Sometimes, an off-the-shelf pair of boots just won’t do.
Maybe your feet are an odd size (too long or wide), you need customized arch support, or you want a style that’s hard to find.
Or maybe you just want a gorgeous luxury pair of boots custom-made for you, a one-of-a-kind investment that will stand out from the crowd and turn heads everywhere you go.
Over the last few years, I’ve been searching for the best bootmakers around the country. Those who produce made-to-order footwear crafted to my exact specifications and details.
Below are my heavily researched picks of the best handmade custom cowboy boots on the market so you, too, can get a pair made just the way you like them.
13 Best Handmade Cowboy Boot Makers
1. Lisa Sorrell
Though Lisa Sorrell and her company, Sorrell Custom Boots, have only been on the boot scene since 1996, they’ve both made quite a name for themselves as being one of the best custom handmade cowboy boot options around.
Her work has been seen on the feet of celebrities like the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, and featured in The Art of the Boot by renowned Western fashion curator Tyler Beard. With boots commanding prices up to $10,000, they’ve become a must-have for those who truly want only the best-made cowboy boots.
(Note: Sorrell Custom Boots only has limited operations. Currently, Lisa Sorrell dedicates most of her time to running Sorrell Notions and Findings, a place for leatherworkers to locate the hardest-to-find bootmaking tools and materials.)
2. Texas Traditions
Texas Traditions, located in Texas’ capital city of Austin, was founded in 1977 by Lee Miller, a man who studied at the feet of legendary bootmaker Charlie Dunn. Thanks to everything he’s learned, Miller has earned a reputation for producing some of Texas’ finest made-to-order cowboy boots.
The fact that celebrities like Tommy Lee Jones, Lyle Lovett, Jackson Brown, and Sting have all worn his boots serve as proof that he’s keeping a tradition dating back to the early 1900s (when Charlie Dunn was first learning his craft) alive and flourishing.
3. Heritage Boots
Heritage Boots’ story is not at all what you’d expect from one of the finest custom cowboy bootmakers in the country.
When the shop first began in 2007, Irish-born Jerry Ryan and his wife Patti aimed to bring back authentic Western styles and craft quality boots using old-school methods and vintage designs. Drawing on iconic styles from the 1930s to 1960s, their boots have stood out even among the vibrant boot scene in Austin. Their goal: to restore the “Golden Age of cowboy boots”, to emphasize the quality and precision that was lost in the modern era of industrialization and mass production.
Upon the Ryans’ retirement in 2020, Heritage Boots was taken over by professional musician and Englishman Steven Twigger and his New England-born wife Alie. Their website makes their mission abundantly clear:
“Heritage…bridges the gap between a full custom boot and a factory, mass produced boot. They make custom-quality boot you can walk out the door with the same day you walk in. Their boots are their legacy.”
4. James Leddy Boots
M.L. Leddy is one of the best known names in the Fort Worth bootmakers game—some have even called him the “boot king”. But it’s his nephew, James Leddy, who has carved out a reputation for being one of the best handmade custom boot makers in Texas.
James Leddy’s was once a family-run company: he does all the cutting, his daughter and wife do the stitching, his son-in-law does the boot bottoms, and his former daughter-in-law crafts ornate and eye-catching inlays. After his death in 2003, the traditions have continued, but under the ownership of Al and Deborah Dos Santos.
House specialties include sharp snip toes, flowery tops, and crimped vamps. So gorgeous are his boots that they’ve caught the eyes of Johnny Bush, Buck Owens, and George Jones.
5. Olathe Boot Company
The Olathe Boot Company is proud to be one of the oldest operating boot makers in the country. Founded in 1875 by C.H. Hyer, it was one of Kansas’ first boot shops, and the one that lays claim to crafting the modern cowboy boot that has become so ubiquitous in America today.
The Olathe Boot Company was also the first to accept mail-orders for custom boots, as Hyer crafted a special measuring system that bootmakers today still use (in a modernized form, of course).
Olathe boots were the favorite of Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders, Billy the Kid and Jesse James, Will Rodgers and Buffalo Bill Cody. Their reputation for quality and comfort is matched only by their stylish good looks. Though the company was bought out by Western Leather Goods in 2001, all of their offerings continue to be handmade (in Mercedes, Texas).
6. Lucchese Boots
In 1882, Sicilian-born shoemaker Salvatore Lucchese immigrated to the United States, landing in Galveston, Texas. A year later, Salvatore and his brother Joseph moved to San Antonio to establish a bootmaking shop for the United States Cavalry School at Fort Sam Houston. Within just a few years, Lucchese Boots established itself as San Antonio’s premier bootmaker—a legacy that continues to this day.
Lucchese boots have been worn by some of the most famous figures of the 1900s and early 2000s, including actress Josephine Hudson, singer Bing Crosby, singer-songwriter and actor Rex Allen, U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Prince Harry of Wales, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Rick Perry. Lucchese is also the official bootmaker for the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.
7. Rocket Busters
Rocket Busters was founded not by a legendary bootmaker like so many others, but by a commercial photographer who loved everything vintage—from cars to furniture to jukeboxes to, of course, vintage boots. He set out to craft for his hero, the one-and-only Roy Rogers, a vintage-inspired, utterly unique pair of boots that paid homage to the classic Western styles while incorporating eye-catching patterns and styles unlike anything found on boots. To this day, decades later, it remains Rocket Busters’ mission to stand out from the crowd with its one-of-a-kind styles.
They craft boots for a specific kind of customers: “none of them are boring and they all appreciate something unique that’s been made by hand!” The use of patterns like Custom Car Angel logos to the Virgin of Guadalupe to fiery chili pepper makes for a truly bold statement, indeed.
Their boots have graced the feet of actors (including Mel Gibson and Ethan Hawke), directors (including Steven Spielberg), and even Oprah Winfrey.
8. Stallion Boots
Founded in 1980, Stallion Boots is known for its quality boots (and other leather goods), with each being “a work of wearable art”. The brand combines intricate patterns with quality materials (both leather and exotic materials) to produce boots that are long-lasting and truly comfortable.
Stallion is also the only company to use fossilized walrus and mammoth ivory in their construction. The ivory is carved in Bali into unique works of art that are then incorporated into each pair of boots for a striking and utterly singular look.
Stallion designs couture boots for designers like Christian Dior and Dolce & Gabbana, and their offerings are the favorites of Bob Dylan, Madonna, Tom Cruise, and Ashley Judd.
9. J.L. Mercer
Founded in 1923, J.L Mercer and Son specialized in handmade, custom cowboy boots, utilizing classic styles, quality craftsmanship, and tough-as-nails materials. Their emphasis is on roper boots, cowboy work boots, and crepe-soled boots.
Their boots have been worn by Billy Ray Cyrus, U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson, John Wayne, and Barry Corbin.
10. Texas Custom Boots
Texas Custom Boots has been in operation for going on 40 years, and they have made a name for themselves among the Austin boot crowd. Their boots are the handiwork of a number of notable craftsmen, including Carlos Hernandez, Jr. (the top bootmaker at Lucchese boots), Alberto Lozano (trained in bootmaking in Laredo), and Jesus “Chuy” Soberon (a specialist in ornate stitching and exotic materials).
Their offerings include both classic Western-style boots and vintage/retro styles that pay homage to the finest cowboy boots produced during the 1900s.
11. Arditti Alligator Accoutrements and Handcrafted Footwear
Tomasso Arditti gave up a career in law to design and craft custom footwear, including cowboy boots. Since 1991, he has grown his little one-man operation into one of the best-known makers of exotic boots—especially alligator boots—in Texas.
His boots have become the “it” pick for discerning boot lovers who want only prime-quality exotic materials. The El Paso Holocaust Museum commissioned a pair as a gift for former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1998, and the El Paso Electric Company commissioned a pair as a gift to former NYSE Chairman Richard A. Grasso. They’re also a favorite of actor Jack Nicholson.
12. Camargo’s Custom Boots
Camargo’s Boots has been open since 1980, a staple of Mercedes footwear and the go-to destination for southern Texas cowboys and boot lovers alike. Each pair of boots is a work of art, one into which bootmaker Henry Camargo invests every bit of himself.
Though he only crafts 2-3 pairs of boots per week, he also finds time to share the classic techniques he uses in his bootmaking so he can keep the traditions alive in an age of modernized mass-production.
His boots have been worn by celebrities like Patrick Duffy and the great Western singer Willie Nelson himself.
13. Little’s Boots
For over 100 years, since 1915, Little’s Boots has been one of San Antonio’s pre-eminent bootmakers. Through three generations, it has been a family-run business, with a focus on superb craftsmanship and attention to detail.
Rather than only sticking with the tried-and-true bovine leathers, Little strikes out and goes for the unique, eye-catching, and exotic, using materials like elephant, kangaroo, lizard, ostrich, alligator, and crocodile. Their detailed art (including the unique three-dimensional pinched roses) makes them stand out from the pack, a truly eye-catching choice of handmade footwear.
Their boots have been worn by Tommy Lee Jones and Reba McEntire.
Heritage and Tradition Matters
The handmade custom cowboy boots crafted by these bootmakers I listed above will be pricey, and the waiting time will range anywhere from weeks to months. But for such premium quality and a fit customized specifically to your feet, if you have the budget, it’s well worth the investment of both time and money.
Because, as you’ll discover when you try them on for yourself, a pair of the best handmade custom cowboy boots will be boots you love instantly and continue to wear for the rest of your life.