since quality materials and craftsmanship is still widely available there. The cost of labor and ongoing availability of quality materials and craftsmanship of workers were primary drivers for major USA boot brands to develop boot manufacturing facilities over the Southern border.
Most Mexican boot makers run very small shops. Many are one-man operations. When I took a stroll in Leon several years ago, I saw hundreds of small shops where boots were being made. I tried many of the boots on, and enjoyed long conversations in the dwindling sunlight at the end of the day over a cervesa and enjoyed learning from hard-working men who knew their craft, their materials, and their boots!
It is appropriate to be concerned about quality for a major purchase. Good boots aren’t cheap. Consider them an investment to last for years. Go Mexican! I have no concerns whatsoever.