Cowboy boots evolved pointy tips to help ranchers get their feet in the stirrups in a pinch. While most modern wearers don't need that level of utility, there's no denying this footwear is rich in history and identity. Texas, is king of the cowboy boot—and making them is both art and a way of life. Luckily, Texas offers many skilled artisans plying their trade. If you want to wear a real slice of Texas, consider these custom creations.

Texas Traditions - Central Texas 

Quality is the imprimatur at Texas Traditions, a humble workshop located in the trendy Austin neighborhood of South Congress. Owner and designer Lee Miller apprenticed under the late Charlie Dunn, a man dubbed the Michelangelo of cowboy boots, a fifth-generation bootmaker who practiced for 80 years and founded Texas Traditions.

When we paid a visit, we got a peek at the process. Miller and his assistants measure clients’ feet, take an ink imprint of their soles and establish their vision for a design. From there, it's hours and hours of work by hand: cutting and carving leather, stitching, shaping the fit, and embroidering boot tops. The result is the gold standard in Western footwear.

True to its name, Texas Traditions operates with a deep respect for the heritage of its craft. Miller inherited the business, the techniques, and even the tools—some in the shop date back to the 1920s—while stoking his own creative flames. His creations have adorned the feet of an exclusive clientele, including musicians like Lyle Lovett and Slimp Pickens. The waitlist for a pair of these custom boots is several years, although when country musician Jerry Jeff Walker has written a song about the bootmaker, they’re clearly worth it.

Bell Costum Boots - North Texas

Further north in the Panhandle Plains, Bell Custom Boots has been operating in Abilene for nearly four decades. Bell works with his wife, who stitches the boot tops, to bring handcrafted quality to customers of all stripes—not just high-end clients. His boots come with an average 16-month turnaround, which underscores one reality for travelers who find themselves at a custom boot shop: Don't expect to come home with your handmade treasures right away.

Bell apprenticed with the owner of another hidden gem in Abilene.Tex Robin Boots was opened in 1944 by a man named Tex and has been operated for the past four decades by his son, Tex Jr. A walk-through of the shop, and a peek at past creations yields eye-popping displays of boot tops with artistic flourishes. Tex Robin Boots has long been ingrained in the cowboy lifestyle, as the elder Tex learned to make boots while repairing them on the rodeo circuit in the 1930s

The Boot Capital - West Texas

With major manufacturers like Tony Lama Boots and Lucchese Boot Company, as well as specialty boot makers like Rocketbuster Handmade Custom Boots, El Paso certainly as the right to lay claim to the name, “The Boot Capital of the World”

Owned by Nevena Christi and founded by her husband, Marty Snortum, the shop is nestled inside an industrial-chic brick building in El Paso's rising Union Plaza district. Inside is a colorful workshop specializing in bright, eclectic designs anchored by traditional handcrafted quality. More than a dozen workers produce 500-plus pairs of boots a year in the shop, a wonderland of quirky-cool paraphernalia that attracts visitors from all over the world.

Come explore Texas’ long-held and constantly evolving tradition of custom bootmaking, the level of craftsmanship that goes into this unique art and the impact it’s had on Texas culture. It’s a timeless practice that’s been passed down from local legend to local legend and continues to inspire a new generation of Texas bootmakers who keep the tradition alive.

Fun Fact
You can find Texas custom boots on the feet of countless celebrities. Oprah Winfrey, Julia Roberts, Taylor Swift and Steven Spielberg have all patronized Rocketbuster Boots. Sandra Bullock has gotten kicks from Kimmel Boot Company in Comanche. El Paso's Champion Attitude Boot Company has served Heather Locklear, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jon Bon Jovi.